Failure in public sector – The Reprise

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I read Vim‘s article on What Does Failure Mean for Public Services  and I wanted to respond. I wanted to build upon Vim’s thoughts from my own perspective. I’ve developed that perspective over a couple of decades working across front-line teams and supporting teams, transforming workforces across public and private sector. This results in me having to balance many different levels of change (including success and failure) ranging from a conversation discussing funding allocations over £100m, followed by a conversation discussing attitudes to change, shortly followed by another discussing the approach for very local decision-making such as choosing the ideal location for a printer.

It’s mostly the same

We should see failure in the public sector in the same way that we see failure in the private sector with the one, not so subtle difference; the public sector is there to make a difference to the population. Pick a public sector service, if it’s not making a positive difference to the population, then it’s failing. I can’t think of a simpler definition. Every other private sector metric (perhaps with some tailoring in the case of profit metric) should apply to the public sector.

Unfortunately, the more we pick it apart, the more difficult it becomes to define failure. And most of that difficulty comes from the difference between providing for the population and providing for an individual.

Most of the failure is seen at the individual level, but not extrapolated quickly enough to realise that the service is failing. Most of the success is also seen at the individual level but we don’t really celebrate these as much unless they’re specifically health-related. For many services, we only notice when they go wrong. For instance, how many local authorities celebrated 0 people in the queue for social housing back in the 70s when it was feasible? Perversely, we may be able to achieve 0 in the queue now, but that could be because eligibility thresholds have risen. It’s not the same service or the same level of service anymore.

At one extreme, we see the death of an individual, we see one person homeless. Then we see multiple people homeless due to congregating together, but it takes longer for social consciousness to become more aware of the deaths of increasing number of individuals. All of this could be failure.

Criminal or Incompetent?

“He’s either criminally incompetent or incompetently criminal”

It’s a phrase I heard years ago from a charitable organisation that raised no money after holding an event where lots of people attended and money changed hands but no profit was made to turn into funds for the charity. We’re talking small money here, margins were very tight, but even so, no-one quite knew what happened.

That’s partly how I think about the systemic failure within public services although I’ll broaden the definition of criminal to include unethical, immoral or against the mass of service users you’re meant to be serving. When a service is failing, I wonder where the decision was that caused it to fail. Was someone competently unethical or incompetently ethical? Competently immoral or incompetently moral? Bear in mind that leaves out the options of competently ethical (where they’ve chosen to improve services and made it happen) or incompetently unethical (where they tried to restrict services but enacted it poorly).

Was it an implementation or management decision by the team manager to assign a lesser-skilled worker to the case where a more experienced one was required? Implying incompetence on the manager’s part.

Or was it because there wasn’t enough money to pay for more experienced workers, resulting in only newly-qualified workers being available? Implying a deliberate decision to underfund on the funder’s part.

Did the funder underfund because they’d allocated more funds to other services? implying an incompetence on the funder’s part.

Or did that funder not have enough money to distribute to the services because of a reduction in centralised funds, e.g. from central government? Again, implying a conscious decision to underfund numerous services.

Expectations

Public services are funded to meet the demand that’s expected to present to that service, e.g. through referrals from other services and bodies, through walk-in or through outreach (where the team goes out educating the population on the service available). It’s always a balance between who is at most need of the service, the funds available, the skills and experience of the team available and the time available to respond.

Considering public services have a duty to provide for the population, if a service cannot meet the demands placed upon it, who is criminal and who is competent/incompetent?

The manager should understand the costs of the service and the variation based on demand being presented. At the point that it becomes underfunded, it’s time to shout. For many services, that point was passed many years ago. Underfunding results in some people not being served or the quality of service (in terms of what can be provided, e.g. the duration of engagement such as number of CBT sessions) is reduced. That then has a further human impact, e.g. people being homeless or in debt which both can lead to homeless and in debt, which leads to decreasing health, which leads to inability to work (but possibly not recognised as inability). Even one day of no service provision can escalate quickly, exacerbated by the climate of mistrust and unbalanced power between those services with funds and those people applying for funds. That one day can result in missing benefits, resulting in deteriorating health (have to choose between rent, paying heating/lighting bills, feeding children and self, getting to a job interview, clothing, etc). So underfunding a service so that it can’t provide to all it’s designed to deliver to has a cascading effect on the system through shifting referrals elsewhere or to a position of no services available and has a cascading effect on the individual.

