Solving complex problems (part 3)
The most significant problem facing most organizations that depend on software development is to deliver innovative solutions to a highly competitive, changing and complex global market.
Setting the foundations: Data
Processes of market-driven innovation can inspire solutions to this problem. We are at a point that the global market drives innovation, ie: it shows us that innovative companies that didn’t adapt to new contexts do not exist anymore. Adaptability to market needs (and its changes) has proven to be the key to success, and data driven companies are becoming a must: inspect the past (Data Engineering) and learn from it by evaluating current & past KPIs (Data Analytics) and finally predict a certain future (Data Science). The most important thing is that we are living in an age where this technology is ready, available and affordable.
Set the structure: safe environment for innovation
We have the data now, what now? Let’s start setting a safe environment to allow innovation inside our organization. Top-down planned innovation could improve processes, quality and time to market, for example, shows us that may have some resistance to these changes at the beginning; leadership must be committed and supportive to make this change to work. This approach will let the organization go in one direction, but to get to the point of innovation bottom-up approaches must be accepted too. More specifically, take the example of Gmail; Google used to let their employees spend 20% of their time inside projects, which ended up in Gmail, here we can see Top-Down and Bottom-Up innovation. The benefits of this innovation include, the organization sets the direction to become enabler and supportive, allowing innovation from trenches.
Natural Selection: accept changes
We have the data and a safe environment, what’s next? Let’s think about natural selection: it’s quite important that our organization becomes flexible enough so that products and services don’t become so rigid that they won’t survive. Before getting extinct we can guide processes to let our complex systems adapt and survive by generating new phenomena inside our organization (take a look to https://www.liberatingstructures.com/31-ecocycle-planning/) by being able to see the forest instead of one tree, balance our strategies, identify waste, and give the chance to hear all voices (source: Ecocycle Planning — Liberating Structures).
Last but not least, innovation won’t happen from one day to another. First we must set the environment, but it will require some training, some maturation. A while ago a friend of mine told me that “knowledge is exponential”. Observation and empathy may let us understand how our products and services are being adopted by customers, providing a better insight that should reduce product’s complexity related to “adoption”.
The benefits of this innovation include augmenting the vision of the company and letting managers set the right direction to align the organization.