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NED :: Non-Executive Director

Introduction

The Non-Executive Director, no longer a role that is associated just with large organisations. There is a growing awareness of the NED role and more and more organisations are appointing NEDs of various types, and specific specialities, often within technology and digital transformation, to enhance the effectiveness of their boards as standard practise.

With the pressure on organisations to compete globally, deal with digital transformation and respond to rapidly changing market conditions, new skills are needed at board level. This leads to the role of the NED diversifying and introduces a need to refresh the NEDs as circumstances change, bringing in new specialities, experience and challenge when the organisation needs it.

A good NED can, and should make a substantive and measurable contribution to the effectiveness of the board. Do not see a NED as a consulting advisor – a NED, within the remit of the role of a company director, play a full and active part in the success efforts of an organisation. Irrespective of the skills, experience and network contacts that NEDs will bring, they must above all, provide appropriate independent and constructive challenge to the board.

Both the organisation and the NED must understand the purpose of being a NED, within the specific organisation, for the role to be effective. This includes a clear understanding of what value the NED is expected to bring. A NED’s value goes beyond just the statutory requirements.

On appointment a Non-executive director can:

  • Broaden the horizons and experience of existing executive directors.
  • Facilitate the cross-fertilisation of ideas, particularly in terms of business strategy and planning.
  • Have a vital part to play in appraising and commenting on a company’s investment/expenditure plans.
  • Bring wisdom, perspective, contacts and credibility to your business.
  • Be the lighthouse that helps you find your way and steer clear of near and present dangers.

The role of the NED

All directors, including NEDs, are required to:

  • provide entrepreneurial leadership of the company
  • set the company’s vision, strategy and strategic objectives
  • set the company’s values and standards
  • ensure that its obligations to its shareholders and others are understood and met.

In addition, the role of the NED has the following key elements:

  • Strategy: NEDs should constructively challenge and help develop proposals on strategy.
  • Performance: NEDs should scrutinise the performance of management in meeting agreed goals and objectives and monitor the reporting of performance.
  • Risk: NEDs should satisfy themselves on the integrity of financial information and that financial controls and systems of risk management are robust and defensible.
  • People: NEDs are responsible for determining appropriate levels of remuneration of executive directors and have a prime role in appointing, and where necessary removing, executive directors, and in succession planning.

“In broad terms, the role of the NED, under the leadership of the chairman, is: to ensure thatthere is an effective executive team in place; to participate actively in the decision–takingprocess of the board; and to exercise appropriate oversight over execution of the agreed strategy by the executive team.”; Walker Report, 2009

 

A non-executive director will bring the follow benefits to your company:

  • strengthen the board and provide an independent viewpoint
  • contribute to the creation of a sound business plan, policy and strategy
  • review plans and budgets that will implement policy and strategy
  • be a confidential and trusted sounding board for the MD/CEO and keep the focus of the MD/CEO
  • have the experience to objectively assess the company’s overall performance
  • have the experience and confidence to stand firm when he or she believes the executive directors are acting in an inappropriate manner
  • ensure good corporate governance
  • provide outside experience of the workings of other companies and industries, and have beneficial sector contacts and experience gained in previous businesses
  • have the ability to clearly communicate with fellow directors
  • have the ability to gain the respect of the other directors
  • possess the tact and skill to work with the executive directors, providing support and encouragement where difficult decisions are being made
  • have contacts with third parties such as financial sources, grant providers and potential clients

Looking for a NED?

Now that you understand what a NED can do – What are you waiting for?

Contact Renier Botha if you are looking for an experienced director with strong technology and digital transformation skills.

Renier has demonstrable success in developing and delivering visionary business & technology strategies. His experience include Mergers & Acquisitions (M&A), major capital projects, growth, governance, compliance, risk management as well as business and organisation development.

Insightful Quotes on Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence (AI) today, is a practical reality. It captivated the minds of geniuses and materialised through science fiction as I grew up. During the past 70 years (post WWII) AI has evolved from a philosophical theory to a game changing emerging technology, transforming the way digital enhances value in every aspect of our daily lives.

Great minds have been challenged with the opportunities and possibilities that AI offers.  Here are some things said on the AI subject to date. Within these quotes, the conundrum in people’s minds become clear – does AI open up endless possibilities or inevitable doom?

“I believe that at the end of the century the use of words and general educated opinion will have altered so much that one will be able to speak of machines thinking without expecting to be contradicted.”; Alan Turing (1950)

“It seems probable that once the machine thinking method has started, it would not take long to outstrip our feeble powers… They would be able to converse with each other to sharpen their wits. At some stage therefore, we should have to expect the machines to take control.”; Alan Turing

“The study is to proceed on the basis of the conjecture that every aspect of learning or any other feature of intelligence can in principle be so precisely described that a machine can be made to simulate it. An attempt will be made to find how to make machines use language, form abstractions and concepts, solve kinds of problems now reserved for humans, and improve themselves.”; John McCarthy (1956)

“AI scientists tried to program computers to act like humans without first understanding what intelligence is and what it means to understand. They left out the most important part of building intelligent machines, the intelligence … before we attempt to build intelligent machines we have to first understand how the brain things, and there is nothing artificial about that.”; Jeff Hawkins

“The question of whether a computer can think is no more interesting than the question of whether a submarine can swim.”; Edsger Dijkstra

“Whether we are based on carbon or on silicon makes no fundamental difference; we should each be treated with appropriate respect.”; Arthur Clarke (2010)

“…everything that civilisation has to offer is a product of human intelligence. We cannot predict what we might achieve when this intelligence is magnified by the tools that AI may provide, but the eradication of war, disease, and poverty would be high on anyone’s list. Success in creating AI would be the biggest event in human history.”; Stephen Hawking and colleagues wrote in an article in the Independent