When viewed that way, is the funder criminal (or at least unethical or immoral) if they don’t fund the service?

Reducing Inefficiency

The issue and opportunity to this point over the last couple of decades has been the inefficiency inherent in the public sector system. Public sector services do not get the same level of investment as private sector. A telco can choose to spend multiple millions of pounds on a transformation programme and it will happen. No questions (or at least no scrutiny other than board approvals and monitoring). A public service has to jump through many hoops (each costing time, effort and money) to prove it’s spending the money wisely. So public sector transformation programmes usually start smaller than private sector counterparts to make the programme easier to approve, and end up being smaller still after being watered down through many approval boards. Each of these transformations leaves an effect, usually positive in terms of efficiency, but often negative in terms of morale and capacity to flex for the next transformation.

There is still room to go in terms of efficiency. There are still pockets with severe inefficiencies, but they’re rarely on the front-line teams to the scale that’s expected. And it’s these teams that are usually the focus of funding pressures, especially in response to changing demographics, e.g. people living longer and living with more serious needs.

Active Maintenance

In addition, services need active maintenance, to some extent in the same way that you take your car in for regular maintenance. However it’s more than that. Active maintenance is not simply day-to-day management and keeping it running. It’s observing the service from multiple angles to understand what’s happening that shouldn’t be, to uncover why it’s happening and to resolve it so it doesn’t happen again. That takes an investment of time and energy.

In most public sector hierarchies that responsibility falls to the manager. The better managers (there are a few of them) have empowered their team to do this daily. They’re succeeding in keeping the service to acceptable levels (although still probably underfunded to do the job they were originally tasked to do) and keeping ahead of changes in demand. Then there are others who are just managing the day-to-day or take on adapting to change themselves. Even if competent as day-to-day managers, they’re incompetent overall since the service remains static.

Failed Culture

Vim mentions that “Failure in the public sector is also rooted in a culture that means you can’t fail”. The issue is wider than that. It’s already failing. It’s already underfunded. Austerity or not, there isn’t sufficient money to meet front-line services at their current level of demand in the way that they are currently working. Asking a team to be prepared to fail is an awkward request since in their hearts, they’re already aware of the people they’re not able to help. Most of the professional health colleges put a focus on treating the person in front of you, not those in the queue later on. Give proper treatment to the person that you’re currently treating. In a throughput setting, such as a hospital ward with a flow of patients in and out, that makes sense. In a setting where you have a caseload, such as found in most social care settings, that makes less sense overall. The opener to this conundrum of supply and demand is that we may be able to help more people and help them better than now through experimentation. And that has to be allowed to fail. 

Even with that opener, bear in mind that there are ethical considerations in most public sector departments, especially those in education, health or care settings. The Authority has a duty to treat everyone from an equitable position, not necessarily equally. So it can’t create an experiment that disadvantages a customer segment. This can be inadvertent, e.g. by promoting one customer segment’s needs, it alters that principle of equitability. So by improving the service for one segment, it can’t make the rest of the service worse. It’s also widening the gap between the treatment of segments. That’s not a blanket “no”, just be prepared to think it through and complete an Equalities Impact Assessment before you start.

Surrendering Market Space

Any car

There was a radio commercial the other day with the following line:

“We’ll beat your quote from a well known car buyer”

So that’s one company referring to a second company but without mentioning to that second company by  name.  At what point did they realise that the other brand was so strong, they didn’t actually have to name it, since it would be obvious through context to anyone listening which company they were referring to?

It implies that, for the intended audience, it’s the unnamed brand that is the strongest in that market sector for that product/service, not the company that’s chosen to advertise.

So did the company who commissioned that spot realise that they’ve surrendered market space to another brand? Was this an attempt to gain market share by encroachment through undercutting (“we do the same job for you as Company X, but we’re cheaper/provide better value”)?

It’s an odd strategy to take and I can’t think of a company that has survived longer-term with that approach.

Looking at Mintzberg’s 5Ps, we can see that as a strategy as a position, although the position taken or aimed for is usually a stronger one. Instead, this creates a competition of price and the resulting race to the bottom.

