Planning is Waste
Here’s a paradox for today: more data = less planning.
In the old economy, this statement was counter-intuitive. The availability of lots of data is a justification for elaborate analysis and planning...the beginning of a long cycle of thinking, discussion, consensus-building, and ultimately change.
What makes today different for many companies? The speed and volume of data that’s available. Simply put, it’s possibly faster than ever before, to get detailed data on any change or action that you're contemplating.
This simple but profound change is leading more and more big companies to the conclusion that the startup economy discovered about 10 years ago -- planning is waste. In a world where you can instantly measure the outcome of your actions, the best course for big change isn’t to make elaborate plans. It’s to act in small, iterative, and measured steps, and to learn your way to change using the data you gather as you act.
Make no mistake, your vision for where you want to go (and your customers’ needs!) remain front and center. It’s just that now you can implement your vision and get your customers’ feedback in days and use that data to accelerate your way to success.
How does this work? These insights about data and speed emerged over the last decade in small startups who started focusing on rapidly measuring their customers’ needs and reactions. The practices are enshrined in books by Steve Blank and Eric Ries (and director Michel Gelobter’s, that applies those lessons to governments and non-profits).
We’ll be writing more about our experiences with this practice in coming months, but we’re most excited about how rapid, data-driven change is taking hold in big companies now too. Companies like GE, Coca-Cola, and Pearson (the world’s largest education company) are generating astonishing value using these techniques:
Accelerated growth: one company shortened the runway to $50M+ in new lines of business from 3 years to 6 months
Reduced costs of innovation: even major manufacturers have been able to reduce the cost of launching and validating new products and services by 80-90%
Radical process improvements: lean techniques applied to HR, legal and accounting departments is driving big productivity improvements using the expertise they already have in-house.
infoedge itself is upending the consulting field by using these techniques in our own practice and with our clients. We’ve found that lean techniques introduce a bias to action and to learning that delivers results and motivates teams for big change.
We start with our clients’ existing approaches to innovation and streamline and accelerate, broadening the value as a company’s culture shifts from planning to learning for greater and greater growth. We help organizations master their growing flows of data and use those flows to move from better risk management, to new opportunities, to a new culture that connects big data to big growth.
infoedge has a deep bench in governance and risk management. That core competence is key to unlocking the value of data while reducing vulnerability. By systematically reducing information risks, we free enterprise data to be a source of innovation. Often the next stage finds our clients growing the bottom line by mining their data for new businesses and self-disruption -- growing the next natural evolution yourself.
Our most mature engagements involve a full “information culture” where evidence-based decision making permeates the organization and we’re facilitating “2nd Derivative” thinking -- formal metrics for changing the rate of the rate of growth. In a mature information culture, there is more doing than there is planning, and evidence sets the pace of change and investment for maximum growth.