Sense & RespondDesign Thinking | 13th March 2017
How Successful Organizations Listen to Customers and Create New Products Continuously
Digital technology is changing everything about business today. Why? Because it gives organizations the ability to build continuous two-way communication into every customer touch point.
Software has been a part of business for decades but only in the past few years has it evolved to a point that leaves it’s static origins in the dust in favor of a continuous deployment and consumption model. The ability to get new ideas (i.e., bits of code, product, designs, content, etc) into our customers hands as quickly as we want means we can learn, just as quickly, whether those new ideas hold any value with our market. This change in the definition of “value” is critical to organizations trying to take advantage of the evolving role of technology in their business. No longer does “shipping a feature” equal value. In fact, this is merely the beginning of a conversation with the market.
As soon as our customers begin interacting with our products we start to learn how we’ve met (or not) their expectations. The behaviors they exhibit with our products — also known as outcomes — become our new definition of success and more importantly our new definition of done.
This change in the definition of “value” is critical to organizations trying to take advantage of the evolving role of technology in their business.
© Jeff Gothelf at Webdagene, Oslo, Norway – October 2015
Most leaders and project teams think this is simply the evolution of “IT”—leaving business management unchanged. This is not true. As this technology becomes embedded in literally every phase and process of our businesses, we need new organizational structures and management practices capable of leveraging these new capabilities. For example, how does this change the way we work with our legal teams? What about finance, budgeting and planning? HR? All of these “non-tech” disciplines need to shift their practices to support this new way of working.
Experimenting, learning and iterating mean new risks and challenges to businesses. Legal must support this way of working. We’re no longer manufacturing in factories when we build software products. Financial planning needs to reflect the shorter cycles, complexity and uncertainty inherent in software. And finally, the right teams make all the difference in the success of software-based businesses. HR needs to help build and support the culture that fosters the curiosity and humility necessary for cultures of learning to thrive.
The people we hire, the people we have and the people we hope to attract in the future should all reflect the values of continuous learning and improvement — this is true of our leaders as well.
Sense & Respond, How Successful Organizations Listen to Customers and Create New Products Continuously, from Harvard Business Press, describes the tools, techniques, and practices that managers need to thrive in this new world and how these various disciplines need to adapt to support the realities of 21st century business.
Sense & Respond Book
In the first half of the book we make the case that you are indeed in the software business regardless of where you’ve been in the past. We use case studies from agriculture, financial services, fashion, retail, government and many others to drive this point home. The second half of the book digs into the detailed changes organizations need to make to take full advantage of this huge competitive advantage and survival skill.