“Why give a robot an order to obey orders—why aren’t the original orders enough? Why command a robot not to do harm—wouldn’t it be easier never to command it to do harm in the first place? Does the universe contain a mysterious force pulling entities toward malevolence, so that a positronic brain must be programmed to withstand it? Do intelligent beings inevitably develop an attitude problem? …Now that computers really have become smarter and more powerful, the anxiety has waned. Today’s ubiquitous, networked computers have an unprecedented ability to do mischief should they ever go to the bad. But the only mayhem comes from unpredictable chaos or from human malice in the form of viruses. We no longer worry about electronic serial killers or subversive silicon cabals because we are beginning to appreciate that malevolence—like vision, motor coordination, and common sense—does not come free with computation but has to be programmed in. …Aggression, like every other part of human behavior we take for granted, is a challenging engineering problem!”; Steven Pinker – How the Mind Works

“Ask not what AI is changing, ask what AI is not changing.”; Warwick Oliver Co-Founder at hut3.ai (2018)

“Sometimes at night I worry about TAMMY. I worry that she might get tired of it all. Tired of running at sixty-six terahertz, tired of all those processing cycles, every second of every hour of every day. I worry that one of these cycles she might just halt her own subroutine and commit software suicide. And then I would have to do an error report, and I don’t know how I would even begin to explain that to Microsoft.”; Charles Yu

“As more and more artificial intelligence is entering into the world, more and more emotional intelligence must enter into leadership.”; Amit Ray

“We’ve been seeing specialized AI in every aspect of our lives, from medicine and transportation to how electricity is distributed, and it promises to create a vastly more productive and efficient economy …”; Barrack Obama

“Artificial intelligence is the future, not only for Russian, but for all of humankind. It comes with colossal opportunities, but also threats that are difficult to predict. Whoever becomes the leader in this sphere will become the ruler of the world.”; Vladimir Putin

“I think we should be very careful about artificial intelligence. If I had to guess at what our biggest existential threat is, I’d probably say that. So we need to be very careful.”; Elon Musk

“Whenever I hear people saying AI is going to hurt people in the future I think, yeah, technology can generally always be used for good and bad and you need to be careful about how you build it … if you’re arguing against AI then you’re arguing against safer cars that aren’t going to have accidents, and you’re arguing against being able to better diagnose people when they’re sick.”; Mark Zuckerberg

“Most of human and animal learning is unsupervised learning. If intelligence was a cake, unsupervised learning would be the cake, supervised learning would be the icing on the cake, and reinforcement learning would be the cherry on the cake. We know how to make the icing and the cherry, but we don’t know how to make the cake. We need to solve the unsupervised learning problem before we can even think of getting to true AI.”; Yan Lecun

“Artificial intelligence would be the ultimate version of Google. The ultimate search engine that would understand everything on the web. It would understand exactly what you wanted and it would give you the right thing. We’re nowhere near doing that now. However, we can get incrementally closer to that, and that is basically what we’re working on.”; Larry Page,  Co-Founder at Google (2000)

If you had all of the world’s information directly attached to your brain, or an artificial brain that was smarter than your brain, you’d be better off.” – Sergey Brin Co-Founder at Goolgle (2004)

 

Ad: HUT3.AI > Harnessing the power of Artificial Intelligence
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hut3.ai solves business problems through harnessing the power of AI. Find out more about how AI can accelerate your business into the digital future.

 

 

What is P3M3

Maturity models are tools that can benchmark current performance against best practise. It provides valuable information on the current status of operations and point out areas for improvement that could increase the operational effectiveness, not just from a processes perspective but also the involved people, the tools used and the interaction of different disciplines within an organisation.

P3M3 is a management maturity model looking across an organization at how it delivers its projects, programmes and portfolio. P3M3 is unique in that it considers the whole system and not just at the processes.

P3M3 provides three maturity models that can be used separately to focus on specific areas of the business, or more generally to help the organization assess the relationships between their portfolios, programmes and projects.

The three P3M3 maturity models are:

  • Portfolio Management
  • Programme Management
  • Project Management

Structure

Each sub-model is further broken down into seven perspectives:

  • Organizational governance
  • Management control
  • Benefits management
  • Risk management
  • Stakeholder management
  • Finance management
  • Resource management

The P3M3 model has five maturity levels:

  • Level 1: Awareness
  • Level 2: Repeatable
  • Level 3: Defined
  • Level 4: Managed
  • Level 5: Optimized

P3M3 allows an assessment of the process employed, the competencies of people, the tools deployed and the management information used to manage and deliver improvements. This allows organizations to determine their strengths and weaknesses in delivering change.

There are no interdependencies between the models so an assessment may be against one, two or all of the sub-models. It is possible for an organization to be better at programme management than it is at project management.

Benefits

Through baselining an organization’s performance it is possible to identify areas where an organization can most effectively increase its project, programme and portfolio capability. Therefore the sort of benefits expected from using P3M3 to develop and implement an improvement plan would be:

  • Cost savings
    • On delivering project outputs and programme outcomes
    • Integrate processes across an organization
    • More effective use of budgets
  • Improved benefits delivery
  • Improved quality of delivered projects and programmes
  • Improved customer satisfaction
  • Increase return on investment
  • Providing plans for continual progression
  • Recognizing achievements from previous investment in capability improvement
  • Focusing on the organization’s maturity, not specific initiatives (you can run good programmes and projects without having high levels of maturity – but not consistently).

 

5 Whys

5 Whys” technique for Root Cause Analysis (RCA)

Do you have a recurring problem that keeps on coming back despite repeated actions to address it? This might be an indication that you are treating the symptoms of the problem and not the actual problem itself – you need to determine the root cause of the problem – you must conduct a root cause analysis.

Root cause analysis (RCA) is a systematic process for identifying “root causes” of problems and the appropriate response that effectively deals with it. RCA is based on the basic idea that effective management requires more than merely “putting out fires” through quick fixes for problems that develop, but finding a way to prevent them from occurring again or in the first place. A root cause analysis is a process used to identify the primary source of a problem.

