Experimentation is the third Internal Attribute in the IDEAS acronym. In Chapter 4 of Exponential Organizations you can read more about this and I suggest taking a look at the open source tool developed by the ExO Ecosystem. Also take a look at Exponential Transformation where you can learn about implementing Exponential Attributes in your current organisation.
Building a culture of experimentation is something that all companies should be striving towards. We have all heard the credo fail fast, fail forward. Silicon Valley was built on good failure and many business leaders have indicated that the ability to experiment and learn from failure is vital to their success. As John Seely Brown indicated in a commencement speech given at Singapore Management University, corporate architecture is setup to withstand risk and change and to scale efficiently and predictably, meaning that they create rather static environments. This is a very dangerous environment as it is prone to disruption from smaller more agile organisations that are using experimentation through the Lean approach together with Design Thinking.
I have taken the Lean Startup and Design Thinking approaches and combined them to create a model for experimentation to be built into an organisation culture. The Lean Startup Principles are:
- Entrepreneurs are Everywhere
- Entrepreneurship is Management
- Validated Learning
- Innovation Accounting
- Build-measure-learn Process
The Design Thinking Principles are:
- Human Centered
- Mindful of Process
- Culture of Prototyping
- Bias Toward Action
- Show Don’t Tell
- Radical Collaboration
So if you want to build a culture of experimentation in your organisation you need to understand these principles and implement them, the diagram below has taken the two frameworks and combined them into one. (The Lean Framework is here and the Design Thinking framework here)
Exponential Transformation outlines six steps to implement experimentation:
- Educate your team and align incentives
- Define your hypothesis and value proposition
- Build and execute experiments to evaluate your hypothesis
- Gather and analyse data from the results of the experiments
- Learn from the data
- Iterate your Approach
These six steps are essentially outlined in the above diagram. It is vital that the approach is data driven and scientific in nature rather than through intuition. It is time to start experimenting. If you start with ensuring that people understand the experimental culture and start with small things you will be able to get on the road to building a culture where experimentation is acceptable and therefore you can become the disruptor rather than being disrupted.
My trip to Tanzania was my first trip to East Africa. Being a South African means that I do not need a visa to enter Tanzania which was great although doing research it was recommended that I get a Yellow Fever vaccination as well as take Malaria prophylaxis whilst on my trip and on return. These were fairly simple to arrange prior to leaving. For my trip I traveled on RwandAir. They offered the most cost effective solution although my trip up to Dar es Salaam was a rather lengthy one. The Flight which I thought was Cape Town – Kigali – Dar es Salaam was actually Cape Town – Harare – Kigali – Kilimanjaro – Dar es Salaam. We left Cape Town in the Afternoon and landed in Dar es Salaam at 5am.
The trip was rather interesting. The flight to Kigali was really comfortable and the meals were great. I arranged veg meals and they were all great. We did not get off the plane in Harare and even though we were delayed out of Cape Town I was in time for the flight from Kigali. There was some important person on our plane flying from Kigali and we were told when we boarded the bus to the plane that it was free seating which did result in a bit of a rush to the 70 seater prop plane. There were guys with UN folders walking up and down and a few people were asked to switch seats. When we landed at Kilimanjaro there seemed to be negotiations going on about whether the people would get off the plane or not. We waited on the tarmac about 30min and then took off for Dar.
The customs at 5am at Julius Nyerere International was rather simple. I willed in the arrivals card showed my South African Passport and was shown directly to the customs booths. The entry procedure was very simple, they took my pic and fingerprints and I was in. It was less than 10 minutes but I do think the fact that not many planes were landing and the fact that I did not require a visa were factors. My bag was waiting, I picked it up and asked the security if the Vodacom shop was open. The guy told me that I should go to Vodacom in town. I therefore used the Airport Wifi to order an Uber. As I left the baggage claim area I lost wifi signal but did notice that the Vodacom shop was open. I went to ask about a sim card and the lady told me that they only take cash and that it would be Tsh 60 000 for a 20Gig data bundle (I cannot believe how affordable this was. Less than R20/Gig, in South Africa it is around R50/Gig on special). I had no way of cancelling my Uber so I went to the ATM to draw money and bought a sim. It was activated immediately and weirdly enough my Uber said 3min away. So I went and found him and headed into Dar es Salaam.
I had some breakfast and met a local who showed me the beach at Kigamboni. We took the Kigamboni Ferry to get there, it was very simple (no photos are allowed). I got my feet wet in the ocean but the beach was not that great. I then went to a local Tea Room for some Masala Tea and local eats and made my way to my AirBnB which was in Masaki. My AirBnB was a room on the roof of a French Families house. The room was very simple but served its purpose well. I had a shower and got to some work before the meeting Rotem and Rui for dinner.
