Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Outcomes Follow Leadership Styles

 While the overall behaviors of organizations are influenced by history, business models, and organizational culture, the leadership style also has a significant influence on current outcomes. If a particular leadership style persists through generations of CEOs, it can have a make or break impact on the organization itself over the long run. There is a strong tie between the successful background of the CEO and the outcomes. Often leadership styles emanate from where the CEO grew up in organizations. Let's dive into some of the typical tributaries for CEOs and what influence their upbringing has on outcomes both short and potentially long-term. The skills honed in these contributing departments get magnified when put at the top of an organization. 


If a leader comes from the investment side of an organization, they are likely to be focused on what part of the organization should be grown or invested in to take the organization to the next level. Outcomes will be focused on balanced growth in a portfolio mindset looking for rates of return for each investment with careful maintenance and growth for long-term success. There will be an emphasis on planning. The weakness here would be keeping an eye on short-term results and letting issues go too long. 


If a leader comes from the finance arm of an organization, they are focused on short-term results. Often there is an emphasis on cost-cutting efforts. It is all about the numbers and short-term key performance indicators. They are at their best during downturns, but they often tend to forget the employees and customers. Often they are called "bean counters" If left to their own devices, they can negatively affect culture, loyalty, and business model over the long term. 


Leaders that bring operational excellence in their bag of tricks are looking to optimize the organization so that it works well and in unison. Things that are out of order and not optimized will be targeted for improvement with this style of leadership. There is an emphasis on collaboration and teamwork under this brand of leadership. The weakness may be forgetting the top line and the necessary changes that new trends might require. This is a smooth operation that hates any change to hard-won operational excellence.  

Sales and Marketing:

Leaders from this bolt of cloth want growth therefore they will sell the dickens out of what they already have on the shelves. They are great at setting goals for growth and incenting the sales staff to move products as fast as possible. They have a blind spot to the cost of sales and are not great at wanting or defining new products or services. There is a make product faster mentality, so we can sell faster. Operational excellence and governance can be overlooked in order to sell more. 

Information Technology:

Leaders that emanate from digital-focused disciplines can bring some new approaches to doing business and out-flanking the competition with a better approach. The problem with these "gee-whiz kids" is sometimes they have technologies looking for business justification without regard to the overall impact on the business and the value chains organizations thrive in. 


The key skill is to produce products as fast and efficiently as possible within cost constraints. It's about keeping the machines and people at the highest level of productivity. It's all about units produced and lack of downtime. There is an emphasis on preventative maintenance and the kind of smoothness that an operations executive deems valuable. The weakness is here is that there are blind spots for new products and customer satisfaction with the units produced. 

Customer Service:

Customer service is all about the customer experience and keeping them happy no matter the cost. While we all know the highest cost to a company is gaining and maintaining a customer. The issue here is that loyalty can come at too high of a cost, particularly when customers get unreasonable and too demanding. They all can't have their way, 

Research & Development:

This is about creating new products and services. The emphasis is on innovation and creating a better mousetrap. These folks are viewed as "play babies" without any accountability for costs or applicability to the markets that an organization wants to reach or dominate. They are often at odds with marketing, so marketing tries to dictate the products or stifle creativity.  

Human Resources:

HR is at the center of people's conflicts and is often stuck trying to resolve differences and problems. While this a great skill, HR often coddles people too much. We all know that HR is invaluable for managing our most expensive resource, but they are not always focused on the bottom line. 


Legal tries to make sure the organization is protected and stays within governance tolerances, however, they tend to be overprotective and almost paranoid. They tend not to take risks and tend to be excellent negotiators. While necessary, they create a somewhat cold atmosphere. 

Net; Net: 

The obvious answer is to have a leader that fits the need for the time and culture while realizing the strengths and weaknesses that each department brings without pitting them against each other. We don't want our leaders to forget where they came from. however, we want them to develop an atmosphere of collaboration and accomplishment. Balance is the keyword over the long haul.

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Keeping Corporate Culture Vibrant

 These days corporate cultures seem to be left to fend for themselves. This is building a dangerous wave of uncaring organizations that are forgetting their investment in employees and partners. This, in turn, negatively affects customers and eventually societies. In our blind pursuit of numbers and profitable outcomes, and hyper-automation cultures are losing out. This loss appears to have a cascading effect on people in many of their roles. Let's look at the five most common types of cultures and the dangerous balance point as we automate to get optimal business outcomes. See figure 1 for the five cultures. 

                                            Figure 1 The Five Types of Cultures 

While there seems to be a correlation between the size of an organization and the tendency to see culture receive less attention and descend down the slippery slope of negative culture. Really savvy organizations pay close attention to culture as they progress and keep their eye on the ball on behalf of culture. Some small organizations never get to success or a decent culture as well. Taking the temperature of culture is essential and ongoing. The categories definitions below are color codded from cooler colors to hot and dangerous colors. The more automation we take on should consider the impact on culture, not just the savings and profitability. 

The Family Culture:

This culture is packed with caring about all the people in and around the organization. Things are loose, and employees tend to wear many hats. The processes are ill-defined, but things get done despite the lack of documentation and repetitive success. The obvious improvement here to make sure people know who does what and how to stay compliant and successful in terms of numbers. People are generally happy, but they get confused, and goals are not shared and communicated at a granular enough level.

The Team Culture:

This culture level has a much better definition of what is expected of everybody and how to attain success for the organization and all its constituents. Processes are documented and distributed, but people still cover each other when the process is still growing. KPIs become more visible and granular. Often there are loads of automation opportunities that are begging for help. Organizations tend to be gathering lists of automation opportunities. 

