Step 12: Sustain & Grow

Step 12: Sustain & Grow through the practice of standard work, continuous improvement, exploration (SDCA, PDCA, EDCA)

Sustain & Grow

Creating an adaptive plan is simple.

  1. Create a Current State
  2. Evaluate what is working and what is not.
  3. Perform a SWOT on established marketing segments (If your answer is everyone is a client, we are not a fit)
  4. Envision – (Determine Vision, Objectives, Constraints & Community)
  5. Speculate – (Develop a capability and Iteration plan)
  6. Explore – (Run small iterations seeking to reduce risk and uncertainty)
  7. Adapt (review results)
  8. Determine to iterate again (explore) or loop to speculate or close and automate.

Carrying out the steps are a little more difficult. However, doing it this way creates a plan of action, doing and learning. Adapting is more about reflection than changing.

Iterative Cycle

Lean and the OODA Loop: I have found talking too little or too much are both ineffective ways to proceed in a sales conversation. When we discuss a Lean Sales Person, many people think of this problem-solving person that is out finding the root cause and how their product/service could benefit the customer. I have expressed my views on that subject as a problem-solving salesperson ends up typically being an average salesperson.

I think what we need when having a Lean Sales Conversation is not to ask about the five Whys to find the root cause, but rather the use of the CAP-Do approach where we concentrate more on the downloading of information at the beginning. This conversation is not what I would call one of discovery, that seems to be little premature. I think of the yoga saying; “if you want to take a deep breath, you first need to exhale.” In a sales conversation ,the person that needs to exhale is the salesperson. The first step in this process is not to think what you want a customer to know, feel, and do. That leads to an attempt to manipulate the customer actions. Instead, try to learn what the customer knows, feels and wants to do. I look at this from a perspective of learning, the Lean way. You learn what they know.

In the Agile world, you will find John Boyd’s unifying theory of this thing we call agility. His key agility concept was that of the decision cycle or OODA Loop (Observe, Orient, Decide, Act):

  • Observe: The lightning-quick collection of relevant information about your current environment by means of the senses rather than drawn-out data analysis.
  • Orient: The analysis and synthesis of information to form one’s current mental perspective. This is where information is turned into situational awareness.
  • Decide: The determination of a course of action based on one’s current mental perspective.
  • Act: The physical carrying out of the decisions. Of course, while your action is taking place, it will change the situation, favorably or unfavorably.

Then the loop repeats, again and again, in real time, as nothing is standing still. Forty-second Boyd was his nickname. He was a top gun type, the Viper, and he would bet that he could be on your tail in 40 seconds. I assume since the nickname stuck, he did it .

There has been a resurgence or maybe recognition of the use of the OODA Loop as a basis for many of the current ideas surrounding Iterations, Rapid Development Cycles and Decision Making. What makes the OODA Loop such a popular subject? When we first think of the OODA Loop, we think of fast competitive cycles needed by a fighter pilot to gain a differential advantage.

Leading companies are taking this “unsystematic” approach to business innovation and turning it into repeatable, managed business processes. Disney has a process, GE calls it CENCOR (calibrate, explore, create, organize, and realize) The Mayo Clinic calls it SPARC (see, plan, act, refine, communicate). Eric Ries’s of the Lean Startup original thoughts were centered on the OODA Loop principles. Bill Dettmer, Don Reinertsen and on and on have included the OODA Loop in their latest publications. I stumbled applying OODA to Lean Sales and Marketing until it finally dawned upon me that it was CAP-Do not a PDCA Cycle. Look at the ingredients:

?OODA Loop-CAP-DoThe OODA Loop when applied to Lean Language is the CAP-Do cycle. The strength of OODA Loop is in the first two steps, Observe and Orientate – Just as Check and Act are in CAP-Do. In Boyd’s terminology, the D in the OODA Loop stands for Decision or formulating the Plan to carry out the Hypothesis. He uses A, Act to perform the hypothesis or the Do cycle. I believe CAP-Do, the OODA Loop, is the best way to apply Lean in an external environment.