I was in Dar es Salaam for the INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE OF BUSINESS AND
MANAGEMENT IN EMERGING MARKETS (ICBMEM) which took place on the 12th and 13th of September at Mzumbe University.
Dashboards is the second Internal Attribute in the IDEAS acronym. In Chapter 4 of Exponential Organizations you can read more about this and I suggest taking a look at the open source tool developed by the ExO Ecosystem. Also take a look at Exponential Transformation where you can learn about implementing Exponential Attributes in your current organisation.
Dashboards are an essential tool for ExO’s to measure and manage the organisation. With the vast amount of data that is created on a daily basis, dashboards are a great way to visually represent the important data in order to make real time metrics available to the entire organisation. Thanks to the internet, sensors, the cloud, etc. it is possible to have very valuable metrics in real time. It is important that dashboards are developed that are easy to understand and meaningful. This gives people the ability to make smart decisions timeously in order to manage organisations better!
When putting together a dashboard it is vitally important to ensure that the metrics that are tracked are real value metrics as opposed to vanity metrics. Real value metrics allow you to make meaningful decisions and improve the organisation. Vanity metrics only make you feel better. An example is tracking total users vs active users. Total users of your product is a vanity metric as thousands of people can sign up but unless they are actively using your service you will not make revenue and grow. It is therefore important to build dashboards that provide the most meaningful information computed into a visual that is easy to understand.
In order to Implement Dashboards you need to:
- Identify the value metrics
- Identify the audiences that need dashboards
- Track, gather and analyse date in real time
- Use a framework to display metrics in most efficient and usable way
- Make the Metrics accessible and transparent
- Improve the dashboards when required
Make sure that you keep the metrics valuable but simple. A complicated dashboard will most likely result in less adoption and therefore reduce its effectiveness.
A good example of a framework to use for team dashboards is the OKR framework. OKR stands for Objectives and Key Results and answers two simple questions:
- Where do I go? (Objectives)
- How will I know I am getting there? (Key Results)
To Learn more about OKRs you can check out OKR Examples.
ExO’s require tight control frameworks in order to ensure that with hyper growth the small team can manage the organisation. For this reason it is vital to have dashboards that provide the team and community with information to make great decisions. Keep it simple at the beginning and get dashboards up and running.
Click on the image below to get a summary of the New Exponential Transformation Manual written by Francisco Palao, Michelle Lapierre and Salim Ismail together with over 200 contributors from across the globe. I highly recommend giving this a read if you want to ensure that your organisation thrives in the coming decades
The first of the internal exponential attributes is Interfaces. In Chapter 4 of Exponential Organizations you can read more about this.
Interfaces bridge the external and internal attributes, they take all the data created by the SCALE attributes and make sense of this internally. Interfaces ensure maximum efficiency and give stakeholders the ability to automate processes. It is for this reason that interfaces are mission critical for ExO’s to scale.
A good example of an effective interface as described in Exponential Organisations is that of the Apple App Store. The App Store allows the nine million strong developer network to develop apps and submit these automatically to the App Store, these are ranked and categorised automatically and this has allowed Apple to scale the App Store to where it is now. From January to June 2018 Revenue generated by App developers was over $100 Billion.
Interfaces are required to manage abundance, mainly to filter and match. The thinking that is required is quite different to the business processes that are put in place to manage scarcity and efficiency.
Exponential Transformation indicates 6 steps to implement Interfaces within your business:
- Identify the sources of abundance you are Accessing
- Humanise the interaction to define the right UX or automate the interaction to define the right API
- Create standardised processes
- Apply algorithms to automate processes
- Test interfaces with pilot populations
- Update interfaces regularly
Some questions that you can ask to ensure that your interfaces will be successful are:
- Will the interface allow the business to Scale
- Do the interfaces create value?
- Can all of the SCALE attributes be enables with interfaces?
- Is the effectiveness of algorithms and automated workflows being measured?
- Are interfaces engaging users?
The interfaces that you create for your ExO are most likely going to be specific for your company. You need to look at what can be automated and how the abundance of information needs to be filtered and matched best to optimise your business process. Look at the interfaces of Google Adwords, Airbnb, Uber, etc. to get a better understanding and get going on creating interfaces that optimise the abundance outside of your organisation allowing you to scale.
If you find this helpful then comment and share this with people in your network. If more organisations can tap into abundance we can ensure that we improve the planet for all!