ROADMAPS MADE SIMPLE
Chris Benthien, Chuen Seet & the Jibility Team
Published in 2018 by Jibility Pty Ltd Level 1, 111 Colin Street, West Perth Western Australia WA 6005 www.jibility.com
ISBN 978-0-6483868-0-3 Text copyright © Jibility Pty Ltd 2018 Diagrams copyright © Jibility Pty Ltd 2018 The moral right of the author has been asserted © All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted by any person or entity (including Google, Amazon, or similar organization), in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, scanning or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. Some of the people or organizations in this book have had their names changed to protect their identity.
Foreword Jibility Defined
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14.
So You’ve Got a Great Strategy, but What’s the Plan, Stan? The Jibility Canvas Challenges Objectives Capabilities Actions Initiatives Roadmap Putting It All Together So What’s This Capability-Based Planning All About Then? The Insure North Story The RedYabber Story The TaxCobber Story Happy Roadmapping!
So why did we create Jibility? For the last twenty-five years, we have consulted to many organizations, helping them to develop their business and technology strategies, from large multinationals to regional companies and right through to small not-for-profits. We have worked in unison with their leadership teams using a wide variety of leading strategy tools and theories (of which there are hundreds, if not thousands). We documented these strategies in great detail and helped to communicate the strategy to their team and key stakeholders. We left these organizations all prepped and primed to execute. The clients were excited about the direction they were about to embark on, and the staff eagerly awaited the change that was about to come. We were also excited for them â€“ there were high fives all round! And then we come back to these organizations after a year or so had passed. What we found was that while a few had executed amazingly well on their strategy, most had not. The easy, business-as-usual stuff had generally been done, but anything that required the organization to change was languishing. There was nothing wrong with the strategy. All of the companies felt that it was the right way forward, they had just failed to effect the changes in their organization necessary to implement it.
So, we started to explore the reasons why our clients had not progressed as well as they wanted to. Common reasons were: “We understood the strategy, but we didn’t know how to start.” “The strategy was too broad. In hindsight, we needed to focus on a few big key challenges.” “We couldn’t execute our strategy because we weren’t equipped to do it.”
“The parts of the strategy which fell to one function in our organization generally progressed, but anything that was crossfunctional failed to get off the starting blocks.” “We need to get our house in order before we could execute. We didn’t.” “The strategy sounded great, but we didn’t really know what to do next. We needed a simple roadmap of what to do to.” “We started kicking off projects everywhere. We soon had too much on our plate and things started to fall through the cracks. We just tried to do too much too soon.” “We filled up our portfolio with a mountain of projects. But a lot of these we couldn’t really relate back to our strategy. It seemed like everyone’s pet project seemed to creep onto the agenda.” “We’ve done a lot of projects but we’re not sure where this has taken us. We needed something to show us the way between our strategy and the stuff we execute everyday.” “We couldn’t agree priorities as an Executive. I think the staff got confused as to what they should be focusing on. To be honest I was confused as to what the priorities were.” “We just needed to keep it simple. We made the execution too complex.”
“Each Department ran off and started to execute; we weren’t united in our efforts.”
6 The pattern we kept observing was a difficulty in coherently navigating from a high-level articulation of the business strategy to a detailed articulation of the coordinated myriad of initiatives and tactical actions necessary to actually implement the strategy. We kept looking for a simple method for taking a high-level business strategy and turning it into a focused roadmap for execution. We failed to find anything that did the job simply.
And so Jibility was born. A simple method for helping organizations to clarify their key objectives, assess the capabilities to be established or changed to realize those objectives, and then build a simple, but highly focused roadmap that can be followed to make it all happen. While the original goal with Jibility was to provide a simple method that would assist medium to large businesses to create practical roadmaps for their business and IT strategies, weâ€™ve since found it works for all sorts of applications: for startups, for not-for-profits, for community organizations, for individual projects, and even for creating personal life plans! The possibilities are endless!
Strategic Roadmaps Simple and Fast
ability /jì huà/
to plan or to map out
1. possession of the means or skill to do something 2. talent, skill, or proficiency in a particular area
jibility /jìˈbɪlɪti/ noun
possession of the skill and tool to plan or map out Jibility is an amalgamation of two words: jì huà (计划), which is Chinese for “to plan or to map out”, and ability, which is “the possession of the means or skill to do something”. Thus, we get Jibility: “the possession of the skill and tool to plan or map out”. Our belief is that the difference between mediocrity and raging success for many organizations is NOT down to a flawed strategy (quite the contrary: most organizations have a very sound strategy), but their ability to translate that strategy into action and then execute it. Jibility is about providing a simple method to translate strategy into a coherent roadmap for execution.
So You’ve Got a Great Strategy… But What’s the Plan, Stan?
What do you do next
First Things First: Nail Your Strategy
A business or organization without a clear and concise strategy carries a huge risk. It is a pre-requisite for a good plan and roadmap. You wouldnâ€™t set off on a wilderness hike without a clear understanding of the destination. Without knowing the destination, you wonâ€™t know what challenges you are likely to encounter, what gear to pack, how long you will be on the trail, what capabilities you will need to develop to hike the trail, nor be able to create a trail map to safely reach the summit. There are literally thousands of business strategy books, tools, courses and podcasts that will provide you with ideas, frameworks, tools and assistance to help clarify your overarching business model and strategy and set your destination. Jibility wonâ€™t help you create your business model or strategy. Jibility will, however, help you create the roadmap for your destination.
And so, if you have your destination set and your strategy
You should already be clear about your vision and mission, who your target customers are, what your unique value proposition is, and how you will sustainably compete. You should have deliberated over your product strategy, done your product portfolio assessment, and know which products you are focusing on. You should have a clear brand strategy and a good understanding of how you will cut through in the market with your message. Your macro business strategy should be relatively clear to everyone in your team.
Now you are ready to execute. Now you are ready for
nailed, you now need to put a roadmap in place to execute.
STRATEGIC ROADMAPS NEED TO BE:
Simple Plans that are easily understood
Visual A picture paints a thousand words
Adaptive Quick to adapt to changing circumstances
We believe that you need to make the planning process simple. In our time as consultants, we have helped create and review a great many strategic plans. From large multinationals to local startups, these planning documents are invariably heavy tomes that adorn the dusty shelves of offices worldwide, to be pulled out only when there is an audit, or the consultants arrive to produce the next three-year plan and they request a copy of the old one.
We were recently engaged to review the IT strategy and plan for a large healthcare provider. We were provided with a deck consisting of over three hundred and fifty slides prepared by a large consulting firm. This deck cost the organization several hundreds of thousands of dollars in consulting fees to prepare. In preparation for our review, we decided to distil the deck down to its essence by discarding any slide that didnâ€™t actually articulate a key point of execution of the strategy.
16 We pulled out slide after slide of what we call “fillers”: slides articulating the benefits of innovation and current trends in global healthcare. The sort of stuff that any internet search would provide. Surprisingly, we reduced the deck to twelve slides. We then turned these twelve slides into two A3 infographics and presented them back to the client for confirmation before we proceeded to refine the plan and produce a roadmap for implementation. Many of the stakeholders confessed that this was the first time that they had really absorbed the strategy in its essence. This triggered a further round of debate, but at the end there was universal commitment across all stakeholder groups for the IT strategy. This level of commitment to the strategy wasn’t obviously there previously. Distilling the strategy down to its essence and making it visual boosted understanding and stakeholder commitment tenfold. The strategy did have a plan for execution. Three of the slides articulated a Gantt chart of projects over the next three years that would implement the strategy. However, when we assessed the organization, the capacity to actually execute those projects was found to be minimal. No thought had been given to what capabilities the organization needed to execute those projects successfully. Furthermore, it wasn’t clear to us (or the client) how some of the projects related back to the client’s overarching strategy.