An effective method to get to the bottom of a problem is to use the “5 Whys” that was initially developed as part of TPS (Toyota Production System) that gave birth to what we know today as Lean Six Sigma – discussed in more detail in the article on “Lean Six Sigma – Organisational Development and Change”.

5 Whys is an iterative interrogative (problem solving) technique used to explore the cause-and-effect relationships underlying a particular problem.

The primary goal of the technique is to determine the root cause (source) of a defect or problem by repeating the question “Why?”, five times. Each answer forms the basis of the next question.

Why five time? This derives from an anecdotal observation on the number of iterations needed to resolve the problem.

How to conduct the 5 Why technique:

  1. Write down the specific problem. Writing the issue helps you formalize the problem and describe it completely. It also helps a team focus on the same problem.
  2. Ask Why the problem happens and write the answer down below the problem.
  3. If the answer you just provided doesn’t identify the root cause of the problem that you wrote down in Step 1, ask Why again and write that answer down.
  4. Loop back to step 3 until the team is in agreement that the problem’s root cause is identified. Again, this may take fewer or more times than five Whys.

For example:

5Whys - RCA

In business, only one cause for a problem is not the usual case. Using the 5 Whys in conjunction with the Fishbone Diagram (Ishikawa), that helps the exploration process to cover all potential inputs and hence potential causes of problems or defects.

fishbone-diag3

 The 5 Whys method can be used to uncover multiple root causes by repeating the process asking a different sequence of questions each time.

 

Building a Compelling Value Proposition

What does a professional, consultant, executive or entrepreneur have in common, seeing that business success is a common key performance indicator – the need for a compelling value proposition.

In the blog post “Your Value Proposition” we discussed four simple elements of a value proposition being:

  • Need
  • Approach
  • Benefits
  • Competition

We concluded that in presenting your value proposition, it is your responsibility to adapt to situations as needed and to ensure that you can validate the actual need, have reassurance that the approach will work, know that the benefits as real and that you are a competitive player in the market. How well you can demonstrate agility in aligning the right value proposition to the customer, will determine your success in business.

In this conclusion lies the clue in how you could go about when building a compelling value proposition?

  • Validate the actual need
  • A workable approach
  • Real benefits
  • Being a competitive market player

Let’s recap on a Definition of a Value Statement: It is the positioning statement that you communicate to articulate the benefits that you provide for your target audience (customer) and how you do that uniquely well.

Where to start

The need is the most important part of the value statement, the need is the source of innovation and inspiration, the starting point that defines the problem you are trying to solve. Once you understand the real need – you are halfway there, as you’ll have an offset point, a target for your solution – an audience with a the need and interest to buy you product or service.

To identify and understand a real need, you need to do some research to gather some insight in the challenges your potential customers are facing. Asking targeted “what, why, how, who” questions to guide you in finding the real need with questions like:

  • what is the actual problem,
  • why is it a problem,
  • what are the outcome requirements,
  • what does good or outcome success really look like,
  • what is currently offered in the market,
  • what has been tried,
  • did it work,
  • what works and what does not work,
  • why does not work or work,
  • what is the root cause of the problem

Validating the need

Once you have established the real need you should ask a very important question: “Is the problem worth solving?”

Forbes mentions for 4Us – four questions you should ask when defining your value proposition:

  1. Is the problem Unworkable? (if not fixing it, is their measureable consequences i.e. someone will get fired)
  2. Is fixing the problem Unavoidable? (i.e. driven by new legislation, or a governance mandate)
  3. Is the problem Urgent? (an urgent problem has the attention of the decision makers, the C-suite)
  4. Is the problem Underserved? (absence of valid solutions currently in the market)

If you can answer ‘Yes’ to all four questions you are on the right track in defining a compelling value proposition.

Measure if your solution and associated approach is compelling

Understanding the real need enables you to define the solution – the product or services that will address the need and solve the defined problem.

Forbes mentions having a product or service that is simply faster, cheaper and better is not enough to make it compelling – you should evaluate it in 3D.

  1. Discontinuous innovation – looking at the problem differently and offering transformative benefits
  2. Defensible technology – does it introduce intellectual property that can be protected and create a barrier to entry, hence create a competitive advantage.
  3. Disruptive business model – delivers value in monetary terms to incubate business growth.

A solution with benefits in 3D is worth pursuing.

Ease of Integration

You must ensure that the solution can easily integrate into the life of the customer. Defining the solution in an easy understandable language goes a long way, but if you end up with a complicated, time-consuming and costly project trying to integrate your solution with the customer’s business you are introducing an unwanted barrier of entry. For example – as technologist we can get so caught up in the fascination of cutting edge technology, the technical jargon and functionality, that we loose sight of the actual business driver – understanding and addressing the customers need – the use of the technology must make things easier and better, not more difficult and worse.

When engineering your solution focus on integration with the minimum business operation disruption while still delivering increased business value. This is referred to as the Gain/Pain ratio: the gain your solution brings to the customer versus the effort and cost to the customer to integrate and adopt the solution.

Understand your own SWOT

Remember that you are the core to your value proposition – so keep in mind your own Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats – focus on your Strengths to realise your Opportunities.

Build the Value Proposition

Incorporating the findings – understanding, defining and validating the need, which is addressed by a compelling, easy to integrate solution and playing towards your own strengths – you are ready to build your value proposition.

The value proposition statement could read: For (target audience), who are dissatisfied with (the current alternatives), our product or service is a (your new brilliant service and product definition), that provides (key problem solving capability) and (the benefits to the audience) unlike (the product or service alternatives).

Last tip: Ensure that you capture what you really are about – be true to yourself and authentic in your presentation, people see straight through anything else.

