Total Clothing wanted to involve people from right across the team to streamline their processes, to prepare in advance for another year of major growth. They asked Critical Action to help with building vision, identifying changes and putting a plan into action.
“We worked with many of our team, led by Keith, to identify bottlenecks in our processes and by voting on the most urgent issues, gave everyone a sense of inclusion and buy-in.
It has brought the team so much closer in terms of working towards common goals and also in the way they communicate with each other on an ongoing basis.
We are really thinking differently as a team about the way we operate and this is translating into actions and profitability.
Keith’s no nonsense, practical way of facilitating, managing and ensuring that tasks were completed by all has really helped us overcome some challenging issues and we are moving forward with some exciting times ahead.”
Jan Richardson Managing Director, Total Clothing Ltd
We’ve been doing a fair bit of work recently around roles and role-based access.
These projects have been around things like Active Directory, new ERP/CRM systems implementations, changes to responsibilities and working processes, and data migrations.
If this sounds like something you’re about to embark upon, and you’d like some assistance with the analysis and logical design, to feed into your technical design, you might find our short role-based permission white-paper gives you some food for thought.
The principle is that products that really matter to people start with “why” they exist, and “why” we as a business do what we do. The video is well worth watching, and explains more about starting with “why”, moving through “how” and finishing with “what” – the product and features.
Jobs To Be Done
The Innovators Toolkit. Again, the full article is worth reading. What Human need are you delivering against? Think of your (short) proposition in three parts:
Action verb – Object – Context
Create – a company strategy – in small chunks in your spare time
In my days as a Service Delivery Manager, we occasionally faced situations where “the customer was down”, and before the advent of affordable modern monitoring systems like System Center, I’d often find this out when engineers came to me saying things like “we need to drop everything and fix X!”
Sometimes, you find, after throwing resource at a problem, that the root cause was not only nothing to do with us, but not even something over which we had any control.
However even in those situations; you don’t want to do the equivalent of standing in front of a customer with arms folded, saying “not our problem mate…” – we empathised with the customer, and wanted to get them to a potential solution as fast as they could, with our help.
So we created three ways to categorise the information we had to make decisions upon, right from the first call:
Facts – supported by evidence – you can make decisions based on facts
Assumptions – not proven, but based on our experience – a decision made on assumptions needs to be validated, fast
Opinions – driven by feelings and fear – ideally don’t make decisions based on opinions, but do respect the emotions behind them when thinking and communicating
So, quickly, we could parcel up what we “knew” into three pots; facts to make decisions on, assumptions to explore and validate, and opinions to manage. Three tasks that can be delegated, owned and tracked.
Of course, there is still a human judgement to be made on when you have enough facts to start acting. This judgement itself is driven by a mixture of facts, assumptions and opinions of your own.
We’re please to announce that our new Vision2Action programme (V2A) is now available!
It’s a fast-tracked, concentrated shot of our customers’ favourite tools and processes. It’s designed to give busy business owners and directors a structure for turning their vision into a strategy with defined objectives, plans for delivering change, and the time and support to keep the momentum up.
The emphasis is on working with you to make the most of your time and knowledge, so we can create for you “actionable documents “- in other words, real documents, with content, decisions, guidance and information; which you can share with your people, refer back to yourself, or use with external suppliers.
Each fixed-price programme includes an initial, intensive set of activities to get things moving, and then quarterly review meetings, plus use of our online goal-tracking platform.
It’s great to see recent initiatives such as the Year of Code, the Raspberry Pi foundation, and many others. They are helping get people, especially young people, be curious about what happens “under the hood” of computers, and try things out for themselves.
If you haven’t seen the Moshi Pong coding game/lesson at yearofcode.org it’s well worth a look. It’s main purpose is to introduce the key principles of coding: logic, events, getters, setters, objects and attributes, etc., etc. all with immediate gratification – make a change to the code and the game behaves differently.
Another aspect I really like is the visual, block-based approach to editing the game – tacitly, this is doing requirements analysis, user experience (UX) design, and visual organisation of needs. We see these as crucial elements of the analysis work we do with businesses when they are transforming processes and gathering requirements for new systems.
We recommend to clients that at least the main user journey and key process flows should be walked through on whiteboards, paper or similar software before even thinking about detailed specs and coding.
Our experience is that time invested early is rarely wasted, and usually identifies several “gotchas” and opportunity to add really valuable new features to the end result.
I’ve just been building a volumetric model for a large volume consumer-market website. We wanted to make sure that we sized the initial launch infrstructure correctly, and had an understanding of the cost of growth (of both transactions and data volume).
It’s been a doubly useful exercise – as well as giving us the figures we needed, it has also highlighted an unexpected consequence of (an otherwise very sensible) archiving policy decision. This has allowed us to tweak a policy and create a new approach to one aspect of marketing, saving thousands of pounds per year.
Certainly good anecdotal evidence to support the old programmers adage that “it’s cheaper to fix it on paper…”!