The ability to structure a problem and converge quickly to solve complex problems, in multi-variable environments, and during challenging times separates us from traditional solutions to the problem of fast time to market.
Let’s look at this concept in more detail. The problems we solve with clients typically involve developing strategies, defining a new product, making decisions, and/or hitting a market window in time with a new product. These always start with the “idea gestation“ period. Rather than letting this float, we manage this process. Managing this fuzzy-front-end can dramatically reduce cycle time of anything from a new product to a strategic decision. Lots of time is lost here as things meander. We call this “churn.” We frequently engage with clients at this stage. Creating focus early sets the foundation for future success and less rework which translates to lower costs and faster cycle time.
As new ideas or projects formulate, there is a natural period of divergence where ideas are discovered and explored. Without a structure, framework, or process this period of divergence can be inefficient, as people tend to run in different directions--meanwhile the target is changing, and also--during this time--external factors can change what you thought the future would look like. This requires further divergence in order to respond.
Converge at 1/3 of the Available Time
We know from hundreds of projects that teams must converge on the goal in about one-third of the available time, since it takes the remaining two-thirds of the time to get over the finish line, on time. When divergence is unstructured--time slips, then convergence can’t bring people back to the goal in time--resulting in delay. Often, we see a project diverging again and again to consider these new parameters caused by delay, be it a project or a decision. This further delays things and results in higher costs and inefficient use of resources.
Structure the Problem
Our clients use fastworks to provide structure and process in order to accelerate convergence on the solution. We do this through best-practice based methods and tools to organize data, in order to delimit the problem and normalize complex information. 90% of most problems involve proper problem definition. We use this structured information with clients to simulate solution alternatives, further enhancing understanding of the problem.
Hitting the Target
So lets take a look at the process again with this context in mind. The red lines indicate the traditional cycle. Using fastworks methods, divergence is managed. Using the one-third two-thirds metric, we drive for convergence at about one-third of the available time. We know that it is better to hit the target early and iterate incremental changes going forward, than it is to continue the “diverge and converge” cycle, since delay is the enemy of change and efficiency.
We “converge,” through a facilitated group process and simulation modeling, rapidly involving stakeholders in focusing on the solution. We are an “a-political”, impartial third-party driving towards fact-based results.
Then we cause action to happen through best-practice methods and proprietary tools that enable rapid cycle time program management.
Unlike traditional consultants who’s objective is to become indispensable to their clients, in other words the client can’t function without them… we know that the only way to create value is to transfer the skills, methods, and tools to our clients so they can carry on the success on other projects. For us, success means we have transferred these skills to our client and we’ve worked ourselves out of a job. Your people must be able to repeat and independently replicate the success throughout your organization. In the long run, this is the most cost effective solution for our clients and really the only way to create sustained improvement over time. This has to be your process, not an external consultants.