Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Basics ... repeated ... again ...

I thought I'd put a quick post on some very super simple basics to any software project ... scrub that ... anything you're planning to build (business to technology to whatever).

Step 1 - Needs
If you're going to try and build anything, start with asking questions like what does this thing need to do, how will its consumers interact with this, what will they expect or desire from this. If you haven't got a list of needs, then STOP ... go write one (Hint: Post-it Notes are brilliant for this). It can be pretty high level and yes, some of the more novel "needs" are bound to be wrong. This is ok.



Step 2 - Write down the Value Chain
Now you have a list of Needs, write down the value chain i.e. the components you're going to use to build something that meets the needs (Hint: Post-it Notes are brilliant for this). You need to think about activities (i.e. systems you might use), practices and data. You can even include things which have never been built before (e.g. cat mind reading system) but at least put the effort into writing it down and what you think you might need to build it (e.g. servers, data storage, a large number of cat CAT scans - geddit).



Step 3 - Evolution
Now everything (i.e. activities, practices and data) evolves. For activities that means from genesis to custom built to product to more commodity. Knowing how evolved something is matters otherwise in a world of utility computing infrastructure you might start thinking that a custom built server makes sense ... it rarely does unless you can build more efficient / commoditised environments than currently exist. To identify how evolved something is, ask yourself the questions of how widespread (ubiquitous) and how well defined & understood (certain) that thing is and use the figure below. Go through your value chain and determine how evolved each of the components are.


Step 4 - MAP it!
Now you know what the components in your value chain are and how evolved each component is, then put it down on a map (Hint: Massive whiteboards and Post-it notes are brilliant for this). Use one axis for value chain and one axis for evolution.


In the tradition of TV cookery programmes, here's one I baked earlier. In this case in 2005 - a simplified map of part of the value chain of an online photo service known as Fotango. (NB. back then, I used to use the term innovation rather than genesis but alas since innovation is widely used to mean many different things I've chosen genesis to mean the novel and new).


Step 5 - Check the Map for unmet needs
Take your map and look at it. The top (higher order systems) should contain all the components that provide the visible need (i.e. what the consumer uses) along with areas of differentiation (i.e. novel and new). Check to make sure you haven't got any unmet needs i.e. missing bits.


 Step 6 - Check the Map for areas of efficiency
Take your map and look at it, again. Many of the lower order components will be hidden from the consumer (i.e. they don't know what CRM system you are using) however you may well be treating those components incorrectly i.e. treating a customer relationship management (CRM) system as something novel and new when it's more of a commodity. Look through and identify any areas which you could treat more efficiently.



Step 7 - Break existing model (if necessary)
In some cases you're dealing with an existing system which may be treated as though it's one thing. This creates all sorts of one size fits all problems as the characteristics of activities, practices and data change as they evolve. If you've got a large complex value chain which you're planning to outsource for example, break the model ... there's a better way.



Step 8 - Treat as Small Units
Break down large complex systems into small units because the way you treat each unit may vary (more on that latter). Ideally you can even organise around this e.g. copy Amazon's two pizza structure.


 

Step 9 - Apply the right techniques / methodologies
Now you've broken down the value chain into sensible component chunks start by making sure you apply the right techniques to the right stage of evolution. If you've got a management consultant in telling you that you can become an "Agile" shop or a "Six Sigma" shop then consider letting them go. There are extremely rare exceptions where "one size" works but for the majority you'll need to use both agile and six sigma and alter which technique you choose based upon how evolved something is.




Step 10 - Manage the Chaotic (the uncharted)
For example, the creation of novel and new (as in Genesis, Custom Built) should be done in-house with use of Agile techniques because of the chaotic nature of what is being managed (constantly changing, rare, highly uncertain, deviating from the past, unpredictable etc).  These activities are all about experimentation, gambling, failing (lots of this) and potential future value. If you can't afford to do this in-house, then hire a contract developer and ask yourself why are you doing this?


Step 11 - Manage the Transitional
The transitional activities (more evolved than chaotic, less evolved than linear) which are represented by products and rental services need to leverage the outside ecosystem i.e. buy products, listen to customers etc. These activities are ones which are becoming more widespread and well defined, they are becoming predictable, customer feedback and data is key etc. From a consumption point of view, try to use open means (source, data, process etc) where it exists and look for more open standards (saves future headaches).



Step 12  - Manage the Linear (the industrialised)
The more industrialised activities which are represented by commodity and utility services are ones which are  widespread, well defined, predictable and are all about efficiency and consistency. Use highly structured methods, outsourced to tightly defined contracts or even better utility services. Ideally you want a competitive market with switching so insist on open standards and open methods (source, data etc) where possible.


Step 13 - Shared Components
Once you've create one map of a value chain for your business then go create more. Once you have enough maps, start looking for shared components and start consolidating them.



Step 14 - Update your maps
Evolution is a consequence of competition (consumer and supplier) and it's continuous. So update your maps and make sure you know your needs, where you differentiate, the value chain, areas of efficiency, shared components and that you treat components with the right techniques. Writing a map for a value chain should only take a short time once you get good at (i.e. varies from 20 minutes to an hour or so). Updating is even quicker.



Step 15 -  Now you're ready
Once you've done the basics, you can now start thinking about how to exploit ecosystems or open mechanisms or dark arts to manipulate the map. You can look at competitors value chains, consumers and your own suppliers and look at the impacts of changing the environment. You can look to push something more open, encourage efficiency, drive development of higher order systems, create new sources of worth, undermine competitors barriers to entry, run a tower and moat play ... oh, there's a long list. You can start to predict obvious changes in the industry, competitor moves, deal with inertia, game your culture, create structures designed to cope with change, create centres of gravity ... oh, there's a long list.

