What’s in a name? How about the three R’s: recognition, reputation, and revenues? What’s the value of a brand? BRANDZ has just published their evaluations and valuations of global brands. It’s a measure of just how valuable the commercial brand is and supporting insight into the whys and wherefores. The shifts and changes in their rankings are a barometer of how our choices of who delivers value are manifested in our buying behavior. It’s not an opinion poll, but rather an evaluation that incorporates business results with analysis inclusive of some subjectivity. It’s free and easily downloaded. The big global headline is that Apple, with an 84% jump in score, has surpassed Google as the most valuable brand in the world. Technology, specifically technology that enables our multi-polarity and interconnectivity to flourish, rules the top of the list … the standard bearers of an increasingly untethered and disintermediated consumer and commercial world. That means that value propositions increasingly incorporate wireless connectivity without a middle man. Googling it, Tweeting, linking up on Facebook or LinkedIn, catching it on YouTube are fully integrated into our lexicon. Recently, repressive government regimes in the Middle East have learned just how powerful these untethered forces are.
There is surrealism to this, particularly for us Baby Boomers. Brands exist in a very Darwinian environment, with success belonging to the fittest. What being fit means has changed lots over the years. The shift years ago from industrial dominance was led by the services economy. In fact, one of the top 5 this year, IBM, now a consulting and technology services giant, was once a hardware maker selling typewriters and lots of computers, behemoths and little ones. The current kings of the hill are all technology firms, with the exception of McDonalds and some might argue that their value proposition and the stuff they sell are untethered, disintermediated, and high tech as well. To nail down the point, Amazon is now a more valuable retail brand than Wal-Mart.
Early losers in this sea change included stock brokers replaced by powerful web engines that enabled more effective, efficient transactional capabilities. Those that transitioned to become trusted advisors are still with us, but very few order takers remain. Be they Borders or Blockbuster, wireless and untethered trumped brick and mortar between customer and supplier.
Delivery of value has increasingly demanded convenience as the driver.
- How often do we measure our performance in delivering convenience?
- Are we ubiquitous in accessibility?
- How many hand-offs exist in between us and the customers’ actual securing the benefits they seek?
- How well are our electrons delivering value? Do we paper or pdf, snail mail or email, travel or teleconference, drive to the mall jungle or click to Amazon, carry cash or card it, keep knowledge in persons or in our systems and processes ……?
- How are our customers deciding where to shop and how will they decide with whom to buy?
- How quickly do we adapt and respond to changing requirements?
- Are our improvement efforts focused on where our customers are going or on getting better at where we are at today?
Best in Class! How often do we run into the term? I believe it’s a term that has lost much meaning. I suspect that overuse, or selective playing around with what “class” we pick, or the unreliability of rating organizations render it useless too often. In the world or process improvement it is applied to a goal setting step for evaluating how large a gap there is to close and subsequently chartering projects and resources to close that gap. There are some pitfalls to the approach:
• If the “class” we are selecting as a benchmark is a poorly performing one, we may be aiming at becoming the “best of the worst” or “the cream of the crap”.
• If becoming best in class for a unit within an organization does nothing to positively impact the performance of the total organization, we may be investing in meaningless improvement.
• The goal may become obsessive, a powerful distraction, directing attention and resources away from value adding opportunities.
• The customer, shareholder, or taxpayer does not benefit.
The last bullet is very important. Most organizations are not created with a primary purpose to have functions, departments, employees, IT systems, training centers, enterprise applications, procurement groups, or resources of any kind. That’s not why enterprises exist.
• If they are commercial organizations, they exist to deliver goods and services that financially profit so that they can earn the trust of their investors through returns. Yep, they are around to make money. The best ones do it legally, ethically, with respect to all stakeholders, no adverse externalities, and with a vision to create new value. They deliver value to customers and returns to investors.