In essence, the strategy was sound. But…
17 The practical steps required to take it forward were not well understood or entirely clear. The result was organizational uncertainty and lack luster levels of commitment and enthusiasm amongst stakeholders. Notably priorities were not clearly articulated. All projects were seemingly as important as each other and therefore a very large investment was required in the first year of implementation.
And most importantly, there was no high-level, coherent roadmap for coordinating execution; rather there was a series of disjointed projects, where for some the linkage back to the overarching strategy was somewhat tenuous.
What to do?
Time to pull out
There was also no consideration given to the capabilities that the organization would need to invest in to enable its implementation of the strategy.
The Jibility Steps
Jibility has six core steps that build on each other to create your roadmap for strategy execution. Together they articulate a simple and visual plan for moving forward that can be easily understood by your team, enabling them to execute with clarity and confidence. These six steps form the Jibility Canvas.
es tiv jec Ob
s e g n e l l a Ch
Challenges are either the major obstacles that must be overcome, or opportunities available to be seized, on the way to realizing our strategy.
Objectives are the defined targets we need to achieve in order to address our challenges.
Capabilities are the key things we need to establish, improve on and invest in, so as to ensure we are enabled to achieve our objectives.
Actions are the specific actions to be executed to facilitate our target capabilities.
Initiatives are a logical collection of Actions that together deliver a strategic outcome.
A Roadmap is the sequencing of Initiatives into a realistic, achievable schedule based on the optimal balance of time, cost and risk.
JIBILITY The Jibility Canvas represents a concise and highly adaptable plan for the implementation of your strategy.
Putting It All Together
26 The Jibility Canvas represents a concise and highly adaptable plan for the implementation of your strategy. The six steps provide you with a simple, visual planning framework that ensures clarity and focus on the core essentials of planning: What are the major obstacles or challenges that you are likely to encounter in the execution of your strategy? What are the most important things you need to do to surmount these challenges?
What capabilities must you have or excel at to meet your objectives? What specific actions do you need to undertake to implement your targeted capabilities? How do you organize your actions into initiatives that you can manage more easily? Which initiatives should you undertake, in what order, within what timeframe, and how much will this cost? The lynch pin of the Jibility Canvas is capabilities. Executing strategy effectively requires investment in the right capabilities, in the right sequence at the right time. Investing in the wrong capabilities or investing too much or at the wrong time can lead to ineffective allocation of often scarce organizational resources. We work through capabilities and capability mapping in detail in later chapters. Time and time again, the main issue we see organizations encounter is not knowing what to do, but NOT knowing how
to execute effectively. It is rare to encounter an organization that doesn’t have a strategy. Even if it’s poorly formed, the leadership can nearly always articulate what they consider to be the key theme or thrusts for their strategic direction; or at the very least what they feel they need to do to be successful. But the pathway forward to execute is usually not so clear. We often find the roadmap to implement the strategy is: Complex and cumbersome, making it difficult for people to quickly and easily understand; Fragmented, with each area of the organization often having conflicting plans; Misaligned, with investment in initiatives not rationalized within the context of the overall organizational strategy; and Missing a succinct view of the organizational capabilities that will need to be established to underpin and realize the strategy. And, sometimes we even find that the roadmap doesn’t even exist! The strategy may be clear, but there’s no plan as to how it will ever be implemented! We believe that most organizations fail to reach their full potential, not because they don’t have a strategy, but because they are unable to build, maintain and execute a concise and clear plan for the implementation of their strategy.
I T C
S N O
Before you Begin, Clarify your Strategy Before we dive into each of the Jibility steps, it’s important to ensure you are clear on your strategy. In this book we won’t teach you how to build your business strategy (there are literally thousands of excellent books that can already help you with this), but what we will say is that it is important that your strategy is succinctly summarized.
Porter’s Five Forces
We commonly encounter the scenario where the strategy for an organization has been established, but it is not clearly understood by stakeholders, including parts of the leadership team. This can often be because the strategy is complex, or not communicated well or often enough, or held tightly with a few key executives, or simply has lost relevance because it is no longer current. Whatever the reason, before you embark on establishing your roadmap using Jibility, you need to ensure your business strategy is current, clear, concise and well understood. At the very least, you should be able to articulate the challenges that your strategy is seeking to address.
Lean Business Canvas, by Ash Mauraya
There are a multitude of tools and techniques you can use to fine tune and refresh your strategy. Some of our old favorites are:
Porter’s Value Chain SWOT Norton Kaplan Strategy Map Business and Value Proposition Canvases, by Alex Osterwalder and Yves Pegneur Blue Ocean Strategy, by W Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne BCG Product Matrix
It can be complex, but thankfully creating a Jibility strategic roadmap is not.
When it comes to communicating your strategy, we are big fans of keeping it simple. Summarizing your strategy onto a large infographic is often a really great way of getting the message out there, but nothing beats the leadership of the organization talking to the team, investors and other stakeholders on a constant basis, reinforcing the direction in which the organization is heading. Many aspects of your strategy may have a long-time horizon (such as your vision and mission, which generally will not change that often), whilst other aspects may have a shorter time horizon (a goal to improve market share). Therefore, before you embark on the creation of your roadmap, it is important to clarify the desired time horizon for the realization of your strategy as a reference point for framing the discussion. Now that you have summarized your strategy and clarified the timeframe for your strategic roadmap, itâ€™s time to start thinking about how you will go about executing it. So, letâ€™s dive into each of the Jibility steps in detail.
This list just scratches the surface. There are literally thousands of other tools, techniques and theories you can adapt and use for articulating your strategy. In fact, there are so many, that a book has even been written to help you choose your preferred approach: Your Strategy Needs a Strategy, by Martin Reeves.
When thinking about your strategy (in particular, if you have set a bold strategy for a future state that is a significant stretch from your current position), you will immediately start to think about the many obstacles that you will need to overcome to be successful. Conversely, opportunities may spring to mind that you will be able to take advantage of, accelerating the achievement of your strategy. For a large mature business, typical challenges might include “we need to be more innovative”, “our costs are too high”, “our market share is declining”, “our sales are slowing”, “we are in a position to acquire new businesses”, or “we have capital to invest in new products”.
At the other end of the scale, for a startup organization the challenges might be “access to capital”, “we need to grow market share”, “we need to scale our operations”, or “we need to find the right people”.
What are the key obstacles to overcome, opportunities to seize and problems to solve?
And for an organizational unit within a business, such as an IT department, the challenges might be more specific and include “we must stay ahead of cyber security threats”, “we have too much shadow IT”, “IT is not valued by business leaders” or “we have a significant opportunity to improve our business outcomes with new technology”.
Don’t forget to consider major opportunities as well as problems and obstacles.
Often when defining challenges, it’s better to start with the major opportunities rather than the obstacles or problems. People have a natural tendency to identify obstacles to success or reasons why something can’t be done, so if you don’t consciously think about opportunities upfront, you could easily end up with just a long list of problems.
