two team members looking at the head of the conference table

The Hidden Benefits of a Customer-Focused Culture

Being focused on customers isn’t a unique organizational trait. Almost everyone in business claims to be customer-focused in one form or another. Some even consider the term cliché. Inc.com contributing editor Jeff Haden cited it as culprit number 1 on his list of 10 Tired Business Clichés You Should Never Use Again.

Jeff Haden, Inc.com

Naturally, stating an intent to be customer-focused and actually being customer-focused are two different things. Sometimes the right thing for your client doesn’t align with the right thing for your organization. This is when having a customer-focused culture truly matters—when the right move is to do the hard thing in the short term for the best outcome for the client in the long term.

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Data Consistency Is the Key to a Standardized Reporting Process

Standardized reporting is an intricate type of reporting process that aims to produce consistent, reliable, actionable information from disparate systems or sources. A reporting process is standardized if it can be applied across different business units or sub-units in an organization. The processes that generate and collect the data to be reported on must remain the same across all the business units.

For an organization to understand the status of conditions in real time, and make decisions quickly, standardized reporting is required. A universal understanding of information enables clarity and transparency. Clarity supports effective communication based on trust. And studies show that effective communication leads to enhanced productivity and deeper customer relationships (Source).

It’s not a stretch to say that data consistency creates a competitive advantage over other organizations that do not have standardized reporting processes.

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Superstition Ain’t the Way: Prevent Bad Habits from Running Rampant Among Users

Even if you’re not a superstitious person, it’s likely at one point in your lifetime you knocked on wood in an attempt to appease the gods of fate. Or maybe you made sure to close up that umbrella before stepping into your house. A couple seconds to rap on wood here, a few seconds of standing in the rain there—minor inconveniences to soothe away the universe’s impending spells of bad juju.

The reality is that no, wood is not magical. And opening an umbrella indoors doesn’t shepherd evil ghouls into your home. These quirky habits don’t add tangible value to our lives.

However, superstitions like these aren’t made up out of nowhere. They often arise from practical behaviors which may have made sense at one point, but lost their fundamental meaning after passing through generations. (Are umbrellas indoors really bad luck? Or did someone long ago get a bad poke in the eye?)

These learned behaviors take root over time, through generations of practice and habitual routine. They reassure people that no unintended consequences will come their way if they unquestioningly perform things a certain way—the way they’ve always been done.

Similarly, superstitious behaviors are alive and well in your organization. IT superstitions aren’t supernatural but rather the culmination of each user’s quirks, a natural evolution of processes, systems left unchecked, and a game-of-telephone effect.

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Prix Fixe Menu

Organizational Culture Eats Agile for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner!

“Culture eats strategy for breakfast,” is a famous quotation attributed to the late business management guru Peter Drucker. While a debate continues as to whether Mr. Drucker actually said it, the statement itself merits further exploration.  I believe it means that any great strategy regardless of the depth of research, hard work, number of paid consultants, and even its own brilliance, will not achieve its intended future state if it fails to take an organization’s culture into consideration.

For part three in my Agile journey series, I will examine the importance of addressing cultural elements to achieve a successful Agile transformation. (more…)

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Before Starting Any Agile Journey, Know Your Destination

The promise of Agile is speed to market for delivering incremental value to the customer, but why is the adoption of Agile in organizations so difficult and slow? As addressed in my recent blog post, “Are you Using, Doing, or Being Agile?” Agile adoption takes more than just checking boxes, but rather is a complex, multi-phase journey. And any unfamiliar journey requires the navigator to know the destination. Have you tried using GPS without entering an address? Understanding where you are headed is a key component of any successful endeavor. (more…)

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Don't wag the dog, lead with strategy

Don’t Wag the Dog: Digital Transformation Starts with Company Strategy

Today, headlines about digital transformation dominate blogs and journals. IT leaders feel that they should have already started their organization’s transition into the digital age. But the amount of buzz around this trend shouldn’t force you into a hasty decision.

For years you’ve been told to avoid technology for technology’s sake – yet the same trap is catching CIOs pushing for digital transformation because everyone else is doing it. Like any IT initiative, digital transformation only makes sense if it supports your organization’s overall strategy.

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Launching a Center of Excellence | Downloadable Executive Field Guide

A Center of Excellence—such as an OSM (Office of Strategy Management), PMO (Project Management Office), IT Governance, Continuous Improvement, or similar task force—is usually established to achieve one or more of the following core objectives within an organization:

  • Implement and popularize a best practice
  • Add a new capability, function, or technology
  • Improve utilization of (or return on) an asset
  • Upgrade employees’ skillsets

Download this Executive Field Guide as a .pdf

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