In the complex space, Paul Hobcraft shares some very good guiding principles, but the whole post shimmers with good advice about transformation, and is applicable to movement building, network organizing and enterprise.
Today corporate transformations must be designed and executed quickly and routinely—not as once-a-decade events. Management teams are looking for best practices that increase speed and reduce the risk of pursuing business model innovation and change. That’s where minimum viable transformation comes into play. Before diving in, management teams should consider these five principles:
1. Learn how to learn. The central goal of minimum viable transformation is to learn from a true field experiment.
2. Pick up speed. There’s a reason this approach starts with the word “minimum”: The learning has to happen fast. As soon as a company executes the idea it’s pursuing, it shows its hand to competitors— who will quickly respond with their own strategies.
3. Embrace constraints. Much has been written about the counter-intuitive effect of constraints—they don’t foil creativity, but fuel it. It’s worth noting that the very constraints we’ve been talking about here—few bells and whistles and scarce time—take real creativity to address. At the very least, they compel a focus on the goal—the need to learn and reduce risk around the key objective.
4. Have a hypothesis. To succeed, transformation initiatives must clearly articulate both the need for change and its direction. Such a statement of direction helps identify key assumptions driving the change effort (assumptions that will need to be tested and refined along the way). Leaders will also need to develop metrics that measure short-term progress.
5. Start at the edge. Find an “edge” of the current business—a promising arena that can showcase the potential of a fundamentally different, highly scalable business model that could even become a new core. Starting at the edge gives the transformation team far more freedom to test and experiment, and more ability to learn and react quickly.
In short, these five key principles can help bypass traditional barriers to transformation, ultimately supporting more effective response to mounting performance pressures.