The Machine Culture:

This culture level is the most important one to pay attention to because it can become a tipping point to take a culture overboard and down a slippery slope. Here automation is essential, and organizations are exercising their automation muscles. People are watching results intensely and will be making constant improvements. The danger here is to forget about the people and the ethical aspects of automation. Keeping the delicate balance between people and results is very challenging at this stage. Things and people are measured with great intensity. Keeping measurements fair to people as well as fair to better outcomes is the challenge.  

The Jungle Culture

This culture is filled with playing favorites because the measurements and goals are impossible to attain. Now politics dominate, and the measurements are used against people who are not in the favored status. This is where the "suck-ups" tend to get rewarded over those who are also missing the mark but won't or don't know how to "play the game"  If gone unchecked, the speed towards culture demise increases very fast. 

The Advanced Jungle Culture:

This culture is so political, people are terrified of losing out to the up-and-comers. Mentors will literally try to "eat their young" when push comes to shove. Nobody makes their goals, and everybody is a threat to be a "new favorite of the month." The end is in sight as goals even lose out in these environments. It is all about killing innovation, the competitors for internal advancement, and hell with everyone else, including customers. Stockholders tend to dominate this culture. 

Net; Net: 

Caring about your culture is so important. If leaders suspect a slide, they need to apply the brakes before it is too late. Infusing the important aspects of each positive culture is essential. If you can maintain a family in a large organization, you will win long term; if you incent team behaviors equally with results and measurements, you are winning the battle. Please measure your culture often to avoid long-term demise. 

Monday, March 29, 2021

What Have People Read in the 1st Quarter 2021?

Before I answer the question in the title, I'd like to thank my readers for keeping my blog going. It's going on eight years now and the blog seems to be flourishing with over 720K hits during that time. I wanted to share what folks have been reading during the last year plus what's hot in 2021. There has been a shift away from RPA and a movement to business improvement through process improvement. At the same time, there is a revolution in the use of data in the cloud and the data mesh that spans the cloud inclusive of on-prem data. Collaboration that is focused on outcomes is also an emergent theme. Expect to see more holistic management driven by increased business visibility. If you want to access any of these posts, please hit here and use the search function on the blog.  

Figure 1 depicts the hottest topics over the last year running which points to Customer Journeys (CJM), Data mining, Real-Time Data, and the Data Mesh

                                      Figure 1 Recent Years Hits 

Figure 2 shows the involvement of the international community of interested readers which adds up to about one-third of my hits. The US generates two-thirds of my blog activities. 

                                          Figure 2 Non-US Hits 

Finally, I answer the question in the headline about what people are reading in 2021 in Figure 3. You will find the rise of data topics and general management topics. Hot topics include Digitial Business Platforms, Process/Data Mining, Voice Data, Continuous Improvement, and Focused Collaboration. 

                                      Figure 3 Top 2021 Hits So Far

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Art for the 1st Quarter 2021

I sure hope you and your loved ones are doing well during this COVID 19 Pandemic. We are happy to have our shots behind us and hope you get yours soon. It was a creative first quarter with the release of my first song of many more to come I hope. Click here to listen to "Love and Acceptance". If you like it, let me know. My team of Ethan Fox, Pete Crane, and Jimmy Caterine supported me to deliver a bucket list song I wrote the lyrics for back in 2017.

I painted a lovely flower that my buddy Bill Klasy captured on film. It's named "Morning Mist" because it's dripping with dew. Also, I managed a couple of new fractals. If you want to see more or even buy a piece hit my art website or email me at jim.sinur @gmail.com. 

                                                   Morning Mist

                                                       Color Ribbons

                                                         Pink Stallion

                                                 Angels in the Architecture 

Monday, March 22, 2021

Stakeholder Collaboration Equals Business Success

It makes no difference if an organization is attempting new opportunities or dealing with emerging threats, stakeholder collaboration, with significant visibility, will deliver improved competitive positions and more sustainable businesses. Even if the change efforts are more focused on continuous process improvement, better customer experiences, or incremental digital transformation, the importance of stakeholder collaboration is significant.  Stakeholders can be at the executive level or just innovative business managers in search of significant results as long as they don't sub-optimize on small organizational units to the detraction of others. Stakeholder collaboration provides great insurance for overall results. What are the typical stakeholders for integrated and large impact change in organizational customer journeys and processes?  Let's explore the following collaborating roles for business outcomes. 

Core Stakeholders

Stakeholders are the key drivers for management and change that measure true business outcomes throughout the defined scope of efforts to innovate or improve. They typically are innovative and hard-driving groups or individuals that want to improve outcomes. For large scoped high impact efforts typically customers, social communities, partners. investors and vendors are engaged and involved. For more localized efforts, most of the stakeholders are internal but looking for cross-organizational outcomes. Stakeholders often charge optimization agents in seasons of low change to deliver better incremental results and change agents for sure in seasons of high change. 

Optimization Agents 

Journey and process managers are key collaborators for the core stakeholders and help manage the process operators to ever-improving results over time. This is what I call "Small Change" that constantly optimizes existing journeys or processes to make them better overall. Typically the changes are around tuning and optimizing the goals, guardrails, and performance indicators in existing processes and can be done without large and cascading impacts. Core stakeholders allow a greater level of freedom for these kinds of improvements, but visibility to the improvements is essential.

Change Agent:

"Big Change" is usually lead by change agents that seek bigger scopes and larger impacts, so the intensity and frequency of collaboration rise with the stakes. There is usually a significant communication plan to let all the participants know the progress even if the large change is bitten off piece by piece in an agile change and development environment. The change agent will be constantly collaborating with the Core Stakeholders as the risk-reward equation demands it. In fact "Fail Fast" proto-types, simulation efforts, and model work environments might have to be established to prove viability. The change agent plays a key role by working with optimization agents that represent present practices and the core stakeholders that want significant change or even a whole new model of work. 