Try to keep the number of challenges to no more than five. Listing lots of challenges may provide you with an accurate list of all the organization’s problems and opportunities, but let’s face it: with limited time and resources can you truly address all the challenges? Hence, determining the top challenges ensures that you and your team remain focused on the big-ticket items without getting lost in the weeds. And keeping focus is a critical factor in successful strategy execution. Some of the best examples of strategy execution we have experienced are when the challenges are distilled down to one or two. It provides focus, simplicity and a clarion call to people about what is needed for success.
Your list of possible challenges could be vast. Almost every day it seems that new challenges emerge: problems arise, opportunities for new ways of working present themselves, competitors change the playing field.
Objectives What are the most important things we must do to meet our challenges?
An objective is a result or outcome that your organization must deliver in order to address its challenges. Achieving your objectives should support the organization in realizing its strategy. Defining objectives clarifies the outcomes the strategic roadmap must deliver. Objectives should be specific. They articulate an outcome that can be measured. For example, if you defined a major challenge of “attracting and retaining skilled people” then you might define an objective of “improve people retention to x%” or “improve recruitment attraction by x” or “double our investment in training and learning”. If a major challenge is “access to capital” then you might define an objective of “execute an IPO by x” or “secure $x millions of Series A funding by x”. If a major challenge is “staying ahead of cyber security threats” then an objective might be “establish a dedicated cyber security function” or “zero security breaches by x” or “increase cyber security awareness in the organization”. More often than not you will want to understand your challenges before defining your objectives. However, it is possible that your objectives may be defined without the context of an explicit challenge. Perhaps you have previously defined or been given some specific objectives? In this case, the nature of the
You don’t always have to define your challenges before you define your objectives.
underlying challenges (opportunities or problems) implied by your defined objectives needs to be considered. If you can’t articulate the challenge that an objective relates to, then how can you assess whether an objective really is top priority?
As with challenges, too many objectives can dilute your focus on what’s most important and confuse the message to your stakeholders. The more complex and expansive a strategic roadmap is, the more the delivery risk increases. Focusing on a set of key headline objectives facilitates clarity and purpose. Try to have only one or two objectives per challenge. If practical, keep the overall number of objectives to no more than seven, which means no more than, say, five challenges. Again (we can’t stress this enough!), keeping focus is a critical factor in successful strategy execution. For example, a major mining company we have worked with ensured focus by defining only three core objectives: “Zero Fatalities”, “Tons mined per year of x” and “a cost per ton of $x”. These objectives were designed to meet the challenges at the time of “rising demand from China”, “falling commodity prices” and “fatalities and safety issues threatening sustainability”.
Try to have only one or two objectives per challenge.
The building blocks of an organization are often described in physical terms, such as the number of shops, warehouses or trucks. Sometimes the building blocks are described from a people perspective, like the number of staff, the skills or roles and organization structure. We can also describe an organization in terms of the process or the way the business works, such as the supply chain flow or the way customers interact with the organization’s online shop.
Capabilities What capabilities do we need to invest in to reach our objectives?
Capability building blocks are another way of viewing your organization. Instead of viewing your organization as distinct physical, people or process building blocks, we combine them together into single logical building blocks. So, a capability in its simplest form is an articulation of the combined resources, capacities and abilities (people, process and physical) describing what the organization or business does.
A capability is a core building block of an organization and is a combination of physical things, processes and people. For example, “customer service management”, “software development” and “product development” are all capabilities. Each of these capabilities imply a people, process and physical dimension. For example, encapsulated within the capability of software development, there are people like developers and solution architects; processes like Agile methodology; and physical assets like software tools and hardware. A capability describes the what – not the how or who.
When describing the capabilities of an organization or business, you can simply list them, but once you have over twenty capabilities it becomes difficult to understand the relationships between them and even harder to communicate this with your colleagues. So, it is strongly advisable at this stage to establish a capability map. A capability map is a simple visual representation of all of the capability building blocks of your organization that you can manipulate to achieve your strategy. Visualizing capabilities using a simple map assists with rapid identification of the capabilities required for an organization and, more importantly, is used to model which capabilities need to be established, improved or replaced to achieve your strategy. A capability may be broken down into sub-capabilities. For example, a product development capability might be broken down as: 1. Product Development (level 1) 1.2 Research and Development (level 2) 1.2. Regulatory Approval 1.3. Pricing Strategy 1.4. Product Manufacturing 1.5. Product Launch You can break down capabilities further: 1. Product Development (level 1) 1.1. Research and Development (level 2) 1.1.1. Ideation (level 3) 1.1.2. Product Mock-up 1.1.3. Concept Testing 1.1.4. Prototyping
Keep your capability map succinct. Don’t go beyond two or three levels of sub-capabilities unless you really need to. Don’t overthink your capabilities or worry too much about their strict definitions. Just put down what you think it is your organization does that will be impacted by your strategy. Remember: a capability describes WHAT you do. Not who, how or why. Sometimes a capability map may end up looking similar to an organizational structure; this is because organizational structure is usually based on supporting business function. For example, you may have a finance capability that is managed by a finance department – same name, but very different things. A capability map often reflects the value chain of an organization and certainly when identifying capabilities at the very top level it is useful to take a value chain approach as a starting point for identifying capabilities.
Building Your Capability Map
Keeping your capability map simple is best. Going beyond two or three levels of sub-capabilities is rarely required and keeping it succinct means that you maintain focus on what’s important.
When you create your list of capabilities, it is usually within the context of your strategy. It isn’t necessary to construct the capability map for your entire organization (though you may need to if your strategy impacts the whole organization). You can just identify those capabilities that fall within the scope of your particular strategic roadmap. For example, if you are creating the strategic roadmap for the IT function of an organization then you would typically only need to identify those capabilities managed by that function.
Determine what Capabilities Need to Change Now that you have your base capability map established, you should have a concise view of what your organization does in the context of your strategy. This is your current state. The next step is to think about what changes to your capabilities you need to make to meet your objectives. New capabilities can be added, capabilities can be removed, or capabilities can be improved or invested in to achieve your objectives. The changes you identify and plan to make to your current capabilities articulate your target future state. Let’s say you have a key objective to grow your sales performance in a certain market segment, but today you don’t have the ability to easily track and measure sales. You might decide that you need to establish a new capability in the organization called “sales analytics”. Or perhaps you currently have a capability called “manufacture raw materials”. You have decided that to achieve your cost reduction objective you will no longer manufacture your own raw materials, but rather purchase these from a third-party provider at a lower cost. Or you may have an objective to enter the
market in a new geographic location. While you already have an existing capability in sales in your current market locations, you may need to invest in that capability in the new geographic region. Or you may have an existing capability in invoicing and accounts receivables, but need further investment in these areas in order to meet an overall cash flow improvement objective you’ve set. For each objective you have defined, identify which capabilities will need to be enhanced, which ones will need to be created and which ones will no longer be needed within the time horizon you are planning for. For each capability you have identified on your map, classify them as follows: a new capability is required; the capability exists, but it is no longer required and needs to be divested; the capability exists and no change is required; the capability exists and there is a low level of change required; the capability exists and there is a medium level of change required; or the capability exists and there is a high level of change required.
At every stage in Jibility, we reinforce focus and simplicity. This stage is no different. For every capability in your organization you could probably identify a need for improvement or an opportunity to take it to the next level. No doubt almost every capability in your organization could be improved in some shape or form, so focus on those capabilities that will have the biggest impact on your strategy execution. Think about how much change will be required in your target time horizon for your strategic roadmap. Don’t over-invest in the capability if you only need a medium level of change to meet your objectives. It would be unusual indeed to find a capability map with most capabilities requiring a high level of change. This would indicate that you probably need to go back and think more deeply about the key capabilities required to meet your strategic objectives.