In the most common use of the OODA Loop, adaption is rather direct. At the strategic level it revolves around adjusting procedures, systems, processes and ideology. Boyd advocated an agile cellular organization with some explicit control mechanisms and feedback loops but one more reliant on common frames of reference and shared ideas. He always contended that Command was about clarity of ones goals and philosophies versus the traditional form of command and control thought of in a hierarchy structure.

The fundamental goals of your sales and marketing cycle should be one of discovery, learning, and adaptability with a shared responsibility for a successful outcome. That implies that it is all about engaging both organizations into effective problem solving and learning. In applying this, think of the sales cycle in terms of a series of iterative loops of problem-solving and knowledge creation. Taking this approach, each iterative loop of the sales cycle should be built around:
Understanding the customer’s needs: Before an iterative loop starts there has to be a need for the answer or the outcome. It may sound silly but many people start a sales cycle based on their thoughts. They think they can improve something, but it may not be what the customer needs. Breaking down the sales cycle into a series of iterative loops allows you to describe the outcome of that individual loop completely before starting.

Managing knowledge growth versus tasks: It takes integration of the customer along with the sales and marketing team to look at alternatives and quickly reject bad ideas and keep the good ones. It’s building upon those learning cycles for greater understanding of the customer’s needs and problems.

Managing hand-offs to support the next cycle: Putting execution into the learning cycles is exactly what we talk about when we discuss handoffs. Understanding or having the need of the customer defined clearly for the next cycle is what allows us to execute. In lieu of having these iterative sales cycles, we typically would have sales and sometimes engineering go out talk to customers when needed, put together huge proposals to find out that much of it may or may not be needed and/or by the time the proposal was completed the requirements have changed.
At first, a customer may question a process like this. However, organizations that are making decisions by committee are often your most willing participant. They relish that discussion can take place on a peer to peer basis and across organization boundaries. Their assembled team values the fact that their opinions are considered outside of their organization. As a result of this type of process, a tremendous amount of wasted time is reduced and better definitions of their needs are defined. The result typically means a better, faster, and sometimes cheaper solution. The ability to generate the required knowledge effectively and efficiently in the customer decision-making process will ultimately make you the preferred supplier.

Feedback Loops in OODA

I spent several days searching for a YouTube video, information that discusses the feedback loops that are contained in this drawing of the OODA Loop.:
?OODA Loop
It seems when most people discuss OODA, they spend most of their time talking about Observe-Orient-Decide-Act. Often they compare the process to PDCA which I disagree with as I believe it is the process of CAP-Do. A brief summary from my past writings:

The OODA Loop when observed is actually the CAP-Do cycle when applied to Lean Language. The strength of OODA Loop is in the first two steps, Observe and Orientate. Just as Check and Act are in CAP-Do. In Boyd’s terminology, the D in the OODA Loop stands for Decision or formulating the Plan to carry out the Hypothesis. He uses A, act to perform the hypothesis or the Do cycle. I believe CAP-Do, the OODA Loop, is the best way to apply Lean in an external environment.

Through all the information, I plowed through maybe not so surprisingly a quote from John Boyd himself summed up the feedback loops better than anything else. An excerpt from the article, The Strategy of the Fighter Pilot written by: Keith H. Hammonds for Fast Company:

Systems like Toyota’s worked so well, Boyd argued, because of Schwerpunkt, a German term meaning organizational focus. Schwerpunkt, Boyd wrote, “represents a unifying medium that provides a directed way to tie initiative of many subordinate actions with superior intent as a basis to diminish friction and compress time.” Employees decide and act locally, but they are guided by a keen understanding of the bigger picture. In effective organizations, Schwerpunkt connects vibrant OODA loops that are operating concurrently at several levels. Workers close to the action stick to tactical loops, and their supervisors travel in operational loops while leaders navigate much broader strategic and political loops. The loops inform each other: If everything is clicking, feedback from the tactical loops will guide decisions at higher loops and vice versa.