New Year, New Gym, New Business Model

Direction of Travel for Gym Business Models

The business of gyms is an odd one. It’s full of business principles from the 1970s with a thin veneer of customer service from the 1990s.

What’s the modern approach?

Let’s look at the typical issues with modern gym memberships. If you search on a few review sites or social media, you’ll commonly see a number of prospects who turned their back on transitioning to customers mixed with disgruntled customers. From a cursory glance, there are significantly more unhappy customers than happy customers and the gap between is wider than in any other industry that I can think of.

So what’s the reason behind this? I think it could be due to gym managers and owners applying the wrong business model.

The Continuum

From a very simplistic viewpoint, we can fit products onto a continuum from commodities, feature-based through to bespoke.

Feature Continuum
Feature Continuum

 

A commodity is the same wherever you buy it from. It’s not different if you buy from a or b, the same experience applies. In the end, you’ll own the same product.

 

Moving from commodities, we encounter feature-based products. Here the differentiator is the set of features on offer. This is where we start to introduce concepts of value in relation to the features provided. Some features cost more than others, but in the end we’re buying features, so we’ll try to choose the features we want, or at least those that we think we want. On the other side of the negotiation, we see salespeople selling features or solutions to problems or issues.

Further up the continuum and we move to customisations, where we can take a feature-based product and have it customised to our needs. The cost is a combination of the product, the features, the customisation and the perceived value of the brand.

At the far end of the continuum from where we started are the bespoke products. These are developed from scratch to meet our requirements.

Service Quality

We can also introduce the concept of service quality. This could range from no service (e.g. simple automation with no choices), through a service wrapper to complete bespoke services.

Features vs Service Quality
Features vs Service Quality

Depending on the offer, we may have to take into account the total cost of the purchase (e.g. including the transaction fees, shipping, etc). So the differentiator becomes how cheaply, quickly we can receive the product and how much we’re prepared to pay for the total combination.

Moving further along, we encounter products that are becoming commoditised, i.e. the same product, but the differentiator could be the service wrapped around that product. This is where we start to see our perception of the brand in how it will look after us if something goes wrong with the purchase.

Customised products, by necessity of the interaction involved, include a higher level of service quality than the pure commodity products.

Where do gyms fit in?

Depending on the gym chain, they may have a sales and service model for the wrong type of product being offered.

Position of current gym business models
Position of current gym business models

Gyms as a whole tend to be following a sector-agnostic trend of delivering cheap as cheaply and simply as possible or selling quality as expensive. But there is confusion in the industry. There are a number of chains who don’t seem to have decided on their position. We see that by how they respond to complaints, by how well they maintain equipment, by how smooth they make the enrolment process, etc. In other words, they’re branding themselves as quality, but not following up on the offer. Customers and prospects are beginning to notice this. More importantly, with the advent of more pervasive social media and review sites, their opinions are more public and wider-reaching than at any time before. This will impact the pricing model, since it will become more difficult for a gym chain to obfuscate pricing per customer.

At the higher end of the chain,we see that expensive gyms hide the pricing structure which is indicative of bespoke services and possibly higher-end customisation. But neither of those attributes ever apply. At most, a gym is feature-based. So we find ourselves in an odd mix of worlds, where:

  • the monthly cost is expensive or very expensive (depending on how good your haggling skills were) considering the feature-based angle,
  • the sales approach is based on selling bespoke products
  • prices are hidden
  • the salespeople are usually too junior/low paid if a gym for selling bespoke services (but probably appropriately paid when we consider it’s a feature-based or commoditised-product sale)
  • customer service, whether as resolution of complaints or, more importantly, how customers are treated in terms of contracts, doesn’t reflect the levels we’d expect of bespoke dealers

If we relate this the world of cars, we could consider the lower-end of the market as the Škoda – perfectly good cars, made for a cheaper segment with fewer features than in more expensive cars. The higher end would be comparable to the more expensive Audis or Lexus. That also leaves room at the extremes, e.g. for Bentley and Rolls Royce at the top end. For each of those car companies, there’s a different sales method. We’d expect to see the salespeople on different packages. Similarly prices are more transparent at the lower end of the market.

Let’s put this back together.

