One of the challenges with design tools and methodologies like LSC (MVI POST)

Creating something new — and how it can sometimes feel.

How can we overcome the chasm of understanding? Enable exploring, experiencing and fast feedback loop both for yourself and the people around you.


LSC stands for Lean Service Creation. If you have no idea what Lean Service Creation is, go check it out at www.leanservicecreation.com. It is an open source design process and toolkit developed at Futurice. I do not work at Futurice.


MVI (Most Viable Idea) — blog post.

Consider a blog post with MVI-tag as ‘a first-take on’ or as ‘an artefact that can start a conversation’. I am not claiming to be a professional. This is just the understanding that I have now, which I understand to be limited


“How the hell do we show the world how awesome way of working this is?”

Culture change does not lead with words, it leads with action. By changing the way we behave, our actions begin to change the way we observe, experience and eventually see the world. — Barry O’Reilly

I’m using this quote from Barry O’Reilly as he is one of the people I know to be driving the lean methodologies and cultural change in large organisations. How to make old monoliths act like a lean organisation?

The recipe now seems to be as follows:


STEP 1: Get executive-level buy-in to invest in lean methodologies.

Idea: People won’t do things unless there is a clear buy-in from the deciders of the organisation. Or at least it won’t matter without the buy-in.

In Practice: We need to get the CEO, CFO, CTO, CXO, UX Lead etc. thought leaders into a one room (for a minimum 1-day) to showcase, how the Build-Measure-Learn cycle provides superior results in the form of new product ideas, work engagement and in the end profitability and disruption.

Success criteria: The executive team agrees to free 1+ multidisciplinary teams from the organisation to experiment with lean methodologies such as LSC for a certain period of time. Let’s call them Class-Zero.

STEP 2: Gather multidisciplinary teams from the employees of an organisation to use lean methodologies.

Idea: Instead of paid professionals, we should use our own employees as the core of the Class-Zero team. The idea is to prove that our existing work-force can achieve significant results, when they are given the right tools and freedom to experiment.

In Practice: Usually this attracts the interest of employees, who are already interested in changing the organisation and themselves. One could describe them as intrapreneurs. They have the motivation, belief in change and willingness to try something new. What they might lack are the tools, methodologies or just the ability to get the executive-level buy-in.

Success criteria: The team is doing a good job, when they are doing validated learning. At some point, the hope of the executive-level is probably that the team is able to produce a concept/prototype/MVP that is able to enter their “innovation funnel” (a fancy word for: scale it, test it, break it, fix-it until it can fit their product-portfolio).

STEP 3: Co-workers, stakeholders, customers etc. all get excited of the new practices, which in the end leads to new innovation and profit.

Idea: When people around the original Class-Zero team sees how rewarding and insightful way of working agile and lean is, they too will want to get a piece of the action. Even the non-early adaptors and most set in ways individuals want to at least give it a try. After this, agile and lean ways will slowly enter the organisation removing wasteful processes and increasing innovation.

… and stop.

Everything to this point sounds logical. Right? Summing up the main reasons, why people thus far has adopted agile and lean way of working are:

Executives:

  1. We are desperate for new innovation. We need an innovation portfolio or we need new ideas into it. (Exploring)
  2. We have experienced the power of brainstorming and co-creating (the 1-day buy-in session), and have reasonable proof that this could work for our teams. (Experiencing)
  3. We like the idea of fast results, which help us to make evidence based strategic decisions. (Fast feedback loop)

Employees:

  1. We are building something new and exciting. (Exploring)
  2. We are challenging our old way of working, by building a better understanding of our customers and ourselves. (Experiencing)
  3. We feel that we are getting results and answers fast. (Fast feedback loop)

The question here is, how does this look to the outside to the other employees of the organisation? And how do frameworks such as LSC take this into account? How well is the experience of people watching ‘LSC way of doing things’ taken into account? How should the LSC practitioners/evangelists make sure that the indirect stakeholders Explore, Experience and get a Fast feedback loop?

Why do we still sometimes end up feeling “That people don’t understand how we work?” or “As an organisation, we are just doing things the same way as always. Nothing is changing.”


How should the LSC practitioners/evangelists make sure that the indirect stakeholders Explore, Experience and get a Fast feedback loop?

So, how should we define the “in practice” and “success criteria” in step 3?

For me this ‘LSC’ way of doing stuff is a lot about doing something new. That is the first thing that gets you addicted. You feel like you are out there finding truths. It doesn’t feel like work. What makes it hard, is that you have to make sure you are actually enjoying the validation, and not just the game or the avoidance of the old way of doing your work. Because in the end, you want to make something profitable — or at least you should.

The key notions for me are:

  • It is exciting and fun to do new things.
  • Many of the agile ways of doing has to be experienced in order to truly understand and learn them. (This is also the challenge for scaling the practice.)
  • For an outsider, it may look that the people aren’t really producing value, since many of the learnings can be implicit in their nature. How do you showcase: “We learned that this doesn’t work, and it was a good thing!”

From these I would propose the following hypothesis and formulation of step 3:


STEP 3: Co-workers, stakeholders, customers etc. all get excited of the new practices, which in the end leads to new innovation and profit.

Idea: When people around the original Class-Zero team sees how rewarding and insightful way of working agile and lean is, they too will want to get a piece of the action. After, this agile and lean ways will slowly enter the organisation removing waste and increasing innovation.

In Practice: It is the job of the Class-Zero team to make sure their stakeholders explore, experience and get a fast feedback loop.

Explore: Do this e.g. by having 2 hour workshops with other “non-agile” co-workers, where you acquire data for your project. This let’s them explore your way of working, without too much buy-in.

Experience: Invite the customer to the same workshop. Showcase the power of validating hypothesis face-to-face or in co-creation setting.

Fast feedback loop: Produce & Showcase. Whether it is a blog post, case-study, prototype in the office table, or a TV-screen showing real time data from a new metric you have found. Produce stuff and showcase, how you keep doing validated learning. Write a new insight that you learned that week to the refrigerator’s door. Keep adding to the list, every week. The artefacts will work as the source of feedback of your way of working inside the organisation.

Success criteria: You haven’t succeeded unless someone comes to you and asks:

  • “How could I apply this way of doing stuff to the project X?”
  • “I tried you canvas for this. It didn’t work because XYZ, what are your thoughts on this?” (This should remind you of kaizen)
  • “Can I help your projects somehow?”

If this happens, you have triggered a discussions or in the best case — action. Have a cup of coffee and a chocolate. You just made the world a better place. Maybe.


WRAPPING IT UP:

People do not change their mental model of the world by speaking about it, they need to experience the change to believe and feel it. — Barry O’Reilly

As people who are trying to create something new, we need to make sure we produce artefacts that cross the chasm of understanding. This means that the canvases that we use, the prototypes we produce or the tests that we carry out, need to be understandable not only for us — but the people surrounding us.

Encourage ways of working, which create these artefacts.

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