 

Related Blog posts: Your Value Proposition

Your Value Proposition

Your Value Proposition

Being in business means that you have something of value for sale, that is desired by someone else who is buying. Being in business isn’t just about running your own business, it also means that you are working within a commercial workplace where goods or services of value are being sold and delivered to a customer who is buying. These customers can be external to the business for example selling products and services to another business or to the public, or these customers can be internal if it is delivering value to another department or to your colleagues within the organisation or your workplace. Apart from providing your services to the customers, other people also benefit from your deliverables. These people are stakeholders and they can include your business partner, the board of directors, your manager or team leader, your team, the shareholders or even other businesses for example your vendors and suppliers who would all benefit from your success.

Even if you are not running your own business and are working for an organisation to earn your living, you are in business – the business of selling your own skills, experience and knowledge, which is of value to the company you are working for, in exchange for a salary or wages. The organisation hiring you is in essence your customer.

To be successful in business it is clear that you need to have something of value. Something of value means you have a defined product or services (skills, knowledge and experience) and a market with customers who value what you have on offer and are willing to exchange it for money. The customer must be aware of your product or service and more so must understand its value, before they will engage and buy. Creating this customer awareness is done through marketing, which is dependent on a clear definition of the product and it’s value to the target audience (the customers). This value definition is your value proposition.

Remember – you define your value proposition, but it’s true value is in the eyes of the beholder – your customer. Ultimately it is the benefits that your product and service bring to the customer that defines it’s value.

The value proposition is the backbone of the business – everything what your business is about evolves around delivering and continuously improving the value proposition. To gain new customers and to keep current customers and stakeholders involved and happy, you need to be crystal clear of your well defined value proposition.

Having a look at the value proposition examples of some of most successful companies like Uber, Apple, Slack, Digit, reveals that a good value proposition includes four elements:

  • Need
  • Approach
  • Benefits
  • Competition

Need – understand what your customer really wants, what do they need, what problems are they looking to solve. This is probably the most important part of the value proposition as without understanding the need, you’ll find it hard to define the solution (the product or services) that will satisfy the customers need in such a desirable way, that they are willing to spend money to get it.

Approach – having a solution to the customer’s need, your approach explains how you go about applying your solution (product or service) to satisfy the customer need – how the solution will solve their problem. The solution must be a direct fix for the problem. The approach you choose in delivering your solution must be the most effective means to apply your solution to the specific problem or customer need. Your approach will consist if specific components i.e. methodologies, solution architecture, prototyping, processes, templates, standards, etc, selected specifically to optimise the success in applying the solution (product or service) to the customer’s problem (need).

Benefits – focussed on the customer, what benefits would they get from using your services or products. Back to defining what value will you bring to the life of the customers when they are using your product or receiving your service. To understand this, you have to understand how the customer experiences your offering, answering fundamental questions like: “How much does this cost?”; and “Is the benefits worth the price?”. Benefits are tangible and measurable – usually in monetary terms. Benefits are not just ideas. Define the benefit in the terms the customer will relate to. Benefits should attract customers to what you offer.

Competition – what is your unique differentiator that sets you apart from your competition in the market. Again this should be approached from the customer’s perspective. How does your customer perceive your offering in relation to the other providers competing for their money. In what way does your offering differentiate from the competition i.e. quality, durability, reliability, guarantee and price.

Example: Let’s apply this to the Apple iPhone Value Proposition

Need: everyone uses smart phones – but it can be complicated to navigate. Your phone has become an accessory, and expression of your personality, a needed tool conducting our day to day lives.

Approach: Apple offers a unique user experience and design; it is not just a phone but also a lifestyle.

Benefits: Hassle free, superior operation – “It just works”. There is nothing quite like iPhone as every iPhone is built on the belief that a phone should be more than a collection of features. Exceptional design and state of the art engineering that oozes with built-in quality. Simple, elegant, beautiful and magical to use. (Just listen to their launch keynotes)

Competition: Genuinely unique iPhone features are highlighted on all marketing media i.e. security. Most of the iPhone features are not unique but experiencing the already known features on a iPhone is magical – that is what sets iPhone apart.

Using your Value Proposition

Breaking down your value proposition using the four elements mentioned above, puts you on the front foot to easily position all customer conversations towards insight and perspective of your proposition, to  the value you deliver for your customers and your stakeholders. Following through on all four elements during conversations takes the customer on a journey, a journey that makes it easier for them to relate to you and a clear holistically understanding your offering in context to the bigger picture. It also gives them the reassurance that you have the needed insight in what matters to them. Even if a prospect customer wants to focus on only one area for example the benefits aspects, you will be prepared for the engagement.

Keeping your value proposition front-mind during all customer and/or stakeholder engagements. This keeps you focussed on what’s important for business success – satisfied and happy customers.

To Conclude:

In real live you cannot predict the future, especially as you know that every situation is unique in it’s own right. In presenting your value proposition, it is your responsibility to have the agility to adapt to situations as needed, to ensure that you can validate the actual need, have reassurance that the approach will work, know that the benefits as real and that you are a competitive player in the market.

How well you can demonstrate agility in aligning the right value proposition to the customer, will determine your success in business.

 

Also read “How to Build a Compelling Business Proposition” for some valuable tips to consider in compiling value propositions.

Effective Leadership Communication

We have all heard the saying: “Communication is the key to success!”

Leadership coaches and successful leaders all agree that when it comes to communication – A leader can never communicate enough! The communication gurus say that even when there is nothing to communicate, the leader should communicate that there is nothing to communicate…

I have been asked the questions: “ How do you communicate effectively to ensure that everyone in the team are on the same page?” and “How do you ensure that you address and manage people’s expectations?”

To answer this, I’ll start by over simplifying in saying that communication is simply the exchange of information between a sender and a receiver, through a specific medium. In electronic engineering information is transferred from a transmitter to a receiver as an electric signal in a controlled way, ensuring the receiver receives the same information that left the sender – effective communication. That is no different with humans. As a leader communicating to your team, you are distributing information amongst other humans, amongst people – and herein the challenge. People, unlike electronic senders and receivers (which are manufactured to be identical) are different, not one is alike. Hence will the interpretation of the information exchanged through communication  differ as well. The challenge to effective communication is to align the interpretation of the information into a common understanding between the communicator (speaker/sender) and the audience (listener/receiver).

