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Some Reasons Why You Might Choose To Pay Attention To My Works

Hey there! I’m Bob Marshall, the Organisational Psychotherapist, with a passion for helping organisations transform their culture and improve collaboration. If you’re wondering why you might choose to pay attention to my insights, just let me say that my unique approach can bring profound benefits to all kinds of organisations, especially those involving collaborative knowledge work.

My blog at https://lnkd.in/dytkA2A is packed with insights and stories from my five decades of experience. I draw on this experience, including founding Europe’s first 100% Agile software house and heading Falling Blossoms, the world’s first Organisational Psychotherapy provider. My posts highlight the importance of nurturing productive relationships and fostering a people-oriented culture.

One post that stands out is about the Antimatter Principle, which emphasises attending to folks’ needs to create a thriving, collaborative work environment.

Another post discusses Flow•gnosis, an innovative approach to developing software-intensive products and services.

When you read my posts, you’ll also learn from my decades in both technology and business, including roles at Sun Microsystems, and many other organisations, large and small. This deep understanding of the tech landscape allows me to provide invaluable counsel and therapy to ambitious, progressive technology and digital business organisations.

Moreover, those who have worked with me have nothing but praise for my approach and the results it has brought to their organisations. Time and again, I’ve helped clients create a more humane, people-oriented, and productive work environment that has led to outstanding success.

As the author of “Hearts over Diamonds”, “Memeology”, and “Quintessence”, and the originator of Rightshifting and the Marshall Model, my posts regularly and freely share the foundational knowledge that has contribute to the success of so many of my clients. So, if you want to see a real difference in your organisation, don’t miss out on the wisdom and insights shared on my blog, books, white papers, etc.

Join me on this transformative journey towards elevating your organisation’s performance, and also creating a meaningful, fulfilling work environment that nurtures innovation, everyone’s personal growth, and long-lasting success. Get down with the opportunity to be part of a paradigm shift that’s redefining the way businesses thrive!

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Don’t miss out on the latest insights and strategies for transforming your organisation and its culture! If you find this post valuable, make sure to follow me on LinkedIn, and don’t forget to ring the bell 🔔 to receive notifications whenever I share new content. Ready to unlock your organisation’s full potential? Take action now and reach out for a chat, or visit my blog more transformative ideas. Together, let’s embark on this journey towards unprecedented success! 🔔

The Future is Now: Unleashing the Full Potential of Cutting-Edge Software Development Culture

For software developers, understanding the role of business culture in the development process can seem entirely irrelevant. Yet, business culture sets the tone for the company’s shared assumptions and beliefs about how work should work, and it can have a significant impact on the efforts, and quality-of-life of software developers.

One example of where the impact of business culture is particularly visible is in the thorny question of permitting or forbidding developers to talk with users and customers.

In many organisations, the relationship between software developers and users/customers is seen as strictly separated. In such cases, developers are not allowed to communicate with users/customers, and all communication is done through customer support teams or business analysts. This is primarily driven by the belief that developers cannot be trusted, and must focus solely on the technical aspect of the product, leaving customer interactions to others.

However, in some organisations, the opposite is true. Developers are actively encouraged to engage with users and customers, and they are seen as a vital link between the technical side of the product and the needs and desires of the customers. This approach is often driven by a culture that values transparency, customer satisfaction, and continuous improvement.

The impact of these differing business cultures on the role of software developers is significant. When developers are not allowed to talk to users/customers, they are limited in their ability to truly understand the customer’s needs and desires. This can lead to products that are technically sound but miss the mark when it comes to user experience and customer satisfaction. On the other hand, when developers are encouraged to talk to users/customers, they are more likely to create products that are not only technically sound but also meet the needs and expectations of the customers.

It is important to consider how changing the business culture can change the nature of what developers are allowed to do.

In conclusion, software developers play a crucial role in the development process, and it can help to understand the impact of business culture on their efforts. The question of permitting or forbidding developers to talk with users and customers is just one example of how business culture can impact the development process. By considering the impact of business culture and making changes as necessary, companies can ensure that their developers are empowered to create the best products possible and drive better business results.

Elevating Customer Experience: The Key to Unlocking Increased Revenues and Decreased Costs

In recent years, a new approach to customer experience has been gaining popularity: customer SUCCESS. Customer success focuses on achieving specific outcomes for the customer. By embracing this new perspective, companies can improve customer satisfaction, reduce costs, increase revenue, and ultimately, make more money.

One of the biggest benefits of a focus on customer success is increased customer retention. Studies show that a focus on customer success can lead to a 5-10% increase in customer retention rates, which in turn can result in a decrease in the cost of acquiring new customers. Customer loyalty also sees a boost, with successful customers being more likely to refer others to the company, leading to more cost-effective word-of-mouth marketing.

