FACTUAL Consulting LLC

Enabling Success in Leading Digital Business Transformation (TM)

Conflict Forges Innovation

How Collaborative Is Your Knowledge-worker Ecosystem?

Enabling effective collaboration in its work environment is essential if an organization wishes to operate as a Lean-Agile Enterprise. I refer to this environment more specifically as the value stream knowledge-worker ecosystem.  Collaboration is a key characteristic that enables speed, fast learning, and scaling the Lean-Agile Mindset in this ecosystem. The benefits to be had are great: a unified face to customers, faster internal decision making, the ability to reduce costs by effectively sharing resources, and the development of more innovative products.

Companies spend billions of dollars on initiatives to improve collaboration, yet few have realized the desired results. Why?  Because management most often does not take a systems perspective when examining the problem to identify and address the root cause, conflict.  Instead, companies attempt to address the symptoms of the problem, focusing on restructuring their organizations and re-engineering their business processes. On the people side, there are efforts to educate people on teamwork which often is seen to be just a management term as often satirized by popular comics like Dilbert.

Dilbert Teamwork Comic

Additionally, management may offer financial motivation such as cross-unit incentives, ignoring the current science around knowledge worker motivation.

While the attempts to address the symptoms of the problem yield the occasional success story, most of them only have limited impact and many are total failures.  In my experience, many restructuring efforts actually end up causing more conflict because the current realities in the human work ecosystems of the organizations are not considered.  This can actually cause these restructuring efforts to create additional barriers to collaboration.  I have seen this to be especially relevant in organizations that scale by acquiring other organizations.

Conflict Forges Innovation

Conflict Forges Innovation

Don’t get the wrong idea about conflict. In a Lean-Agile Enterprise, conflict and effective conflict management are the fire and the craft from which innovation is forged.

The idea is not to try to eliminate conflict, the idea is to foster a knowledge worker ecosystem that enables its effective management and resolution.  Enterprises that welcome constructive conflict and that can institutionalize approaches for managing it will rank high on the Collaboration element scale of the FACTUAL Framework.

Why FACTUAL Consulting?

I have been asked by friends and colleagues why I decided to establish and build FACTUAL Consulting.  I’m very fortunate to be in a position to be able to build an organization to focus on what I see as perhaps the largest risk involved with scaling lean-agile value delivery in a digital business. That risk being, leadership too often forgets that it is a ‘Human System’ that delivers the value and that the ecosystem that they work in is the foundation of all the other subsystems that come together to deliver the value.

FACTUAL Consulting will provide a community-based reference framework that will be the basis of assessments, tooling, leadership training and coaching. This portfolio of services is designed to enable the cultivation and maintenance of ecosystems in which knowledge workers innovate, design, build, and deliver the value that enterprises provide in this age of digital business to their customers, employees, and stakeholders.  The ecosystem should also provide a balance that truly enables the promise of Lean, continuous learning and improvement.

Over the last ten years of working at helping organizations scale lean and agile approaches to value delivery, I have found that scaling efforts are most often impeded by leadership, most engaging at levels that are far too tactical. The scope of the “system” in the concept of systems thinking in the ‘Lean school of thought’ is far too narrow.Farmer in barren field

Imagine a farmer not paying any attention to the ecosystem in which they want to plant their crop, rather just knowing they want to produce a crop. They buy equipment and seed, hire people to plant the crop, and hope for the best. That approach in farming doesn’t yield predictable results, and the same can be said for the approach many leaders in digital businesses take in creating and cultivating the ecosystems needed for knowledge workers to deliver the ‘planned crops’ at scale in their enterprises.

FACTUAL Consulting was founded to formalize and bring to market the FACTUAL Framework which has been developed to address the key risk we see affecting the successful scaling of the Lean-Agile Mindset to enterprise scale, that being a knowledge-worker ecosystem not conducive to the Lean-Agile Mindset.

FACTUAL is a framework for leadership at all levels to understand the state of their current knowledge worker ecosystem, how to cultivate it into a highly fertile one, and maintain that ecosystem through the one truly consistent element of business and life, that being change.

In my next post, I will introduce the FACTUAL framework in more detail.