What’s In Your Transformational Toolbag?

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What’s In Your Transformational Toolbag?

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Steve Jobs tells a wonderful story about a Scientific American magazine article he read as a twelve year old boy. The article measured and compared the efficiency of the locomotion of various animals. Humans, no surprise, did not fare well against the likes of the condor. Jobs goes on:

But somebody there had the imagination to test the efficiency of a human riding a bicycle. A human riding a bicycle blew away the condor all the way off the top of the list. And it made a really big impression on me that we humans are tool builders. And that we can fashion tools that amplify these inherent abilities that we have to spectacular magnitudes.

There is wisdom in this – that having tools, and even more so the right tools used the right way, can be a force multiplier for natural ability.

5 Tools for Transformation

Imagine you and your team had to parachute into an improvement project and could only carry five tools. Here’s what I’d bring:

  1. A mapping tool to capture, collaborate and agree upon how the business operates in a way that everyone involved immediately understands. This should capture the what, who, when, why and how for all activities so gaps, pains, and responsibilities are clear. I like derivatives of IDEF0 (originally developed for the Air Force) such as UPN for their simplicity.  It helps if the mapping tool can do costing as this greatly facilitates building a business case for change.
  2. Lean Six Sigma: This is great tool for a number of reasons. It is a proven and accepted methodology that yields quantifiable outcomes. There are also trained practitioners at many companies so coming together on approach and tools becomes easier.
  3. An appropriate automation tool: Having computers handle parts of the workflow, document management and messaging can drastically reduce costs and times. For document centric processes, an Enterprise Content Management (ECM) solution/tools like Hyland, GRM or Perceptive can yield huge wins. For more process centric situations, tools like TIBCO’s ActiveMatrix BPM or BigAzi’s Engine are good starting points.
  4. Accelerators / Starter Solutions: Where possible, I love to use accelerators. Having prebuilt process maps based on real experience and with embedded best practices and KPIs, checklists and tools can drastically reduce the time to value outcome. They are also powerful tools in the early “art of the possible” discussions. While there is no need to “reinvent the wheel” these should always be used with care so that you meet the needs of the customer rather than making the customer fit the model.
  5. Ethnography: The naturalistic study of human behavior. This is a must have tool as it serves as a “reality check” bridging the gap between what people say they do and what they actually do. It also reveals hidden work and unlocks innovation. Lastly, the co-design of solutions with participants multiplies the buy-in needed to actually make real change.
  6. Tiny Habits (honorable mention): This comes out of B.J. Fogg’s research Stanford Persuasive Tech Lab. This toolset provides best practices for creating sustained change people’s behavior, especially in the context of technology. He provides some useful tools to guide practitioners through how to apply his methodology in different use cases.

If you had to parachute into a transformation project and could bring just five tools, what would they be?

apple ,agile ,agile adoption ,project management

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