If we take a lesson from car brands, combine with the industry-agnostic trend, we end up with a split:

Basic

  • Transparent pricing
  • either commoditised-product or feature-based product
  • implying limited features (think of the basic features from a Kano model)
  • simple sales, maybe even automated

Feature-plenty

  • Transparent pricing, more expensive than low-end
  • simple sales, more likely to be human, but still a simple process
  • better features
  • better customer service

Exclusive

  • Different pricing model
  • Scarcity, e.g. limited memberships
  • bespoke features
  • immaculate customer service
Loci for Future Gym Business Models
Loci for Future Gym Business Models

Looking at it from this angle, we see that there are gyms which attempt to avoid the low-end of the market, but are not at the exclusive end. But they don’t fit comfortably in the Feature-plenty. Bear in mind that Audis, Lexus and Škodas are still bought on a combination of features and brand. They’re still cars that you can order online. If you can’t find one local, you can simply find one somewhere. We can’t say that to the same extent for Bentley or Rolls Royce.

In most industries, we may be able to predict congruence with the trend, however the gym industry seems based on 1970s principles and exhibits a complete inertia to listening to customers, let alone delivering what customers want.

In the UK, we’re seeing more budget-brand gyms following the Basic model above. Prices are listed online and with fewer surprises or secret, it permits an automated sales process. Even so, they’re still applying joining fees rather than increasing the monthly fee by a small amount. Although that may be because the memberships gyms are already priced at triggering amounts, e.g. £14.99 + a £25 joining fee sounds better than £17 per month.

We also see very exclusive gyms with limited memberships, exorbitant monthly fees and joining fees, but catering to those that can afford it and those that want to be seen in the places to be.

Unfortunately the middle ground is badly managed. If they remain as they are, with the same customer-unfriendly practices, they will lose customers to the better basic gyms. This will become more prevalent as the basic gyms continue to reinvent what a gym means, by adding better customer service and as the basic gyms increase their offer by heading towards the feature-plenty model described above. Some of the customers will move to the truly exclusive gyms.

Direction of Travel for Gym Business Models
Direction of Travel for Gym Business Models

To counter this, those middle ground gyms will have to change. They can choose to be Basic, Feature-Plenty or Exclusive. Whichever is chosen, all 3 options require change.

At first glance, Feature-plenty appears to be easiest since they’re already charging more than Basic gyms, providing more features for that charge, but it would require a wholesale change in customer experience, from the sales process, on boarding, through to day-to-day experience, resolution of issues and membership retirement. That may look like a lower profit but there are enough case studies proving that focussing on the customer experience results in higher profit.

The change to Exclusive may be better done with a rebrand. Keeping the same brand will not carry the same perceived value regardless of what is done to the chain, at least not in sufficient time frame to prove return-on-investment.

The change to Basic may not be feasible for all the middle ground gyms due to the size of gym involved. The Basic gyms are typically smaller than the middle ground gyms. That’s possibly because they don’t rely on numerous features and so don’t need as much space to accommodate those extra features. Or it could be a attribute of the building costs, i.e. simpler to find a smaller space than a larger space suitable for a gym.

 

How Might We Apply Service Design to the Enterprise?

Business Architecture and Service Design

I simplistically take the view that Service Design is the concepts and methods of Design Thinking applied to making services work better for their customers. It’s a definition that works in the circles I most commonly move in, i.e. directors, programme directors, etc. It allows me to set the stage in which service design and design thinking both play.

However on the same stage, we commonly find KPIs, OKRs, Business Architecture, etc. And the stage starts to look crowded very quickly. We also start to see people pulling in different directions, like someone has let a mouse loose in the chorus of an Italian opera.

Operas and plays have directors, often many directors each responsible for their own domain, but with one artistic director responsible for the overall vision.

Envisioning

Now imagine what would the stage look like if the director asked the question “How might we…..?”.

It’s the opening line of many a design thinking ideation round. And it serves many purposes, explained better by others elsewhere.

Taking the stage analogy further, I hear questions such as “How might we produce more colourful costumes?”, “How might we light the back of the stage better?”, “How might we fill this part of the stage?”.

All of them are good questions and relate to the specific problem that has been uncovered during the discovery phase.

What they’re not doing is thinking of the entirety of the show. They just resolve the problem that was uncovered for their part of the show.