The ways in which you can ensure that you are addressing and managing people’s expectations better, are in understanding the people better. A better understanding of people, paradoxically comes through effective communication – to ask questions and listen more than actually doing the talking (active listening).

Communication is more than just your words – it is also:

  • how you say it – tone of voice, passion, authenticity
  • why you say it – the message’s intention
  • when you say it – time of day or after a specific milestone or prior an event
  • what you say AND what you don’t to say – sometimes what you don’t say gives a clearer picture of what you want to say…
  • your body language – facial expression, gestures and posture communicate a lot of the unsaid word

Communication Empowers

Consuming information leads to knowledge and knowledge is power. Thus communication leads to empowerment.

The ‘One Minute Manager’ refers to empowerment as: “Empowerment is something someone gives you – leadership is what you do to make it work.”

Communication empowers people with knowledge – to be informed and to feel part of something bigger. How the communication is being delivered (leadership) will determine it’s outcome.

What is LeadershipMy definition: “Leadership is the art of leading a group of people or an organisation to execute a common task by providing a vision that they follow willingly through the inspiration received from the leader’s passion, knowledge, methodologies, approach, and ability to influence the interests of all members and stakeholders.”

How can you accomplish this if you cannot effectively communicate the vision in a way that people feel inspired to willingly take action towards achieving it? Effective communication is key…

You can have the best team mission with SMART objectives but if you cannot communicate it to your team, you will struggle to make progress. How well you can communicate your plan (unambiguously) will determine if your team will really mobilise and unite behind you and go the extra mile to make it happen. The ultimate success measure of effective communication is: “your plan becomes the team’s plan” – everybody on the same page!

People are not mind readers – they need clear instructions and clear information to make decisions and conduct their work, especially if the work is delivered within a team where coherence and a mutual output objective are of the essence. Ultimately, it is in your best interest to accept responsibility for getting what you need to succeed in the workplace. As leaders it is in your best interest and your responsibility to ensure that what’s needed to succeed, is effectively communicated to your work teams.

Consider This

You can improve the effectiveness of your communication through paying attention to the following aspects, each discussed in more detail below:

  • Know & Understand your audience
  • Motivational & Confidence building
  • Have a Plan
  • Make sure the communication subject is clear – stick to it
  • Be Direct
  • Be Authentic
  • Enough detail
  • Bi-directional communication is more impactful
  • Common Cause
  • Think before you speak
  • Emotional Intelligence
  • Get Assurance – get feedback, assure the message sent is the message received
  • Build Trust
  • Situational leadership – choose the communication style to suite the situation

 

Know & Understand the Audience

Being an effective communicator allows you to address the interests and concerns of your target audience whether it being your team, your customer or client, the stakeholders or an audience listening to your presentation. Knowing and understanding your audience help to ensure that your grab their attention when you communicate and that they feel your are addressing the message to them. To understand your audience better and to structure communication appropriately, you can ask questions like:

  • Who is the audience?
  • Why is that the audience? (sometimes this is obvious but by asking this question, really think about who should be getting this message and why? Why not?)
  • What are we trying to achieve?
  • What are your plans?
  • What are the expectations of me as the leader/presenter and of the people the team members/audience?
  • What will be the desired impact of your message? (Also think about the undesired outcomes and how you can proactively prevent that?)
  • What will be the impact of your plans to the business, the team and to the people personally? – Do not leave people with more questions than before.
  • Why can we productively work together? (Understanding this is key to structuring the message to utilise people’s strengths to bring acceptance and empowerment – a sense of belonging.)
  • How will we know we are doing a great job? (How will this be measured within the audience – everyone needs to understand the metrics.)
  • Are you using a language (terminology and jargon) that the audience can relate to? There is a difference in technology speak and business speak. Align the vocabulary to your target audience – i.e. when addressing business leaders do not use too much technical acronyms and terms, rather focus on outcomes and financial numbers.
  • Do you understand the audience’s needs?
  • How can you, as the leader, meet their needs?
  • How frequently do I need to communicate? (Constant)
  • What method, approach and medium (usually a combination of) will deliver the message best? (Face to face, one to one, round table, town hall, informal stand-up, email, presentation (power-point), graphs, bullet points, etc…)
  • To what level of detail do I need to go into, to describe clearly what I mean? (Post communication, everybody must have the same picture in their minds.)

Motivational and Confidence building

Communication should always be motivational and aim to build confidence within the audience – especially when bad news is being delivered. Ensure that you mention the performance of the team, the success resulting from the efforts. The positive future that awaits and the confidence that you have in the teams abilities to realise that future. Keep repremending content to the point and as short as possible and always follow it up with a positive prospect building trust and confidence.

Have a plan

If you are communicating change or progress, you must come prepared with a plan. Have a relevant understanding of the past, the present and the future. The plan is usually “how” the team will progress from where they have been, using what they have today to build the desired future. Progress against a plan must always be measurable to unsure continuous improvement.

Be clear on what is being communicated

Ensure that everyone is clear of the subject being communicated. Focus on the key message of the communication and present it in a direct and authentic way. Stick to the subject. Ensure that the message comes with the right context and content for the receiver to place it in the right perspective.

Be Direct

I believe in a direct approach – say it as it is. Have the guts to say what is needed. Speak about the hard things that no one talks about but everyone wants to hear. Address the elephant in the room, preferably before you are asked about it.

 Be Authentic

My believe is to always be truthful and authentic in delivering your message, be yourself – people see straight through anything else…

Enough detail

Ensure that you communicate just enough detail to ensure everyone has the same picture in his or her minds after you have communicated. Too much detail and people will loose interest. Too little detail and people will makeup their own inconsistent picture. Remember the story of the group of people that were told that there is a cat in the room next door… the storyteller waited for the picture to start forming and then asked each one of the audience to describe it. As you can imagine various different pictures were presented – a black cat, a ginger cat or is it a tiger?

