Archive for PDCA
Are you plugged into your customer?
When we look at continuous improvement efforts, we determine what we need to change to create a better process. We emphasize the change needed. Certainly there is a degree of “Check” in our hypothesis and experiments but seldom is that the emphasis of our work. Often, we concentrate on doing an experiment and making it work. We are accustomed having a product, a service, a website that we can monitor and acquire metrics. With a new product, we may use Lean StartupTM thinking in validating product (service)/market fit. We prototype, we try, Build-Measure-Learn or that PDCA stuff of “Check” and “Adapt”.
The difficulty taking product development or operational thinking to sales and marketing is that it assumes you have control of the prospect. There is a difference between customer validation versus selling. There is a difference in the perception of what waste is in operations versus selling. There is a difference in developing a service versus selling. Lean Startup, Service Design, Design Thinking and Lean (whatever noun you choose) can be difficult applying directly to sales and marketing.
In sales and marketing, and when most organizations apply Lean to sales and marketing, the tendency is to get into a mapping exercise very quickly, sometimes before developing a User Persona ,Outcome Based Mapping versus a Marketing Funnel. What I have found about most mapping exercises is that the emphasis is on ridding ourselves of waste and thereby drawing conclusions, (Mapping Expectations of Customer Behavior), about the future and how we are going to proceed with our plan of action. We develop SMART goals with defined targets. One of my favorites, we are going to increase revenue by 10% this year. That dictum is echoed every year and though a mighty goal, seldom do we have evidence in supporting exactly how we intend to accomplish it.
In Outcome-Based Mapping, we focus on outcomes, not impact. We do not look at increasing revenue by 10% that is the impact we want to make. In outcome-based thinking, we look at what actions or behaviors we need to change to accomplish our vision. This seems like a fine line or a slippery slope that I am traversing, but the secret sauce is not how we are going to do it. Nor is it any of the other secrets that Rudolph Kipling has so simply and wonderfully expressed to us, The Kipling Growth Strategy Map. It is not, in Lean terms, finding root cause of the problem. It may be not even in the Appreciative Inquiry sense of Root Cause of Success (though I lean this direction, sorry for the pun). What Outcome-Based Mapping brings to the table is the emphasis on Monitoring and Evaluation.
Why are Monitoring and Evaluation so important? In the same token, a map provides directions but it is not a roadmap. Sales is not going from point A to Point B and following this direct path. Sales and marketing compares more to air travel where there is a constant monitoring and evaluation but the plane is never on a direct path towards the destination. The elements of wind and other weather conditions and other flights determine our path. We are in control of adjusting because of a very good Check and Adjust process (Side Note: As good as airlines are in the air, you wonder why they are so poor on the ground).
In the Outcome-Based Mapping that I have done, I have found it difficult to focus organizations on the monitoring and evaluation. Once the outcome challenges are addressed, progress markets identified, strategies and actions developed, we are off to the races. If you review most Six Sigma, Lean and Marketing books, you will find the shortest chapters consistently about the monitoring and evaluation practices. You will find books about pre-event planning, getting the right people on board and the meetings or Kaizen Events to do this, but the monitoring and evaluation is one chapter in any of these and half the size of the others.
We have plenty of measurements and data. That is what Big Data all about. However, how much of this data can only be used in transactional selling processes? As Dan Pink said, To Sell Is Human. The Monitoring and Evaluations I am talking about is the change in behaviors that we address in the Outcome-Based Mapping process, The Expect to See, Like to See and Love to see Columns. It is about developing and sustaining a process.
Seldom do we address how WE understand our customers. We are always looking to have a call to action, move someone down the pipeline. However, are we addressing and adapting to reach common agreement and become a better fit with our customers. Our monitoring and evaluations should focus more on ourselves and our actions than trying to move a customer to the next stage of the pipeline. We should be consistently trying to improve the experience we offer at this stage. This is not about fixing problem. It is about going deeper and gaining a better appreciation of our customers’ needs and wants. Are we actively monitoring and evaluating how we are increasing customer knowledge? Are you plugged in to you customer?
Lean Sales and Marketing: Learn about using CAP-Do
ERIC SIEGEL, PhD, founder of Predictive Analytics World and Executive Editor of the Predictive Analytics Times. Eric makes the how and why of predictive analytics understandable and captivating. His new book, Predictive Analytics: The Power to Predict Who Will Click, Buy, Lie, or Die was called by Tom Peter’s, “the most readable big data book I’ve come across, By far, great vignettes and stories.“ This quote was pulled off Twitter and not from the book.