Focus on those capabilities that yield the biggest impact on achievement of your objectives.
Prioritizing Capability Investment Now that you have identified your target future state capabilities and the level of change for each capability, it is time to prioritize. You will only ever have a finite amount of time, energy and money to invest – so the key is to focus on those capabilities that will contribute the most to helping you achieve your strategy. Not every change you identify to your capabilities will be equal. Some capabilities will have more impact on your objectives and therefore need to be given a higher priority. Increasingly, organizations are faced with reduced resources and the need to do more with less. Given that you will have finite resources at your disposal, where should you invest to yield the greatest impact on achieving your objectives? Now decide which of your capabilities have high, medium and low investment priority. This will further sharpen the focus for you and your organization during execution. Rate your changed capabilities with H (High Priority), M (Medium Priority) or L (Low Priority). If Low-Medium-High is insufficiently granular then it is sometimes useful to use a 5-star rating system.
The definition of the levels of change can be whatever you need it to be. Generally, in the context of business strategy, it means the level of change in business processes or methods; in people or human capital; or in physical assets such as systems, facilities and equipment. The quantum of change is subjective. Sometimes the change can be big, for example: building a new factory. On the other hand, it can be small, like hiring two additional sales people. However, the latter could be a high level of change if your organization is a startup and you only have a small founding team. Don’t worry too much about what categorizes a low, medium or high level of change. It can be subjective and that’s okay. The point is to identify which capabilities will require more effort or go through greater change on the journey to meet your objectives.
For example, allocate one star to those capabilities that are a low priority for investment through to five stars for those that warrant investment over all other capabilities. You donâ€™t have to allocate a priority to every capability. It is perfectly valid to allocate â€œno starsâ€? or no priority to a capability. Note that investment priority is different from the capability level of change that you identified in the previous step. A capability requiring a high level of change may only be a low priority for investment. Say, for example, you have identified that to support your strategy a high level of change is required in your accounts payable capability and a medium level of change in your digital sales capability. However, when it comes to prioritizing the value and impact on your strategy execution, the benefit obtained from a small improvement in digital sales may far exceed the impact of a significant change in your accounts payable capability, therefore making it a higher priority for investment. At this stage, you have identified all of your organizational capabilities, determined which ones need to be focused on, the level of change required for each and the relative investment priorities. You are now ready to start formulating the specific actions necessary to reach your target state.
Capability can exist today but may require changes in order to meet the needs of the future or achieve an objective. Likewise, introducing a new capability necessitates changes to your existing environment in order for that new capability to be effective. An action for a capability is a change that must be implemented in order to bridge the gap from where it is today to where it needs to be in the future. As previously discussed, a capability usually comprises business processes or methods, people and other human capital, and physical things such as tools, systems and other assets.
Actions What specific changes, steps or actions will we take to implement our targeted capabilities?
During the capability building block stage, we identified what new capabilities need to be established, which ones need to be removed, and which ones needed to change. More importantly, we identified the relative level of change required for each capability. Now, thinking about the level of change required for each capability, what steps should we take to implement that change? This is an action. An action describes the major people, process and physical changes necessary for you to apply in order to either create, enhance or replace a capability.
Actions should consider the people, process and physical changes required to be applied to a capability.
You can define as many actions as you need to transform a capability, but again the philosophy in Jibility is to keep it simple, so concentrate on defining only those key people, process and physical changes that are needed to achieve your desired future state.
Focus on defining actions for those capabilities that you have prioritized.
Actions should be defined for capabilities based on the priority assigned to them (High, Medium or Low, in that order). If you’ve decided that a capability does not warrant any priority,
then you’re probably wasting time and effort defining actions for it, as it’s unlikely to be relevant when formulating your strategic roadmap.
Now that you’ve determined the key people, process and physical change actions required to realize your desired capabilities, it is time to group your actions into initiatives.
Often people gravitate to the physical: a new system, a new tool, a new facility. Actions that result in physical changes to an organization are often very visible and tangible. Less obvious, but often more important, are the people and process changes required to support the physical change. Let’s say, for example, you have decided that your sales capability requires change and investment to enable you to achieve your objective of a 10% improvement in sales volume. You may immediately see the need for investment in a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) and sales system (physical), but this alone may not fully improve your sales capability. Perhaps you also need to increase the number of people in your sales function (people), streamline your customer acquisition processes (process), improve the sales skills of your team via training (people), redefine sales metrics and KPIs (process), or implement a dedicated sales team to a fast-growing customer segment (people).
An initiative is a collection of related actions that are grouped together to deliver an outcome. There are no limits to the number or types of actions that may form an initiative, but consideration should be given to the duration and complexity required to deliver an initiative, based on the number of actions assigned. Generally, the quicker an initiative can be delivered, the quicker the change in capability can be realized, resulting in more momentum towards achieving your objectives. Initiatives which can be delivered within 3 to 6 months are usually preferable to, say, 12 months. An initiative should be given a meaningful name that describes the outcome achieved. For example, “New Factory Established”, “Help Center Operationalized”, “Staff Recruitment & Retention Improved”. Sometimes it’s good to create initiative nicknames or codenames, so as to create interest and excitement for the staff involved in the change.
Initiatives What actions should we logically group together to achieve a meaningful outcome?
Grouping Actions The type of actions assigned to an initiative should be based on the initiative outcome. As a broad guideline, here are some ways in which related actions might be grouped: related capability area, e.g. Innovation Management, Governance, Sales and Marketing, Customer Delivery; action type, e.g. people, process, physical; or related disciplines, e.g. Project Management, Product Development, Engineering.
Sales Capability Uplift Phase 1 (people and process) initiative, which includes the actions: increase sales force capacity; streamline customer acquisition processes; improve sales skills and training; redefine sales metrics and key performance indicators; and establish a dedicated â€œtiger teamâ€? for the fast-growing North West region. And a CRM System Replacement (physical) initiative which includes the actions: consolidate existing customer systems into one CRM system; establish a sales campaign management system; and implement data analytics tools to better understand customer buying patterns.
Initiatives vs Programs vs Projects An initiative does not necessarily have to equate to a project or a program, but it can. Your organization will no doubt have its own preferred methods and ways of executing change and may already have a portfolio of initiatives it is executing. Some initiatives you create may be quite minor and might potentially be given to a business function to implement operationally, as a BAU (business-as-usual) activity. Other initiatives may be more significant, requiring the creation of project structures to deliver them. And some initiatives, with major organizational impact, may need to be established as programs, enabling complex change to be delivered as a series of projects (or even sub-programs) that incrementally build to your target capabilities. Also, while some initiatives result in a one-to-one mapping to an individual project or program, others may be grouped together to form the scope of a single project or program. There are a multitude of ways in which you can organize the implementation of your initiatives, and you need to choose the best approach for your organization, given your current organizational resources. Now that you have defined your initiatives, it is time to sequence them into a roadmap.
For example, say you have defined a number of actions designed to improve your Sales Capability so that you can achieve an objective of a 10% improvement in sales volume, as outlined in the previous chapter. In this case, you decide to group your actions into two initiatives, broadly conforming to the action types as follows:
The roadmap is a visualization describing the sequencing of the initiatives and the relationships that exist between them â€“ it helps you communicate your strategic intent. The purpose of a roadmap is to tell a compelling story of how your organization will progress from now to the future and achieve its strategic vision; it is not meant to be a detailed implementation plan. In Jibility, there is a clear distinction between a roadmap and an implementation plan. The latter is a more detailed, executable view of the roadmap which includes specific dates, resources, programs, projects, durations, effort and so on. An implementation plan is typically represented in a Gantt chart format.
