Our Mantra: “Ruthlessly Practical…Radically Useful”
There are some elements of our service delivery that we are passionate about–and that contribute to stronger, more lasting results in our engagements.
Every situation deals with a narrative. Our communication style is rooted in the philosophy that the story is the single most engaging way to bring about positive change. Each conversation, presentation, quantitative model, and dashboard or report is crafted with the business story as the central element of information exchange. And more effective storytelling means engaging and insight-generating visuals. We have mastered multiple tools – and the knowledge of when to use them – to make the story in any situation as compelling as possible.
In creating my storytelling materials, we often will use, in addition to the standards Excel charts and pivot tables, sophisticated design tools, such as:
- Visio, Lucidchart, Archimate, UML, BPMN, and Mindmapping packages for communicating ideas
- Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop for advanced graphic design
- InDesign for infographics, marketing materials, and complex documents
- Dreamweaver, HTML/PHP, SharePoint and various Content Management Systems for web publishing
- Adobe After Effects and Premiere Pro for video and motion graphics.
Depending on the need and the context, I have at my disposal a full range of tools for telling the right story in the right way.
For some public-domain examples of business storytelling work we have done, visit here.
One of the most powerful sets of thinking tools I have ever encountered falls within the general category of Systems Thinking. Holistic logical processes can take on a variety of forms; we have extensively studied many of them in a search for the best approaches to solving difficult business problems. Along the way, we have incorporated several Systems Thinking methods that we have seen make tremendous impacts on business performance. The ones we have made a permanent part of our business design approach are as follows:
- The Theory of Constraints
- Interactive Planning
- Systems Dynamics
- Various Lean and Six Sigma techniques
Each of these methods has its own unique strengths and situations where that particular method best fits. But the common thread in all of these techniques is in the area of focus. Systems thinking in general holds that the throughput of a system can be dramatically changed by paying attention to a modest number of factors. Find the right factors, and improvement can follow. Furthermore, treat the entire organization as a whole. Some of the most detrimental actions within companies stem from decisions that locally optimize (within a department, for example) at the expense of the entire operation. These methods ensure that the proper attention is paid to the things that count the most.
Our approach to architecture is rooted in the concept of Capability. While Enterprise and Business Architecture can have many and varied definitions, we like to think of Architecture (either one) as simply the collection of skills, assets, knowledge, processes, and other structure elements that systemically underpin a firm’s ability to deliver something of value. It combines the structural and behavioral elements of a firm towards the meeting of defined objectives. It bridges strategy and tactical operational activities, much like the automobile translates the driver’s intended direction and speed into actual kinetic motion through the moving parts of the vehicle.
We see a strong two-way connection between strategy and architecture that can be described as follows: Strategy dictates what capabilities (and thus which architectural elements or alternate sets of elements) must be in place to execute the Strategy; Architecture informs the Strategy function on viable strategic alternatives. In other words, firms should set out to do (and build what is necessary to do) what is within reach — and know what is what is within reach to set Strategy.
We subscribe to structured representations of Architecture through modeling and other structured approaches where it genuinely informs the conversation. We believe the business story benefits from an objective, visual, and semantically rigorous approach to the point that it helps prescribe action. Therefore, such tools as TOGAF, Archimate, or UML have roles to play in the formulation of architectural roadmaps. In the end, however, alignment with strategy and executability of the roadmap is our ultimate highest goal in this domain.