What are the key best practices to enable and even enhance these key collaborations? Let's explore three that I have seen work in multiple organizations. 

Incented Collaboration is a Best Practice

Getting the change core stakeholders wants in the best possible way requires a change in the reward system. Individuals should be incented to take reasonable risks so the fail-fast approach gets some momentum. Most people dislike change so the chance for runaway fail-fast efforts is unlikely. It is also important to report the learnings of failed efforts, so no punishment for failures is also a key incentive. 

Holistic Visibility is a Best Practice

It is important to have visibility into results, collaborations, and learnings in near real-time so that key collaborators and core stakeholders are aware of the state of progress, so they have a chance to inquire and potentially provide a forward block for the change experimenters and implementers. This visibility is likely to kick off more collaborations that are in the public eye, so good ideas will bubble to the top. 

Capturing Innovation Ideas is Best Practice  

Often good ideas are tossed onto the refuse heap because they don't immediately assist the efforts in progress. Innovative organizations will likely want to see, hear and store innovation ideas for the future and further core stakeholder collaborations. Instead of a distraction, these ideas are a coveted source of future gems of progress. Some will make the grade and some will not, but losing them in the hustle to completion is not acceptable.

Net; Net:

The modern and sustainable business must employ collaboration. The savviest of the organizations will collect, inspect and evaluate these collaborations for contributions to desired outcomes. These organizations will employ the very best methods and tools to focus these collaborations into progress now or in the future. An example of a collaboration platform that not only gets this approach but promotes it is Parallel. Check out Working in parallel

Monday, March 15, 2021

The Key Steps to Frictionless Management

Even in times of stability, organizations are dealing with lots of friction in managing their organizations. Compound that base friction with organizational change, competitive efforts, outside influences, innovation, and internal initiatives, it is not surprising that it becomes super-heated. It’s not hard to imagine the heat from the friction causing damage to essential efforts. The damage might be more effort than necessary, thereby costing the organization time, money, and grief. The damage could also be that fundamental change will be much harder once you add the human resistance to the party. Commonly, organizations have a hard time linking strategy to execution. Some efforts fail even to complete, while others end up less optimal. In other words, Organizational Performance Management (OPM) is hard and even harder while trying to change reactively or proactively.

Where are Some Common Friction Points?

 Organizations have progressed by adding ERP, CRM, and more internal processes/applications, thus creating more moving parts to manage separately or in combination. While business intelligence (BI) has enabled better and more detailed analysis of these systems, it is costly to aggregate and collect data from these multiple sources to create a more holistic view making management reporting and corporate performance more complicated and time-consuming than necessary. The arduous task of aggregating from many Excel spreadsheets and many PowerPoint slides creates so much friction. It is a cumbersome, time-consuming, and error-prone set of steps.


Also, it is challenging to collate feedback, comments, and actions from different management stakeholders against the relevant elements in these reports. Managers also need to collaborate while finding solutions and making recommendations, and in the current remote work scenario, collaboration against reports is challenging. Without adequate insights, decisions are not optimal, and this lack of overview for the management to base their decisions on can cause a delay in the time taken to make and execute decisions.  


As per a 2019 McKinsey Survey, 57% of C-level executives say the reporting process is inefficient, and 61 percent say most of their decision-making time is used ineffectively. Ineffective decisions have significant implications for company productivity. The survey found that for managers at an average Fortune 500 company, this could translate into more than 530,000 days of lost working time and roughly $250 million of wasted labor costs per year (McKinsey & Co., 2019).


The critical problem is that Business Managers need a way to gain insight into issues and challenges they face quickly. These may relate to the external landscape, such as products, competition, market changes, sources of raw materials, storms, logistical problems, etc., or company strategy, business processes, risks, opportunities, etc. Managers relate this insight to company metrics and use them to deliver focused decisions saving time and money. A Harvard Business Article as far back as 2007 declared that everyday decisions create or destroy your company's strategy (Bower & Gilbert, 2007). Against this backdrop, it is critical to enable management decisions through an enhanced reporting process.


What are Key Steps Essential to Remove or Eliminate Friction?


Scope the Management Challenge


In their endeavor to achieve the goals of frictionless management, organizations follow an array of Management Practices.


·        Strategy Management based on the Balanced Scorecard methodology.

·        Performance Management to measure a multitude of performance areas, including Departmental Performance.

·        Process Management to effectively execute strategy through efficient, strategy-aligned processes.

·        Program and Project Management to successfully deploy Initiatives, Programs, and Projects linked to Strategy.

·        Risk and Opportunity Management to be better prepared for events that have a negative or positive effect on Strategy.

·        Quality Management to strengthen the Organization's competitive position.


The multitude of Management Practices addressing different organizational areas and the growing number of tools leads to the complex scenario of departmental silos while implementing these Frameworks. Also, each section or department may invest in multiple tools. It is vital to integrate the efforts that organizations have implemented, are implementing, or plan to implement.


Focus on Process and Process Automation


The efforts to create an integrated management reporting process will pay big dividends. Still, they must be taken into how this process is constructed to bring together multiple data sources, normalize meanings, visualize results, and deal with change. Many of these reporting process tasks are ripe for automation, integration, and aggregation. Finding one tool, like a management cockpit tool and associated methodology, is the challenge here. Since the whole process is dependent on the weakest and slowest sub-process, it is essential to get each step to a similar speed and accuracy level. Laying the base properly here has a significant downstream effect on Insights, decisions, and actions. 


