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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St. Thomas Risk Leadership Program

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I had the opportunity to meet with Faculty from the University of St. Thomas Opus School of Business to discuss the work I have been doing in corporate innovation and in the area of building regional innovation ecosystems.   The meeting also gave me a chance to learn more about the school’s new programs and actives in the area of Risk Leaders.   The initial meeting identified a wide number of areas of interest and overlap in these areas of work with future meetings planned to explore synergies.
Check out Risk Leadership ( https://www.stthomas.edu/risk_leadership/ )
**** Update:
Cheval Partners now has a team member on the Risk Leadership Advisory Board
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Online Education Platforms

9e2e0990-b941-4ff6-90d8-d3ba2542f487I participated in the CxO roundtable webinar focused on Online Education Platforms.   The conversation was a great sharing of experiences of various universities experiences evaluating and using these platforms to support their online education programs.   I have had multiple exposures to designing programs for online platforms from working at the university to the consulting I have done with universities building programs around innovation centers and regional cluster development.    There is an overwhelming need to build global education communities that can extend the reach of their offerings to students and workforces internationally.   Online programs are both in demand and liked by students/workers that want the flexibility and non-geographic limitations of access to training.
The platforms primarily being discussed on this call ranged from:
  • BlackBoard – Ultra
  • Canvas
  • Moodle
  • D2L Bright Space
Challenges range from:
  • Evaluation
  • Funding
  • Training internal staff
  • Culture shift of faculty
  • Metrics and measurement – definition of success
  • Looking ahead to where today’s trends are heading
The institution on the call are in the early adoption and learning phases being only a few years into their pilots.  Current challenges are similar and tactical in nature.  The conversation will pivot past the “how to” stage and into considering that the full potential and reach of these platforms will vastly exceed the brick and mortar aspects of the institutions that they implement in.
Some key aspects they will need to address in the coming years will be:
  • How institutional funding for new programs will be shifting to online
  • Designing hybrid programs that blend with experiential learning
  • Incorporating cutting edge industry practitioners to assure that online programs remain relevant and updated
  • Running dependable 24/7 IT at global scale ( with what partners)
  • Building retaining the online community past just the courseware
  • Building new strategic partnerships across the globe to create world class / aggregated curriculum
  • Redefining what degree means when your education is coming from many institutions
  • Building students along side workforce
  • Making lifelong learning central to the programs.   Not just the basics, but constant indusry relevancy
  • etc.
These strategic aspects are also at the center of conversations are the development of innovation centers that integrate with many universities and industry partners.   The shift is moving in the direction where the gap between university and industry training is closing and education needs to be integrated directly into the innovation ecosystem of industry and workforce development.

 

Leadership Advisory Board 2nd Quarter Meeting

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We convened the second quarter Leadership Advisory Board that the Carlson School of Management.
This board contained around 40 corporate members from their talent development groups around leadership and executive development.  This previous session had focused on offerings around emerging leaders.   Based on the feedback on the new leadership programs for the last meeting we where able to show the changes in the emerging leaders program being offered.    This included a more robust coaching option integrated into the standard curriculum and the inclusion of more industry practitioners to make the program more relevant and valuable.   We also where able to present initial designs to a full portfolio of offerings in the leadership space and prioritize the next program for development targeted at more senior executives.  As in the last meeting,  participation from the attendees was really engaged and passionate.   It was also to see the diversity of feedback based on individual organizations approach to leadership development.   It was very informative for this peer group to see how organizations are approaching the space differently form a variety as aspects including:
–  In-house development vs. leveraging external partners
– The amount of dollars and investment made into leaders
– The diversity of size & effort put into leaders at different levels.   Do you spend more or less time/dollars into senior leaders vs. younger ones.   Do senior leaders need any support or do they need more support than ever in their careers?
– How to bring in senior leaders into an organization when they have “grown up” in other corporations models
– How to develop leaders that either come from or have to work in other international cultures
– How does support vary in terms of men or woman leaders?
– How much does your company invest in mentorship models
– How much does your company invest in peer to peer models
– How much does your company invest in external peer to peer models?
– How much does your company invest in leadership & and then developing the organizations they are leading?  ( are you leaving your employees behind?)
– etc.
Leadership is one of many topics that are top of mind for corporations and business schools.   In a world of increase speed of change and innovation talent becomes the critical resource.   If agility is a key component,  how are you building and developing your leadership to meet that challenge and how are they supported in building organizations and talent pool?

Branding Workshops Part II – Internal Focus

 

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Branding is many times looked at a marketing exercise senior executives should consider that the work of defining one’s vision mission and values lays a strong foundation when looking at the implications for building internal culture and process.  Starting at the top of the strategic planning hierarchy,  brand can set the vision set the tone and compass for that the organization will take.  The work is only beginning at this point as a further and more in-depth look must be taken for mapping values across the organization.   Many values based analysis tends to stay at the brand level and speak to the overall values to convey in the marketing.  Having individual departments conduct their own values exercise is a great way to understand how different areas of the business see themselves within the organizational structures.  At the center of this methodology that Cheval Partners uses are exercises to help team and managers conduct value identification and prioritization.

Many interesting insights come out of the exercise:

  1. There are usually vast differences between functional areas.   This would be natural to expect as some are focused on customer service,  others on operational aspects and some focused on building new areas of the business.   This should be looked at as health as each group has its own focus.   What is critical is to start to define value chains within the organization and begin to understand when values or standard operating procedures are in conflict with the overriding values of the entire chain.
  2. Study different levels of the management hierarchy.   Is their alignment to purpose or conflict.   This can be a good indicator that the incentive models in the organization are created correctly or have become more political than mission based. A shiny mission statement about teamwork does not fix a culture of infighting.
  3. A close look must be paid to management values and team values.   Many times the root cause when managers are focused on politics are tuned into that conversation and missing the team is aligned on the mission.   This is where the danger of a culture where managers are only working to please their boss and climb to the next level creates the most conflict.   Leaders need to focus their managers on supporting the team’s mission and through that success be rewarded.
  4. When values are in conflict,  one has to establish ground rules for value basing ( or debasing).    A simple example are two teams in a value chain that are focused on speed vs. quality or depth of service vs. market growth.   In most cases general 80/20 policies can help guide teams in mainstream decisions.   Its when the exception comes along that escalation to leadership needs not only a decision, but the directives to how both teams will receive mutual benefits, especially for the team that might have to concede in some way or metric to the greater good.   It is in these times  of exceptions that culture is built and cross-team collaboration can be celebrated
  5. Value base shifts.  In a time where markets are driving rapid innovation and agility, values are also subject to change.  Now that said,  core values do not change!   I’m talking about the shift of focus and values of teams in various functions of the organization that are undergoing change.   Long standing and successful teams build a conviction behind their values and past successes.  It is important to re-address what the value shifts may be explicitly during times of change.

With a the values exercise in place and constantly managed.  An organization is now ready to begin process and governance phases of organizational design or change.   Branding can be a powerful catalyst around identify,  but making the organization align to deliver on the brand promise is even a greater challenge.    I will dive into more details of the values based exercises and then move into dynamic governance models in future blogs.

Branding Workshops Part I

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I was part of team going through global branding for a large scale North American company who had engaged the agency Yamamoto.   An impressive team of agency creatives,  corporate employees, and external advisors participated.  Branding for multi-cultural application was quite extensive.   This work eventually led to thematic branding considerations through several lenses both internal, external and customer centric.  The end result developed everything from brand naming, symbols, iconography, and color palette one should not consider that to be the end to building a culture that supports the brand.  This was a great experience,  but now begins the internal work of aligning the company.

—– What’s next ?   Read part II