• If they are a public service organization, they exist to fulfill a mission to deliver beneficial outcomes to their stakeholders (taxpayers and public at large). The best ones are effective, efficient, ethical, agile, focused on delivering benefits and positive societal outcomes, responsive to their public, and transparent. They spend public funds and deliver positive and beneficial outcomes.
• Purpose is fulfilled when value is delivered. There is a value stream that threads what delivers value and it provides the ruler with which to measure what is appropriate or lacking.
So, resources, systems, functions, departments, assets …, within the organization should exist and operate in order for the organization to thrive. That means that goals for units or entities within the organization have real value and legitimacy to the extent that they can verifiably contribute to the organization’s value proposition. Of course, this is unlikely since significant waste abounds and gaps in performance are forever with us.
The issue is not whether to improve or not. The question is how much, by whom, and to what ends. Where should we set the bar? How good is the good we should be? In a relay race, how would we decide where to focus our efforts? How do we create the appropriate focus, discipline and follow-through? Of course, most groups aspire to be the best at what they do, but unfortunately, it is overly focused on only what they do. It would be tragic, if not ridiculous, to claim success within a unit where the organization or enterprise is tanking. Our operation was successful, but the patient died.
“Oh, now I see!” It’s a phrase we use so often to convey that we understand, or get it. We use sight as a metaphor for understanding all the time. The word lens is used to mean a channel through which something can be seen or understood. “Mary sees the world through rose colored lenses,” (an optimist, or naive). We are creatures of pattern recognition and our conjuring process requires imagery to put things in place, or to make sense of what we experience or think. We will typically apply what we know (our storehouse of imagery) to what we see and work hard to make sense of things.
Lenses matter and the choice of lenses have interesting effects on what follows. We believe that lenses allow us to see better, and that is true, but for a very limited and specific range of stuff. The lens is helpful in that it blocks out an infinite number of things we could see or consider so that we get clarity and detail on what the lens puts into focus for us. I’ve looked through telescopes and microscopes, sunglasses and readers, wide angle lenses and telephoto ,,,, all bringing into focus different stuff and making me oblivious to everything else around me. If driving fast, I do no longer see what was in front of me seconds before. Nor should I, be looking anywhere but where it’s critical when driving. Texting while driving is illegal in some states, thank goodness.
In our enterprises, we make choices about lenses all the time. We don’t call them lenses, even though they affect what we see and subsequently interpret. If our lenses are the wrong ones, then we’ll just have to deal with interpreting what we see and worry about what we don’t see. If our lenses cover too much to absorb at once, because we’re driving the business so fast, then we’ll just to trust our luck that we did not miss an important turn-off or on-ramp. If our business roadways are all smooth and devoid of danger or speed traps, then it doesn’t matter so much. If the scenery doesn’t change or we’re not trying to take our enterprise anywhere new, then all is good.
Among our most important lenses are what we measure, how well we measure, how often we measure, and what we do with what we measure. They are important if we do actually do something of value with what we measure in time to make a difference. It does us little good to find out that we missed a turn-off two weeks or a month ago, unless we’re pretty good at u-turns and restarts, except when opportunities don’t wait around for us to u-turn. Also, who decides what to measure, or who interprets what we measure, or who decides what to do with what we measure, or who reports what we measure, or doesn’t report what we measure is likely to matter a whole bunch too.
When we go for our annual physical, all the same measurement stuff applies, and we surely hope the doctor and the lab get it right. I lost a cousin to cancer this weekend because a doctor and a lab got the measurements wrong years ago when they could have done something in time to save Bob’s life.
So, when was the last time you checked the lenses you use at work, home, or play?
“There are three classes of people; those who see, those who see when they are shown, and those who do not see.” Leonardo da Vinci.