How might we approach this differently?

What they’re not doing is asking “How might we aim to deliver a better show?

Business Architecture and Service Design
Business Architecture and Service Design

Let’s look at that question more thoroughly.

It’s got the typical format of “How might we…?” introducing the concepts of inclusion, a shared problem, and an indication of possibilities and potential.

I didn’t stop at the simpler question of “How might we deliver a better show?”. That’s where service design typically fits.

If we step back from the stage and consider an organisation, even applying service design in this way would be a stretch. At this scale, we’d be trying to apply service design to the whole organisation, e.g. how might we deliver better services? Where typically each service would have its own change activity, often in the form of design sprints, etc. Instead, the simpler question of “how might we deliver a better show?” could be translated into a top-down design question for an organisation of “how might we deliver better products and services?”, “how might we become a better organisation?” or similar organisation-wide design questions.

However, the question I introduced earlier focusses on the aim, not necessarily the end result. It asks about how might we aim to deliver. In focussing on the aim, it allows us to explore the goals and how goals are set. It leads us to question what goals would be required in order to deliver a better show. In understanding the goals, we have to understand what good looks like, what counts as successful and not just in the eyes of the board, but in the eyes of customers. If we set the concept of goals smart enough, this could easily set the scene for continual improvement.

Alignment with Business Architecture

Back to the organisation, now that we’re asking about the aims, and we’ve looked at the goals, we can start to see how the goals for the enterprise could be set. This brings Service Design up to the area where it aligns with Business Architecture. While this may seem at odds with a top-down approach of setting KPIs, we have to ask the question of why wouldn’t we want to develop an organisation that is driven by achieving its goals that deliver value to customers?

Alternative Business Motivation

By combining Business Architecture with Service Design, there is the possibility of redefining the concept of Business Model Modelling. Typically that’s a top-down approach, modelling external influencers, assessments, goals, objectives/outcomes, etc. Taking the combined service design/business architecture approach would result in metrics that matter to customers as the metrics percolate up through the organisation, not cascade down as is more common.

Whereas the concept of One Metric That Matters may suit startups as they redefine/focus on a different metric per stage of development and growth, it would not be expected to change as often in a more mature organisation. Instead, we may see a single metric that is of most interest for a cycle of improvement. But here’s the clincher – that metric would be an aggregate of the metrics defined by exploring the problem space with customers, not one that’s defined by an executive board.

However we may see a situation where an executive board decides to steer the organisation away from its current model towards a different business model. In that case, we would consider a more top-down approach.

The Maturing of Business Architecture

Enterprise Architecture and Business Architecture as Peers

In Black Sheep or Shepherd, I introduced the idea that Business Architecture isn’t aligned with Enterprise Architecture as well as we may expect from looking at traditional structures for Enterprise Architecture.

I’ve had several conversations about that topic since, all raised by the person I was talking with, rather than me asking them. And we’re all coming to similar set of conclusions:

  1. Business Architecture doesn’t fit well within Enterprise Architecture (more on this below)
  2. Business Architecture as a profession is maturing
  3. Organisations who are using Business Architects are using them differently
  4. Business Architecture may be better defined as a peer capability to Enterprise Architecture, rather than within EA.

Let’s take each in turn.

1. Business Architecture doesn’t fit well within Enterprise Architecture

I covered a lot of this in Black Sheep or Shepherd. The traditional implementation of EA originates from an IT perspective. Enterprise Architecture is typically initiated from with the IT function. While EA is meant to include Business Architecture in parallel to Technical Architecture, etc, Business Architecture is typically the last to be included and takes a position following Technical Architecture.

Enterprise Architecture structure
Enterprise Architecture structure

A typical Enterprise Architecture structure would include Application Architecture, Infrastructure Architecture, Data/Information Architecture and Business Architecture. Usually implemented in that order when originating from an IT perspective. In fact, I’ve often seen the sub-architecture of Process Architecture being implemented before Business Architecture.

EA implementation
EA implementation

This is opposite to what we would expect if we were able to plan it logically. In that case, we’d apply Business Architecture first in order to understand the aims and vision of the organisation, then organise everything around that vision. That’s where the other architecture domains come in. That’s the method as described (but often not followed) within TOGAF ADM. Start with the agreements, architectural principles, then business architecture to define the requirements for the other architecture domains.

