Happy New Year/ Elements Group Launch

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Elements Group Speaking at MACC

IMG_5162.jpgI was a speaker at the 2017 Midwest Architecture Community Collaboration this November held at the Double Tree Hotel.  A large community of architects, technologists, and strategists convened for both presentations and workshops.  My presentation covered top challenges that business and technology leaders will face as the speed of business and technology increases.

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Key topic areas included:

  1. The Nature of Competition is changing:   In this section, I talked about how last century there were around eight clearly defined business strategies in markets and how since 2000+ over 30 strategies are now active and many are more complex requiring new internal capabilities, external partnership,s and new value systems.  Most companies today lack the business intelligence and strategic planning process required to map these new strategies and map their ecosystems effectively, including cross-sector threats.  Many companies ignore these options and keep on doing what they have always done giving time to the competition, but regardless of being proactive with offensive strategies, companies will be forced into developing defensive strategies as their competitor’s differentiators start to disrupt their business.
  2. Regional Competitive Advantage:   All around the world, leading cities are developing regional development plans with industry to create more competitive business environments.   This is creating entirely new playing fields where companies can’t afford to not be active in these regions given the advantages in industry clusters, investment, government policy, workforce development, education, and entrepreneurship are all integrated and operating a significantly higher level of acceleration.    Business need to explore the global landscape to see how these regions are developing and how they can get involved.   For cities and companies that don’t develop their own regions may find themselves at a great disadvantage in the coming years and workforce, investment and companies are forced to leave atrophying regions in search of more competitive advantages.  While foreign cities are leading the way, establishing best practice, several USA cities have taken very proactive steps and have easily a 6-8 year head start.  Many USA cities are pretty complacent,  but they fail to see that are in a declining state vying to be the next Detriot.
  3. New Role:  Lastly,  I spoke about new roles that are needed in corporate leadership and in regional leadership.   These represent huge career paths and opportunities for today’s business, technology and government leadership.

See more pictures of the event in the photo gallery

UST: Risk Leadership at PWC

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With Elements Group holding a board position on the UST Risk Leadership Team,  we enjoyed attending the first fall forum and panel discussion.   On stage, were several risk leaders from companies in the twin cities area and PWC practitioners.  The interaction with the audience was very open and it created a nice atmosphere of discussion.   Also, each panelist was asked to comment on each question, so we were able to get insights from different perspectives and environments.   This is the 1st of an ongoing series and I’m looking forward to the spring event.  The overall tone of the first meeting was pretty much in the trenches risk management, but the overall theme of risk leadership also moves into areas about the risk of not acting and innovating for organizations.   Hopefully, this more proactive role will come into focus as the series progresses.

After the panel discussion, food was served and the attendees enjoyed the rooftop PWC patio overlooking the MSP downtown.  There practitioners and students were able to network, discuss the learnings from the panel and begin to form a community that will be involved in future events.  The overall tone of the first meeting was pretty much in the trenches risk management, but the overall theme of risk leadership also moves into areas about the risk of not acting and innovating for organizations.   Hopefully, this more proactive role will come into focus as the series progresses.

See more pictures of the event in the photo gallery

You can learn more about this initiative at the UST Risk Leadership site

Kansas City Living Lab

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I attended the overview of the Kansas City Living Lab.   This is an impressive initiative centered developing solutions for smart cities.   The city has been declared “open” for entrepreneurs in IOT to develop and live test their solutions with the partnership of the city and economic development organizations.   They are developing a strong brand as a leading smart city and IOT hub.   It is attracting companies and start-ups to the region and the real world results are creating proven case studies of solutions.  I look forward to visiting the city in the next year to see how this story evolves.

 

Soft Launch – Elements

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November marks the design and development of a new company and brand.

The focus of the new organization is the culmination of the past tens years of studying corporate innovation centers and the past four years looking at the development of regional innovation ecosystems across cities around the world.   The work is ongoing documenting frameworks, patterns, and best practices that are being used.   Decision support trees that highlight interdependencies and trade-off between approach options.  While this information has resulted in methodologies for corporations and regions to incrementally develop new capabilities in the innovation realm,  the internal focus has been on the collection of data and development of several book series that will explore in depth the approaches, trends, and nuances that have shaped the direction of approaches due to varying competitive conditions around the world.

Stay tuned for a 1st quarter 2018 launch of the new brand.