Empower Decision Making and Risk Management


Once the base for "Insights First" is established, then assisting decisions and the risks associated with them becomes possible. By leveraging predictive algorithms to test out decisions and their possible outcomes, it empowers management to make better decisions and kick off more focused projects to improve the reporting cycle and the organization's underlying processes, systems, and resources in the long run. These future improvements come in tandem with making improvements at the operational and tactical levels immediately by taking correct and decisive actions based on existing and emerging conditions.


Leverage Improvements for Innovation


Once the improvements are underway and delivering for an organization, they can be leveraged to treat customers better, get better bottom-line results and give an organization an advantage over its competitors. New markets, products, and new business models can emerge by leveraging improvement results in new ways.


Optimize for Executing Process Correctly


The organizational processes need to be continually inspected for improvement through the reporting processes. Also, advances in data and data sources will need constant attention. This continuous optimization mindset should also be aimed at projects completed for improvements with proper audits and appropriate adjustments.


Net; Net:


While attaining a frictionless organization is a lofty goal, many would settle to have less friction than what we have today. The friction quotient is somewhat out of control and is desperate for attention these days. There are significant savings to be had by approaching this as a management cockpit. Something many IT professionals have been talking about it since 2003, though it was a term popularized by NASA about 50 years ago. It is time to turn the talk into action. More to come on management cockpits here in 2021.



Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Real-Time Data Mixes Well with Archival Data Now

Combining real-time situational data with archival trend data gives context for the understanding of emerging situations. This powerful combination of data sources could imply a need to take actions in the form of immediate response or longer-term change to policies or processes. However, there has always been a bridge troll preventing organizations from bridging real-time data with data archives. That troll was performance issues with volumes of locked data. Well, the troll has taken a permanent position at another bridge somewhere. What has changed is the modern data mesh that leverages the cloud while taking advantage of these emerging combinations of real-time, operational, and archived data sources. The data mesh leveraging the hybrid cloud releases many of these technological constraints.

What are the Challenges of Real-Time Data?

First, organizations have to leverage these new data mesh capabilities in their technical architectures. These technical architectures will reveal some new challenges surrounding creating schemas, selecting data aggregation or location approaches, deciding on data formats, tuning development cycles, and establishing situational testing approaches for new kinds of algorithms leveraging real-time data. Once technically enabled, then the real fun begins. People tend to resist new approaches because they must learn something new and become acceptable to stay even. Smart managers will incent folks to take the risk of taking on something new. Rewarding risk is essential because recognizing real-time patterns will significantly impact the organization operationally and tactically and even tip strategies in new directions. Once the benefits become evident, others will follow suit quickly. There will be new pressures to establish data quality in organizations' fabric, ergo a culture change.

What are the Challenges of Archival Trend Data?

The problem with archival data is that it is locked in the format in which it was created. The unlocking of the data may require a severe unpacking of the real meaning or even change the format or context. In other words, it might have to be recoded to answer new questions and situations. Even if the data was unpacked and readily usable, how well will it behave? Was the data quality tolerance set at the right level? Will the meaning of the data have to be normalized to use it in combination with other data sources? With more and more archival data going online and even in the cloud, this challenge grows daily. It may require a data archaeologist to understand and leverage archival data optimally truly.

What are the Opportunities of Combining Real-Time Data with Archives?

Despite the challenges, the opportunities loom large. The ability to mix emergence with historical data and trends over time offers new insights to the learning organization.  I think the best way to describe the upside is through use cases.


Using real-time monitoring data has changed patient care for the better. The problem is that the real-time data does not consider the patient's history that is locked in various patient history sources. While doctors will always be needed, they aren’t always available with the right history record. Imagine a world where the patient's history can be leveraged in an instant with emerging situational monitoring data. Add some machine learning and advisory AI; patients can be assisted more responsively.


Using real-time trading has been getting better over time and even influenced by overall market guardrails to slow runaway downtrends. The trading bot may not use individual investors' goals that depict risk tolerances or yield plans, or mixes. Imagine a human or bot-based trader making trades influenced in real-time by the wishes of individual investors' aggregation by risk and yield personas.

Supply Chains:

Imagine a dynamic supply chain that can shift shipments under changing conditions that can take supplies in-flight and change their destination based on need. While we have faster delivery times and real-time monitoring of shipping progress details, we don’t link it to customer history. Imagine shifting delivery to adjust to emerging conditions and history, delivering vaccines to traditional hot spots like nursing homes in an accelerated fashion when more supplies appear unexpectedly.

Net; Net:

New data mesh capabilities will enable new opportunities for organizations to combine real-time data with both archival data and real-time operational data. It will require some preparation and some changes in how we all behave, but the outcomes will not be possible before. Situational computing partners with trends and history now. There is real power in interpreting the emerging real-time situation in the context of historical conditions or behavior.





Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Digitizing Voice; A Great Source for Organizations to Tap

Organizations need to take every advantage that their data mesh affords. A truly underutilized data source is digitized speech turned into actions based on reusable and leveraged voice data. Savvy organizations are learning to rely on machine learning (ML) combined with natural language processing (NLP) to quickly and accurately take advantage of voice transcriptions for organizational leverage and business advantage. What are the major benefit streams for organizations to tap? What are some essential functions to look for in a voice-based vendor?

Understand and Improve Your Customer Experience

It is essential to understand what your customer is saying and keep their goals in mind while serving them within your organization’s interactions and goals. Striking a balance requires your organization to quantify your customers' sentiment to understand and respond to the customer's authentic voice. This balance means that you need help to analyze that sentiment in real-time and predict the sensed sentiment's likely outcomes. Once the possible outcome is determined, organizations can coach customer service representatives to take actions on behalf of the customer and meet their organizational goals. While this helps any interaction, organizations can gather data for reputation and competitive analysis in the background.