Roadmap How do we best sequence our initiatives to optimize time, risk and cost?
At a high level, a roadmap should show the stages of progression (Stages) and the major outcomes (Initiatives) that must be achieved as you progress towards your desired future state. Related initiatives based on a common thread of change are grouped together (into Themes), enhancing the overall readability of a roadmap. Initiatives could just be listed in sequenced order, but we like to present roadmaps pictorially, in a way that looks remarkably like a London Tube Map.
Prioritizing Your Initiatives The very first step in creating your roadmap is to prioritize your initiatives. Not all initiatives are equal! Some initiatives will deliver significant value to the organization and have a big impact on the achievement of your objectives, whilst others may be important, but have a much more incremental impact.
Ideally, you would give higher execution priority to those initiatives where the impact or value is high, but the costs and risks of implementation are low. Having said that, sometimes you just need to “risk it for the biscuit” and position yourself strategically by tackling a high impact initiative, despite the heavy costs or risks involved, because the payoff is significant and the long-term vision you have for your organization demands it.
Prioritizing your initiatives based on value vs cost/risk is the quickest way of providing focus for which ones should go on your roadmap. It is important to note that this assessment is purely based on a relative comparison between initiatives, rather than an absolute value assessment. When comparing initiatives X and Y, just ask yourself which one provides higher value with a lower risk/effort. Undertaking a relative comparison between initiatives helps spark lively discussions amongst your team as to which initiatives will deliver the higher or lower value against risk/effort. These discussions are an invaluable step in building consensus and
focus within your team. We often use a simple 2x2 matrix with value on the y-axis (from lowest to highest) and risk/effort on the x-axis (from highest to lowest). The 2x2 matrix approach enables you to see each initiative plotted alongside the others, and very clearly articulates the relativities between them. Typically, the initiatives which fall in the top right quadrant (i.e. highest value and lowest risk/effort) are the initiatives you should implement first. Conversely, you will probably want to delay or defer initiatives in the bottom left quadrant, as these represent the lowest value with the highest risk/ effort. Initiatives in the top left quadrant are high value, but also high risk/effort – they’re a line call that needs to be challenged. The lower right quadrant initiatives are possible, but you should question their implementation priority and whether they’re worth it. Throughout Jibility, we constantly reinforce the importance of simplicity and focus. To ensure you keep your strategic roadmap simple and focused, you may decide not to implement all of your proposed initiatives. Where you have lots of initiatives and limited resources (which is probably the case for most of us), you need to zero-in with laser-like focus on those initiatives that matter the most.
Creating the Roadmap Framework The next step in creating your roadmap is to create your roadmap framework. First create horizontal lines, or lanes, for your roadmap by grouping your prioritized initiatives into Themes or
Some initiatives have high costs or risks attached, whilst others may be easy to implement and will only have minor costs associated with them. For example, investing in and creating a new breakthrough product by adopting new technology may add significant value to the organization, but the costs and risks associated with doing this could be very high. Conversely, an initiative that invests in improving your sales capability could provide solid returns, but with a much lower risk and cost profile.
common threads of change or outcome. There is no right or wrong answer to this: it is what makes sense for you and your team. Initiatives can be grouped by major change type (people, process and physical); or by the size of the initiative (major initiatives, minor initiatives or small operational changes); or by functional area (Sales, Product Development, Support); or by key challenges/objectives (increasing sales, reducing costs, increasing innovation); or by key strategic themes identified in your strategy (geographic expansion, increasing production capacity, reducing costs). The options are endless, but the key is to keep it simple and focused so that your team and stakeholders can immediately understand how you are going to execute. Now that you have created the rows for your roadmap, it’s time to create the columns. The columns depict the stages of progression (Stages). Again, there is no right or wrong answer to this – it’s what makes sense to you and your team. You could establish Stages by capability positioning (foundation, competitive and then leading); or by the thematic stage of your strategy (get fit, expand product range, expand geographically and then market domination); or by a simple phasing nomenclature (Phase 1, Stage 2, Horizon 3); or even by timing (Month 1, Quarter 2, Year 3). Once again, it’s down to what works best for you and conveys the most meaning to your stakeholders.
Plotting the Initiatives Now that you’ve established a roadmap framework, you can start plotting your initiatives to create your roadmap. Wherever you position an initiative on the roadmap indicates the stage at which it will be implemented. Your initiatives may be linked sequentially. A row of related initiatives plotted within a Theme is called a “Track”. A Theme can have one or more parallel Tracks of initiatives. For example, you may have created a “Sales and Marketing” Theme and within that Theme is a “Systems” Track that has key initiatives plotted, such as CRM Implementation Phase 1, CRM Implementation Phase 2 and Sales Analytics Tools Establishment. These initiatives are all related and deliver a common outcome around improving the systems (physical) that support the organization’s sales and marketing capabilities. Initiatives are also plotted within a Stage, or column, on the roadmap to define their sequence. Each Stage is often given a name to describe the major outcome when all the initiatives (vertically) are delivered. For example, a “Foundation” Stage might contain all the initiatives targeted at establishing a base level improvement of the organizational capabilities required to achieve your strategy. When plotting your initiatives, think about the pace you are setting for your organization. How many initiatives can you realistically have underway at any one point in time? Even if you can fund all of your initiatives at once, do you really have the people capacity to execute them all? What about the change impact on your organization? Can you and your team absorb the change?
What is your ‘corporate clock speed’? Is your organization agile and nimble? Can it readily adapt? Or is your organization more suited to a slower pace of change?
And at the end of all this, there you have it – a completed Jibility Canvas. A strategic roadmap that succinctly articulates how to implement and realize your strategy; flowing through from challenges and objectives to capabilities, culminating in a roadmap of initiatives with clear courses of action. A unity of strategy and implementation that provides a concise and easily understood plan for the realization of your business vision. You and your organization are now prepped and primed to make it happen!
Sometimes it’s a good idea to create several roadmaps: one that sets an aggressive pace, one that’s more considered, and perhaps one that splits between the two. You can then walk through and evaluate the different roadmap scenarios. Which one feels right to you and the team? Which one is realistic? Which one looks unrealistic? Are you doing too much? Do you need to go back and readjust your priorities to sharpen your focus?
• • • •
Product development Sales are down and our market share is declining Operating costs are high Customer retention is poor
• • • • • •
Expand our product portfolio to include travel insurance and pet insurance Increase total policy sales by 5% Improve brand awareness Enhance digital marketing capability Reduce operating costs to industry average of 12% of gross premiums Reduce customer churn. Improve our Net Promoter Score by 20 points.