Another way that customer success impacts costs, revenues, and money is by improving customer loyalty. Customers who are successful are more likely to refer new customers to a company. This word-of-mouth marketing is much more effective than traditional advertising and often costs less. Additionally, customers who are successful are less likely to switch to a competitor, which saves the company the costs associated with losing a customer.

When companies understand the specific outcomes their customers are seeking, they can improve product development and provide a better customer experience. This can result in a 20-30% increase in sales and a reduction in costs. For instance, if a company understands its customers want more effective financial management, it can develop a product to meet this need.

Finally, a focus on customer success can open up opportunities for upsells and cross-sells, potentially increasing revenue by 10-15%. When customers are successful, they are more likely to purchase additional products and services from the same company.

In conclusion, companies that embrace customer success can improve customer satisfaction, reduce costs, increase revenue, and ultimately make more money.

The Purpose of Organisational Psychotherapy

Following on from my previous post, concerning the Fifth Absolute of Quality, which reads:

The purpose of quality is customer success, NOT customer satisfaction.

it occurs to me that maybe there’s some clarity or insight to be found in similarly describing the purpose of Organisational Psychotherapy:

The purpose of Organisational Psychotherapy is to see folks’ needs met, NOT to see them happy, or satisfied. 

(Note: “Folks”, here, encompasses some or all of: customers, employees, owners, managers, suppliers, regulators, and society at large). See also: The Folks That Matter™️.

 This does beg the question:

“Why does meeting folks’ need matter? Where’s the point in that?” 

I invite you to consider the description of the purpose of quality, above. This describes the purpose of quality as customer success. “Customer success” can only be defined by the customers themselves. And each customer may have very different ideas as to what constitutes their “success”.

Similarly, with Organisational Psychotherapy, each of the “folks” may have very different needs, and these folks are, each, the only ones that can define these needs, or, more accurately , the only ones that can declare when their needs have been met. 

Organisational Psychotherapy implicitly assumes that when folks’ need are being met, both those folks, and the folks attending to their needs, have a more joyful experience.

So, “seeing folks’ needs are met” is in many ways akin to “customer success”. And as to the begging question: Why do (some) organisations prioritise “customer success”? Best ask them, maybe?

– Bob

Getting Along

When all is said and done, all our artifices, all our strivings, all our efforts to organise work… it’s simply about figuring our how to get along (with each other). 

If we’re getting paid but not being productive, the payers will rankle and cavil, and they and we won’t get along. If we’re producing stuff that doesn’t meed the needs of our customers, they will feel frustrated and they and we won’t get along.  If we treat some folks like pariahs or cogs in our machine, they won’t feel valued or respected, and they and we won’t get along.

There’s really no more to work, and organisations, than getting along. In Rightshifted organisations, for example, such as the quintessential ones, folks simple get along better.

What does it take for us all to get along?

– Bob

Traders or Traitors

I’ve been listening to lots of audiobooks of late. Mostly narrated by folks with American accents. Current listening is Asimov’s Foundation Series (maybe for the fourth time around).

Aside: I find Zachary Quinto’s narrations of e.g. John Scalzi books just awesome.

trader
[ trey-der ]

noun

a person who trades; a merchant or businessperson.

traitor

noun

a person who betrays another, a cause, or any trust.

 

In an American accent, I find the words “trader” and “traitor” indistinguishable. Setting aside the question “are all traders traitors (to their customers)?” it got me to thinking “are all Agile traders traitors to their customers.” I’m pretty sure that – from the perspective of Agile Transformation outcomes – the answer is “yes”

How about you? Do you find that folks “delivering” Agile transformations are simple traders, or actually traitors to their customers and their customers’ cause?

– Bob

 

Automate All the Things!

Or not. I prefer not. 

As John Seddon states in his most recent book, it’s far more useful to fully understand customers’ needs, through e.g. simple physical means, like pin-boards, T-cards and spreadsheets, before considering any automation.

And even then, automation has at least two fundamental flaws:

Inability to Cater to Variation in Demand

Automation and automated systems, presently and for the foreseeable future, cannot encompass variety in demand. As we’ve come to relate to the Little Britain meme “ Computer says no”. Customer demand inherently has variation. Thus, automation leads to a poorer customer experience, as many customer needs are handled poorly, or not at all. I cite the British Gas website and customer experience as a particularly egregious example.

Employment 

Let’s also look at the bigger picture of social cohesion, of which people having jobs is a part. Jobs give people meaning, status, and something to do. As well as greasing the wheels of commerce – employed people have disposable income which contributes to companies’ revenues.