We have an app for that,” so goes the ad for a smart phone. I am still amazed by how life is changing through technology. The accessibility and choices at our disposal have redefined nearly everything, and to a great part for the better. Several years I joked about the day when I could sit atop a mountain with a laptop connected to the world and able to conduct my business, only to see someone smile and say, “It’s not that far away.” So, here I am on a mountain, loving the view, with the world at my fingertips, conducting my business and knowing that our readers across the world can share in the output this experience, when, how, and where they chose. We’ve shared the transformation of our lives and our enterprises as a consequence of leaps in telecommunications and the myriad of choices and facilitated activities available to us, our customers, suppliers, competitors, and our world.
New enterprises have jumped on the electronic carpet ride, perhaps working in a “cloud”, and creating new value propositions in a connected world. Business models have literally crumbled, leaving relics, much like those of Ozymandias, because brick, mortar, and paper have been replaced by electrons. In his grave, my very old friend, Reddy Kilowatt, both rejoices, and perhaps weeps as well, as the role of his offspring continue to transform the world. Perhaps it’s a bias, a consequence of a prior professional life, but I believe that nothing has come close to transforming the quality of human life as the availability of reliable electric power. In fact, the arguments that it’s about water, food, education and health care cannot stand alone without the platform built on our friends the electrons. We depend on many energy sources, but in many ways, they are often diminished in value without the electrons at play. Our electrons are such important servants that we store them in forms that make them available 24-7; in fact they make the world available to us 24-7.
I do confess the ancient part of me still enjoys reading books, paper books, but news and virtually all other content comes to me electronically. The effectiveness and efficiencies from 24-7 accessibility to current information and content is perhaps the most un-constraining breakthrough since the steam engine. There is little doubt that many enterprises have made huge investments in technological capacity and many have reinvented their capacity to transform. I wonder how much investment has gone into transforming the way we use the electrons within, within our own neural networks … the brain.
• What proportion of decision making content is produced for us in a “report”? Does that report contain real time or past time data? Do we decide from the past even when the present is available?
• Is our critical information serviced to us through human “filters” or functions who decide what to search and how to package the answers?
• How long does it take to get an answer? Do we get a version of a Google or a bunch of gaggle?
• Do we get our critical “news”, much like many of us by waiting until the 6:00 PM broadcast on the “tube”; or does the critical data from which to manage and decide stream to us into the right virtual form?
• Does the data wait for you or do you wait for the data?
• When something is happening across the world that could impact the enterprise, do we learn about it when the impact arrives, much like a tsunami?
• Does out data warn us about what is about to happen or is likely to happen:
o To our business?
o To our customers?
o To our resources?
o To our employees?
o To our constraints?
Have we truly transformed our human systems to unleash the genius within, the genius that can create value and innovation from the real time accessibility available?
Are we Reddy?
Have you ever balanced a scorecard? What did you do? How did you decide what balanced meant? What did you do with the scorecard? Did you win? Was it a competitive win or was it a within the scorecard win? Would an outsider evaluate you as a winner without seeing your scorecard?
The balanced scorecard has been a source of lots of debate and consulting armies going about guiding organizations on keeping score. My observation has been that too often the exercise has amounted to filling data into a predetermined template from what data is available and accessible with follow on work to “interpret” what the scoreboard means. What continues to nag me is the distractions that some predetermined “balanced” views may precipitate.
First, no two categories are ever equal. But if you try to make them equal on a scorecard, you will get unintended consequences. The more something is claimed in a slogan, the less likely it is true in measurable practices.
“Employees are our greatest asset” is a statement of value, not a measure of opinions that are captured in an employee satisfaction survey score. What does the scorecard really measure? I would argue that, if asset quality matters, maybe it should measure how quickly we acquire good assets, secure the most out of the earning capacity, and then how quickly we dispose of bad assets. However, political correctness and actually treating people as assets is challenging and likely look bad on surveys. A scorecard would be sensitive to what the game is and how people are to be utilized at what stage of the game. The categories are dynamic as well as the numbers. Take a hard look at what tracking “training hours” does within very large organizations. You will find some interesting compliance systems that actually govern the speed of learning (check the on-line stuff) so that the scorecard hours are achieved. Yes, we are willing to slow down the quick studies and reduce their productive time for the sake of the “score.”
