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How to grow yourself

Recently, I stumbled upon a revelation that seems to echo across organisations in various industries: in the final stages of longstanding contracts, a sudden misalignment emerges between the products or services offered and the current market demands.


This discovery wasn't entirely unexpected, given my Wardley Mapping experiences. But how does this insight translate into action for us, both individually and as a company?


As architects, especially in the area of consulting and secondment, it is important to continually evolve. Clients don’t just seek relevant expertise, but also continually added value from external partners. What do we as consultant-architects do, to keep an eye on our ‘continuity’ over time? How do we ensure that we remain at the forefront of innovation, rather than becoming outdated relics of the past?


This blog post describes my personal journey in which I will delve into my strategic approach to remaining relevant in our industry, using Wardley's strategy cycle as my guiding compass: 

The Strategy Cycle [CC-BY/SA 4.0]


Why of purpose

At the heart of a strategy lies a profound sense of purpose. Our mission is more than just a statement; it's a beacon that guides our every move. Our Infuze vision embodies our commitment to being the trusted advisors, leveraging our expertise to deliver strategic and tactical value to clients facing IT challenges. This vision resonates not just with our organisation, but with each of our consultants, aligning our efforts towards a common goal of innovation and impact.


Why of movement

Every action we take is a deliberate step towards fulfilling our purpose. In a world brimming with choices, our decisions are driven by a pursuit of progress. We adapt, we innovate, and we push boundaries to stay ahead of the curve, all in service of our overarching mission. 


Navigating the landscape

Understanding the landscape in which we operate is essential for success. By identifying our key stakeholders and aligning our efforts with their needs, we create a symbiotic relationship that fuels our growth. Our work is not just about delivering results; it's about forging meaningful connections and driving impactful change.


Value chain for several actors
Value chain for several actors

Climate

Adaptation is key in the ever-changing business environment. I recognize the ‘climate’; external forces we cannot control, having an impact on the landscape. Personally I can see some relevant climatic patterns when applied to my own situation:  


  • Everything evolves through supply and demand competition’. Evolution through supply and demand competition impacts consulting, leading to price erosion as existing services become mainstream activities, diminishing their uniqueness.

  • Characteristics change as components evolve’. As components evolve, such as in release engineering, tooling becomes more sophisticated, posing organisational and business challenges and necessitating different conversations with stakeholders.

  • Success breeds inertia’. Past success often breeds inertia, creating resistance to changing the elements of that success. Continuously relying on a successful formula probably lead to stagnation, especially when trends shift and competitors offer alternatives.


These three patterns interact with each other. Changing characteristics should imply changing my behaviour to adopt. This adaptation can mitigate price erosion, where specialising in one area has the ‘danger’ of becoming outdated or vulnerable to market shifts.


Doctrine

Doctrine comprises universal principles, the set of beliefs that appear to work irrespective of the landscape that is faced. It embodies ‘the stuff we should do anyway’ and is part of (or shapes) organisational behaviour. Doctrinal principles can be categorised into phases, each suggesting fundamental principles for evaluation. These phases are not that discrete, I recognise I apply doctrine principles from multiple phases, in various levels of consistency. Some of the principles that resonate with me are:


  • Prioritising high situational awareness (understand what is being considered).

  • Employing systematic learning (with a bias towards data).

  • Focus on the outcome rather than contracts (emphasising value-based delivery).

  • Utilising appropriate tools (e.g. mapping, financial models).

  • Listening to your ecosystems (acts as future sensing engines).


I am refining my note-taking method to effectively connect the dots both in the present and towards the near future. A big chunk of my professional development is in consulting environments where the outcome counts over output. 

Currently I can see challenges in my future sensing engine capability, a compelling concept I see also mentioned in the complexity field… 


There are many principles and viewpoints one can make important. I pick items that I consider have the most impact now, although all might be appealing. I can always reconsider this decision over time.  


Personal Leadership

Having considered the purpose, landscape, climate and doctrine as described above, one can make informed decisions on what strategy to employ. The ‘Learn Wardley Mapping’ site identifies two (arche-) types of strategy;


  • Means-end’ ‘If we do this we will achieve that’, typically focussing on cause and effect, particularly applicable in tactical situations,

  • Condition-consequence’ ‘If we create these kinds of conditions, then these desirable outcomes become highly likely, maybe even inevitable’. This approach facilitates multiple desirable outcomes, often caused by second-order effects, and is more applicable in strategic situations.


Personal approaches to leadership vary. Personally I like the distinction as described above although I haven't consciously applied it in this manner previously. This short-term/long term distinction fits perfectly well in my current assignment. I am keen to discover how this plays out, what is there for me to learn!


Next experiment

This strategy circle proves invaluable for assessing both organisations as well as personal development, offering enough insight for self-improvement. Having the ‘strategy circle’ -perspective in mind, I perceive alternate strategies poised for realisation, yet their timing remains elusive on a practical calendar scale.  I'm intrigued by the question of 'when' - 'when' is the right moment? When should alternative strategies be implemented, when to apply this change in architecture, when to start acquiring that additional skill or knowledge?


PIP Strategy Tactics - Tripwires

I was inspired by this article from Jennifer Arndt mentioning the Tripwires tactic from the Strategy Tactics deck. This is my next experiment on how to figure out the better timing for starting a change. 

It entails envisioning various future scenarios in different directions. When contemplating a future situation or scenario, one must examine the events immediately preceding it and identify the warning signs that made it apparent. Repeat the question ‘what happened before?’ until you can reason from the future back. What is the tripwire that is the ultimate trigger to watch for this scenario? Repeat this for other relevant situations or scenarios. At the side is the Tripwire card from the Strategy Tactics PIP Deck.


It still is my hypothesis that those organisations mentioned in the first paragraph lack situational awareness, possess limited understanding of their value chain/landscape, yet have the potential to enhance their sensing capabilities. It's crucial for them to recognize their capacity to act and make informed decisions promptly and appropriately.


How do you keep yourself on track towards the future? How do you ‘maintain’ yourself (or your company/organisation) to assure you are in line with current market demand over time?


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