Lower Compliance Risk

It is imperative to improve an organization's compliance by automatically scrubbing sensitive data such as credit cards to protect your customers' data. Organizations often employ automatic detection and redaction of credit card numbers and other sensitive information. Automated redaction of call center recordings and transcripts scrubs payment information, social security numbers, and other sensitive data so others can’t use it for illegal or immoral activities. The minimum here is to enable payment protection.

Optimize Sales Activities

It is often hard to teach your people to sell, upsell or cross-sell for increased revenue. Sales will be helped significantly by discovering via voice discovery, analysis, and optimization. The best techniques can be replicated across your organization’s teams to increase conversions. Machine learning algorithms can be fine-tuned to measure emotion, keywords, and sales signals. Teams can optimize techniques, spot weaknesses, and bring in more revenue. Using voice, organizations can identify approaches that overcome sales objections and use that knowledge to arm others. Also, failed sales attempts can be analyzed for keywords and topics to improve the entire sales process.

Essential Voice Data Functions

What critical functions help provide fast and accurate voice transcriptions to sense, decide, and take actions upon voice data?

Transcription allows you to read, search, edit and click-to-play all of your transcripts. Good transcription usually provides transcripts in TXT, Word, RTP, or SRT format.


Stereo Speaker ID locates each voice in stereo recorded content to enable speaker ID, while improving accuracy and filtering keywords by a speaker.


Custom Vocabulary allows you to add unique words such as pronouns, company names, product names, or acronyms specific to your industry to improve accuracy.


Number Formatting transcribes numbers to digits giving you the option to properly format currency, addresses, and phone numbers formatted for click-to-call.


Video Captioning generates subtitles or closed captions for your video project and retrieves your audio or video file transcript.


Voicemail Transcription automatically transcribes voicemails with a number formatting and callback capabilities, delivered to you via email or SMS.  


Net; Net:


While it might seem mundane, digitizing voice data is essential for downstream advantage. There are significant benefits in gathering, aggregating, analyzing, and leveraging appropriate actions from voice data. There are obvious benefits in customer service, sales management, and compliance. Voice data is an equal tributary in the growing data mesh that organizations are dealing with for now and the future. We are only at the beginning of leveraging voice data, so expect a big push in brand monitoring next.





Monday, February 22, 2021

Make Collaborations Count with Focus

Today we find that collaboration is rapidly flourishing throughout many organizations large, medium, or small. We see collaboration as a major activity in emails, forums, chat, project management, and generalized chat tools. Where is all this collaboration and communication going? Is it to chaos or results? Let's change these questions to be focused on forward momentum and appreciating collaborations and coordinated communications through goal-driven approaches. By making goals and guardrails crucial for guiding and empowering teams, organizations will experience a significant appreciation of value in their collaborations and communications.  

Benefits of Goal-Driven Collaborations/Communications

There are a set of significant benefits that emerge from guided collaboration and communication. Besides cutting out the noise from collaborations that do not contribute to desired outcomes, there are real positive results from communication activity that is focused on the prize and keeps folks from slipping into known ditches of unproductive activity. Goals and guardrails along with group learning are key to forward momentum and results. 

Continuous Improvement

Organizations can no longer stand pat on decisions and actions of the past. This means that they must be aimed at getting better all the time. This often happens in guiding decisions and actions through smart processes that can adapt to rule changes senses by a team during both the building and maintenance of both decision and action-focused processes. 

Learning Continuously

In order to stay on top of markets, products, and changing business conditions, organizations through teams or management need to be learning and sharing at all times. It could be as simple as recognizing an emerging signal, event, or pattern in the business that one team member sees and shares. It could be a manager or a team member recognizing an opportunity to change tactics to optimize outcomes within a current business scenario. It also could be a recognition of a need to change strategy to match emerging conditions.  

Empowered Teams

Giving teams goals to achieve outcomes allows them to operate with the mind of management without management overlooking every detail.  Giving teams guardrails also keeps them from relearning lessons that came out of negative situations from the past or new and emerging dangers. Freedom levels can be given to teams to allow them to flourish and keep mistakes to a minimum. 

Innovation & Creativity

Great ideas are like fleeting moments. They are hard to capture in context and often are not captured. Collaboration can allow innovations to be captured and even shared for additional growth and testing. Groupthink on emergent change and ideas is a helpful starting point for the learning organization. 

Stakeholder Influence

Often results are different for different stakeholders inside or outside the organization. Implementors need the voice of stakeholders in their everyday activities to strike the balance between seemingly conflicting outcomes. Early detection of deviance from stakeholder goals is a major benefit of goal-driven collaborations.

Setting the Necessary Goals & Guardrails

Goals need to be established and linked to important outcomes. Since much of continuous improvement is tied to processes, linking the collaborations/communications to processes is necessary. The problem with process improvement is that it is often managed by a core set of process geeks instead of spreading out innovation and change to everyone. This democratizes improvement efforts to a larger pool of innovation sources. Stakeholders' desires and goals are often lost in the translation of building and maintaining processes. This is why constant stakeholder representation can be maintained by linking collaborations to individual or groups of stakeholders. Guardrails can also set up in advance to avoid major blunders, but new learnings can be baked into new goals and guardrails. 

Managing the Fluidity of Change

We are living in a world of constant change and the only thing we know is the pace of change is accelerating. This puts a premium on speed and agility within the context of a fail-fast world. This means that the goals and guard rails have to be adjusted on a frequent basis and the ripple effect has to be communicated fast to the implementing and operational teams along with their management. This presents a dynamic environment where teams have to be enabled with focused information quickly to optimize outcomes. 

