So, we got to enjoy the NSW 2015 elections on the weekend. I don’t know about you but I can think of better ways to spend a beautiful Saturday morning than queuing to cast my vote. It got me wondering why we aren’t doing it electronically, from our preferred device and at a time of our choosing. Yes, the polling booths were only open from 8am to 6pm so I guess that’s an added inconvenience for those working Saturdays. 

“If voting made any difference they wouldn’t let us do it.” – Mark Twain

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Posted
AuthorTrevor Lindars
CategoriesTechnology

It is becoming widely recognised that when people buy products or services they are really buying an experience. What people buy has attributes that are associated with functional consequences that have psychological (emotional) consequences that are ultimately tied to underlying personal values [Gutman, Reynolds and Olsen]. In short that’s an experience either anticipated or realised. Experiences may be intrinsic in either a product or a service but, more often, the best experiences will arise from a combination of both. 

So, if you are a provider of either a pure product or service then there is an opportunity to improve the overall experience for your customers by adding the missing half of the equation. In this article I will be focusing on value-add services for products. If there is sufficient interest I might write an extension piece to consider productising services. In either case, the main goal is to take a holistic view of the customer journey and the touch-points along it. These all provide opportunities for learning and potential improvement.

“To understand the man, you must first walk a mile in his moccasin.” – Native American proverb

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Lean is often regarded as simply targeting cost reduction through the elimination of waste. A quick-win approach may focus on eradicating the prime culprits in a piecemeal fashion at the tactical or, often, operational level. However, this was not the original intent and the need to regain a more strategic perspective seems obvious. For a more impactful and sustainable result a broader systems thinking approach should be adopted; one that integrates Lean principles with those of project, program and change management.

“Improvement usually means doing something that we have never done before.” – Shiego Shingo

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AuthorTrevor Lindars
CategoriesInnovation
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With an even-increasing number of telecommuters and part-time workers operating in a growing global market place and with organisations and alliances becoming ever more geographically dispersed, working with or within virtual teams is becoming increasingly commonplace.

Recently I was involved in a Facebook debate where a friend had asked for some advice about keeping up morale, focus and momentum in a dispersed workforce that currently constitutes her entire business. I thought it might be interesting to elaborate on my initial short-form response and additionally incorporate a few of the other views that surfaced in that discussion.

Managing teams that are geographically dispersed and, therefore, primarily dependent on electronic means of communication has many challenges but most of these seem to stem from a single core issue – enabling effective collaboration. In this article I will take a quick look at a few critical areas that need to be addressed for your virtual team to gel.

“The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don't play together, the club won't be worth a dime.” – Babe Ruth (Baseball Hall of Fame)

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AuthorTrevor Lindars
CategoriesManagement
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Hiring managers can be prone to think vertically when trying to fill a capability gap. They think in terms of specialist skills and alignment with existing or hypothesized silos. Despite a common requirement to collaborate and operate in a cross-disciplinary fashion, historically, a search for these important skills and behaviours has been given less attention than it deserves.

About ten years ago, Tim Brown, CEO of IDEO, resurrected the notion of the T-shaped person and embedded it into IDEO’s recruiting and talent retention culture. He asserts that innovation needs T-shaped people and I agree with his sentiment although I also feel that it is a bit more complicated than that. 

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Posted
AuthorTrevor Lindars
CategoriesBehaviour

Anticipatory computing – the buzz is growing louder but how much do we need it? Despite the ubiquitous mobile device and it’s plethora of tools for building to-do lists, recording memos, managing our appointments and alerting us about all manner of anniversaries, there still seems to be an emerging market for helping us remember even less ourselves.

Thankfully, in addition to that pressing concern, there are more meaningful ways in which predictive computing is being used in mobile devices. Primarily, these tools tend to focus on helping us manage our ever-complex, time-poor lives by personalizing our information streams and thereby uncluttering the process of finding that most relevant of data morsels. In this article I’ll take a quick poke around to see what’s been happening in this space.