Financial strategy is even more dynamic and much more complex. What we desire to emphasize on the balance sheet or the income statement is very different for industries, organizations, health, global economy, volatility, growth, risks, competitors, asset mix, exposure … to name a few. So, the scorecard categories and weights are dynamic, not static, so the scorecard structure is not structural, but fluid. A structured scorecard in a dynamic environment will always lag the signals and thereby trigger responses inappropriately. Does it enable or constrain the best decisions? And, we can’t use the scorecard to score itself.
Customer satisfaction is a fascinating score to evaluate, if it leads to better decisions in time to make a difference, where it needs to make a difference. How often have we observed what appears to be poor business decision making in order to appease a “customer tyrant” for fear of low satisfaction scores? We all have. So again, the complexities of a dynamic world require sufficient agility in the relationship between what matters virtually so that the “score” leads to proper action. Again, what does balance in the score really mean and what does it really drive in behaviors? Does the statistical “dulling” effect hide the scary customer stuff happening on the fringes where risks are born and changes are incubating?
Now, for those that feel this is going in the direction of winging it and data anarchy, not so. Score is important, but balance cannot always be predetermined or should be hard-wired in dynamic environments. If life is quiet and stable and predictable, this may be an irritating and irrelevant sounding blog posting. I don’t know anybody like that anymore.
The questions that we should be vigilant about measurement and scorekeeping must be configured around decision making only. Data is useful for what I am about to decide. That’s it. The scorecard, scoreboard, or dashboard must fit the game we are playing and where and when we are playing it. Balance can be a dynamic challenge for multinational entities in a multi-polar world.
This should be exciting, if we agree. It is exciting because technology today enables transparency at the speed of light. Our interconnectivity and networked interconnections have the capacity to render a view to enable dynamic balance. Balance is a consequence of judgment and agility. Both require virtual transparency that grabs new and relevant lenses to look at what is happening when the decisions can alter the future most effectively.
Just in case. When packing for a travel, what did we add to the bag as we said, “just in case?” Did we sufficient “in case” stuff that we paid extra weight fees for our baggage? When walking into the closet and seeing a wardrobe assortment spanning 6 years and 50 pounds ago, do we hesitate before reaching for something to put into the give-away bag saying, “maybe I’ll wear it keep it, just in case?” How about the files we keep in our desk drawer or in a section of our hard drives, just in case? Do any of the books on our shelf look brand new and unopened after a decade of taking up space, but we keep them, just in case? Are we saving five year old magazines for “when I have some time to read them?”
When setting standards or targets for performance, how large are the “safety cushions” of time we put between when we are done and when it is due, just in case? When preparing a presentation, how many additional slides do we build with details and tangential data, just in case? When ordering materials, printing out decks for a meeting, ordering food for a meeting, setting inventory levels, how much do we add for just in case? Just in time belongs to the confident, but just in case belongs to the fearful. How about our staffing and resource loading? Do we staff up for not coming up short on a peak day, just in case, then find things to do on the slack time?
Management by “just in case” is expensive. Not only is it expensive in inventory, it is costly in added complexity, capability decay, waste, but actually the creation of resource scarcity and often very poor fit. Just in case becomes the catch all phrase for the uncertainties in life, be they rational or irrational, be they quantified or not. How often do we ask the question, what will this cost in opportunity if the just in case doesn’t happen? There are plenty of data and tools that abound to rationally address tangible inventory and the science of supply chain management can transform much of the visible.
Let’s think about the opportunities lost because of just in case.
- What did we not do while spending our time on just in case?
- What did we not consider that was relevant because of the focus on the irrelevant baggage of just in case?
- How much of our focus is dulled because of lugging lots of just in case in our minds or in front of our eyes?
- How many resources sat idle in the wrong place on the wrong topic while we ran into scarcity where it counted because of just in case?
