To be able to stay focused on what really matters you need to have a clear strategy. When companies are small it is not always easy to have a clear strategy and act on it, but it is usually a lot easier than in big companies. To be able to do innovation and also stay customer focused even in big organisations a clear vision and strategy is essential. And every one in the organisation needs to understand the strategy.
There is a research done by Harvard Business School saying only 5% of the employees know about their business strategy. This is really scary for anyone running a business, and something everyone in a position to make strategic decisions needs to take really seriously. If people in the organisation don’t know about, or understand the vision or the strategy, how can they then make tactical and operational smart decisions making the business go in the right direction? There is only one answer to that question, they cant.
A Collaboration and Visualization tool to make Strategy Transparent
This fall I’ve been doing a talk around the topic “Customer Focused with an Agile Mindset” where I talk about how leaders of organizations need to grow an Agile mindset and make a strategic decision to become customer focused to be able to survive in the fast moving complex world of today, and how that can be done. The Innovation Map is one of the slides of my talk and I’ve been getting a lot of great feedback on it. Something many people feel is missing today is a holistic overview of the different strategies the organization have, and to be able to use it in their daily work making sure they are on the right track.
The Innovation Map is a great tool to be able to visualize what strategic initiatives the organisation have, or perhaps don’t have. Also it can be used to visualize the initiatives TOGETHER, ACROSS the organization. In this way when involving more people we can easier see the full picture of where we are going, and what we can do about it. By involving the people working front line with the customers knowing about their needs as well as those that can create the solutions to help the customers and not only management, you grow both an understanding of what the business strategy is – AND – you get their valuable knowledge of what the customer needs are and what can actually be possible to do or not do today and in the future. Then it will be up to management to prioritize the strategy based on different business scenarios.
Debt in any level will eat your business
If a company or organization don’t work continuously and strategically with innovation on all these areas, process, technology, product, customer experience and business model, they are causing debt. I have added it to the map to help and bring clarity around what levels there is debt today, and where it could be in the future. Sometimes you can take a business decision delivering something that creates debt, but if the organization never prioritize to remove that debt they can not stay innovative or scale their business. Many organizations that I meet today suffer from debt on all levels giving long lead times on delivering business and customer value as well as low quality in customer experience. In that situation they are becoming a desperado (snail) and new faster and more innovative companies, shapers (sharks) will come and take over their customers with their new services and products that are more attractive.
Probe, Sense and Respond – Keep the Innovation Map updated
If you use the innovation map and collaborate around it there might be a good idea to keep it somewhere in a printed format where every one sees it, and keep it updated! Take a look back and see how you are doing on a regular basis together with the organisation, work hypothesis-driven when needed and validate your assumptions, the higher up in the map you are, the more important it might be to have an Agile mindset. By doing that you can probe, sense and respond to new learnings and ideas as you move along making sure you don’t run in the wrong direction and just deliver on the plan without actually measuring outcome.
There are actually 4 different innovation strategies even though I only use the two furthest apart in the innovation map.
The Shaper is someone who is shaping new markets, leaving the competitors behind. The use of provocative thinking is natural for these companies.
The Competitor are those who follows the Shaper and tries to do what the Shaper has already succeeded with.
The Improver is not interested in doing big changes, they improve what they already have. They might soon become a Desperado.
The Desperado is the opposite from a Shaper. They must do something radical, or they wont exist as a company any more. Their strategy is usually to cutting costs.
Hope you find this post useful, and please let me know if you have any feedback, or if you had use for it in your work 🙂