Net; Net: 

We are in the age of pressure for continuous improvement that can be adversely affected by change both internal and external to organizations. The coping mechanisms for learning organizations that want to thrive and capitalize on improvement and change are going to have to change. While there are communication and collaboration tools aplenty, few are linked to the goals, processes, and stakeholders in and around organizations. There is a new breed of methods, techniques, and tools emerging. Here is a link to one of these emerging vendors   There will be more for sure. Salesforce bought Slack to head in this direction. 

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Convergent Data is Here to Stay

 The days of relying on one simple data source in any digital solution are numbered. There is a growing wave that combines multiple sources and types of data to maximize business results. Those organizations that ride this wave will thrive and capitalize on the changing conditions and emerging business moments. The best digitally-enabled organizations will leverage convergent data in new ways to stay relevant in their current business models, extend existing business models or invent new business models. This post will concentrate on the many tributaries to this evolving convergence.

              Figure 1 Convergent Data Sources

Reasons for Convergent Data

Convergent data is a result of both push and pull trends. There is the push of technological progress that invades organizations with capabilities and results that are hard to pass up. As success breeds more success these new sources of data such as video, voice, and integrated video over GPS data, organizations are hard-pressed not to leverage some if not all of these new data sources. The pull comes from the increasing demand for deeper understanding represented by multiple traditional sources combines with new and progressing data sources. In other words, the problems demand more complicated and complex data sources.

Leveraging Convergent Data

All aspects of running an organization will need or even require convergent data. Convergent and more complete data sourcing helps organizations sense events or patterns of interest, define opportunities or threats, ideate potential responses, and experiment with or implement proper responses. Each step in design thinking requires richer data offered by convergent data sources. 

Sources of Convergent Data

Refer to Figure 1 for an illustration of the typical sources of convergent data. Starting with the bottom of the chart with base data, moving up to the time continuum, and finally to the top, base data is organized into more functional groups of related data to save time and effort.

Base Data:

Operational Data is typically at the lowest level and considered as base data. Its domain definition is usually defined, such as text, numbers, etc., and relationship to other data.

Video/Image Data is typically a picture represented by pixels captured at a point in time representing positions, colors, objects, texture, and relative positions of multiple items to each other. Video is a set of successive images captured over time to create movement in time and space.

Voice Data is sound captured over a time continuum to represent inflection, volume, anomalies, and emotion to leverage in the capture, storage, and analysis for sentiment and reoccurring themes/events.

Aged Data:

Instantaneous Data is the date that is captured at the moment of focus. It is often associated with a real-time signal, event and is often more usable as a pattern, especially from multiple sources. This kind of data is often related to the Internet of Things (IoT) but not exclusively.

Archival/Backup Data is older than in nature and deemed necessary to capture in a specific time corridor. It would be ready and prepared for backup data to replace current data in a short period to repair data loss. Most archival data kept for historical purposes and trend analysis.

Organized Data:

Aggregated Data is base data grouped and organized in a fashion deemed useful for further processing or analysis. Often this data is from multiple sources and is often summarized for ease of use and access.

Management Data is data that helps organizations manage better at several levels. The most frequent service would be for describing operations to monitor or optimize operational activity. While less common, but more important would be to adjust management policies for better organizational outcomes. For ultimate impact, data would be leveraged to adjust major strategies to adapt to emergent threats or opportunities.

Time Series Data is data captured in predetermined time slots and quite often organized specific sequences.  Typically this is detailed data, but it could be summarized or aggregated in other categories.

Net; Net:

Organizations will either ride the convergent data wave, which typically creates views across multiple data sources, or get swamped by it. Convergent data is an unstoppable trend that promises new revenue sources, better situational awareness for operational optimization, and better customer engagement sources. The challenge here is managing all this convergent data smoothly. There are emerging methods, techniques, and technologies ready to assist this portion of digital transformation.

Monday, February 15, 2021

Continuous Improvement in Your DNA?

Change is nonstop these days often driven by the need for better outcomes, but now equally driven by outside and sometimes unforeseen events/forces. The implication is that improvement will move from a cluster of improvement projects attempted periodically to becoming a business capability that will be highly prized.  Those organizations that build continuous improvement in their DNA will be in a more advantageous position to capitalize on change and thrive the best during more stable periods of time. This post will describe a seven-way helix that should be in your organization's DNA to be poised for continuous improvement. 

The Culture of Shared Insight

Organizations in the past operated on keeping knowledge for advantage, but today the sharing of knowledge and insights is the way organizations prosper. This means that collaboration across all sorts of boundaries is the way to successful improvements. This means that the change and improvement process needs to take advantage of collaboration in a bigger way so that stakeholders, process owners, and implementors are encouraged to share their insights on the way to results. 

The Culture of Rewarded Innovation

Organizations in the past operated on not making mistakes or taking risks, but incenting innovation is the way of the future. This means that successes are prized, published, and rewarded, but also those who take risks and fail are not punished. Rewards for taking risks and feeding back when things don't work are prized as well. How else is the learning organization going to thrive to be better and frankly there may be more than one ethical path to desired outcomes? 

The Culture of Holistic Goals

Organizations in the past operated on tactical results that delivered in the short term, often driven by the pressure for quarterly results. While we can't change the quarterly pressure or the desire for short term results, we can design efforts that deliver partial outcomes while keeping the "big picture" in mind. This means that organizations are careful to not negatively impact the strategic long term outcomes with short term and sometimes temporary benefits. This means practicing the art of the long view and incrementally gleaning benefits. 