2. Business Architecture as a profession is maturing

While we could say this of almost any profession, the rate of progress and thought-leadership in Business Architecture has progressed noticeably over the last few years. Prospects and clients are more aware of what it can do for them, internally within organisations there are more allies for the need for Business Architecture. It’s not all rosy, but it is improving.

Not only are the consultancies improving in their offer and the clients are improving in their knowledge and their requests, but short-term resource agencies are also improving in their placement of business architecture. More people involved in the wider enterprise are now talking about the value of business architecture. It’s still not prevalent and there’s often sales activity involved in influencing clients and prospects in the value, but it is increasing.

3. Organisations who are using Business Architects are using them differently.

Many of my requests for work come from portfolios or programmes rather than central, corporate enterprise functions. It is the change function of the business that is seeing a need to create order within the organisation and hence wanting the services of a Business Architect to assist with that. Typically, these assignments also stretch into guidance on business analysis although that can be considered separate. The indication though is that’s how the clients are seeing the tasks at hand. They see that the technology is taken care of through technical design authorities, etc and want a similar structure for business decisions.

This can be extended to a point where a change programme uses business architecture which then informs a corporate function. That corporate function realises the value and initiates their own business architecture initiative. When done well, these two different business architecture functions concentrate on their own objectives while ensuring alignment between corporate and change function. When done badly, they compete.

4. Business Architecture may be a peer capability to Enterprise Architecture

I find myself discussing future designs with Enterprise Architects, not because the designs have to go through them in terms of governance, but as a peer review. It does raise the question of whether they’re should be a consolidated governance route and review boards, not just technical design authorities. I have created design authorities that focus on business design (including the use of technology) rather than the technology solutions as would often appear before a technical design authority.

In addition, if we take the EA implementation diagram mentioned earlier, we can see that there are several transition states; one after each phase where only a subset of the Enterprise Architecture has been implemented. The typical transition state follows phase 2, where we see EA comprising Infrastructure and Application Architectures, all governed through an EA route. But with Business Architecture and Data/Information Architecture governed through other routes.

Enterprise Architecture and Business Architecture as Peers
Enterprise Architecture and Business Architecture as Peers

That combined, with the multiple design authorities, is indicative of an immature EA function, leaving us with two choices:

  1. Improve the maturity of the EA function and the role of Business Architecture within it.
  2. Engage Business Architects as peers to Enterprise Architecture

(1) only works if the initiatives are not IT focussed and that there’s more well-rounded support and engagement for that function.

(2) is what many clients are doing. They’re seeing EA as not performing what they require of the function, so they engage a Business Architect to provide and cover that gap.

Where to go from here?

That leads me to my premise. Even though EA is mature as a concept, it’s implementation is poor in a number of organisations, especially those that treat EA as a subset of IT.

Wherever EA is a subset of IT, then Business Architecture should short-term be driven by change portfolios. In parallel, the organisation should consider how to achieve wider adoption of the EA function within the organisation. Ironically, that task is most suited to Business Architects.

Whichever route, there has to be single point at which all designs come together for review. Not necessarily reviewing the designs themselves, but at least the design principles behind them. That review function is the start of a homogenous Enterprise Architecture function.

Moreover, we should concentrate on Business Architecture first where possible. Relying on existing architects is fraught with issues, most of all leading the organisation down a technology-driven path, rather than a business-vision/purpose path as would be more appropriate.

So consider a revised implementation timeline to reflect the earlier presence of Business Architecture, whether within or as a peer to EA.

EA implementation - revised
EA implementation – revised

 

Any comments? Get in touch @alanward

 

Partnership Map

Partnership Map 0_02

I’ve developed a Partnership Map, designed to help us think about which companies we partner with and why.

With my clients, I’ve often found workshop attendees confused (at least initially) by the term partnership. If you use other well-known tools such as the Business Model Canvas, maybe you’ve encountered similar issues.

We all use the term partnership, but rarely question what we actually mean by it. I usually revert to asking what the partnership entails. If it’s one company paying another for services, is that really partnership?

