Simplifying Business Transformation
Simplicity is the Ultimate Sophistication, so said Leonardo Da Vinci. The world realizes this and is constantly striving to achieve it. Corporations, institutions; world bodies and even the governments – everyone is in pursuit of simplicity. This craving is driven by the premise that simplicity leads to sustainability and makes the world a better place to live in. In a world, increasingly characterized by uncertain business environment, where sustaining ecosystems is a significant challenge; it is the transparency and simplicity of value delivery architecture of partner companies that will deliver bold business impact for customers.
Customers are looking for business partners who can help them simplify their challenges and stitch together solutions, which are simple to implement yet delivers bold business impact. Customers seeking business transformation want to get a ‘Drive Experience’ without being in the ‘Driver’s seat’. This means getting complete visibility on the ‘Value Delivery Architecture’ of their transformational partners. It also implies utmost transparency on the transfer of value and sharing of gains on win-win propositions. The mandate is very clear, “Help us grow exponentially and in the process attain your own growth”.
Customers want to convey the impact of their products and services to their end consumers in a simple manner. Simplicity is best epitomized by Steve Jobs’s famous 3Fs – Form, Function and Functionality, in a product based industry. In a service based industry, simplicity is best described through 3Ds – Delight, Delivery and Design (Service Design), all embedded to give the customers ‘Unique User Experience, Ease of Access and a Transformational Delight’ that help them stay relevant. This is a simple expectation from customers, which most organizations are struggling to deliver because of the following paradoxes:-
- How can the complex expectations of customers be delivered in a simple manner?
- How can we craft simple yet effective strategies that create competition rather than fighting the competition?
- How can we create simple yet bold value through simple architecture, it would indeed need a complex-matrix architecture?
It is precisely these questions, which need to be pondered over and discussed frequently in a structured manner, within organizations. The quest for simplicity lies in the alchemy of these questions. And for that, it is imperative to wonder as to what drives simplicity? To my mind there are three primary levers today:-
- Convergence – Convergence of mobile computing, artificial intelligence, advancements in sensors, robotics and automation – all together driving a ‘Single Source: Single Device™ -SSSD’ approach.
- Digital – Cloud, Social Platforms, Analytics and mobility are creating enough insights at a very early stage for us to take note and gear up to deliver on future possibilities.
- Design – Form has a much higher appeal than the functionality. Rather, functionality is given, function is the price of entry but it is form that gives us a winning edge.
Over the years, standards and specifications have been the price of entry for doing business but the penchant for aesthetics – Feel, Sense and Appearance is now growing at an unimaginable pace. This need is primarily being driven by the Millennials’ expectations, the growing consumer segment world-wide, which companies ignore at their peril. Customers are looking for bold business impact through solutions never imagined before. This quest is driving disruptive innovations. Both, the customers as well as end consumers are converging towards Single Source Single Device SSSD ™ Platforms, like a single remote to manage all applications; a single mobile to manage all transactional and communication needs and they want it in a simple, user friendly manner. As products and services evolve, so do the customer needs. Organizations that can meet the ‘simplicity’ needs of customers will be preferred over those whose value propositions are unwieldy. And to be able to deliver bold yet simple value propositions, organizations need no longer go through the pain of cumbersome strategy, structure and value delivery architecture. Nonetheless, companies invariably end up making this mistake by creating complex strategy, clumsy structures coupled with obsolete/outdated culture. The journey of simplification to drive transformation will have to be engendered through following stages:-
- Simply Understood Outcome – Articulate that ultimate outcome, which can be understood be end users in its most simple form. It is about addressing that proverbial question, as to what will change for them and will that be worth the wait and indulgence?
- Simplify Strategy – Craft a strategy, which is simple to understand and easy to execute. This doesn’t mean it is below par. For example ‘Outgrow Competition in Incremental Revenues’ could be a very powerful yet simple strategy in a context where such a position gives huge competitive advantage and a strategic leverage.
- Simplify Structure – Create Structures that promote alignment, collaboration but not conflicts. Unduly complex, matrix structures impede the flow of value and limit the productivity in time, space, volume, efficiency and quality. Simple, aligned structures accelerate agility thus impacting productivity positively. It is easy to provide the visibility of simple structures to customers, thus enhancing their user experience. Customers want to learn from our systems and processes and simplification greatly helps.
- Simply Systems & Processes – A simple agile structure makes it easy to run complex processes and not vice versa. In fact, it makes even complex processes appear simpler.
- Simplify Relationships – Relationships formed on the basis of trust, authenticity and transparency have long term sustainability, designed to deliver more business to customers with greater impact. Keep the face of company single and simple with end to end ownership.
Simplifying all of the above needs following:-
- Uncluttered Thought Process – This is about keeping the Core Value Proposition simple and bold but nonetheless internalizing it completely through simple and innovative messaging.
- Seamless Interface – Core value to customer is delivered through a cross-functional array of functions, processes and systems. It is best that the interfaces tying them together are kept simple and transparent.
- Reality Distortion – Both customers and employees have their own notion of reality, which may be outdated and they may not be willing to step out of that. This field of reality needs to be distorted to create a new possible reality as Steve Jobs was often able to do through the unique products Apple designed and delivered. This is about imagining, reimagining and revisiting the norms. Large organizations need to promote a culture of reality distortion through ‘Crowd Sourcing and Open Source Innovation’.
In a typical B2B scenario, if the business partners can understand the uncertain business environment of their current and potential clients, enable them build a healthy ecosystem of sustainability; through a visible value delivery architecture and yet deliver a bold business impact, they would surely crate strong business transformation outcomes for future. In today’s complex and disruptive world, if technology, consulting and service organizations can design themselves strategically as well as structurally to deliver bold business impact for clients, they will indeed be the partner of choice for ‘Strategic Transformation, Innovation and Certainty’. But all this will happen if the prospective business partners could simply their approach and outcome for their clients. This would indeed need a culture of simplicity, through openness and autonomy.
Open conversations in the context of a simplified yet bold value will generate opportunities for transformational value, which will drive business transformation at customers’ end. Often simplicity eludes the organization for want of uninhibited discussions, a dimension often accorded least priority. If companies want to deliver truly transformational value, simplicity at every step is what they need to embrace.
My opinion: After all, the World need not be a complex place to live in; it was not intended to be so, originally. So why should the businesses be complex in its conception as well as manifestation?
I would love to hear from you on your thoughts or interest in this topic.
To look back at previous post, visit “Reimagining Business and Arenas” at CEOWORLD magazine & “3 New Job Titles Every Company Needs But No One Has Yet” – Chief Reimagination Officer (CRO) + Chief Paradigm Officer + Chief Paradox Officer (CPXO) at Fast Company.
For more columns, thoughts and opinions, follow CEOWORLD magazine on Twitter @ceoworld.
By, Himanshu Saxena is Vice President and Head of Strategy Alignment, Balanced Scorecard and Business Coach at Tata Consultancy Services, a Global Top 10 IT Services Company. Editing by Janina Energin, Hendrik L Clarke, Amarendra Bhushan, and Amy Canter.