I would assume from this article the idea of the most inner feedback loop contained in the diagram above would be the tactical loop, operational loops would be the middle feedback loop and outer loop the strategic and political loops. As I worked through the process of trying to find more information about the feedback loops I found a dissertation from Chet Richards on the Implicit Guidance & Control (IG & C) Box:

The primary reason for implicit guidance when engaged with opponents is that explicit instructions-written orders, for example-would take too much time. As Boyd (1987a) put it, “The key idea is to emphasize implicit over explicit in order to gain a favorable mismatch in friction and time (i.e, ours lower than any adversary’s) for superiority in shaping and adapting to circumstances” (p. 22). For the same reason, initiating actions via the circular OODA loop does not work well when one is engaged with an opponent. The need to go through stages before coming around to action is too slow, as Storr observed, and too easy to disrupt (Klein, 1999). If, on the other hand, action can flow rapidly from orientation directly via an implicit guidance and control (IG&C) link, then any pattern of actions becomes possible.

We’ve been discussing the IG&C link from orientation to action, but there’s another one, from orientation to observation. Orientation, whether we want it to or not, exerts strong control over what we observe.

Implicit Guidance & Control can only be effective if a team has the same orientation or as we might say “on the same page”. What made the OODA Loop effective is not adjusting the Orientation in the heat of battle but the ability of the unit/team to act within their understood boundaries. They had clarity surrounding their mission and purpose.

Boyd also said:

Successful organizations exploit the variety of experiences and perspectives found within their members, but they also harmonize them to accomplish common objectives. This is not as easy as it seems. Rigidly enforced organizational dogma, for example, can produce a type of harmony, but it rarely encourages subordinate initiative. There is a way, however, to achieve both harmony and initiative. Boyd (1986) asserted that “Without a common outlook, superiors cannot give subordinates freedom-of-action and maintain coherency of ongoing action.” Therefore, “A common outlook … represents a unifying theme that can be used to simultaneously encourage subordinate initiative yet realize superior intent” (p. 74).

If you have studied the Lean concept of Leader Standard Work things are much clearer. It is the ideas of boundaries or the common outlook that creates the speed within the loop. It is not about iterations, it is the idea of standard work that makes the OODA Loop effective.

There is also one other neglected area in most OODA Loop conversations. The use of the term Feed Forward. I doubt that John Boyd used that term loosely. I would like to think that Boyd thought of Feed Forward in a similar manner to how Marshall Goldsmith discusses it:

You can change the future. You can’t change the past. The Marshall Goldsmith FeedForward Tool helps you to envision and focus on a positive future, not a failed past. Athletes are often trained using feedforward. Basketball players are taught to envision the ball going in the hoop and to imagine the perfect shot. By giving you ideas on how you can be even more successful, the Marshall Goldsmith FeedForward Tool can increase your chances of achieving this success in the future.

We all tend to accept feedback that is consistent with the way we see ourselves. We also tend to reject or deny feedback that is inconsistent with the way we see ourselves.

When you review the FeedForward labels in the OODA Loop, you can easily envision them as being only a positive and futuristic hand-off. Since I have similar Orientation as my commander or supervisor, I would think of it as something I would want to do, not have to do. When thought of like this you can see how the rhythm of the loops increase and the amount of positive thinking taking place even in the most precarious positions.

I will end with one more quote and the conclusion to Chet Walker’s paper:

Boyd’s OODA “loop” provides an effective framework for igniting creativity and initiative throughout an organization and harmonizing them to achieve the organization’s goals. For the loop” to work, however, organizations must use the one Boyd actually drew and evolve their own practices suitable for their people and their competitive environments.

Lean & OODA Loop PDF (there will be some repetition):

Chet Walker’s paper: BoydsRealOODA_Loop

Most of the material the OODA Loop, I have found to be somewhat laborsome or even very brief in its explanation. As you will see reinforced in the material, it not about being faster than your competition, it is more about learning more and being on the same page. Building your knowledge within the Orientation stage allows for standard work and decision-making to happen at the proper rhythm.