However, most importantly you're in a position to discuss this, to talk about strategy in some form of meaningful sense, to talk about the why of action. All the previous 14 steps are about getting you into a position of talking about why.


Now in practice, you don't have to write out maps, you just need to ask equivalent questions. A mental model is fine as long as you can articulate the value chain, how evolved its components are, realise that you'll need multiple techniques and can play the game that way. I happen to draw it out because my memory sucks and the visualisation helps me explain to others what I'm thinking of doing. The steps above are of course a simplification, I didn't want to make the post too long but it's good enough.

Which brings me to the point of what not to do. Don't come and ask me a question about whether this or that strategy make sense unless you have done the above or something similar. I'm simply going to ask you "why" you're running this strategy? If you don't understand your value chain and how evolved the components are, then any strategy you have will either be shooting in the dark or because everyone else is doing this. 

If you want to really get up my nostrils you might tell me that your strategy is to be agile, efficient, nimble or innovative OR alternatively give me a long list of how, what and whens such as purchasing choices, implementation details, operational decisions or tactical choices OR you might just throw in a couple of buzz words like cloud, big data and social media to jazz it up. It'll be a very short conversation.

Situational awareness is essential to any form of competitive environment. Mapping is an extremely useful tool in this regard.

12 comments:

Tuckerjackk said...

Norton.com/Setup is best antivirus available in the market. If you want to protect your system online or locally from any unforeseen events Norton is is a must have software in your PC or Mac. Activate your Norton.com/Setup to protect yourself ad your data from your system from malware and antivirus. Browse internet without any hesitation norton will take care of all malicious antiviruses floating all over internet.

Tuckerjackk said...

For any concern and help just visit website for Office.com/Setup help and key activation of setup You can do it by yourself if you know how to install office.com/Setup on your PC or Mac or you can call third party companies as well who can do it on your behalf.

Tuckerjackk said...

McAfee.com/Activate Since the world is developing each day with new computerized advances, digital dangers, malware, information, and harming diseases have additionally turned out to be increasingly more progressed with every day. These digital contaminations harm a gadget or documents in different ways.McAfee.com/Activate

Rosy Williams said...

To get the McAfee antivirus, just head on to www.mcafee.com/activate. To stop the malware from damaging the folders on the device, McAfee Antivirus software has to be downloaded in the device. The users will get many McAfee Antivirus applications which are easily available in the market and also on. www.mcafee.com/activate - The best thing about McAfee Antivirus is the high level of services provided to their users. McAfee security provides the most effective and simple means for users around the globe by protecting their business and personal data across their devices. mcafee.com/activate -From the last 30 years, McAfee creates a rich and extensive network of global threat intelligence, which continuously analyzing and collecting data on threats and this makes it a one of the brilliant and trusted security program overall. www.office.com/setup - From the last 30 years, McAfee creates a rich and extensive network of global threat intelligence, which continuously analyzing and collecting data on threats and this makes it a one of the brilliant and trusted security program overall. Open the official web page of MS office by visiting Office.com/setup. The Installation and activation of a Microsoft account require a Microsoft account. If you have an account, then sign in with your Microsoft account. If you don't have an account, you can create one by clicking on create a new account.

jenifferleio12 said...

Thanks for sharing.I found a lot of interesting information here. A really good post, very thankful and hopeful that you will write many more posts like this one.
HP Printer Support | Epson Printer Support | Lexmark Printer Support | Brother Printer Support | Canon Printer Support | Sony Printer Support | Dell Printer Support | Samsung Printer Support

sherlock watson said...

Mcafee offers a broad assortment of security answers for Windows and Mac customers. With McAfee things on your contraption, you can ensure the whole security of your data, programming and applications. McAfee antivirus also ensures safe scrutinizing and safe downloading of the significant number of associations you download from your email. It normally impedes the destinations that gives off an impression of being suspicious or spoiled with contaminations.

mcafee com activate total protection

www mcafee com activate

www.mcafee.com/activate

mcafee com activate

www mcafee activate

mcafee activate enter code

Mark William said...

Microsoft Office Setup has an exceptional assortment of applications that can perform different tasks with cool features. These versions include office 2019 activation key, office 365 setup, Office 2016, Office 2013, Office 2010, office setup home and student 2019 and so many more. Visit www.office.com/setup to create these applications on your device. Looking to discover the best partner to help you with office.com/setup and some other kind of software recommendations, you are in the right place then. We are here to help students, IT professionals and beginners to learn all about setting up office com setup with product key and other styles of PC support needs.

Mark William said...

Microsoft Office Setup has an exceptional assortment of applications that can perform different tasks with cool features. These versions include office 2019 activation key, office 365 setup, Office 2016, Office 2013, Office 2010, office setup home and student 2019 and so many more.
Office Setup
office 365 setup
office.com/setup home and student 2019
www.office.com/setup
www.office.com/setup and follow the on screen instructions

lily grace said...

Total Security is the next gen security for your computer that detects and blocks viruses and malware. www.mcafee.com/activateand activate your product key.www.mcafee.com/activate
mcafee livesafe
mcafee activate
mcafee total protection
mcafee com activate
mcafee account login
mcafee.com/activate

bitdefender login said...


Bitdefender Login - Now Login to Bitdefender Central at central.bitdefender.com and Manage Bitdefender Account and Services Remotely.Bitdefender Login

Phonesupportservices said...

HP printer support
epson pinter support
canon printer support

Phonesupportservices said...

HP printer support
HP printer support Number
epson pinter support
canon printer support