An excerpt from next weeks podcast:
Joe: When we look at this, data certainly plays a part but people would refute the fact that data can tell the future. I always use this Einstein quote “Logic will get you from A to B, but imagination will take you everywhere.” Can numbers be creative, can numbers be imaginative?
Eric: That’s a great question, I would say yes because as I’ve mentioned earlier – the core method here is predictive modeling, academically known as machine learning. It is literally looking at data, the history of many transactions of how things turn out in the past in order to learn how to predict under new circumstances for a consumer who has a new profile and new history of behavior that’s never been seen before and to robustly be able to apply what’s been learned. That is you’ve actually not just discovered a pattern that shows up in this particular data set but that actually holds in general. There is an art to that, it is amazing kinds of things that come out of it, it can’t be visualized ultimately by human thought process because computers can do things in a multidimensional way. It’s all about finding that model that looks at all the different factors about an individual, both demographic and behavioral, and consider them together in concert to come up with the best prediction for that individual. The means, the mechanism to do that is the model, is the thing that predicts is the thing that’s learned or output from the predictive modeling process.
I would say yes, there’s definitely creativity, I devoted a chapter to how amazing the results ended up being as far as the IBM Watson computer that learns from Jeopardy, the TV quiz show Jeopardy, questions and how to answer new ones – that’s an amazing story. However, unlike that story, usually it’s not about accuracy, so you premised your question just now by saying, “some people say you can’t really predict very well,” the fact is in general, especially with human behavior and the weather for that matter, there’s a real limit to how far ahead and in what way we can accurately predict. It turns out that the use of this technology on all of these different operations and getting value from it does not hinge on accuracy. Predicting better than guessing, often significantly better than guessing, is what makes the difference and what provides value in running mass operations more effective.
Joe: In the sales and marketing world, we’re always furnishing forecasting for operations, can predictive analytics improve our sales forecast?
Eric: Sales forecasts are a tough thing. It’s going to depend on factors that are way outside of your knowledge. It has to do with the overall world. What’s happening in the economic climate etcetera, sort of macro scale factors. What predictive analytics is good at is ranking all the consumers relative to one another. Who is relatively more or less likely to exhibit behavior. As far as how many are going to buy, that’s prone to go up and down in ways that we’re all susceptible – we’re all going for a ride in the rollercoaster that’s known as the economy, so there’s a difference between macro level forecasting. On the other hand, as far as the core technology, there are ways in which making millions of per person or per consumer or per enterprise client if it’s B-to-B rolling all of those millions of predictions up. In B-to-B maybe more like thousands, but rolling all of them up for macro level forecasts, there are technical ways to do that in which it can help, but in general there’s no sure fire solution to the difficulty of forecasting.
Predictive Analytics book description: This rich, entertaining primer by former Columbia University professor and Predictive Analytics World founder Eric Siegel reveals the power and perils of predictive analytics, showing how predicting human behavior combats financial risk, fortifies healthcare, conquers spam, toughens crime-fighting, and boosts sales.
The story of Austin’s Butterfly with Ron Berger is one of the best lessons I have seen for continuous improvement. It applies the principles of iterations, collaboration, and feedback. Austin was able to improve the last effort dramatically and, as a result, did not even have to Pivot. The insights by the participants and their feedback about the process is absolutely spot on. I would challenge any facilitator to capture his audience as well.
I ran across this video in a tweet: from Marc Stickdorn @MrStickdorn
Lean Sales and Marketing is built upon the philosophy that there has been a subtle shift to knowledge as the way to engage, develop and retain your customer base. The sales and marketing team must act as a vehicle to cultivate ideas not only within their four walls but more importantly from their customers and markets. If this is true, how do create new knowledge? How do we learn? Most studies show that we learn best by doing and by being forced to resolve our perspective with those of others who disagree with us. This means that you have to encourage contradictions and be willing to push the envelope with your customers.
Please watch this presentation and review Marketing with PDCA
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The Complete Lesson is available: Lean Sales and Marketing, Flow and Pull
This week, I am posting a series of seven videos and the slide decks that were used during my two day workshop. If you would like to get the most out of the experience, I recommend purchasing the Marketing with Lean Book series. I am offering the set for a limited time at 50% off.
- Lean Marketing House (More Info)
- Marketing with PDCA (More Info)
- Marketing with A3(More Info)
- Lean Engagement Team(More Info