OODa Loop Video:

Excerpt from Chet Richards:

Certain to Win by Chet Richards:

Sources of Power by Gary Klein:

Short Version of FoF

Final Words: Marketing Lessons from God

The challenge many organizations have is separating or differentiating themselves from the competition. We have discussions about our unique value proposition or unique selling point but with many organizations, once they get down to explaining it, it all sounds the same to the customer. It seems that everyone can be anyone with “good marketing”.
Conversations with God
Looking for a reputable source to solve this dilemma, I was reminded of the best source when talking to John Terninko in a recent podcast, The Power of 3: QFD, Taguchi, TRIZ. He quoted a statement from the book series, Conversations with God: An Uncommon Dialogue.  A few of the thoughts that I gathered browsing the book.

The Marketing Lesson from God can be summed up by applying this basic rule:

Our message is always created from

Our Highest Thought, Our Clearest Word, and Our Grandest Feeling.

Anything less is unacceptable.

The book gave these guidelines to follow:

  1. The Highest Thought is always that thought which contains Joy.
  2. The Clearest Words are those words which contain Truth.
  3. The Grandest Feeling is that feeling which you call Love.

This is all very interesting, but applying it is a different matter. The first thing that the book helped with was defining the word talk which they expanded to communicate. Their feeling is that communicate is a better full-bodied word versus talk and emphasizes the fact we cannot communicate by words alone. They state the most common form of communication is through feelings. The difficulty we have as sales and marketing people is to discover and understand the customer’s feelings. Why is this important? From the podcast, Need Customers, Create an Effortless Experience with Matt Dixon, he said:

What we found in our study was two thirds of what accounts for the level of effort that a customer feels has nothing to do with the things they actually literally have to do, but they actually have to do more with what the customer feels about the interaction. That’s actually the emotional component. It’s not whether I had to endure a difficult process or “I got transferred multiple times,” or I had to call back or these kinds of things, but rather, “How did I feel during that interaction?”

Our most important form of communication with a customer is about how we make them feel. Again, asking for guidance, from the book, Conversations with God:

My most common form of communication is through feeling. Feeling is the language of the soul. If you want to know what’s true for you about something, look to how you’re feeling about it. Feelings are sometimes difficult to discover—and often even more difficult to acknowledge. Yet hidden in your deepest feelings is your highest truth. The trick is to get to those feelings. I will show you how, again, if you wish.

I told God that I did wish but that right now I wished even more for a complete and full answer to my first question. Here’s what God said: I also communicate with thought. Thought and feelings are not the same, although they can occur at the same time. In communicating with thought, I often use images and pictures. For this reason, thoughts are more effective than mere words as tools of communication. In addition to feelings and thoughts, I also use the vehicle of experience as a grand communicator.

And finally, when feelings and thoughts and experience all fail, I use words. Words are really the least effective communicator. They are most open to misinterpretation, most often misunderstood. And why is that? It is because of what words are. Words are mere utterances: noises that stand for feelings, thoughts, and experience. They are symbols; signs, insignias. They are not truth. They are not the real thing. Words may help you understand something. Experience allows you to know. Yet there are some things you cannot experience.

You have heard me expand in other posts about when we have conversations with a customer, we should enter into them with the thought of what we want customers to Know, Feel and Do. I also think it is important to define what we want to come away with. What does the provider, us, want to Know, Feel and Do?

We place so much importance on trying to write copy and other verbiage trying to get someone to “buy” that we often forget about the experience. One last lesson from Conversations with God:

I have given you other tools of knowing. And these are called feelings, and so too thoughts. Now the supreme irony here is that you have all placed so much importance on the Word of God, and so little on the experience. In fact, you place so little value on experience that when what you experience of God differs from what you’ve heard of God, you automatically discard the experience and own the words, when it should be just the other way around. Your experience and your feelings about a thing represent what you factually and intuitively know about that thing. Words can only seek to symbolize what you know, and can often confuse what you know.

Is Customer Experience important? Should we say less and do more? How can we transfer better experiences into our sales and marketing? How can we transfer Truth, Love, and Joy into Know, Feel and Do?

Our message is always created from

Our Highest Thought, Our Clearest Word, and Our Grandest Feeling.

Anything less is unacceptable.

Funnel of Opportunity Introduction

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