Less is more
How do you simultaneously run the business, and a Digital Transformation without losing your mind? How do you free up time for to digitize customer journeys, and develop new digital products and ventures?
Don’t crowd your strategy paper or your business model canvas. I was trained by a Japanese Hoshin Kanri master, who advised no more than 5 major strategic activities.
If by contrast our strategy paper comprises, say, ten countermeasures to core blockers, do we really understand the strategic problem? Chances are we’re simply buffering our lack of understanding with volume. (“One of these is sure to have an impact!”)
Few of the ten will get done. Fatigue and exhaustion follow.
We have a limited number of hours for improvement activity – often 10% or less of our time. And so, we have to use this precious time wisely. Understanding the ‘less is more’ principle is vital for senior leaders in particular. Remember, everything on your strategy paper will be multiplied many times over on subordinate strategy papers. Unless we focus on the critical few, our activities will quickly generate a mangrove of activity, which will collapse on itself.
The great masters of strategic thinking are able to distill complex problems down to their essence. “Here’s what we’re trying to achieve. Here’s our critical gap and root causes. And here are the two things we’re going to do about it…” We call this our ‘Winning Logic’, and this, along with a clear statement of Purpose, are the most important elements of strategy.
In Digital Transformation, less is more. Wise leaders thereby build so-called ‘white space’ into their strategies. The spare capacity buffers the inevitable disasters that arise. Wise leaders understand that things go wrong, repeatedly, at the worst possible time. That’s not being pessimistic, that’s just life.
A Transformation Lighthouse and regular senior leader stand-up meetings are another excellent enabler. A good Lighthouse will include a highly visible Innovation Pipeline showing the different innovation sub-streams, corresponding capacity and loading and the status of each innovation project. More on the innovation pipeline in future blogs. For now please remember and apply the cardinal rule of strategy: less is more.