How to Innovate to stay Relevant

Staying relevant! The biggest challenge we all face – staying relevant within our market. Relevance to your customers is what keeps you in business.

With the world changing as rapidly as it does today, mainly due to the profound influence of technology on our lives, the expectations of the consumer is changing at pace. They have access to an increasing array of choice, not just in how they spend their money but also in how they are communicating and interacting – change fueled by a digital revolution. The last thing that anyone can afford, in this fast paced race, is losing relevance – that will cost us customers or worse…

Is what you are selling today, adaptable to the continuous changing ecosystems? Does your strategy reflect that agility? How can you ensure that your business stays relevant in the digital age? We have all heard about digital transformation as a necessity, but even then, how can you ensure that you are evolving as fast as your customers and stay relevant within your market?

Business, who has a culture of continuous evolvement, aligning their products and services with the digital driven customer, is the business that stays relevant. This is the kind of business that does not require a digital transformation to realign with customer’s demand to secure their future. A customer centric focus and a culture of continuous evolution within the business, throughout the business value chain, is what assure relevance. Looking at these businesses, their ability/agility to get innovation into production, rapidly, is a core success criterion.

Not having a strategy to stay relevant is a very high and real risk to business. Traditionally we deal with risk by asking “Why?”. For continuous improvement/evolution and agility, we should instead be asking “Why not?” and by that, introduce opportunities for pilots, prototypes, experimentation and proof of concepts. Use your people as an incubator for innovation.

Sure, you have a R&D team and you are continuously finding new ways to deliver your value proposition – but getting your innovative ideas into production is cumbersome, just to discover that it is already aged and possibly absolute in a year a two. R&D is expensive and time consuming and there are no guarantees that your effort will result in a working product or desired service. Just because you have the ability to build something, does not mean that you have to build something. Focusing the scares and expensive resources on the right initiatives makes sense, right! This is why many firms are shifting from a project-minded (short term) approach to a longer-term product-minded investment and management approach.

So, how do you remain customer centric, use your staff as incubators of innovation, select the ideas that will improve your market relevance and then rapidly develop those ideas into revenue earners while shifting to a product-minded investment approach?

You could combine Design Thinking with Lean Startup and Agile Delivery…

In 2016, I was attending the Gartner Symposium where Gartner brought these concepts together very well in this illustration:

Gartner - Design-Lean-Agile 2

Instead of selecting and religiously follow one specific delivery methodology, use the best of multiple worlds to get the optimum output through the innovation lifecycle.

Design-Lean-Agile 1

Using Design Thinking (Empathise >> Define >> Ideate >> Prototype) puts the customer at the core of customer centric innovation and product/service development. Starting by empathising with the customers and defining their most pressing issues and problems, before coming up with a variety of ideas to potentially solve the problems. Each idea is considered before developing a prototype. This dramatically reduces the risk of innovation initiatives, by engaging with what people (the customer) really need and want before actually investing further in development.

Lean Startup focuses on getting a product-market fit by moving a Prototype or MVP (minimum viable product) through a cycle of Build >> Measure >> Learn. This ensures a thorough knowledge of the user of the product/service is gained through an active and measureable engagement with the customer. Customer experience and feedback is captured and used to learn and adapt resulting in an improved MVP, better aligned to the target market, after every cycle.

Finally Agile Scrum, continuing the customer centric theme, involves multiple stakeholders, especially users (customers), in every step in maturing the MVP to a product they will be happy to use. This engagement enhances transparency, which in turn grow the trust between the business (Development Team) and the customer (user) who are vested in the product’s/service’s success. Through an iterative approach, new features and changes can be delivered in an accurate and predictable timeline quickly and according to stakeholder’s priorities. This continuous product/service evolvement, with full stakeholder engagement, builds brand loyalty and ensures market relevance.

Looking at a typical innovation lifecycle you could identify three distinct stages: Idea, Prototype/MVP (Minimal Viable Product) and Product. Each of these innovation stages are complimented by some key value, gained from one of the three delivery methodologies:

Design-Lean-Agile 2

All of these methodologies, engage the stakeholders (especially the customer & user) in continuous feedback loops, measuring progress and capturing feedback to adapt and continuously improve, so maximum value creation is achieved.

No one wants to spend a lot of resource and time delivering something that adds little value and create no impact. Using this innovation methodology and associated tools, you will be building better products and service, in the eye of the user – and that’s what matters. You’ll be actively building and unlocking the potential of you’re A-team, to be involved in creating impact and value while cultivating a culture of continuous improvement.

The same methodology works very well for digital transformation programmes.

At the very least, you should be experimenting with these delivery approaches to find the sweat spot methodology for you.

Experiment to stay relevant!

Let’s Talk – renierbotha.com – Are you looking to develop an innovation strategy to be more agile and stay relevant? Do you want to achieve your goals faster? Create better business value? Build strategies to improve growth?

We can help – make contact!

Read similar articles for further insight in our Blog.

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.

 

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

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!