Always be prepared to go into way more detail than what you expect – your ability to use detailed facts to support your message, especially when asked about it, will determine the credibility of your message.

Bi-directional

Successful communication always has to be two-way. You have to be a good listener as well. Be prepared to have collaboratively discussions – listen intently before you respond. Do not formulate your next response in your head instead of listening to what is being said or asked. Your team will have a wealth of knowledge and insight that might help to enhance the right picture. This means being able to have a meaningful discussion with people, understanding, assisting and facilitating the resolution of their problems, ensuring people know what to do and why they are doing it without you having to tell them how to do it. (See Success – people come first).

Effective communication is the continuous search and commitment to seek for a better understanding. Approach conversations from a learning perspective, an opportunity to get to know more rather than a one directional “tell” perspective.

Common Cause

For the message to hit home it must address a common cause – something that address the benefit of the team but also on an individual level. Either create a common cause in your communication or remind people of the common cause – why it is important to be part of something bigger rather than just you as an individual.

 Think before your speak

Stop and think things through before you act in haste, sending out an ill-considered communication. Think what needs to happen, what are the benefits, risks, what are the desired outcome… Then compile a well-considered and effective communication. Remember this – Once the message is out, you can never really take it back.

Emotional Intelligence

In the blog post on Emotional Intelligence, EQ is defined under five interconnected components:

  • Self-awareness
  • Self-regulation
  • Motivation
  • Empathy
  • Social skills

Use your own EI to assess the situation before your decide on the appropriate way to react and how what needs communicating. In short I say:” Trust your gut feeling.”

Get Assurance

Continuously test the effectiveness of your communication by asking people to relay to you what their interpretation is. Ask this questions at all levels – do not assume that the organisation structure will distribute the intended message to all that needs to hear it – go check for yourself. Get feedback. Get the assurance that people understand what you are communicating and that if people are remembering and acting on what has been communicated. If not – communicate again, again!

Build Trust

You want your communications to be trusted. How do you build trust? By doing what you say you are going to do and build relationships at all levels with integrity and honesty. When you are trusted, your communication is on-boarded more sincerely and you are taken seriously – building rapport.

Situational Communication (and Leadership)

There are many different leadership styles (read more here) as outlined in the list below:

  • Autocratic Leadership
  • Bureaucratic Leadership
  • Charismatic Leadership
  • Democratic/Participative Leadership
  • Laissez-Faire Leadership
  • People-Oriented/Relations-Oriented Leadership
  • Servant Leadership
  • Task-Oriented Leadership
  • Transactional Leadership
  • Transformational Leadership

The “One Minute Manager” summarised leadership into four basic styles:

  • Directing – The leader provides specific instructions and closely supervises the accomplishment. (Communicate mainly by telling people what needs to be done)
  • Coaching – The leader continuous to direct and closely supervise but also explains decisions, solicits suggestions and support progress made. (Communicate a directive or corrective after team collaboration)
  • Supporting – The leader facilitates and supports people’s efforts toward accomplishment and shares responsibility for decision making with them. (Communicate similarly to the Coaching style)
  • Delegating – The leader turns over responsibility for decision making and problem solving to subordinates. (Communicate collaboratively and inclusively)

Usually the leaders default communication style is directly related to the leadership style. An effective leader can adapt his management style and hence his communication style according to the situation, including consideration for the audience and the nature of the message to be communicated.

 

To Conclude

Remember and think about all the aspects mentioned for consideration, before you communicate. Be flexible and agile in your approach to communication – as a leader you must be able to fluently switch between different leadership and communication styles and mediums to ensure optimum results, in the moment. There is no one glove that fit them all, leadership is not a science – hence the art of leadership. You’ll know when you get it right – do more of those!

Every situation is different and hence can a single communication approach not be seen as superior to the other – there are no equals. I’ll conclude with this saying from the ‘One Minute Manager’: “There is nothing so unequal as the equal treatment of un-equals.”

Bimodal Organisations

The continuous push towards business improvement combined with the digital revolution, that has changed the way the customer is engaging with business through the use of technology, have introduced the need for an agility in the delivery of IT services. This speed and agility in IT delivery, for the business to keep abreast of a fast evolving and innovative technology landscape and to gain an competitive advantage are not just required in the development and/or introduction of new technology into the business, but in the way “keep the lights on” IT operations are reliably delivered through stable platforms and processes enabling business growth as well.

IT Bimodal

We can agree that once systems and solutions are adopted and integrated into business operations, the business requirement for IT delivery changes with IT stability, reliability, availability and quality as key enablers to business performance optimisation. There are thus two very distinct and equally important ways or modes of delivering IT services that should seamlessly combine into the overall IT Service Operations contributing to business growth.

Gartner minted in 2016 the concept of IT Bimodal – the practise to manage two separate coherent modes of IT delivery.

Mode 1: Focussed on Stability Mode 2: Focussed on Agility
Traditional Exploratory
Sequential Non-linear
Emphasis on: Safety & Accuracy Emphasis on: Agility and Speed

Each of the delivery modes has their own set of benefits and flaws depending on the business context – ultimately the best of both worlds must be adapted as the new way in which technology delivers into business value. Businesses require agility in change without compromising the stability of operations. Change to this new way and associated new Target Operating Model (TOM) is required.

Bimodal Organisation

This transformation is not just applicable to IT but the entire organisation. IT and “the business” are the two parts of the modern digital business. “The Business” needs to adapt and change their work style (operating model) towards digital as well. This transformation by both IT and “the business”, branded by Gartner as Bimodal, is the transformation towards a new business operating model (a new way of working) embracing a common goal of strategic alignment. Full integration of IT and business are the core of a successful digital organisation competing in the digital era.