The Culture of "Adjustment of Now"

Organizations of the past were often driving through the rearview mirrors and making forward adjustments based on past experiences. While we shouldn't throw away the past or the lessons to learn from past events/patterns, a new set of approaches need to be absorbed around operating in a real-time fashion to deal with emergent events/patterns to make critical adjustments to intercept desirable outcomes. Dashboards will turn to fast boards while combinations of machine learning AI and analytics will help cast future outcomes. 

The Culture of Funding Through Success

Organizations in the past took nearly all of the benefits from past improvements and dropped them to the bottom line immediately. The organizations with the right outlook will defer some of these benefits for future improvements or reserves to challenge unforeseen change. The idea of having a "success fund" that wisely invests in a portfolio of improvement efforts like a wise investor picks investments is a sign of a growing continuous improvement culture. 

The Culture of Time Boxed Improvements

Organizations in the past either let improvement projects languish over time with marginal funding and resources or shut them down prematurely when they didn't deliver in the short term. The idea of having limits on the projects that deliver partial outcomes on the way to strategic delivery makes good sense. Putting a limit of 90 days duration is essential with the first 30 days focused on "what and how", the second 30 days on the building of solutions, and the final 30 days on deployment, support, or measurement.  

The Culture of Providing Savvy Supports 

Organizations in the past were great at telling the change foot soldiers to take a hill but did little to equip them. Part of the successful funding should go for methods, tools, and techniques even if they are not perfect before the start of efforts. With today's model of freemium cloud solutions, there should be tools available to leverage while the methods will evolve over time along with successful techniques that are gleaned from experience. "Parallel" is an example 

Net; Net: 

The improvement project approach is getting obsolete and organizations will have to shift to continuous improvement with operations tuned in real-time and improvement projects done in a highly rewarded and strategically time-boxed approach. This is going to require a culture change to move from a batch suggestion box to real-time collaboration on stakeholder goals. There is a great shift coming as more change is inflicted by outside forces. Start building the continuous improvement culture now that is strategically aligned practicing deliberate continuous improvement in a problem-solving way.  

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Turning Voice Insights into Action

We all know that we can detect what is happening by listening to customers or employees and turning those insights into better long-term success actions. It is essential to think about the bigger picture when doing the small things because what you hear from your customers today shows up in your financials tomorrow. By listening to the vocabulary, speed of talking, the speech's energy along with the pitch can unlock some critical trends. By matching the descriptions, insights, and potential problems to positive actions, organizations can steer outcomes in their direction. So, what actions can organizations take to affect the results they want for their reputation and financials? This post will identify several actions to take when voice data indicates a need for change.

Actions for Customers

Better link to Customer Goals

Often organizations are focused on their own goals and short-term KPIs without considering the customer's goals or where they are on their journey. Focusing on customer goals helps move organizations from just performing their transactions at their doorstep in a minimum time window to solve the customer's real needs.

Adapt Real-Time for a Better Experience

When customer representatives encounter a problematic situation or customer, voice sentiment can help intercept negative emotions, predict potential outcomes and suggest appropriate responses.

Collect Ideas for Product/Service Improvements

Often representatives are too busy servicing the “now request’ and don’t hear the suggestion for a new or better product/feature. Even if the rep understood the hint, often completing the immediate transaction overrides collecting the good ideas.

Defuse Emotions by Better Listening

Sometimes predicting negative emotions can trigger the representative to go into the listening mode to show empathy. Voice sentiment can warn all of a conversation headed for difficulty.

Collect Ideas for Better Customer Journeys

There are often suggestions for better products/services, but sometimes a tweak in the journey, even if only at your organization's doorstep is helpful long run. In rare cases, organizations can look at the more significant customer journey and link to other partners for a seamless experience.

Actions for Employees/Stringers

Assist Employees with Better Responses

By listening to situations, management can assist employees with additional collaborations with other employees or knowledge bots to help while clients are on the line or online at the web.

Manage Remote Workers More Effectively

By listening to workers, management can hear the interactions to help employees proactively manage their technologies and businesses better.

Rollout New Processes & Scripts for Outcomes

Employees are often the lightning rods for organizations and ideas for tweaks to the processes. This focus is genuine for remote workers who feel alone and isolated.

Build Assists for Balancing Corporate KPIs with Customer Goals

To change the balance from KPIs and to get the customer off the phone as fast as possible, organizations can listen between the lines for satisfying customers better.

Listen for Training & Promotional Opportunities

By analyzing conversations, organizations can find stars to promote and train those employees that are struggling.

Actions for Management

Identify New Segments/Personas

By listening to voice data, management can identify new and emerging groups of prospects or customers to build unique paths for them,

Update Scripts for Better Outcomes

By listening to sticking points in scripts or exceptions to the well-worn paths in a script, management can adapt for better future outcomes.

Identify Automation Potentials

By listing to typical patterns of activities and areas of too much manual activity while the client is sitting there in silent lucidity, automation opportunities will rise for attention. 

 Identify Churn Threats

Analyzing specific phrases and sentiments, individual customers or segments can be identified for future churn. Management can respond with an exceptional follow up instead of a rigged survey.

Competitive Differentiation via New Products/Features

Customers always have great ideas, but if they slip through the cracks, organizations lose and future interactions with other clients.

Net; Net:

By leveraging voice data and analytic insights, organizations can not only understand issues and opportunities, but they can proactively respond to immediate needs and build for future outcomes. This habit requires turning insights into the proper actions at the appropriate time. Voice analytics is one of the more powerful methods for organizations to leverage in their digital transformation journey. 

