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Strategy Spotlight: 5 Design and Decision Thoughts that Impact Your Business Success

I believe you can design your business, career and life for your success. You and your business are the architects of your existence.

The total sum of all the decisions you have made. With that in mind, I think you have no choice but to accept or reject the present situation or state of your organization.

Related Article:  8 Things You Must Do to Make Better Decisions

From a business analysis perspective design is rational with explicit reason behind decisions for creating a system, a solution, an artifact. It is the augmented-base that is meant to be a collaborative process addressing problems and providing solutions.

Interestingly design happens in many ways, from what’s perceived to be haphazard, to the intentional. There are many design styles that we can apply to our business. The question, which one is being applied to your business.

Build It and They Will Come Design

Right from the movie Field of Dreams. This sometimes works. There is a vision of success, someone has a gut instinct, they build something and it sells, solves a problem or satisfies a dream. At one point in my career I spent five years within the entrepreneurial incubator space helping business leaders take ideas and determine the feasibility and success likelihood. I witnessed a lot of designs go nowhere. Some were brought to market only to discover that no-one wanted the product. One such business made a 500K error and it hurt. Most of these mistakes are made due to ego and with no one fact checking to see if there is a market for the product. Always check to see if the solution makes sense.

Feather on the Wind Design

This is another movie reference, this time from Forest Gump. We are like a feather in the wind, floating around, we might choose our destiny or maybe it’s a bit of both. I think this is like the unintentional design thinking. You build something or take some action without consideration of what will happen when people try your solution. This is a roll of the dice and maybe you get snake-eyes or things work out. It is all chance – like the feather on the wind. You just never know where you will end up.

It’s Mine NOT Yours Design

I consider this one selfish. You are working in your team and you create a database to track maintenance schedules. A bunch of low level decisions were made. Other teams could use it, but it’s yours and you won’t share. We see this with the endless amount of data that end up in spreadsheets. There are many systems in a business that were created out of a self design need. Generally they solve a perceived isolated problem that really exists with other teams. The key is to get a team using it to improve it.

Creative Innovative Design

I think this is something in business analysis that we seek to use a system to do. Part of business analysis is to answer the question where have we been. It is about documenting and analyzing the past to explore creative innovative solutions for the present and future. From my perspective, it is the fun. For example, in the short news feature, “A Deep Dive” a design company uses on-site observation to watch how people shop in a grocery store. Their purpose is to create an innovative new shopping cart design. An experienced team took on the task. The interesting lesson learned is it’s all about the process. A process that can be used step by step to create a solution based on a business problem to be solved and information from the business worlds’ stakeholders.

Tasks that People Do but No Activities for You Design

Years ago I taught a course in process and model development. The students always wanted to learn how to do a work flow diagram right away. Rarely did the learner know anything about where process modeling came from or process levels and the way systems connect in an organization from a structural perspective. In a basic 5 level organization structure you would learn that there are different process levels and maps used at each level that must link to create an organizational whole. The telecom industry’s business process framework, e-TOM explains this well. In level thinking there is a distinction that can be made between tasks and activities. A team should embrace an understanding of process levels and designs using a combination of models to ensure they are gaining important systems insight to make better decisions and designs.

Facilitated Focus Group Design

In my 3 Day Gathering and Documenting Requirements course I cover some common important skills for the business analyst (Facilitation, Documentation, Integration and Presentation). I spend time on the different methods of gaining insight into the stakeholder’s perspective. Stakeholder focused groups are a great way to generate discussions and a lot of great primary research information for user-based design. I like the terms used in the Atlantic Systems Guild’s Volere Template that addresses the importance of understanding the goals, needs and contexts of the stakeholders (users) to drive design decisions. During a group session you might discover that people use a system to routinely review other’s work to determine how they might do their work. Recently I experienced this myself. I was asked to provide a program outline for a new client using their outline requirements. I needed to see someone else’s work and outline to deliver what they needed. Unfortunately the client did not make it easy since the information was not readily available. During a focus group the issue was raised and we were able to address an improvement we could make. A new function within the system was created from the input of the users.

Final Thoughts

Design and decision making are entangled. You literally can’t have one without the other. I do believe there are different levels of design and the way that items get integrated into the fabric of an organization. I have stopped counting the number of bottom-up projects that I have been involved in where a user created something for their use and over a course of a decade it ended up on the strategic or tactical agenda of the organization. I do think there is a better way to design and make decisions but I also know that people and culture are a big part of the system, the process. Finding standards that work in your team and your organization goes a long way to helping you solve business problems and coming up with great design solutions. If you can identify the design approach that is being taken by an individual, team or organization maybe you can help slide the organization along the continuum of creating better designs and decisions.

Good luck.

Remember; do you best, invest in the success of others and make your journey count, Richard