A comedian who understands the iterate or die business model

11:53 AM

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Harvard Business Publishing had a great article called
Innovate Like Chris Rock most people are aware of Chris Rock as a comedian but when you see him talk about how he creates comedy on a 'global scale' you get a sense for how smart he really is and what is really involved in creating anything on a global scale.

So here is what he does:
  • He writes up some ideas on a yellow pad
  • He goes to a small local club and tries it on 30-40 people
  • He throws out the things that just don't work and iterates until there is a good 45 minute set
  • He progressively exposes the comedy set to larger audiences, providing value along the way
  • Finally (and what most people confuse as being the start) he shows up on HBO as the calm, cool, relaxed provider of world-class comedy
What he does not do:
  • Sit in a room by himself or with one or two others and create and deliver entire sessions
  • Work to get it perfect before he lets the world see his creation
  • Take initial negative feedback and toss out all of his ideas and start from scratch again
In the end even though Chris is a world class performer he still works it through a process but not a process that stifles the innovation!

In our business we battle this sort of thing all the time as do our customers; those being people who are trying to propel their organizations away from antiquated thinking by embracing newer and better technology strategies and revenue models as well as those who are creating new software as a service products and services to offer to enterprise and government entities.


What they battle on a regular basis is the mentality of "we gotta get this right", "don't do something until you can show all of the ramifications", "that's not how we make money today" and the long litany of similar and no less spine chilling words used to protect the silos and fiefdoms that can exist in the world of enterprise and government product and service providers.

What happens is that people throw out sage advice like 'proper planning and input from everyone will ensure success' or 'make sure to check with so and so', when in fact so and so is the Chief of No and more No.

Now to be fair organizations that operate like that probably did not start out that way but as they got bigger and 'smarter' (the MBA way) they stopped iterating and replaced iteration with planning and project plans and approvals and internal experts as the best way to innovate and get things done when in fact, it yields some of the least innovative outcomes that are humanly possible.


What I am increasingly finding is that it is virtually impossible to find anything in business that would not benefit from an 'Iterative Process" and that virtually every success story works its way back to companies and yes comedians that work that way.

When I talk about an iterative process and their are many versions of the idea I mean a process that:
  • Makes it easy to get started
  • Makes it possible to get to a first version of a new product or service in 30-60 days
  • Is understood to be a continually evolving process that demands improvement based on actual customer feedback not just the internal noise of an organization
  • Has as its number one goal to achieve something new; new revenue, new markets, new thought leadership
To be sure this is a specific view, one that works for our company and our customers but it can be iterated by others, so take a stab at that and iterate the definition for yourself.

Rest assured if you are working in organizations that are unable to implement an iterative process or if you are providing a service that is not created using a iterative process you are likely to fail in the short-term (as a new company) or wallow in mediocrity as an 2nd or 3rd tier player in the industry that you are in.

So take it from Chris Rock, iterate or die!

Thanks,

Ed Loessi

Matching business and IT priorities is child's play

8:45 PM

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In our company we are often working with business people to create software solutions before their internal IT department has been called on (sometimes because of the fear of doing so) but inevitably if the idea is strategic someone from IT will need to at least pass an eye over what is happening to see how many rules we are breaking.

The big challenge is that often the business manager struggles in relating what they/we are trying to do with the "strategic IT plan" (the thing it must do in order to get the idea through the gate) and the whole discussion can go completely off the rails really quickly.


So, I was reading a brief on a newly released Gartner EXP Report. In the report they had this interesting table (below) and it got me thinking of a common assignment that my elementary school children do where they have 2 columns of words and they try and match them such as the word 'City' in one column and 'Boston' in another.

The idea is to match up the two words because they belong together. Now looking at this table I thought "Hey this would be great, let me create an easy way for a business person and an IT person to tie their priorities together, so that they could easily see how and when they are in fact actually pretty close to talking about the same thing".


Here is an easy example:

The COO really wants to improve business processes this coming year.

The CIO says "That's great we have been looking at upgrading the ERP system and there is plenty of scope for improving business processes in that area"

The CIO says "I've got scope this year to advance our business intelligence capabilities".

The COO says "That's great we know that business intelligence will really improve our ability to attract and retain new customers".

To a certain extent this is really simple and maybe that's just the point. As children we learn to connect ideas and words together via a simple relation but as we get older we get more rigid in our definition, always looking to get the exact meaning established so much so that we fail to see when we are actually talking about the same things and trying to achieve the same goals.

Give it a shot see if you can get your priorities matched!

From Gartner EXP Worldwide Survey



Top 10 Business Priorities

Rank

Top 10 Technology Priorities

Rank

Business process improvement

1

Business intelligence

1

Reducing enterprise costs

2

Enterprise applications (ERP, CRM and others)

2

Improving enterprise workforce effectiveness

3

Servers and storage technologies (virtualization)

3

Attracting and retaining new customers

4

Legacy application modernization

4

Increasing the use of information/analytics

5

Collaboration technologies

5

Creating new products or services (innovation)

6

Networking, voice and data communications

6

Targeting customers and markets more effectively

7

Technical infrastructure

7

Managing change initiatives

8

Security technologies

8

Expanding current customer relationships

9

Service-oriented applications and architecture

9

Expanding into new markets and geographies

10

Document management

10


Ed Loessi

Value Management Strategy

12:46 PM

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Just before the holidays I wrote a Blog post on the Faulkner Technologies corporate Blog about Value Management Strategy. Over the last few weeks I have talked about this idea within our company and with a number of our customers and potential customers. The short version is below and I feel like if you can embrace the idea you can make a tremendous impact in any area of a company.

The General Idea:

‘Value Management Strategy’ is defining the key value points in your business and, through a continuous assessment process, getting yourself and your teams to focus on the most valuable customers, opportunities, contracts and services.

The main components of Value Management involve two simple ideas - 'Initial Strategic Value' and 'Ongoing Strategic Value', and they can re-define how you measure your business.

What this really means is that any thing that you do has to have an initial strategic value point it cannot be done simply to show effort, it makes no sense to build a sales pipeline just to show that you have added to the numbers of prospects, it makes no sense to develop new products or introduce new business processes simply to create change, you must be able to define and then measure the initial strategic value of doing things within a business.

This is also true in an ongoing sense. If you have an initial strategic value idea then you must have any ongoing strategic value idea. As we often find out even the best laid plans change and you must be able to look at the things that you do or the customers and products that make up your business to determine if the game is changing.

To make a quick point, value management strategy does not involve trolling your systems for financial or numerical data to try and paint a picture. This is not a question of business intelligence; it is a process of asking questions of the people who are as close to the activities as
possible within the company.

It's as simple as having the sales person answer questions about a new opportunity or customer or having the account and contract managers answer questions about the general performance of a customer or an ongoing contract. By measuring value in the form of basic questions and answers you serve to create a mental dialog within the business and this mental dialog makes it easy for people within the company to keep themselves on track.

To read the expanded version you can go and DOWNLOAD a short white paper with more examples on this idea.

Thanks,

Ed

Ed Loessi