Let’s assume you have a business vision and some sort of goal or outcome for your organisation. What else do you need before moving forward with your project action plan?
Your Current Situation
I learn’t something quite a long time ago from a person called Robert Fritz. He coined a term called “Structural Tension.” I prefer to use the term Vision Pull in describing what happens in a business.
The key point about structural tension or Vision Pull is that it creates a natural pull towards your vision/goal. Tension always seeks resolution and you get tension by defining your vision/goal and by understanding your current reality.
It’s vital then that you really understand your current circumstances in terms of its relationship to your vision. Failure to analyse your current situation properly and you will potentially waste time, money and resources.
Current Situation & Circumstances
In writing this for you, I have a bit of a problem as I won’t know what your vision/goal is? It could be any number of things including; creating a new product, establishing a new business model, testing a new market, improving your business as a system and so on. With that in mind I thought I could best help you by giving you some simple ideas to think about.
If your vision is way out into the future, it’s possible and likely that it will need to be broken down into smaller stages or steps. I tend to work backwards from a future vision to where a business is now. Your management will then have a better understanding of how to get the job done. Once that’s completed you can reverse it and use the Plan – Do – Study – Act process.
Okay lets assume you’ve broken down your goal you can now start to analyse the current situation.
What data do you need?
If it’s for a new products/services you might want to consider the niche you’re planning to develop. For example, what other products/services already inhabit the niche? What kind of price range is likely? Are there gaps which you could fill which are not filled by existing suppliers? Does the market represent a big enough opportunity for your business?
If your goal is to improve an aspect of your business, the data and information you need will be different. You could for example look at the history of the problem? What symptoms occur when the problem presents itself? Which departments are involved or which departments are affected when the problem presents itself? You will also need the raw data which relates to the problem you want to solve.
One of the challenges when defining problems is to be very careful about drilling down to the underlying cause of the problem. Imagine a simple problem like a fuse which keeps blowing every time you use an appliance. The problem seems simple IE the fuse has blown and the solution seems simple, replace the fuse. But there may be an underlying cause which means the fuse will keep on blowing. Perhaps there’s a short circuit or something keeps shunting a higher current through to the appliance?
The other points I want to mention is that all stakeholders should be included in the analysis
Your People Aren’t the Problem
It doesn’t matter whether you are solving a problem, creating a new product/service or a new model, you must see your business as a system. It’s the foundation or should be to your whole business.
Typically, managers have a tendency to see problems and for that matter opportunities as a people thing. However, trying to change people will very rarely change the system because the underlying structure will always have a tendency to drive their behaviour.
The only real way to change behaviour is to change/challenge the system.
Organisations will spend £thousands and sometime £millions on people to change their behaviour but it will undoubtedly fail unless the structure/system is changed.
Your Business as a System
Your business is an interacting system which creates results. Sometimes these results may be desired and sometimes the results won’t be desired. Either way, it’s the system which does this and not the people inside the system.
Peter Scholtes wrote an interesting book, The Leaders Handbook in which he described the business as a system. I use it as one of reference books and would humbly recommend it to you.
The System is Made up of;
- Current methods
- Past experiences
- Product/Service design
- External constraints
- Facilities, materials and equipment
The Current Situation Consists;
- Errors, defects, mistakes and problems
- Morale and staff turnover
- Customer satisfaction
Below is a graphic which I’ve recreated from the book;
My hope is that you will get a better feel for the aspects of your business you need to pay attention to if you wish to implement your vision.
It’s possible you may need to get support from a business analyst who has the technology skills necessary and will know where to look and the questions to ask.
Rocket science this is not but it takes a little time to consider what’s important in identifying your current circumstances if you wish to build a self-sustaining business.