Agility helps you do the “Impossible”.

Do the impossibleYou may think agility is a “cultural transformation”. I think of it as “learning to tango”. Just start practicing the dancing steps and “presto” (nearly) every one can tango. I say “nearly” to take the pressure off perfection. An 80% tango dancer looks a lot better than the couple sitting down. So what are the dancing steps in business?

Agile dancing steps in business

Firstly, you need to be invited (to dance). So when a customer throws an invitation to discuss a problem… bingo, start to move fast.

Secondly, you need to keep your eye on the vision with the customer, not the dancing floor. Looking at the details early may stop the speed and result in a hiccup. Keep the big picture centre most.

Finally, momentum is the key. Do something everyday, no matter how small it is, with the customer. This can be detailed. Keep the momentum building to your final meeting.

What stops Agility in its tracks

Internal Team Meetings: Im sorry to say that if you emailed many people on this activity right at the start, then your agility may be doomed. Read my blog on simplifying communication: Only cc the essential people according to policy. Keep the team size small. Like 2-3 people max. Large corporations lose agility because of a large cc list on nearly every memo. Everyone may want to wade in and “help”.

Corporate approval: You can’t wait weeks for approval to move quickly with this customer. So if approval is needed, get “exploratory” approval to pursue a broad goal.

Incoherent Vision: Your vision and the company’s vision are not quite aligned. So become clear on what is perfectly aligned and assess if that fits and work from there.

Customer gets sidetracked with a crisis:  Empathy and understanding are needed until the customer comes back up for air. They will appreciate the space you give them. Generally, things will move faster after a customer delay if you have kept tabs on it.

Customer is OK but boss is nervous

You are in a great space in this scenario. Here are some tips to handle the boss:

Demonstrate that the “operational risk” is low (which i hope it is).

Demonstrate that this is a pilot for a much bigger initiative.

Demonstrate that this customer is a leader in their field. If they don’t dance with you, who will it be?

Customer needs a nudge to move fast

Play the above steps with the customer from their viewpoint. You “shake hands” with a customer, and you invoice an “account”. So in this paragraph “customer” is a physical person.

Demonstrate that the “operational risk” for the customer personally is low (which i hope it is).

Demonstrate that this is a pilot for a much bigger initiative.

Demonstrate that a leadership dash in their field will help the customers career.

What are the big benefits of agility?

You get a result before the competitor realises what has happened. This throws them into a tail spin. They will burn energy evaluating.

You can change the detail of your plan as you understand more information. This will manage any emerging risk and create more opportunity. You have the time to do this as you have been working quickly.

You will simplify your business. It becomes a necessity if you are to move quickly. Simplification takes cost out.

Everyone loves speed and winning. Morale will rise and team members will shine.

Then tackle the “Impossible”

With a quick win at good speed, pause for the next round with a bigger goal.

Read my blog on “lifting the perceived skill of employees” and tackle the impossible!

Go for it.

Read all the blogs by Bruce Loxton on innovation and doing the impossible. Reduce costs by simplifying your business.

 

 

With speed, there is the possibility of a fall. The agile leader will carefully set the speed and direction to minimise any impact from a hiccup ?Here are my tips:

Keep the

tango, just like business, someone has to lead.

 

Looking for Growth.

Looking-for-Growth

Looking at the Same Old – gives the Same Old.

You have to work on “today’s business” to bring the money in. Generally, the same activities and operations as yesterday. It can be hard to find the time to tackle serious innovation for growth, especially if the heat is on for immediate profits.

Start by creating a circuit breaker from the “same old”.
I had the benefit of listening first hand to Jack Welsh when he was working a merger with Honeywell. (it didn’t eventuate). One question was how he would do the people integration. His reply was “I turn the business on its head and spill jobs every 3-4 years to avoid the “same old” syndrome”. “We lose some productivity in the turmoil but we sure get some motivated people looking for profitable growth”. Now thats a big circuit breaker!

Circuit Breaker

A circuit breaker means things have to look differently tomorrow compared to today.

  • Change job roles (if you don’t someone may do to you)
  • Move all the offices around simplifying some processes
  • Change the entrance to the business
  • Change the uniform completely
  • Be as big and bold as you can afford

Then embark on using innovation for growth…

Don’t do a Kodak

kodak-and-fujifilm-sales-over-time

Kodak failed for simple reasons.

  • They didn’t want to canabalize their profitable existing film business for “digital”
  • They couldn’t see the recurring revenue astray were getting from film.
  • They didn’t diversify fast enough (too little, too late)

What’s interesting is the board took advice for this big step. Kodak had invested in the digital patents. They had the future in the palm of their hands. So they took lots of professional advice on how to move forward.

  • Prominent photographers, both commercial and artistic gave opinions on the future of digital photography to the board.
  • Digital specialists described the time delay before the digital image was of high enough resolution for a quality print.
  • Overall, the conclusion from the experts was it would be a long time before there would be a future for digital photography in the professional space.

Can you see what is wrong with their picture? An educated board listening to very experienced professionals, many of whom had digital experience?

The professionals were not the “growth” customer set. The Mums and Dads were the growth set. There would be a thousand more digital photos taken of family than a professional one.

They couldn’t think of how to make recurring revenue from this new media. So they abandoned enforcing the patents. The rest is history.

The professionals were right, of course. They would continue to use film for many years past the digital introduction.

As Stuart Loxton reminds me: “technology is always “over hyped” in the short run and always underestimated in the long run.

Who is your growth customer set for tomorrow?

  • Look at competitors who have grown quickly. Are they more active in a different customer set?
  • Dont block out customer sets as “unprofitable” yet. (Remember Kodak)
  • Stay with the process to be clear where the growth is.
  • Don’t move on until this is clear.

What will you sell to this Growth set?

  • Map your revenue to the “age” of your products or services. Do this in a big ticket way.
  • Estimate the growth you are getting from the product age map.
  • Do you have the product(s) for growth?

Innovate for Growth

  • A structured journey of the problems the growth customer set is having with competitors and your products.
  • Strict observance of the voice of the customer. Avoid recommended solutions, stick to the problem definitions.
  • Turn the problems into solutions using our innovation process (see other blogs)

Every Client deserves Innovation

Innovation can shift the needle on growth.

There are management decisions on timing:

  • Loss of profit on legacy products.
  • Change management of processes.
  • Marketing investment.

Doing the Impossible

On the other hand, you could achieve all this without a drop in profits in the short term!

Read all of Bruce Loxton blogs on innovation, simplification and doing the impossible.

 

“Welcome to Hell”.

Leadership-to-do-impossible-4x3

Courage and Pain

“Welcome to Hell,” a caver once told me by a campfire at night. “Where happiness goes to die. . . . If you wish to survive, you need to cultivate a strong mental attitude.”

“Why do you do it?” I asked.

“We do it for the unimaginable pleasure of conquering the unknown.”

True exploring spirit with unbelievable courage; and, as far as I could tell, a numbness for pain. Have you experienced these emotions without the cave?

Hard to find a customer in such a place

There is a business reality that should keep you out of dark caves. It would be hard for most of us to make money in that environment. (Tongue in cheek: there may be some who say they do have customers from there…)

In the Innovation game, you need, in my opinion, to both swim in a sea of customers AND crawl into a private cave. You need customer problems and space to think through solutions. In an ideal world, one should quickly follow the other to keep the vision fresh. Continue reading “Welcome to Hell”.