Thursday, April 22, 2010

Approach is a loaded word

As business grows the approach from the past may not be the best approach going forward. Interesting transitions take place weekly around delivery to clients. Clients set the stage for all the roles we perform, the clients set objectives that we act on in support of their mission. 
Approach is a loaded word since defining the approach requires rulings and judgment for selection of the best pathway ahead in the interest of achieving the greatest value or result in support of winning outcomes. 
So my post is about approach and some perspective about how design is an integral function today used to support positive business outcomes. I think back to the early days reading business management books and discovering metaphors that offered an understanding about the rules of business. One visual metaphor remains a core concept which is the idea of a tripod as it relates to the three legs of business function. 
The approach to marketing and all its definitions including online utilities, advertising and the myriad of other tools available to organizations form a clear leg on the business tripod. The organizations brand and all that is factored within building that into something robust and meaningful. Marketing of course is a central component of any business. This function is required to effectively grow the organization. Investment in marketing remains crucial for attracting new opportunity and growth. To ensure a stable support, the organization’s approach must leverage the designer’s thinking. Today we’re witness to a surge in visual communications driving information to audiences and building market share(communities) for organizations. The marketing function within the organization is at a disadvantage without the designer's skill set somewhere within reach to differentiate the offering. Ideally the designer may be resident inside or acquired through contingent support from the street.
The approach to marketing in all its forms combined with the other two tripod legs will certainly enhance and provide stability to the organization. Get the marketing leg started and invest in design. A remarkable outcome occurs on the marketing leg once you've pitched your idea or you offer your vision or concept to the prospect. The marketing interaction engages and jump starts response's from clients and prospects. Essentially you may be turned away or you may find your timing is spot on with new business opportunity. The minimum result I’ve witnessed in the consulting world on the positive front are incidental opportunities that result from trying. Often these incidentals situations end up as substantial engagements. Most incidentals happen outside my comfort zone when some level of risk is involved.
The approach to production for the organization interested in stability and growth brings with it some unique challenges. The metaphor  “who do you want on the bus?” comes to mind. For those companies that foster leadership and excellence within their cadre a unique set of circumstances unfold about individual’s acting collectively driving the output to new levels generally resulting in building stronger relations with clients. Production validates everything. Did the social media campaign result in extending the brand? Are the clients aspirations to achieve specific sales quota’s exceeded? Has the event resulted in a sell out with people leaving feeling good about the value imparted? Does the analysis show effective growth in traffic to an online solution? Have your clients renewed their business dealings year after year? Design thinking as it relates to production today specifically in a multi disciplinary organization will bring a higher level of success to the program. Design in its many interpretations will support great production outcomes. The  time spent (designing) planning the clients assignment from the onset and subsequent execution along the value chain by outstanding talented individuals makes a difference because people who bring extraordinary passion are an unstoppable force for winning results. Production is a core leg of the business tripod.
I’ve felt in the last few weeks that I’ve been on the front of a locomotive train barreling at high speeds forward. The word production doesn’t adequately define the momentum and performance of the organization when you get it right and witness all systems firing in support of clients aspirations. 
Retrospect or pro forma evaluations ultimately determine the stability, vitality and results of the organization. Procurement and related activities place administrative demands ensuring fairness, transparency and equity among organization participants. A balanced approach to finance is an essential leg of the business tripod. Lots about this leg can scuttle growth. Recent trends point to heightened emphasis on design thinking as central to growth moving the bar away from reliability to a pragmatic and more risk tolerant and innovative model. This argument place’s greater emphasis on right brain creative thinkers leading forward into areas that may not be as familiar or traditional. Opportunities to reach a new audience through online conversations and experiences for example open new and expansive channels to many organizations who have yet to begin strategic exploring or reaching out. The cost of entering these channels needs to be understood, captured and controlled. Risk arguably is higher today for  those who haven’t embraced the online universe or who may be demonstrating lag in committing to properly building their brand in new media. Holding back and playing safe with investment in this space will reduce opportunity for growth.
The business tripod remains a simple metaphor for stability central to competitive advantage. What’s emerged is the central role design thinking plays on each leg and how adopting the practices that bring innovation and risk taking to these functions is a minimum requirement today for leadership. The rules have changed for organizations who have successful talented people that take risks and do not settle for the status quo.

Approach design thinking on each leg of the business tripod. 

1 comment:

Louise C. said...

nice metaphor the tripod. I like the way you fit the business functions into those three areas.