Things We Could Be Doing
I’ve spent much of my career exploring the world of knowledge-work, and especially the world of software and product development. I’ve seen many businesses, most of whom share a common view of the way work should work, the way to design products, the way to find and organise people to staff the business, and so on. I’ve seen how these common approaches fall way short in terms of results. And I’ve seen, or imagined, other, less common ways which could make a huge difference to the success and profitability of businesses everywhere.
There’s a whole passel of things we could be doing, that we’re not, presently. We could be…
Creating Environments Better Suited To Knowledge Work
Most “environments” in which I have seen folks trying to get work done are woefully ill-suited to doing effective knowledge work. Very few businesses seem to understand even the interplay between environmental factors and outcomes. And fewer yet, those who have actually created and sustained effective working environments.
Aside: By “environment” I have in mind various aspects:
- Physical – the floor layout of the office space; the decor, lighting and general ambience; the architectural style of the office buildings; the situation of the office buildings themselves (city, parkland, countryside, wilderness); facilities (shared spaces, dining, leisure and recreation, etc).
- Technical – webtone; the choice of hardware, OS, tools; and so on.
- Social – how people generally relate to one another and treat each other.
- Dynamics – High-energy or plodding; stressful or laid-back; studious or action-oriented; high-risk or safety-conscious; etc.
Reliably Designing Products Which Buyers Crave
We know now that people don’t buy products or services on rational bases. Rather, they buy on emotional bases, and then, maybe, use rationality to justify those decisions, post-hoc. Why then do so many businesses still spend so much time and effort designing their products to appeal to rational buyers?
Designing “Whole Products”
Most businesses cobble together new products and services, conducting a more or less random walk through their vertical silos for each new product development. And then stuff these new products into the existing silos in the hope that sales and profits will accrue. We could be recognising that development of new products is the lifeblood of most organisations, and organising along those lines.
Organising Around Flow
One common strategy for businesses has long been managing to reduce cost. Much more effective would be to manage (e.g. constraints) so as to improve flow (of new products to market, value to customers, or of needs, to all stakeholders).
Having Everyone On the Same Page
Most businesses I have seen have folks running around like headless chickens, hither and yon, with precious little alignment or general understanding of common goals, strategies, and so on. Many tools, techniques and other means to get and keep folks on the same page exist. Few business use any of them. Nor realise the cost and other impacts of such chaos.
Improving The Effectiveness Of Our Businesses
More-or-less random local improvements seems to be the best most businesses aspire to. We could be systematically and progressively improving our businesses on a near-continuous or continuous basis. We only have to look as far as e.g. Toyota to see the stupendous rewards this can bring in the long term.
I see very little of any of the above happening in any businesses. After all these years, I still wonder why. How about you? Would you be willing to share your perspective?