The introduction of Agile development methodologies and DevOps, led to a transformation in how technology is being delivered into business operations. IT Service Management (ITSM) and the ITIL framework have matured the operational delivery of IT services, as a business (#ITaaBusiness) or within a business while Lean Six Sigma enables business process optimisation to ultimate quality delivery excellence. But these new “agile” ways of working, today mainly applied within IT, is not enough for the full bimodal transformation. Other aspects involving the overall organisation such as business governance and strategy, management structures and organisational architecture, people (Human Capital Management – HCM), skills, competencies, culture, change management, leadership and performance management as well as the formal management of business and technology innovation and integration, form additional service areas that have to be established or transformed.

How do organisations go about defining this new Bimodal TOM? – In come Bimodal Enablement Consulting Services in short BECS.

BECS – Bimodal Enablement Consulting Services

Gartner’s definition: “An emerging market that leverages a composite set of business and technology consulting services and IP assets to achieve faster more reliable and secure, as well as business aligned, solutions in support of strategic business initiatives.”

To establish a Bimodal enabled TOM, organisations need to architect/design the organisation to be customer centric, focussing on the value adding service delivered to the client/customer – a Service Oriented Organisation (SOO) designed using a Service Oriented Architecture (SOA). This set of customer services (external facing) should relay back to a comprehensive and integrated set of supporting and enabling business services (internal facing) that can quickly and effectively enable the business to innovate and rapidly adapt and deliver to changing customer needs and the use of technology within the digital era. This journey of change, that businesses needs to undergo, is exactly what digital transformation is about – not just focused on the technology, processes, quality and customer service, but on the business holistically, starting with the people working within the business and how they add value through the development and use of the right skills and tools, learning an applying it rapidly throughout the business value chain.

A customer centric delivery approach requires the development and adoption of new ways in which work are conducted – new management structures, building and enhancing A-teams (high performing individuals and teams, getting the job done), optimised processes and the right tool sets.

BECS must address the top bimodal drivers or goals, as identified by Gartner research:

  • Deliver greater IT value to the business
  • Shorten the time to deliver solutions
  • Enable digital business strategies
  • Accelerate IT innovation
  • Transform IT talent/culture/operations
  • Increase the interaction between business and IT
  • Embrace leading-edge technologies, tools and/or practices
  • Reduce IT costs (always a favourite)
  • Change the organisation’s culture

Take Action

Are you ready, aligned and actively engaging in the digital world?

Can you accelerate change and enable revenue growth with rock-solid service and business operations?

Are you actively practicing bimodal, continuously adapting to the changing digitally empowered customer demand?

The ultimate test to determine if you are bimodal: Every business process and every enterprise system needs to work without a blip, even as more innovation and disruptors are introduced to make the business more efficient and responsive.

It is time to be a bimodal organisation!

___________Renier Botha specialises in helping organisation to optimise their ability to better integrate technology and change into their main revenue channels – make contact today.

Related post: Success – People First; Performance ImprovementAGILE – What business executives need to know #1; AGILE – What business executives need to know #2; Lean Six Sigma; The Digital Transformation Necessity; Structure Tech for Success

Performance Improvement: Effective & Efficient

Performance is simply the action taken or process followed in doing a task or function.

Performance improvement – the continuous driver to be better, to grow, to achieve great things!

Directly related to business performance is the ability to change the business processes for greater effectiveness and efficiency increasing productivity while terms like specialisation, standardisation comes to mind followed by measurement, data analysis, statistical analysis, root cause analysis and finally process control and quality control and the overriding metric – customer satisfaction.

Remember the saying by Peter Drucker: “What gets measured, gets improved”…

Measuring performance involves the ability to measure the effectiveness of an initiative or action as well as the efficiency in which it is achieved. Similarly performance improvement involves the enhancement of effectiveness while optimising the efficiency.

Effective: Success in delivering a desired or intended result.

Efficient: Achieving maximum productivity through optimal use of resources with minimum waste or expense.

Depending on your business and your situation you must select or develop key performance indicators (KPIs) to calculate the effectiveness and efficiency of your activities – for business this is usually calculated in monetary terms. Once you understand your current performance you can set KPI targets and work on improvement initiatives.

I found this flow on Pinterest that gives a great overview of the processes involved in enhancing effectiveness and efficiency to increase business performance summarised in 5 habits of the mind:

  1. Know where time goes
  2. Focus on outward contribution
  3. Build on Strengths
  4. Concentrate on selected area that produce outstanding results
  5. Make effective decisions

Linking appropriate KPIs to this flow can measure progress and deliver improving results.

Effective_Efficient

Performance Management

Performance (Effectiveness and Efficiency) can be influenced by various different factors – illustrated in the diagram below.

Performance_Improvement - CP.png

In using this diagram, a critical path (Shown in red above) can be drawn to improve performance in a specific area i.e. staff performance.

  1. First performance is defined,
  2. then measured to get a specific result (and understanding the impact it has overall).
  3. Understanding the results to determine which key skills, abilities and competeencies or lack there-of are contributing to the specific performance.
  4. Talent is needed to deliver performance – talent skills, abilities and competencies can be trained or recruited.
  5. Engagement is key – involve, motivate and empower your talent to respond and interact with the business – engagement brings a sense of happiness, which is a great motivator for creativity and performance.
  6. And the cycle repeats in never ending quality improvement loop.

This methodology can be adapted and used for performance improvement in any area of the business value chain.

Remember performance improvement is always reflected in the customer satisfaction. Satisfied customers engage with the business recurrently – hence revenue growth!

Let’s Talk – renierbotha Ltd specialises in the performance improvement of business and IT operations. Are you looking to achieve your goals faster? Create better business value? Build strategies to improve growth? We can help – make contact!

Lean Six Sigma – Organisational Development and Change

Directly related to business performance is the ability to change the business processes for greater efficiency and productivity while terms like specialisation, standardisation comes to mind followed by measurement, data analysis, statistical analysis, root cause analysis and finally process control and quality control.