• • • • • • • •
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
Strategy Planning (Strategy Mgt, Strategy Gov, Enterprise Architecture) Innovation Management (R&D, Idea Development, Idea Scaling) Product Management (Product Strategy, Product Dev, Viability Mgt) Customer Service (Customer Rel Mgt, Customer Info Mgt) Channel Management (Channel Strategy, Channel Dev, Channel Execution) Service Management (Service Planning, Service Dev, Service Execution) Marketing (Marketing Strategy, Digital Marketing, Brand Mgt) Sales (Quote Mgt, Lead & Opportunity Mgt, Campaign Mgt, Sales Mgt) Claims (Claims Handling, Claims Recovery, Dispute Resolution) Underwriting (Risk Analysis, Risk Monitoring, Loss Control) Policy Management (Eligibility Assessment, Premium Mgt, Renewal Mgt) Finance (Billing and Payments, Accounting, Investment Portfolio Mgt) Support (IT Mgt Human Resource Mgt, Procurement, Knowledge Mgt) External Relations Mgt (Advocacy, Alliance Mgt, Community Engagement) Governance (Legal, Risk Mgt, Regulatory Mgt)
Strategy Planning (Create One Business and IT Strategy, Implement Planning Process) Innovation Mgt (Establish Digital Strategy) Product Management (New Product Tiger Team, Go To Market Blueprint, Create Product Roadmap, Introduce White Label Travel Ins) Customer Service (New CRM System, Customer Profiling, Map Customer Journey) Channel Management (Create Digital Team, Update Channel Strategy) Service Management (Re-align service processes to Customer Journey) Marketing (Create Digital Material, Reinvigorate Brand Strategy) Sales (Campaign Mgt System, Pilot Sales Campaign, Sales Reporting System)
1. Campaign Mgt Reporting and Metrics (Implement Campaign Mgt Module, Sales Reporting System) 2. Strategy Alignment and Refresh (Create One Business and IT Strategy, Implement Planning Process) 3. Digital Transformation (Establish Digital Strategy, Digital Channel Team, Update Channel Strategy, Create Digital Material) 4. Rejuvenate Customer Journey (Customer Profiling, Map Customer Journey, Re-align service processes to Customer Journey) 5. CRM (New CRM System) 6. Product Strategy (Go To Market Blueprint, Create Product Roadmap) 7. Travel Insurance (Tiger Team, White Label Travel Ins, Pilot Sales Campaign) 8. Revitalize Brand (Reinvigorate Brand Strategy)
Putting It All Together
We’ve said that strategic roadmaps need to be: Simple – so that they are easily understood by everyone Visual – so that they can be absorbed quickly Adaptive – so that they are quick and easy to maintain and keep relevant The process we’ve stepped through so far has hopefully helped you clarify how to go about executing your strategy, distilling it down into a clear, concise and easily understood roadmap that meets these three objectives. The last and final step is to assemble your building blocks, pulling it all together so that you’re ready to communicate your strategic roadmap.
You need to keep it tight. A one- or two-page infographic does more to communicate your roadmap than a large wordy document ever will.
Your Jibility Canvas shouldn’t be complex. If you can’t succinctly summarize the outcomes, then it may not be focused enough. Strip it back to the core so that your team are crystal clear on the priorities.
Put your Jibility Canvas on posters, email it, include it in presentations, broadcast it on the company social media network, blog about it, paint it on the wall in the lunch room, make it your screen saver. If you’re using the Jibility software application, give your team access to it and encourage them to examine and ‘what if ’ the models. Measure your execution. Establish metrics so you can track your progress to your objectives. Learn from your failures, make adjustments and keep measuring – incrementally improve your execution performance. Keep it alive. We’ve worked hard to make Jibility simple and focused so that you can easily adapt and maintain your strategy. Things change and they change often. Your strategic roadmap needs to keep pace with that change. Review it on a regular basis, maintain it, keep it relevant, and keep communicating the changes. Be passionate about your Jibility roadmap. People make things happen. Leaders don’t leave plans on the shelf, or falter at the first hurdle: they dig in, adjust the plan and move forward again. And lastly, don’t forget to celebrate your successes along the way! When you complete initiatives or achieve objectives, make sure everyone knows about it and that you recognize your team. Make your wins memorable.
Start communicating it ad nauseam. Shout it from the rooftops! Share it at the watercooler! Put it out there in lights. Everyone in your organization needs to understand and believe in it, from the Chair of the Board to the graduate coder who only joined last week.
So Whatâ€™s This CapabilityBased Planning All About Then?
PROCESS PROCESS + + P EO P L E + + PEOPLE P H YS I C A L PHYSICAL
At the core of Jibility is the concept of capability-based planning. Used extensively for defense and military planning by the US, UK, Australian and Canadian governments, it has also become popular in the business domain, in particular for developing systems and IT-related strategies.
The theory is that those organizations that possess superior capability to execute strategy will win – whether they are the armed forces or a business. Thus, this technique has been adopted and codified by the business world and is now embodied in industry frameworks, including The Open Group Architecture Framework (TOGAF®), which is used extensively for planning information technology strategy and architecture. Building on TOGAF®, the Business Architecture Guild® has developed an excellent in-depth guide to capability-based planning and related business and IT architecture disciplines, called A Guide to the Business Architecture Body of Knowledge® (BIZBOK®). This is well worth a read if you want to immerse yourself in the mechanics of capability-based planning and business architecture. Whilst capability-based planning has long been one of the tools of trade for military planners and strategists, consultants and enterprise architects, it hasn’t been widely understood or adopted in the broader community. We think that capability-based planning is extremely effective. So effective, that we wanted to simplify it so it could be used by all sorts of people, for all sorts of things. Hence why we developed Jibility: a distillation of the technique to its essential raw essence, simplifying the approach, and creating a powerful tool that everyone and anyone can use. We wanted to equip today’s busy leaders with the means to bridge the gap from visionary strategy
to pragmatic execution, as simply and quickly as possible. With Jibility, we believe we have succeeded in helping them do just that. In capability-based planning, a capability describes what the business does and should not be confused with just the skills or competencies of the people (which the HR function also refers to as a capability). So, a business capability is described by more than just the people perspective; it includes the process and physical perspectives. In other words, a business capability can describe the processes involved, the physical objects used, and the people roles and skills required as well.
Itâ€™s a top-down, whole-of-organization approach. It breaks through departmental silos.
It focuses directly on what an organization needs to do to execute its strategy.
It cuts the wheat from the chaff. It helps you determine the highest priority capabilities that you need to develop, and the related initiatives you should focus on. It clarifies and optimizes business investment.
It stops you from jumping to conclusions about solutions too soon. By delaying solution definition and doing it in the context of capabilities, it opens you up to alternatives rather than simply incrementing existing deployed equipment, processes and people.
It provides a systematic way of identifying change initiatives. Many business planning approaches define mission, goals and objectives and then start spawning initiatives and projects. By looking at what capabilities are required to meet your objectives, it provides clarity for your initiatives.
It directly links initiatives and projects back to capability improvements, and in turn back to the organizationâ€™s objectives. No more random initiatives that seemed like a good idea at the time, but in hindsight donâ€™t actually align to your strategy.
Capability-based planning and the Jibility approach works
We’ve applied the method to an existing business plan and roadmap that was developed for one of our clients without using capability-based planning, to see what we’d get. We worked bottom-up and top-down, meeting in the middle: effectively backtesting and verifying the approach. We started at the final Jibility Step, collating all of the initiatives that were either being executing or planned. We then developed a capability map for the entire business, broke the initiatives down into actions, and linked them back to those capabilities that they were impacting. Going back to the first Jibility Step, we then entered the current challenges the client was facing and their current documented business objectives/goals. We worked with them to identify which capabilities were required to achieve those objectives, thereby now linking challenges and objectives all the way through to initiatives. What did we find? Some challenges had no related business objectives or goals to address them (and therefore no projects or initiatives were planned to address these challenges). Several projects were improving capabilities that had no linkage to any identified business objective. Whilst they may have been good things to do, they were diverting attention and resources away from more important projects. Priorities were misaligned. Projects that the leadership team initially said were high priority were relegated to medium or low priority once they could see that they were investing in business capabilities that were already strong. On the
flip side, other business capabilities that directly linked to business objectives were not receiving sufficient focus. There were several business capabilities that were critical to achieving the strategy that had no courses of action or initiatives. There were several business capabilities of no consequence to achieving the strategy that had high cost initiatives related to them. There were several new capabilities that the business required to achieve their strategy that they hadn’t previously foreseen.