The idea of Basic Income is all very fine (I’m a fan) but that concept has some major wrinkles to iron out before it becomes a shoe-in.

In the meantime, how about we try to create businesses – and other organisations – that provide meaningful employment to more people, rather than fewer? Will that negatively impact profit margins? I doubt. And there’s always Deming’s First Theorem in any case.

More and more often, the Software Industry is being called upon to live up to its fine moral pronouncements. Automation is an item in the negative column on that balance sheet.

– Bob

Lost Business

At Familiar (1996-2000) we regularly “lost” work to other companies making lower bids than us. Like many suppliers we were initially both angry, frustrated and disappointed when this happened.

Over time, we studied the phenomenon, saw a pattern emerge, and came to understand these scenarios.

Years later, I wrote a blog post – The Inductive Deductive Schism – explaining the phenomenon of clients commissioning software development work with suppliers who were clearly going to screw up and cost the client much more over the full duration of the commission.

The Schism Summarised

In summary, non-technical, non-engineering clients approach decision-making – i.e. who to commission – in entirely the reverse order to how technical, engineering people might approach the same decision. The follow chart illustrates the order in which clients might approach the question:

 

Note how trust (actually credibility of the supplier) takes first place, followed by solution fit, and then details of the solution. “Will the proposed solution work?” comes a poor fourth.

Compare with the approach favoured by “technical” people:

Here, the viability of the proposed solution takes first place, and “trust” a.k.a. credibility of the supplier comes fourth.

Bottom Line

So we see that technical suppliers who fail to understand the decision order of their prospective (non-technical) clients will inevitable fail to understand why the commissions go to suppliers who appear inept and likely to produce inappropriate and/or non-viable solutions.

If you’re a “technical” supplier pitching for business with non-technical clients, you might like to focus on your credibility, followed by the “fit” of your proposed solution to the client’s needs – and downplay the details and viability of your proposed solution.

– Bob

Better Antimatter Customers

[Some years ago I wrote a post entitled “Better Customers“. This is an update of that post, reframed using the AntimatterPrinciple]

More effective organisations need better Folks That Matter™. Where “better” means more demanding discerning. Less gullible.

Folks that demand their needs are met, or as a minimum, attended-to, not tech, nor features, nor hand-wavy “value”.

Folks that refuse to pay when their needs are ignored, met poorly, or not addressed at all.

Folks that hold a healthy skepticism for unevidenced claims and promises.

Folks that disrupt the cosy hegemony of the technologists (see e.g. #NoSoftware).

Folks that push back against complex and expensive non-solutions.

Folks that push through the embarrassment of failure to call suppliers to account.

Folks that understand THEIR Folks That Matter™, and look for partners that want to help them in that.

Folks who see the value in relationships, trust, and evidence, whilst rejecting faith-based arguments.

Folks that buy on criteria other than lowest (ticket) price (cost being just one need amongst many).

Folks that embrace the human element and humane relationships in the world of business.

Folks that understand their own strengths – and their weaknesses, and act accordingly.

Folks that generously share the laurels of success, and share responsibility for failure too.

There are so many folks that feel a need to do better, but desperately need the support of their Folks That Matter™ to make that happen. Without better Folks That Matter™, the reforms and improvements we need will indeed take a long time in coming.

– Bob

 

What Is A Customer?

In the world of Agile, and the world of business too, we hear a lot about “customer value”. Folks seem to have some kind of handle on “value” (although not everyone can agree on that one – see my post “What Is Value” for my take, based on Goldratt and his Theory of Constraints).

And for the record, we might also choose to frame the question of value within the Antimatter Principle frame, and vocabulary:

Value: The degree to which folks’ needs, in aggregate, are being (or have been) met.

But what about “customer”? So simple and straightforward. Do we even need to define it? I thought not, until a recent conversation on Twitter gave me pause for reconsidering. Specifically, the idea that maybe folks are talking at major cross-purposes, with significantly differing assumptions and definitions for the term. If we can’t agree on a basic term like “customer”, what chance alignment of a whole host of fundamental questions about software, products and business generally?

Here’s my definition, again using the Antimatter Principle as a frame:

Customer: Someone (could be either a person, or a collection of people) whose needs we’re attending to.

I’m pretty sure you’ll have a different definition of customer. I’d love to hear your take.

Before I close this post, here’s a different definition, informed by Crosby and his Zero-Defects (ZeeDee) approach to quality:

Customer: Anyone who receives or anticipates receiving something (e.g. a good or a service) from someone else.

This definition canonises Crosby’s idea that we’re all customers. And we’re all suppliers, too. And as suppliers, it falls to us to ensure that what we’re supplying is what our immediate customer needs to supply their customer(s).

– Bob

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