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Specialty Digital Business Platforms are Flourishing

 Digital Business Platforms (DBPs) are springing up worldwide because of the need for more combined functionality that works seamlessly together for the business professional. While there are still many richly featured/complete business platforms out there that are thriving well, there is also an explosion of specialty digital business platforms that focus on outcomes that are immediately appealing to organizations. This post will try to identify and describe the business-focused digital platforms instead of technical and infrastructural digital platforms. I have found 10 of these categories so far that I have described below.  I give some example vendors, but my lists are not exhaustive. Click on the names of the vendors if you wish to link to their web presence.  

All-Inclusive DBPs

These DBPs bring together as close to fully functional digital features that typically business function for core transactions,  business process for automation combined with friendly customer/employee experiences, analytics/AI for the added insight, low code data integration (aka Fabric/Mesh) and development and a comprehensive internet of things (IoT) with digital twins. These first started to emerge in 2015 and rapidly grew with the digital transformation emphasis. They bring the advantage of holistic and integrated platforms that need little augmentation. DBPs put the integration of many silo technology stacks in the rearview mirror. The degree of integration quality and the amount will vary by vendor. Please see one of the first posts on DBP with one of the first illustrations to reach the light of day by clicking here.

Example Vendors Include:






Specialty Digital Business Platforms

Specialty DBPs combine/integrate two or more needed technology silos for significant benefit to organizations in their digital transformation journey, even if it is only a portion of that journey. The key driver for these decisions is often tactical to deliver a sorely needed set of business outcomes as quickly as possible. They are not necessarily aimed at becoming an all-inclusive DBP, but they can play a role in creating their own all-inclusive digital business platform.


1.      Business Application Driven DBPs

These platforms concentrate on a business application or specific business processes that contribute to horizontal business outcomes, such as human resource (HR) onboarding or enterprise resource planning (ERP). Additionally, vertically based suites of processes and applications revolve around specific industries such as insurance claims, oil and gas platforms management, mortgage loan processing, or banking systems. The list is relatively long of vertical applications or services available.

Example Vendors Include:




2.      Sales/Customer Experience Enablement Platforms

This class of platforms combines customer relationship management from sales through the servicing of customers. Customer Experience platforms are usually a collection of tools that help companies establish their customer interaction experiences and goals. The breadth of channels through which customers can interact with a company is often so spread out that it's difficult for just one solution to manage them all. The sales process is where the interaction starts with the customer, and these platforms also include sales automation capabilities that speed sales and revenue pipeline management.

Example Vendors Include:




3.      Business Process/Workflow Platforms (BPM)BPM software

A BPM platform provides a framework and tools for managing the tasks and workflow related to people or systems. Typically, BPM software helps define, automate, and report processes to help businesses optimize businesses to deliver on organizational goals. The processes often span an organization's full operations and are aimed at monitoring the effectiveness of operations. They manage the full process lifecycle and processes instances.

Example Vendors Include





4.      Hyperautomation Platforms

Hyperautomation is the application of various combinations of advanced technologies like robotic process automation (RPA), Artificial Intelligence (AI)/machine learning (ML), low-code, and Process Mining (PM) to augment workers, accelerate task completion, and even automate processes in ways that are significantly more impactful than traditional automation capabilities. An example would smart bots who collaborate with knowledge workers to complete work.

Example Vendors Include


Automation Anywhere

Blue Prism

UI Path



5.      Collaborative Work Platform

A collaborative platform is a virtual workspace where resources and tools are aggregated to facilitate communication and personal interaction, particularly in projects or casework. Often sharing content is involved even if it is real-time or leveraged in work schedules.

Example Vendors Include





6.      Data Science/Analytic Platform

These platforms rely on transparent data access, consistent metadata, strong enterprise governance, automated machine learning, deep learning, and model building, operationalized model management, and tools that measure and improve its impact on business. You might think of a data science platform as a factory for creating analytic models. These platforms are for organizations that are always listening and analyzing for innovation.

Example Vendors Include

Apache Spark




7.      Data Mesh/Fabric Platform

Data mesh/fabric is an architecture and set of data services that provide consistent capabilities across a choice of endpoints spanning on-premises and multiple cloud environmentsThe Data Mesh/Fabric simplifies and integrates data management across cloud and on-premises to accelerate digital transformation. It allows for creating dynamic data views quickly in real-time to manage to the moment.

Example Vendors Include






8.      Digital Twin Platform

Digital twin software provides a virtual representation or simulation of a physical asset and is used to monitor the asset's performance in real-time. These tools are used to simulate performance, predict potential maintenance needs, and ultimately optimize the asset for peak performance.

Example Vendors Include





9.      Cybersecurity Platform

Cybersecurity platforms should be able to prevent, detect, and respond to threats across an enterprise IT infrastructure (i.e., endpoints, networks, servers, or cloud-based workloads). In simple terms, a Data Security Platform (DSP) is a type of data security solution that aims to combine a suite of traditionally siloed security tools. Most Data Security Platforms will combine functionality designed to locate and protect data on-premises and in the cloud.

Example Vendors Include





10   Emerging Hybrid Platforms

Emerging Hybrid Platforms combine various siloed technologies into a more usable combination of functionalities. We are still in the emergent stage of the specialized and generalized digital business platforms.

Example Vendors Include

ABBYY                 Process and Content Intelligence

Parallel                   Collaboration and Process Improvement

VoiceBase              Analytics, Sentiment, and Voice Data

Wizly                     Corporate Performance and Data Science                      


Net; Net

Specialty DBPs started sprouting up around specific outcomes that organizations wanted early in their digital journeys. Vendors that chased these outcomes became popular, and some are even growing to all-inclusive DBPs while delivering impressive and focused benefits along the way. I expect this convergence for convenience to accelerate and continue before a consolidation that will likely be economically and advantage driven. Over time some of these specialty vendors will grow to compete with the all-inclusive DBPs and possibly collaborate with the all-inclusive DBPs.