As a result, the client’s leadership team were able to reshape their portfolio of projects to better align to and execute their strategy.
So, whatever challenges may face your organization, you can be confident that capabilitybased planning and the Jibility approach will focus you and your team to meet them head on and drive through to the achievement of your longterm strategic vision.
Three Jibility Stories Jibility can be used in all sorts of organizations and in many different ways. To highlight the breadth of what’s possible with Jibility, we’ve created three illustrative stories based on real-life consulting experiences.
The first is about building a strategic roadmap for a medium to large organization called Insure North; the second, for an internal function, namely the IT department for RedYabber Toy Company; and the third, for an innovative new startup: TaxCobber. These stories form the next three chapters. Are you sitting comfortably? Then let’s begin!
Insure North is a successful general and life insurer that underwrites its own product as well as selling white label insurance products from partners. Insure North has been in existence for over 50 years and has a strong customer base, with almost two million customers in the regional areas in which it predominantly operates. It has always enjoyed slow steady growth, but in the last few years has seen a reversal in that trend due to new entrants in the geographical areas it has previously dominated, and, in particular, the rise of digital insurers. These new internet-based entrants with lower overheads have significantly attacked its customer base on price. Insure North believes that it can compete on superior customer service and that they have the ability to develop deep customer relationships that will improve customer retention. Key thrusts of their strategy include: • sell multiple products to existing customers to deepen the relationship, thereby improving “customer stickiness”; • improve internal sales capability and implement the ability to manage sales campaigns; • implement a customer loyalty program to improve retention; • digitize internal operations to reduce costs; and • strengthen Insure North’s digital channels.
Insure North has also decided to replace its aging customer management system with a new Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system to better support its sales-oriented strategy. Karl Neal, the President of Insure North, has been entrusted by his Board to implement this sales turnaround strategy.
Insure North Challenges Discreetly located in a low-rise building within a leafy business district on the outskirts of the CBD, Insure North’s head office was much busier than usual for a Monday morning. In the second floor boardroom, the executive had gathered to review their strategy. Pinned-up around the walls were various strategy maps and models developed by their strategy team. There was a Norton Kaplan Strategy Map, a Porter’s Five Forces Model, a SWOT Analysis and an Ansoff Product/Market Grid, all mixed in with various A3 infographics articulating where Insure North were heading. At the end of the room on a large poster was their mission: “To give our clients peace of mind by being their most valued insurance provider”. The executives milled around in small groups, slowly moving from one artefact to the next as an executive assistant brought in trays of takeaway coffees and Danishes. A few of the executives were seated at the table, reading a document which summarized the key thrusts of the Insure North business strategy, and only raising their heads when they recognized the type of coffee they ordered being called out. The President of Insure North, Karl Neal, walked in and called the workshop to order. The executive team spent the next hour immersing themselves in their strategy and discussing it in depth. Then the team broke up into groups to brainstorm the major challenges (positive or negative) that they believed they needed to either overcome or capitalize on. The groups came back together, and the ideas were pooled and the duplicates removed. They finally boiled it all down to a list of 42 challenges. Karl sat back and looked at the overwhelming list. “Well, we can’t tackle them all,” he said, “so let’s tackle the big stuff first.” Over the next hour, the executives debated which were the
top challenges. Karl continued to push the team to prioritize them into a focused list, written up on the whiteboard. They whittled the challenges down to 30, then to 22, and then to 12. Finally, Karl gave each executive four dot stickers to place on the short list, indicating which four they considered priorities. After all dots were placed, four challenges emerged as clear priorities: Insure North needed to expand the number of products available to offer to its customers. Market share was declining due to weak sales. Operating costs were higher than the industry average. Customer retention was poor.
Insure North Objectives The Insure North executive team looked at the major challenges facing them. Karl wiped the whiteboard clean of all the other challenges they’d identified so they could focus on their top four. “So, what are we going to do about these, team?” Karl asked.
65 point lift.” This sparked another heated debate, but in the end they all agreed to set it to a 10 point lift. And so, the last objective was reset to “Reduce customer churn and improve our Net Promoter Score® by 10 points”.
And so, Karl and the team turned their attention to setting some clear objectives tvo address these challenges. After an hour or so, they had identified the following key objectives for Insure North: Expand product portfolio to include travel insurance and pet insurance Increase total policy sales by 5% Improve brand awareness Enhance digital marketing capability Reduce operating costs to industry average of 12% of gross premiums. Reduce customer churn. Improve Net Promoter Score® (NPS) by 20 points Karl and the team sat back and absorbed the objectives they had just set themselves. “I’m not sure about that last one,” said Con Arthur, the VP for Marketing. “Our NPS® is already at 30. I think getting to 50 is a big ask from where we’re at. I’d be more comfortable with a 10
“Well, if we’re using Jibility then we should set some objectives next,” stated Phil Southall, the VP for Sales.
Challenges and Objectives
Insure North Capabilities The harsh midday sun was starting to stream in through the boardroom windows. Phil walked over and adjusted the blind to remove some of the glare and protect the room from the rising outside temperature.
“Ok, team,” Karl started, “I’ve asked Phil to facilitate this next section. Now that we’ve set our objectives, we need to work out what capabilities we need to deliver on our targets. Over to you, Phil.” Phil walked over to his laptop, flipped it up and projected his screen onto the wall. “So rather than start from scratch, I’ve had a crack at putting together what I think are our current capabilities. So, let’s start with this and see what you all think.” “It looks like our organizational structure,” Con said. “Bits of it do,” replied Phil, “but that’s only because a lot of our structure is organized around executing our underlying capabilities. A capability is not an organizational function or unit, it’s something we do. Something that usually needs processes and physical things as well as people to be able to execute.” “Oh… I see,” replied Con. After some debate, the Insure North team finally agreed a high-level capability map they felt described what they currently did as an organization. It had several top-level capabilities ranging from Underwriting, Claims, Sales and Marketing through to Finance and IT.
“Fantastic!” Phil exclaimed. “Now let’s talk about how much change we need to make to our organizational capabilities. We can change existing capabilities or leave them as they are. We can add new ones and we can even drop some. Who wants to start?” “I reckon we need to significantly improve our ‘Customer Relationship Management’ capability if we want to make a dent in sales,” Con stated emphatically. “I agree, Con,” Karl replied. And so, Phil shaded that capability in red on the screen to signify a high level of change was required. “What about ‘Campaign Management’?” Phil asked. “We’ve never really done that. We tend to do broad brand-building advertising. We’ve never really run a targeted sales campaign. I think we should build this as a new capability for Insure North.” Everyone agreed, so Phil added this capability to the map and colored it purple to signify it was new. “What about Finance?” piped-up Jon Ross, the company’s Chief Financial Officer. “
Great job, people,” Phil remarked. “Let’s now agree which of these capabilities will provide the most leverage for us to hit our objectives.” The Insure North team went through and tagged all of the capabilities as they felt they related back to each objective. The capabilities of “Customer Relationship Management”, “Channel Management” and “Digital Sales Management” were all linked back to the objective of “Increase total policy sales by 5%”. The “Digital Sales Management” capability was also linked to the “Enhance Digital Marketing Capability” objective. They carried on with this until they’d considered all the linkages to all the objectives.
