When you’re solving complex business problems, taking a holistic approach to delivery ensures more efficient solutions, increased adoption and better-quality output.
Ever had a craving for something sweet and savory, but you’re not sure which will hit the spot for you? Well, we are of the mindset that everything is better together! Like a PB&J that has all the right ingredients and is the perfect method of delivery to solve your complex craving.
If you’ve read our other two blogs, you are already aware we have been using the PB&J metaphor to drive home the point that some things are better together. In our first blog, we dove into how combining a people, process, and technology approach to complex business problems allows you to have different viewpoints.
Next, we talked about how we can use these three different areas of focus to discover the best solution. In this third and final installment, we’ll talk about how combining people, process and technology creates a holistic approach to complex business problems.
A Holistic Approach to Delivery
If you remember the sample situation from our first blog, a company built an RPA solution without doing its due diligence: a full process assessment and capture or coordinated engagement and implementation plan. This resulted in several adverse effects propagating throughout the business. If this sounds familiar, don’t worry, you aren’t alone.
Businesses in every industry across the world have made the same or similar mistakes. Why? Because complex business problems are complex. Often, folks come to the table with one piece of the picture and set out to solve a complex problem without understanding the whole picture. However, when you combine capabilities (say, people, process and technology) you come to see more than one part of the whole.
It’s like putting a 1,000-piece puzzle together, if you have the whole picture from the start, solving the puzzle is difficult but achievable. Similarly, the people, process and technology capabilities can solve difficult problems on their own. However, if we split the finished picture into three or more pieces, we might get the puzzle together, but it won’t be the same as if we had the whole picture. In the business world, problems are getting more and more complex, often requiring a multi-discipline approach that brings in different parts to make a whole solution.
When we enter the “delivery” phase of a multi-discipline project seeking to solve a complex business problem (such as the problem in our sample situation), the goal is for the people, process, and technology capabilities to come together, share perspectives and develop a combined solution with each perspective in mind. The magic happens when we take our different perspectives on the problem – what we learned during discovery – and build and deliver a rock-solid solution together that transforms the business.
Each capability might have a different focus during delivery but combining those starts our journey toward business transformation.
The Organizational Change Management Perspective
In the discovery phase, the focus for each team is to learn as much about the business and current state as possible. As we move to the delivery phase, our focus is on the future and collaborating with the Process and Technology teams to support and lead efforts to build that better future state.
During the discovery phase of a project, we will have documented the different stakeholder groups, lessons learned from past changes, and the potential impact of future changes, leading to the formulation of a strategy of how to guide people through the upcoming changes. Transitioning into the delivery phase, the OCM team, with input from the Process and Technology teams, will build out and execute actionable plans for how to communicate and train as well as manage resistance, create a network of change champions, and encourage strong sponsorship from leaders.
Collaboration with the Process and Technology teams is absolutely critical. We will confirm what mindset shifts and behavior changes need to happen to successfully implement any process improvements or technical changes the company wants to deliver. Meanwhile, we’re also developing and executing the actionable steps to reach successful adoption during the rollout.
The Process Improvement Perspective
During the discovery phase of a project, we will have documented the current state with the help of the Organizational Change Management (OCM) team. This helps us understand business requirements, gaps in the current process, and where we need to focus efforts during the delivery phase. Working with the OCM and Technology teams in the delivery phase, we will begin to build the future state for the business, providing the team with a picture to work toward.
Part of this effort will naturally focus on improving processes, be it by traditional process improvement efforts (for example, removing wastes or inefficient steps) or by working with the Technology teams to build better solutions. Additionally, documentation and standard operating procedures for the new processes will be important to help avoid “tribal knowledge” in the future state.
Finally, we will continue to partner with the OCM and Technology teams to roll out and implement the solutions, both as support roles and in leading efforts.
The Technology Perspective
Delivering a rock-solid solution is the bread and butter of technology teams. We analyze, architect, build and test. All industries can benefit from things we build, like new kinds of customer-facing software, elegant data warehousing solutions, complex integrations between disparate systems, analytics that help you visualize what’s going on in your business, or automations that help free up your people to do the things they do best.
No matter what problem you’re addressing, there almost always needs to be a technology component in order to ensure a robust, high-quality solution. Humans are messy, and they generally need some technological guardrails to keep things functioning as they should. That may end up being an automated process, a new data infrastructure or a transition to the cloud. But, it could just as easily be a new organizational design, supported by follow-up surveys or tracked and analyzed KPIs to determine effectiveness and impact. Or, you could need a new set of processes for a call center with dashboards to help visualize how certain metrics trend after the change.
But while humans are messy, data is numbers and technology – meaningless bits of code. You can build the coolest app ever known, but without people to manage it or use it, it won’t be worth anything. Data means nothing in a vacuum. A data-driven mindset without context leads to poor decision-making. Combining your data and technology with the context of people and process is where the magic happens. Doing any without doing all three is like removing a leg on a three-legged stool. You’ll build something, but it won’t be stable.
Tie it Together
As we have said before, the tricky part of solving complex business problems is, typically, there’s no one correct answer. Like when you’re trying to hit the allusive “spot” in your appetite, sometimes it isn’t one ingredient (or offering) that hits the spot and solves the problem. You need something with different ingredients that solves your complex craving. Say, a PB&J, perhaps?
Just like a PB&J (last PB&J reference, we swear), each capability – people, process and technology – offer a slightly different perspective to solve complex problems. Each approach focuses on different pieces of the puzzle. When we combine these different views, we can see the problem in its entirety and develop a solution that considers the whole problem. This approach allows for a truly transformational solution that will help your business better achieve its goals.
The world of business is constantly changing and evolving. Each day presents new and unique challenges. Now more than ever, it’s important to use different perspectives to solve these challenging and complex business problems. A true business transformation will never happen on its own, nor will it happen with only one perspective. When we take a holistic approach to solving complex business problems, that is when we begin to achieve true transformation. We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: some things are just better together.
About the Authors
Joel Longanecker is a Senior Operational Excellence Consultant for St. Louis with expertise in process improvement, business strategy, and has a Lean/Six Sigma Black Belt. He managed teams in the restaurant and healthcare industries for seven years before moving to business consulting. He enjoys hiking with his wife and three dogs or playing basketball and soccer with friends (when there isn’t a pandemic that ruins everything).
Becky Gandillon is a Data & Analytics Manager for St. Louis with expertise in data storytelling, data strategy and visualization. She worked in the healthcare industry as a biomedical engineer for eight years before making the jump to full-time analytics work. She and her husband have two daughters (ages two and four), and she spends some of her free time analyzing and predicting crowd patterns at Disney World.
Olivia Kopicky is a People and Change Manager in St. Louis with expertise in change management and user experience. She has worked with clients to realize their strategic business vision for over 7 years. Outside of work, Olivia enjoys cooking, spending time with her three dogs, and is preparing for her first child in June.