Remember the saying by Peter Drucker: “What gets measured, gets improved”…

Improvement initiatives bring change.

A brief history of organisational change

Change management has evolved from Organisational Development OD – focused on helping people to manage change and to stay alive post the world war in the 1940S. That lead to Change Management thinking in the 70s and 80s and in parallel project management as another management process, was developed. These processes saw change as linear and hence can it be managed tightly. It starts with a burning platform and a vision to resolve the problem followed by the change journey of solving problems and overcoming obstacles. In the late 80s Appreciative Inquiry emerged changing the focus of change to “best that can be” and driving “what should be” rather than “what is wrong” and driving the “fix it”. The 1990s and 2000s brought more collaborative models and tools to manage change and solve problems and performance coaching got commonly accepted and used.

The drive to improve business performance gave life to various methodologies and frameworks for example:

  • Toyota Production System (TPS), the origins of Lean Thinking, included the prominent problem solving tools through the “five why’s”, continuous improvement, “Just in Time” production and the elimination of waste.
  • Business Process Re-engineering (BPR) which encouraged the outsourcing and off-shoring of work deemed to be non essential or too costly to perform.
  • Balance Scorecard which aims to provide a well-balanced view of the health of an organization through key performance metrics representing the financial, operational, human and environmental aspects of the business performance.
  • Project Management methodologies and frameworks: PMI, Prince2, Agile SCRUM, LEAN, KANBAN
  • Quality Control frameworks, methodologies and standards: ISO9001, Six Sigma
  • Information Technology Service Management (ITSM) frameworks: ITIL

 

Six Sigma

Six Sigma is a quality improvement approach that seeks to improve the quality of process outputs by identifying and removing the causes of defects and minimizing variability in the delivery processes. This is done through a set of quality tools management tools and statistics.

Another definition – the ability of processes to deliver a very high percentage of the output within a defined specification derived from customer specifications. A key KPI is the defect % and the process to reduce that to be within specification of tolerance – where a defect is defined as any process output that does deliver to customer requirements.

Running a process at Six Sigma quality is defined as defect levels below 3.4 defects per 1M cycles of the process!

Six Sigma principles:

  • Continuous efforts to achieve stable and predictable process outputs are vital for business success.
  • Operational business processes can be measured, analysed, improved and controlled.
  • Achieving sustained quality improvement requires commitment from the entire organization, particularly from the top management.

Each Six Sigma project has a five step sequence (DMAIC):

DMAICProblem solving approach:

D – Defining

M – Measuring

A – Analysing

I – Improving

C – Controlling

  1. Defining the problem, and setting a project goal.
  2. Measuring current process performance and collecting relevant data potential root causes.
  3. Analysing the data to investigate and verify cause-and-effect relationships. Determine what the relationships are attempt to ensure that all factors have been considered. The analysis should reveal a root cause of the defect under investigation.
  4. Improving and optimizing the current process by introducing changes that reduce or solve the impact of the identified root cause.
  5. Controlling/Monitoring the newly changed process to ensure no deviation from the expected results occur and that the new process is stable.

 

LEAN Thinking

You are lean when all you resources are used to deliver value to the end customer – nothing else. This value has to flow through the value chain without any interruptions. All activities not directly supporting in the creation and delivery of this value is considered as waste and therefore reviewed for potential elimination.

Another definition: Lean is focused on getting the rights things to the right place at the right time in the right quantity while achieving a perfect workflow that is dictated by the customers demand to deliver the goods just in time.

LEAN – Five Principles:

Lean_principles

  1. Specify value from the customer’s point of view. Start by recognizing that only a small percentage of overall time, effort and resources in a organization actually adds value to the customer.
  2. Identify and map the value chain. This is the te entire set of activities across all part of the organization involved in delivering a product or service to the customer. Where possible eliminate the steps that do not create value
  3. Create flow – your product and service should flow to the customer without any interruptions, detours or waiting – delivering customer value.
  4. Respond to customer demand (also referred to as pull). Understand the demand and optimize the process to deliver to this demand – ensuring you deliver only what the customer wants and when they want it – just in time production.
  5. Pursue perfection – all the steps link together as waste is identified – in layers as one waste rectification can expose another – and eliminated by changing / optimizing the process to ensure all assets add value to the customer.

LEAN Tools:

  • Five S (5S): A process of keeping the workplace ready for use exercising a discipline of 5 workplace practices beginning with S.
    • Sort
    • Set in order
    • Shine
    • Standardise
    • Sustain

5S optimally prepare the workplace to perform optimum tasks in the future including the idea of visual management.

  • Seven Wastes: Waste is any activity that consumes resources but do not not creates value for the customer. The purpose of seven wastes is to identify and eliminate waste in processes hence delivery greater customer value.                                              7 Catagories of Waste: Defects, Overproduction, Unnecessary transportation, Waiting, Inventory, Unnecessary Motion, Over-processing
  • Takt Time: The average rate at which a deliverable item is required to meet the customer demand. It is used to create the balance in the process between supply and demand and to help calculate the resources required to efficiently process a process just in time.
  • SMED
  • Kaizen
  • Value-Stream Mapping

Underlining the success of Lean is a culture of respect of people – at all levels. As Lean is a whole-system management methodology that requires a overall culture change to be successful – starting at the top.

 

Lean Six Sigma

General Electric (GE) adopted Six Sigma in the 1980’s – combining that with the principals adopted by the Toyota Production System (TPS), the origins of Lean Thinking provide the methodology of LEAN SIX SIGMA.

It is a complementary combination between the best of both worlds – Lean Thinking, which is focused on process flow and waste elimination and Six Sigma, which is focused on process variation and defects – driving business operational excellence.

 

Other relevant posts: Executive Overview of Agile #1 and #2

Let’s Talk – Are you looking to achieve your goals faster? Create better business value? Build strategies to improve growth? We can help – make contact!