- How much time and how many resources did we tie up or consume on training too many on too much because it was easier to deploy something to a shotgun approach, just in case?
It’s a challenge. Focus is hard and hard choices are what engage our brains and challenge our habits. We may be at a really interesting fork in our lives. It may well be the fork where the direction we chose will require all of the focus, discipline and follow-through we can muster to succeed.
- How much baggage can we afford to bring along?
- Do the reasons or fears that determined what we brought along for “just in case” still determine what we should bring along for tomorrow?
- What are the factors that should determine tomorrow’s just in case?
- Are they determined by the consequences of what happened last time?
- How does the virtual and connected world change all of this?
Do you know who he was? To folks like me who love our time in the kitchen, he is considered the “Father of Foodies.” His professional life was as a lawyer and politician, but his fame comes from laying the foundations and building the house of modern gastronomy. His book, Physiologie du goût (The Physiology of Taste) , is not on my list of recommended reads, but his insights are timeless. The Julia Childs and Emeril Lagasses and all the wannabees can thank our first “Iron Chef”. His comment above is among others that are relevant far beyond the realm of chopping blocks and saucepans.
Are we what we eat? There is more truth than truism in the biological sense. What we take in will fuel or kill many systems. But beyond the cheeseburger world comes the truism of we are what we eat. Earlier today I was speaking with an old friend about how the business landscape has changed and the strong likelihood that what lies ahead won’t look or operate like what is behind us. We should expect that the last year has delivered sufficient shock and awe to our rules and tools such that obsolescence is always closer than we were taught to expect. So, how can our first “Iron Chef” give us some insight?
Let’s paraphrase the first quote, “Tell me what you feed your mind and learn and I’ll tell you what you are.”What do we feed our minds? What effect does that have on what we are insofar as becoming capable, relevant and fit for the challenges ahead? Are we brain-junk food addicts, glued to the tube and expert on the “reality” entertainment? Do we feed ourselves knowledge and shared insights that create a new fitness, one that matches the purpose we seek, want, or required for survival and success? What diet fits what’s ahead? Are we ready, or are we mentally obese and unable to even enter the race next week? It’s more than just choice. It may be more about transformation with focus, discipline, and follow-through.
History tells us that change can become transformative to societies. Be that climactic, political, viral, economic and many other reasons, adaptability and capacity to build new capability determines survival and success. Be it evolution, the response to gradual change, or revolution in response to disruptions, agility and adaptability trumps the hand.
When building a team or making hiring decisions I always make an effort to learn about the candidate’s brain food preferences and diet. Clearly some foods signal greater value and those who seek new knowledge and build new menus of capability go to the front of the line. When did we last take inventory of our mind and capability diets?
When we talk about what’s going on, is it about who’s left on the current survival island of misfits, or maybe is it about how social and business networks have radically transformed the world? Which person would you favor for an important job? I only know which one I would not consider at all.
What’s ahead is challenging and the rate at which obsolescence comes may be faster than we’ve ever experienced. I suspect that the need for talent and capability will remain strong, but wonder what value experience will carry. What we ate yesterday will not sustain us next year, will it?
“The discovery of a new dish does more for human happiness than the discovery of a new star.” Anthelme Brillat-Savarin.
There’s a pretty interesting debate going on between some really bright folks about whether information, or history, can be destroyed. It’s not among real historians, archaeologists, biographers, or anyone else most of us would imagine. It’s among very renowned physicists, luminaries including Stephen Hawking. Dr. Hawking was among the very early to write for the enlightenment of us outside the genius gene pool with “A Brief History of Time.” He is also credited with the conceptualizing and predicting of black holes.
Black holes are entities in the cosmos whose density is so large that they pull in, “suck up” everything around them including light. Nothing gets out, like some in-boxes we all know about. Black holes and their effects on information are what the big debates are about and where reputations are at stake. We know that the regular types of information and histories are destroyed all the time. Information or history is destroyed by cataclysms, wars, book burnings, oral accounts, my faulty memory, and a very long list of other means, including our scary hard disk crashes. It’s sad, but creates lots of opportunities for sleuths of all disciplines.