 “It is one thing to use computers as a tool, quite another to let them do your thinking for you.” – Tom Clancy

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Posted
AuthorTrevor Lindars
CategoriesTechnology

One of the key responsibilities of both managers and leaders is to encourage and enable peak performance in our teams. From time to time the journey towards this goal will undoubtedly founder upon the rocks of incompetence and low commitment. When this happens the problem is quite likely to be rooted in matters of alignment, accountability and the supporting ecosystem. However, there will often be times when an individual will benefit from, or simply need, focused personal, coaching or counseling. Tackling this early is critical. Doing it right even more so.

“The test of an organisation is not genius. It is its capacity to make common people achieve uncommon performance.” – Peter Drucker

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Posted
AuthorTrevor Lindars
CategoriesBehaviour

There are a number of ways to approach commercialisation. Personally, I am repeatedly drawn to the utility of the Human Centred Design [HCD] drivers of Desirability, Viability and Feasibility. In my mind this model succinctly underpins much of the innovation process and consequently provides an excellent platform for thinking about commercialisation. I’ve mentioned before that the single most important takeaway from the Lean Startup movement ought to be that the business as a whole needs to be modeled, prototyped, iterated and validated. This concept dovetails nicely with the HCD framework above since both the Lean Canvas and its progenitor, the Business Model Canvas, focus on three main areas that ostensibly address each of these three overarching themes.

“Commercialisation is about more than just turning Intellectual Property into products. It’s about creating markets. Unless companies embrace the broader view… they are limiting their opportunities” – Grant Steinberg, Entrepreneur

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Posted
AuthorTrevor Lindars
CategoriesInnovation

It’s been a while since I commented on emerging technology so this week I thought I’d take a quick look at where we are with augmented reality (AR) and, in particular, iBeacon’s role in this space. There are many opinions out there addressing the benefits of location-based information and/or immersive experiences. However, a recurring theme seems to be the overwhelming reluctance to don a pair of glasses or goggles just to be transported to another world however augmented it may be. That said, there are plenty of people that believe AR will be transformational. 

“When you think of any aspect of life or work, augmented reality is going to change how we do it.” – Ori Inbar, Augmented Reality.ORG

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Posted
AuthorTrevor Lindars
CategoriesTechnology

Last week I attended a 1-day conference themed around the idea of Resilience. Whilst we were casually sipping our morning coffee, one of the first speakers asked the audience to raise a hand if they knew someone who had experienced depression – a forest of hands shot into the air – pretty much everyone in the packed conference hall. That surprised me and so did many of the statistics that followed. So, here, I will present a snapshot of what was discussed to help raise awareness a little. I will also distil some of the key recommendations to help you and those you care about build some resilience ahead of time.

 

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AuthorTrevor Lindars
CategoriesBehaviour

In various blogs and news-feeds recently, both Blackbird Ventures and Sydney Seed Fund have estimated that, of the perhaps 1000+ startups formed this year in Australia, only 10% are attracting external funding and the percentage is much lower for the very early stages entrants. Part of the reason for these figures seems to be attributable to the growth in the number of people giving entrepreneurialism a shot whilst at the same time failing to adopt any kind of robust commercialisation process.

“There’s really nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself” – JS Bach

As a musician, this quote makes me smile. I recognise that having a framework is not enough but I do believe that not using one at all is a recipe for disaster.

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Posted
AuthorTrevor Lindars
CategoriesInnovation

I recently learnt that many college and university students are uninterested in the ideas and techniques that underpin innovation because they feel that it doesn’t apply to them. If they do not envisage becoming entrepreneurs or designers or engineers or scientists then what’s the point? I do not believe it is a massive leap of the imagination to assume that this type of thinking might also permeate the general working populace. That’s disappointing because there are very few, if any, organisations that are content to rest on their laurels and coast along at the same levels of performance year on year in any part of their value chain. If you want to avoid slipping back in the pack then you have got to innovate and this applies to every area not just the laboratories…

 

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Posted
AuthorTrevor Lindars
CategoriesBehaviour

I had an interesting conversation yesterday where an observation was made that the market is flooded with doers but what it really needs is more thinkers. That got me thinking about what mind-set and behaviours a person needs to bring to the table and, equally as important, how projects and activities should be set up in the first place.

