One of the first things I do when people ask for help with their adoption, evolution, or transformation is to have them create the “future state” vision.  So let me ask; “How easy is it to create a common, unifying, future state vision EVERYONE can buy into, support, and sustain making the vision a reality?  It is not easy.  In fact, most of my clients come back after a few days or weeks frustrated, exasperated, and sometimes in disbelief that their team, department, or organization is unable to define a future state vision that everyone can agree upon.

If this sounds familiar or has happened to you, the first thing I want you to know is that it is NOT YOU!  Think about the times we are in.  Think about the organization’s culture and mindset.  Think about the employee’s culture and mindset.  Today, the world, our nation, our organizations, and its people have become very divided and Tribal.  There is an ideology war going on, political power struggles, woke agendas, cancel culture, dysfunction, deceit, and disruption going on all around us.  To make matters worse, it appears or feels like these negative forces or dynamics are increasing and amplifying the negativity going on all around us.

As insurmountable as all this seems or feels, there is a positive path forward and a way to create a “future state” vision which cuts through the negativity going on around us.  That way is to combine Mik Kersten’s philosophies from the book “Project to Product: How to Survive and Thrive in the Age of Digital Disruption with the Flow Framework” and a military based doctrine called “Speed of Relevance (SoR).”  The result becomes; “Flowing value to your customer at the Speed of Relevance (SoR).”  This is the universal rally cry or focusing approach which can be used by EVERYONE throughout the entire organization to reorientate, get on the same page, or simply come together for a common cause.

What I have come to realize and have experienced about this approach is that it is the single most effective and efficient way to focus individuals, teams, departments, and the organization onto a single focus.  As more people dial in and become more focused, the intensity increases, which I like to call; “focusing like a laser.”  As an aside note, this is also the gateway or entre into TYIIR (Transforming Your Ideas Into Reality), specifically “Part 3 – Universal TYIIR” where you are amplifying the energy of the intent.  You can read more on this is the corresponding TYIIR article titled “How to focus on YOU.”

Does this approach work?  Absolutely!

How can you (John) say that?  For those that know or worked with me, one of the first things I do is ask you to illustrate your current state, future state, and the critical path to get from the current state to the future state.  When Agile and now DevOps, what I call “dynamic ways of thinking and doing” started to become popular, their values and beliefs regarding customer first helped people create a future state vision.  As technology, data, or digital disruption increased, Mik Kersten’s “flowing value to your customer” approach provided people a way to visualize and counter the disruption.  Today as the ideology, political, and wokeism adds to, significantly increases, or compounds the disruption and dysfunction, incorporating “Speed of Relevance (SoR)” amplifies the focus of flowing value to your customer.  The combination of “flowing value” and “SoR”, weeds out, mitigates, or takes away the ability of these disruptive and dysfunctional forces of inserting or injecting themselves because the negative forces take away from the speed… they are not relevant to the customer.

Validation or examples of what I am advocating come from working with many people in various organizations from start-ups, to global leading organizations, to government agencies.  As an organization starts to define the future state vision, they ask the question; “How can YOU best flow value to our customer at the SoR?”  It is very clear from the person’s answer, “what” the person is truly supporting and “why.”  The key to asking this specific question is to introduce “transparency.”  If you read my books, you know that I refer to transparency as a transformational leader’s power.  With transparency now in place, a person has a choice; “Will they continue to support their stuff for their own self-interests”? or “Will they support the organization and customer by flowing value to the customer at the SoR?”

Further validation comes from the actions, directives, guidance, or behaviors of governing organizations.  In both government and commercial industries, I have been witness to conversations where the powers to be are trying to heavily influence, command, create policy or legislation that directly opposes or counters flowing value to your customer at SoR.  I call these opportunities for an organization to manage up.  More on this in future articles.

What I find extremely important about this approach is that it brings clarity and transparency, providing leaders a way to cut directly to the point of what people are supporting.  Is it the team, the organization, or themselves.  Is a person doing what is best for the customer, for the organization, for the business, or WIIFM (What’s In It For Me) aka personal ulterior motives?  More importantly, is the person the right person for that role or position?  Do they have the ability or are they the best for the customer and organization to be in that position to “flow value to the customer at the SoR.”

Speaking of transparency, one task I require of or make mandatory is to have my client talk to their customer and ask the question; “As my customer, what and how do you see myself, my team, my organization flowing value to you at the SoR?”  The reason why I say it is required or mandatory is because the terms “flowing value” and “SoR” are ambiguous terms which need to be defined.  Each organization and its customer have a unique situation so therefore, their value, speed, and relevance definitions, metrics for measuring success, and how they think and work together in true partnership to achieve success, will be different.

One of the true values of taking this approach is that it brings about individual accountability.  The choice to flow value to the customer falls directly onto the individual.  There are no politics, ideology, skin color, or any of the other ways people are categorized or cancelled at play here.  It is simple; “As an individual do I choose to flow value to the customer at the SoR.”  The only answer that is best for the organization and the customer is “yes.”

Next comes the reality of how effective and efficient is the person at “flowing value to the customer at the SoR.”  If a person is not doing a good job, the leader has the ability to help the person by training them, mentoring them…etc.  After investing in that person, if the person is still not doing a good job, then work with the person to figure out how and where in the organization can their value (their strengths) be best incorporated for “flowing value to the customer at the SoR.”

One of the biggest challenges with many organization’s cultures and mindsets is that they allow politics and ideology to get in the way of having the best individual in a position or role.  How many times have you witnessed or experienced people who are placed into a position/role due to factors other than their skills or experience?  Worse yet, a person is kept in a role, the leader is condoning the situation due to factors other than the person’s skills or experience?  Unfortunately, way too often.  This is why I really like a culture and mindset based on “flowing value to the customer.”  It provides leaders the ability to support and sustain a much more positive and productive culture and mindset.  It provides leaders a way to cut through the politics and ideology without personalizing or pressurizing the situation.  What I have experienced is that if there is pressure, in most cases the source or root cause is someone trying to NOT do what is best for “flowing value to the customer.”

Switching thoughts, some may say or be opposed or cringe at my combining a military doctrine with an industry leading best practice.  I would say this has been done as long as business has been around.  The most common example is the book “Art of War” by Sun (Tsung) Tzu which has been used by business for many centuries.  This reminds me of the movie Wallstreet, where character Bud Fox quotes Sun Tzo to Gordon Gekko.

Reflecting on this article, you may be wondering “why” or what is the true value of creating your future state vision based on flowing value to the customer at the SoR.  What I have witnessed is that it provides you a path forward for truly defining, evolving, or coming to a better understanding of what your products or product lines are.  One common characteristic I am experience right now with several clients is that they are having a hard time agreeing on what their value or product is.  By following this approach, by engaging the customer as described above, you now have a method or ability to have the conversation and to figure out or define your value, products, and product lines.  This enables you to beat your competition at flowing value to your customer at the Speed of Relevance…  How cool is that!

If you are interested in continuing the conversation, would like some help or assistance, please reach out to me or one of my team mates at the Catalyst Group.  To schedule some time, please visit our Contact Us page and fill out the form, or visit my bio page under Meet The Team and “book a call with John”.  Thank you for your time, hope this was helpful, and look forward to hearing from you 😊

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