Here’s the fascinating part. The real physicists out there will rankle at my oversimplification, but I’m just not that smart. A big part of we actually “know” about what’s out there in the cosmos comes from bigger and better telescopes and other measurement technology. The stars, planets, galaxies and other cool stuff are visible because light has travelled big amounts of space-time. For now, let’s just say that it has covered very large distances across space in very long periods of time, light years in fact. We know by now that what we see all happened in the past, including everything near to us since light had to bounce off of or emanate from what we “see.” Light moves very fast, so we believe it’s happening in the “now” and that’s comforting to many.
Here we go. If nothing can escape the black hole’s pull, including light, then the information about a star or galaxy is lost on the way to us if it comes near a black hole. As far as our instruments can tell, the star never happened, the information is lost. This argument has been going for a long while and even Dr. Hawking has moved from his position on the subject. His new position involves perspectives that include more dimensions than we can understand and multiple universes, some without black holes. This stuff is not for everybody.
So it is all about light. We’ve known about it for a long time. We use terms like enlighten, bright, luminary, obscure, in the dark, and other descriptions that have to do with information, knowledge, and other types of history. If we don’t put light on something, or if does not give off light that reaches us, information is lost. It is as if it never happened. Worse, if our management and information systems take data in and it never gets out, information is lost. We have black holes of our own making.
Maybe it’s time to take the debate from the realm of physicists, astronomers, and cosmologists and bring it into the realm of operating an enterprise. Information is being lost, history of what happened no longer exists, and we will make some decisions in the dark. These black holes can be found everywhere. In fact, the post 9-11 investigation revealed that critical information was lost because of interagency black holes and individual biases.
Dr. Hawking has concluded that if we are in one of the parallel universes that does not have black holes, information is not lost. So you can’t have it both ways in any given universe.
But there is hope for our businesses. We can change what and how we execute and create a black-hole-free workplace. It’s good for our health.
Today I experienced something some really cool healthcare! It left me contemplating that maybe we really do have the capacity to sort out the hurdles we face with the healthcare issue. Today I needed to make an unplanned visit to my physician. With a fully booked schedule (this doctor is good…), one of his team understood that variability and timing creates opportunities, parked me in the waiting area and got me in within 20 minutes. That was great by itself, but the cool part followed.
One aspect of getting my medical guidance from this physician is his impressive use of data and technology. Whenever we meet, the discussion around the vitals is on point, virtual and current. I like that. Data is good. From what I gather, the preponderance of his data travels purely on the back of electrons, who I have found are less prone to hick-ups than those transferred with fingers. I like that. Electrons are good.
I often rant that electrons are far better at some tasks than people like me are. They make less mistakes, don’t complain, don’t have eyesight problems, are fast, don’t forget (I do…) and lots of other great attributes. We’re codependent with electrons, so we can make a good team now and in the foreseeable future. Today I saw electrons kick some serious butt. I needed a prescription for what ailed me.
My experiences with getting a prescription enjoy the benefit and difficulties of many years and some ailments. Getting the prescription generated and filled can be slow, require several hand-offs, prone to errors throughout, and have carried significant transactional costs and liability insurance burdens of the risks and importance they have. Lots of hands and lots of eyes aren’t free. Lots of compliance requirements and the fear of suffering consequences are also very costly. They also have a number of queues in the process of being filled. When we add to that the transactional costs created by insurance coverage, the non-valued costs added to my little pill are scary to contemplate. After all, we’re not electrons, so we have to check stuff to make sure. I don’t like that. Non-value adding costs are bad.