PDMA Event @ Whiteboard

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I attended the March 22 PDMA event hosted at Whiteboard this month.   The guest speaker was Bill Farmer who spoke about the history of management paradigms of Taylorism vs. Demming models.  He brought both into today’s challenges of innovation and product development.  The talk began with the history of both approaches and how the United States became entrenched in the Fredrick Taylor model of hierarchal business management through a scientific method approach.  Taylorism focuses on breaking work down into repetitive processes and steps so they can be taught, managed and evaluated.  The primary goal is efficiency.  Many of the early driving forces initially came from labor-intensive industries of agricultural and manufacturing.  Eventually, the scale of the industrial revolution spread this management approach.    The world wars also played a large role due to their scale and broad application of the hierarchical command and control needs of the military across all the industries that supported the effort.  The end result of over ~150 years of the implementation of Taylorism resulted in it becoming institutionalized across business, education, and generations of people in the United States.   The Taylor method is attributed to the rise and building of America’s success in the 20th century.   In the aftermath of World War II,  many of the industrial bases of other countries were decimated.  Japan, in particular, was rebuilt directly by the United States and led by the efforts of Edward Demming.   He was able to implement a different methodology based on his work that sought engage works in the development of higher quality and methods of production.  This leveraged the experience and insights that the workforce had and empowered them to improve the overall system.   The Demming model is attributed to the rise of post-war Japan into a manufacturing super power.  Management experts, like Peter Drucker, grew up and studied in the Taylor model of America and were huge proponents of its approach in success.   Later in his career Drucker experienced the rise of the digital technology, the internet, and the knowledge worker.   All of which was transforming industry and challenging the management paradigm of Taylorism because skills, roles, and work where becoming very dynamic vs. pure repetition.   In today’s innovation economy the knowledge worker’s role is both creative and increasingly dynamic in terms of skils and multitude of roles they play within organizations.  Though Drucker felt that the America had been built with Taylorism in the 20th century,  it would not work in the 21st century.   The Demming model was more applicable to constant improvement and change.   The talk also included examples of both models in operations and the cultural challenges inherint.   It also had audience members participating in role playing excersizes to demonstrate principles more experiencially.

Event Description
20th Century Process-Thinking limitations are being overcome by a management shift to Systems-Thinking. The holistic considerations of Systems-Thinking provide operational flexibility, feedback and learning as key parts of development, and a superior environment for knowledge work success in the fast-paced Information Age. This brief presentation, that kicks off our networking mixer, will make the distinction between the two approaches clear and inform you why and how to evolve your team towards Systems-Thinking.

Key Takeaways
Add Value Through a Systems-based Approach:
Productivity and Employee Engagement
Responsiveness to External Change
Sustaining Improvements
Improvements Generated at All Organizational Levels
Introduction to a Tool that Accelerates the Shift to a Systems Approach
Demonstration of an Exercise to Provoke Collaborative Imagination

See more images at the Cheval Innovation Gallery

 

 

Intersection of Product Mgmt, Prod Dev, and Data Analytics

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I attended the February PDMA event hosted at Optum.   The Minneapolis chapter had arranged both a tour of the Optum facility and a panel discussion on the intersection of Product Management, Product Development, and Data Analytics.   The event started with a networking session while tours were conducted.   The tour featured several customer showcase areas.  The first was visiting a large digital analytics command room that was several stories tall and covered in monitors with real-time information showing a vast amount of healthcare related actives across the united states.  This room could be used to monitor the outbreaks and spreading of disease and the activities of the healthcare providers.   It allows Optum to actively support the healthcare system with early identification of trends and coordination of activities.  We headed into a detailed analytics room that featured individual station with large interactive touch screens.  Our tour guides took use through numerous analytics scenarios with real-time drill down into trends,  treatments, and member services that were possible with the depth of data they have been able to integrate and create the capabilities to explore and interact with data.   This section of the tour concluded in a large surround screen video experience around the future of healthcare.
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The event continued with the panel discussion featuring 6 panelists ranging from corporate to consultants with various backgrounds in the product and analytics spaces.   With an audience size around 100 people, they did some polling and it saw a split between attendees being more on the product side vs. pure data scientists.    The panel also talked briefly about the 5 eras of product development that was broken out accordingly:
  1. Create a product in isolation and push it out through advertising
  2. Customer focus groups
  3. Lean / Design Thinking / Customer Discovery
  4. Data Science
  5. Now we need to integrate 3 & 4
It was highly stressed that many data projects fail and the root cause is the lack of defining what value you want to get out of the data up front.  Meaning you have to define the questions you are trying to answer before getting lost in analysis.   While data analysis can also discover anomalies and trends along the way,  that should be secondary to understanding what you are trying to learn from it.  The questions also help define the “right” data you want vs. getting overwhelmed with studying “all” the data.   In the end, your looking for the problem that your product/service can solve,  not the offering itself in the data.
I look forward to attending more events and more networking!
Learn more about PDMA (http://www.pdma.org/minnesota)
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