Components

There are two parts to the target

  1. The Map itself: designed so you can print it large and place your partnering companies on the map
  2. A table of the definition of the tiers. I’ll admit this is a very rough draft, but I thought it better to get it out in the world and improve with collaboration, rather than it just being the product of one person.

How to use it

  1. Work through each of your partnerships and place them according to their sector and tier.
  2. Once all partnerships are on the map, step back to look at them
  3. Evaluate whether that partnership should exist, moved tiers or become a supplier-client relationship. Think of partnerships moving from outside to inside or vice versa, or partnerships being consolidated across sectors.
  4. If a particular partnership is giving cause for concern, then consider using the Partnership Canvas for more in-depth analysis.

Status

This is a first draft; it’s my first attempt at putting down my thoughts into a picture.

There are a few tasks before I’d consider it a first release:

  • The alignment of the words to the circle isn’t spot-on. I’ll wait to see if the quadrants and sectors change first, before making it neater.
  • The definitions of the tiers and the actions need more thought
  • Validate the quadrants – I’m not comfortable with the name Business Capability; it’s a working title
  • Validate the sectors – Do these need to change, add sectors, merge sectors?

 

 

I’m happy to collaborate on it, so get in touch at @alanward and let’s talk.

The Content

Partnership Map 0_02
Partnership Map 0_02

 

Partnership Map Definition 0_02
Partnership Map Definition 0_02

Efficiency Through Motivation

Efficiency Through Motivation

I started an Instagram channel a while ago. I wanted to start generating an audience for my forthcoming course on Efficiency Through Motivation. I didn’t want to just post inspirational quotes; there are plenty of those channels already. What I wanted to do was to help people explore business architecture and strategy through asking questions of where they are at the moment. I’m using the images as the initial thought-provoker then writing related commentary, often in the form of prompting questions. Go have a look at EfficiencyThroughMotivation, does it work for you?

Actually, better than tell, how about you let me know what you think of the idea? Or even what stage of business you’re at at the moment, what are your struggles and how do you think you’ll be resolving them? You can reach me at Contact Us.

How many objectives do you set yourself each day and how many objectives do you set for your organisation? Are those objectives related?

A photo posted by EfficiencyThroughMotivation (@efficiencythroughmotivation) on

Enterprise Architecture in Startups: Is it relevant?

Ludo Board for depicting strategy
Ludo Board

Practitioners of Customer Development, Lean Startup and Enterprise Architecture can all learn from each other. But they shouldn’t enforce their views on each other as there are some incompatibilities. Let’s see how enterprise architecture in startups can exist.

Background

The Startup culture and methods have largely been defined by Steve Blank who wrote The Startup Owners Handbook and later, by Eric Ries who wrote Lean Startup. Both of these consider how newly-created companies can grow quickly and in the right direction for their founders and customers. Many authors and speakers followed, but for this article, we’ll mainly focus on these two.

Enterprise Architecture (EA) functions can be found in many large, mature organisations that have a need to get a grip on their ICT* landscape. Continue reading “Enterprise Architecture in Startups: Is it relevant?”

When is the Right Time to Change Your Mind?

When is the Right Time to Change Your Mind?

Reflecting
Reflecting

You have many opportunities in life and business to change your mind. Each of us has many opportunities, but we don’t always take those opportunities. We may be conforming to social constraints and expectations or don’t want to risk appearing inconsistent by changing too often. Let’s look at a non-serious example and extract nuggets we can apply in a business context.

1) The Background

I’m in a situation right now where I’m having to re-evaluate my aims. Fortunately it’s not a serious situation and there are a few parallels to my professional life. I play guitar and I own a few guitar amplifiers. Each guitar and amp has its own tonal identity and quirks. I pick the right tools for the job; playing in a 60s Motown/soul band requires different guitars and amplifiers than playing in an 80s hair metal cover band.

At a gig at the beginning of Summer this year, I played using a very nice amplifier and it sounded awesome with the band. I really enjoyed how it sounded and I probably played better because I was comfortable that it did the right job.

2) The Hypothesis

I thought that I could use the same amplifier with a few changes in my set-up (i.e. a different effects pedal or two) and I would again have an awesome sounding rig, but this one would be suited to the 80s hair metal cover band I’m currently playing in.

Two things to learn from this: Continue reading “When is the Right Time to Change Your Mind?”