I am constantly hearing stories of situations where project drivers are not clear and where ownership is confused. I have encountered a fair few myself. Commonly, there is an imperative to ‘just get it done’ with only scant attention paid to the measures of success and the level of enablement provided by the operating environment.

 

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AuthorTrevor Lindars
CategoriesInnovation

A project can be anything that requires multiple steps to complete. It’s a managed process that takes you from ‘A’ to ‘B’ and if ‘B’ is a better place than ‘A’ then the project has probably been a success. Sometimes a project can be accomplished with a simple task list and a single person. Sometimes it needs multiple teams in multiple locations collaborating in a variety of ways to realise something quite complex. On other occasions, several projects must to be orchestrated in such a way that they converge to deliver a shared program goal.

The more complicated your situation, the more important it will be to avoid the project killers that I will identify below. Regardless of the context of your particular project(s), these things can almost certainly send it off the rails or, at the very least, make life pretty uncomfortable.

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Posted
AuthorTrevor Lindars
CategoriesInnovation

For the most part, people do not do things unless they are motivated to do so. Of course, I’m ignoring the various forms of coercion since they are always inappropriate. Actually, motivation, on its own, is not enough. People must also be able to do what is required of them and they must receive some kind of trigger to spur them into action. This is the basis of the Fogg behaviour model and was originally focused on UX design. Its application is much broader and it can be nicely integrated with a number of other useful viewpoints that I’ll be introducing below.

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Posted
AuthorTrevor Lindars
CategoriesBehaviour

I’ve always found 1-on-1s an extremely powerful management tool. If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, I am referring to a regular meeting with each of your first reports or your manager that is just the two of you maintaining the relationship, staying aligned, understanding goals and removing obstacles. Communication is a fundamental part of both leadership and management and it needs to be open, frequent and, importantly, two-way. A 1-on-1 is the perfect forum for ensuring this is being done effectively. It is not a team meeting. It is not a surrogate for some other project meeting you wish you’d had. It is about continual and constructive engagement, collaboration and growth.

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Posted
AuthorTrevor Lindars
CategoriesBehaviour

Over the past few months I’ve had several conversations around the topic of the Minimum Viable Product [MVP] and prototyping as though they are, in some way, fundamentally different beasts. Personally, I see one as a subset of the other and view them both as part of a necessary continuum that helps maintain alignment and reduce risk during the new product development journey. Initially, you want to be sure that you’re building the right thing. Later, you want to deliver reliable functionality that makes good on the promise. In my mind, an MVP is simply one kind of prototype that happens to be focused on customer-centric issues related to desirability and viability.

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Posted
AuthorTrevor Lindars
CategoriesInnovation

Have you ever taken a design for a physical product through to production? If you have then you’ll appreciate the need for a solid and useable Bill of Materials. Have you ever tried to develop a maintenance program for a physical product or system? If so, then you’ll know how pivotal the Bill of Materials [BoM] was in helping you define the modularity and level of spares inventory required. I believe there is an underlying assumption made by businesses struggling with the transition of a new product into production and deployment – that the development BoM is automagically transferable without rework and review.

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Posted
AuthorTrevor Lindars
CategoriesInnovation

A few days ago I enjoyed a high energy weekend mentoring at the Lean Startup Machine workshop in Sydney. Around 65 participants formed 12 teams to explore their startup business ideas and make sure they were properly focused on delivering value. Not surprisingly there were quite a few discoveries and changes of direction. The final outcome was impressive with some well-crafted pitches delivered in style and validated in a variety of ways including that all-important cash commitment. Startups aside, I believe the underlying ideas have an important part to play in any innovative endeavor regardless of scale.

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Posted
AuthorTrevor Lindars
CategoriesInnovation

I had an interesting discussion last week where a very capable manager was complaining about being stretched and not having sufficient time to capture the process. Critical information was trapped in the heads of key personnel and this made it difficult for new staff to get up to speed without impacting those experts. Also, many process and ownership related problems resurfaced on a regular basis because there was never time to capture the outcome of the previous debates. Focusing solely on business-as-usual [BAU] is a trap. Few companies want to simply maintain existing performance; most want to improve it in significant ways.

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Posted
AuthorTrevor Lindars
CategoriesInnovation