”Great ideas create great companies”

One outstanding idea and a precise business plan. These lead companies to a success. Sounds logical.

In real life, it’s seldomly this straightforward. The most successful companies are not the ones that start with one outstanding idea and keep it unchanged till the end. Instead, most companies have deficient business plans. Most successful companies are the ones, which learn to change and to adjust over time.

If you want your company to grow, to flourish and finally to be successful, the only way is to continuously adopt change. I listed to this blog some of the most important elements to keep up with the speed of change.

Childish curiosity

Children absorb new information and new skills at an astonishing speed. They are courageous, confident, they trust their environment and people around them, they are not afraid to fail, and they are especially persistent. As an example, my son, when not yet reached one year, knew how to turn on my pc. As a next step he tried to change TV channels by touching the TV screen. As a diginative this was his first natural choice to change channels. Why do you need a separate gadget to change channels, if it can be done simply by touching the TV?

Well, we grown-ups tend to know that changing TV channels is more comfortable when sitting on a couch and using a remote control. At least we think we know. Without this experience I would not be able to question it – or to generate a change to it. By sticking to old patterns and doing always “in accordance with best practice” is immensely dangerous for a company.

How to root into organisations a similar on-going natural curiosity, hunger for learning new things and a culture of experimentation? For many start-ups this is natural. They enter the world without prior heritage, without burden of inner previous culture. No-one says to them “You cannot make it. We tried once, but it did not work”. The situation is different in a company with a history of decades. The company has experienced both successes and failures and has in its mind “a solid recipe for success”.

It is very important for a company with a long history to keep an open mind and to maintain active culture of experimentation.

Trust, safety and a culture of experimentation

One important factor to create innovative atmosphere is trust. Confidence in company’s common goal, its way of working and the supportive leadership creates a common framework for the whole business.

Trust enables a safe atmosphere within an organisation, and it is possible to create new, to build, to try and to test. For example, according to Google’s study the most important factor for the most successful teams was the psychological safety. Safety increases co-operation and people are not afraid to express themselves more openly and genuinely. A feeling of trust can be increased consciously – increased by acts and communicated by actions.

Doing together is closely connected to an atmosphere of trust and safety. A bare idea can be presented without criticism and can be finished together. Challenges will be mastered together and for problems will be sought help automatically from surrounding team. You will not try to solve situations by yourself. In a safe environment an employee will keep its flexibility and a feeling of self-control. This way a person is more creative, she/he does not need to think if she/he can express her/his thoughts.

It is important to accept the chance of failure. Everyone fail sometimes and many of the successful solutions are born through trial and error. The trust within an organization and a clear space for experimentation give frames for a failure. Once a failure is limited to a safe place – nothing shockingly big, a failure which would jeopardize the whole organizations operations cannot take place. On the other hand, it is possible to find or to develop an innovation which will revolutionize the whole organization and the its business.

Many resources are needed to build a space like this, but it can also reward you generously. Taking risks is necessary to unleash the change. In the same scale, there are a good and even a better alternative – limited failure and learning of new or an innovation which creates new business activity and revenue.

Study, explore and ask – assure expertise

A change always calls for learning new things. An organization must ensure a continuous development and the competence of its employees.

It must be possible for employees to learn new skills and to explore new alternatives. They must be authorized to use their creativity in a way, which produces new ideas. This way the whole team is committed to business activities and wants to achieve the best possible solution in a company. This will be visible to the customer at the end.

Skills that are needed are not only technical skills or measurable capabilities, they are more often soft skills, skills for cooperation. However, often it seems to be that these skills needed in cooperation are not emphasized enough in a business world – even the name “soft skills” make them sound rather unnecessary. A sales person, whose knowledge of her/his products and markets is in a class of its own, is not successful if she/he does not have interpersonal skills. Another example, an executive must listen to employees, to think creatively and he must have excellent emotional intelligence skills.

Automation and the use of artificial intelligence change the way we work – there is less need for people’s technical knowledge. The soft skills become central in differentiating the capabilities of teams and individuals. Skills like listening, co-operation, presenting ideas and communication between the team members are good examples of soft skills.

It is not necessarily difficult to acquire so called hard skills and they can be complemented with time. Soft skills are clearly more difficult to learn and more challenging to develop as they are closely connected to the personality. To develop these asks for awareness, a continuous endeavor and a commitment to develop oneself. Hard skills may look promising on a CV, but soft skills separate the experts from another.

Customers require soft skills. Modern market offers a boundless amount of different choices through different technologies. An inexpensive price can be in some cases the decisive factor, but often the customer experience is at a same criteria level as the price. The ability to communicate multidimensionally through the service lifecycle and afterwards is therefore an important factor in the organisation’s success.

To support learning calls for tools and training. Therefore, you must take measures in order to ensure the capability which is needed in the future. To support the inner learning of an organization it is easy to use the question “Why?”. It may lead to new ideas and innovations.

Especially new employees who have just joined the organization are especially valuable. They see the things for the first time with fresh eyes and can bring new unforeseen ideas to the organization. Also, the existing employees should be encouraged to make questions. Why things are done as they are? Could this be done in a different way – perhaps more efficient and better?

Agile and developing organisation in the heart of the service design

Customers want solutions to a problem of which they are not yet aware. How can we as a company to reciprocate to needs that are not yet loudly spoken?

The answer is: By opening eyes and by being present. Future and existing customers must be observed precisely, and their daily procedures and challenges must be listened to carefully. We as a company must help this conversation, by asking, by challenging and by encouraging to new thinking. This can be called design thinking, service design or many other terms can be used. However, it is important to be genuinely present, to develop solutions actively and to see concrete results.

The most important thing in this model is the co-operation. Vendor’s and customer’s roles have faded, an even borderline between them does not exit any more. In vendor’s role we cannot offer a ready solution to a problem from top to bottom – a customer must come to a journey with us. The best solutions are not born fast-forward, they are born by exploring and developing a solution that meets the requirements of customer’s real business case.

As an example, I would like to mention our insourcing service, which we developed together with our customers to meet their needs. We carefully listened the needs of our customers, their problems and challenges and understood their targets. We noticed together that we can offer our expertise in order to support the situation of our customers and to help them to solve suddenly born circumstances. We decided to include this service to our service strategy, and we have received very good feedback from several customers who have used our insourcing service.

The facts of real life and why the change is needed?

It goes without saying that our business environment is changing all the time. The customer needs are changing unbelievable fast and cause unforeseen, new demand. Also, every organisation’s financial situation is on a constant move. A company which is experiencing a growing demand, must consider of expanding, whereas in a weaker situation company is facing job reductions and possible damages to the strong company brand. Changes coming outside the company are putting pressure to an ongoing change.

We are a 20-year-old family company, but we have kept “new born” -attitude and willingness to a continuous renewal. One of the most refreshing comments was, when our customer described us “as a breath of fresh air and a refreshing prosecco in the SAP world”. This tells us that we are on the right road. We dare to be different, experimental and daring, but at the same time we question at a constructive way. We fresh our customers way of thinking whenever necessary.

We can help your organization on the brink of a continuous change. Please contact us and make an appointment.

Piia Hoffsten
Chief Operating Officer
+358 40 5877 303

#change #agility #presence #service design

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