Today I watched Doc, key in my prescription into his electronic tablet, ask for and then input the local pharmacy information, hit the magic key and confirmed receipt at the destination. These friendly electrons did that is a few seconds. I left his office and by the time I drove up to the window at my pharmacy, the little pills were ready. Those living in Cyber-land may say, “So what? That’s easy…” My reply is, “This is cool beans!” I like that. Cool beans are good.
I see promise in this little experience. I see the endless possibilities to tackle this yoke and fear of health care around our collective necks. Solutions are possible. The promise of process improvement still has lots of legs! These hard times may yet precipitate the best of times. Actually, we’re reading this because of our friendly electrons!
I don’t want to minimize or oversimplify what is ahead. The challenges are huge. The players are difficult. The stakes are high. The tactics are ugly. The rhetoric is offensive. The suffering is real. But the opportunity is great. There is opportunity in every storm. I hope and pray we can get past all the storm coverage and move on to finding and harvesting these opportunities.
“When the conduct of men is designed to be influenced, persuasion, kind unassuming persuasion, should ever be adopted. It is an old and true maxim that ‘a drop of honey catches more flies than a gallon of gall.’ So with men, if you would win a man to your cause, first convince him that you are his sincere friend. Therein is a drop of honey that catches his heart, which, say what he will, is the great highroad to his reason, and which, once gained, you will find but little trouble in convincing him of the justice of your cause, if indeed that cause is really a good one.” Abraham Lincoln
Ever hear of Werner Heisenberg? Unless you are one of those people (confessed addict here) that is curious about lots of stuff, in this case quantum mechanics, you may not really care. Quantum mechanics has to do with the behaviors of the really small, what some physicists look at. What is really interesting about Heisenberg is a principle about measurement he developed, the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle. He says that the more you want to know about a particular attribute like position (where it is), the less precision you will have about another attribute like velocity (how fast it’s going in a particular direction). I’ve believed for a long time that it is true about bigger things than the subatomic. It is true about what we measure and evaluate in our business performance. Stay with me, this may help.
One example is akin to the example above. The overwhelming majority of business data that I’ve been exposed to focuses on where performance has been, say position. That is important since we need to know what our demonstrated capability to perform is. The more we know about position, the less we can say about how fast it is moving in a particular direction, velocity. Our performance has a velocity, and depending on what aspect of velocity, a very specific direction. The velocity going forward is not usually the trend; it can sometimes require a little more calculus than algebra.
In fact, performance has multiple directions; the most obvious are cost, time, and quality. We can say with complete certainty that they move at different velocities (it’s a safe bet). The really important point is that we seldom, if ever, look at the velocities for decision making. Agile people and entities do. They also keep that part a secret (it’s called competitive advantage). If you follow sports, you may have heard the quote by the hockey great, Wayne Gretzky, “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it is.” Since Wayne has to manage his own velocity he needs to manage it to where he needs to be, at the puck. Applies to our businesses, doesn’t it? Performance decisions only affect the future, where stuff is going, not the past (unless you’re a good book cook).
I’ve spent the better part of the last two years on this topic and it has fundamentally changed my lenses to evaluate performance, capability, metrics, dashboards, product development, voice of the customer, innovation, competition, negotiation, human resources, … ad infinitum. Looking at the world through that different lens and feeding it through a different dashboard also changes our insight into where the ugly risks are and where to invest resources and time on improvement strategies. Additionally, the velocity lens redefines the applicability of gaming theory and network analysis in business decision making. These are really cool beans.
No reminder needed that the world of leading and managing enterprises is fraught with ever faster changes.
- Do we know how fast?
- When we execute the changes we’re deciding to make today, will we end up where the puck is going?
- Do our project controls and toll gates enable or constrain our ability to respond to an ever moving puck? Do scope creep, change orders, restarts, and rework sound more like the rule than the exception?
“The faster I go, the behinder I get”. “You have to run as fast as you can just to stay where you are. If you want to get anywhere, you’ll have to run much faster.” “Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place.” Lewis Carroll
So, where are we going?
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