“Really, Ross?” replied Con. Because Jon’s surname sounded like his first name, people were always accidentally transposing the two. It annoyed Jon when this happened, and he couldn’t quite work out if Con was giving him a stir. The relationship between Marketing and Finance was strained, as they always seemed to have competing objectives. Marketing wanted to spend lots of money, Finance wanted to cut costs. Jon decided to let it go and responded calmly, “If we’re going to reduce costs then we need to invest in our financial management capability.” “Yep, fair enough, Jon,” Karl replied, “but this capability is already quite strong. Let’s color it as green to show only a low amount of change is required.” Jon was quite chuffed that Insure North’s President Karl thought that their “Financial Management” capability was strong, and he agreed with the “low change required” rating. After a few hours of debate and hard work, the Insure North team had identified the capabilities they needed to change. More importantly, they had agreed how much change they had to make to each capability. “Now we need to prioritize,” said Phil. “We can’t do everything, so let’s agree what we really need to focus on. But first let’s break for lunch. I’ll tidy up our capability map while you all chat about priorities over a sandwich or two.” With that, Phil took his laptop and left the room, but not before grabbing a sandwich off the trolley that had just been wheeled quietly into the room by Karl’s assistant. After 30 minutes, Phil returned to the boardroom, his laptop in one hand and a roll of paper in the other. He’d just come from IT, where he’d printed the Insure North capability map onto an A1 page. He stuck it to the wall and then gave each of the Insure North team a sheet of five gold star stickers, like
the kind you used to get in school when the teacher liked your assignment. “Ok, people, let’s prioritize,” Phil started. “Whilst almost every capability could be improved or invested in, we can’t do everything. So, with your five stars I want you to tag those capabilities you believe are the highest priority for investment. You can put more than one star on a capability if you feel passionately about it. Off you go.” Jon Ross immediately stood up and placed three of his five stars on “Financial Management”. The rest of the team more judiciously placed their stars over the next ten minutes. Some members changed their mind several times and stars were removed and replaced but in the end the map demonstrated a compelling pattern. The consensus was to focus investment in Sales, Marketing and capabilities related to new products – and, of course, there were the three stars Jon the CFO had put on “Financial Management”. Over a long period of time, Jon had built-up a lot of frustration with Insure North’s ability to manage aspects of their finances (in particular, accounts payable). He now lobbied hard with the team for investment in Insure North’s finance capability, but ultimately couldn’t make the case that a significant lift in this capability would be a direct driver for any of the core objectives. He eventually capitulated, taking a couple of his stars and allocating them to new products.
“Woohoo!” exclaimed Phil. “We’ve got our capability map!”
“Great job, team!” exclaimed Phil. Karl chipped in: “Let’s now put some actions around it. Coffee anyone?” And he proceeded to order more coffee for the team.
Insure North Actions The coffee arrived shortly, and the executive assistant placed the right coffee in front of each person. The keen assistant had memorized everyone’s coffee order.
Phil stood up from his chair and arranged it neatly back into its rightful position, ensuring the back of the chair was aligned perfectly with the edge of the table. He made a mental note that perhaps his wife was right: she was always saying he was on the OCD spectrum. He himself started to notice the little weird things he did, like symmetrically lining up the spines of the books on his shelf in alphabetical order. He would always fuss when someone touched his books and they no longer lined-up.
“Well, that looks expensive,” he grunted. “We don’t have money to fund all this!”
“Okay, let’s create some actions,” he announced. “For every capability we have identified, we now need to identify actions. Perhaps we need to put in a new system, or change business processes, or hire new staff, or reduce staff numbers. Perhaps we need to invest in staff training, or establish a new function, or find a new partner. Whatever it is, just write it on a sticky note and place it against the relevant capability on the map that I’ve projected on the wall. I’ll give you 30 minutes to brainstorm as many actions as you can.” The team proceeded to produce a multitude of actions such as “replace our CRM system”, “execute pilot sales program”, “implement campaign management system module”, “establish sales ‘tiger’ team for new products”, “increase number of staff in our support center” and “find a white label provider for Travel Insurance”, to name just a few. The capability map on the wall became covered with actions. The team then spent another hour discussing and debating the merits of each action. They refined the actions by adding new ones, dropping some and building out others for those prioritized capabilities that didn’t seem to have any
Jon stood back, crossed his arms and looked at the significant number of actions that now filled the wall.
“Let’s hold that thought,” interjected Karl. “What’s next, Phil?” “We now need to form these actions up into initiatives,” Phil replied. “Everyone gather round.”
Insure North Initiatives The Insure North executive team gathered around the wall. “Okay, people,” began Phil, “let’s start to group these actions into initiatives. Remember, an initiative needs to deliver a logical outcome.”
Tanya Taraborrelli (TT for short) got the hang of it immediately. She used to be a top-notch Program Manager before she became the CIO (Chief Information Officer) of Insure North. She grabbed the “implement campaign management module in CRM system” action and added it to “establish campaign management reporting and metrics”, creating an initiative called “Establish Campaign Management”. “Good job, TT,” Phil remarked. “What about if we also add ‘execute pilot sales campaign’ to it?” “Well…” replied TT, “I was thinking that it would be better to create a new initiative called ‘Campaign Pilot’ and add that action with ‘establish sales tiger team’ to it. That means with the same pilot initiative we can test both the new campaign management system as well as the tiger team concept.” “That’s a good idea,” Con said excitedly. “I want to be the sponsor for that initiative.” Soon the whole team were moving actions around to form up initiatives. Some actions became one initiative, whilst some initiatives consisted of several actions. In the end, they formed 22 initiatives. Not bad, thought Karl the President. Apart from creating a great roadmap, this exercise was really starting to bring the team together and break down some organizational silos. “TT,” Karl said, “you’ve got a flair for planning. You should lead the next stage and facilitate the building of our roadmap.” “Easy as,” TT said confidently. She was really in her element.
Insure North Roadmap “Still looks expensive!” grumbled Jon the CFO. “That’s a lot of initiatives, and some of them look like they are going to take a fair bit of investment.” “That’s why we have you around, Jon, to keep us from going bankrupt,” laughed TT.
“You bring up a good point,” said Karl. “We need to prioritize this list, so we know which initiatives we should absolutely do and which ones we can defer if we need to.” TT walked up to the whiteboard, wiped it clear, and drew up a big 2x2 matrix. On the y-axis was “Value” and on the x-axis was “Risk/Effort”. “The bottom axis is just for you Jon,” she quipped. “Okay, everyone, let’s place our initiatives where we think they lie. It’s not about the exact quantum, it’s more about the relativities between the initiatives.” After some discussion (at times a little heated), the Insure North leadership had agreed their priorities. They all agreed that the most important initiatives sitting in the top right quadrant were a “sales improvement” initiative, along with the initiatives related to campaign management. Much to Jon’s chagrin, the “Finance System Replacement” initiative was deemed to be high effort with lower value than the other initiatives. You can’t win them all, he thought, but he mostly agreed with where the team had landed, and was pleased with where they were headed. “Now for the roadmap,” TT declared. She jumped to another whiteboard and started to draw up another matrix. She created three columns called Horizon One, Horizon Two and Horizon Three. “Let’s not get hung up on dates just yet. We can worry about that when we come to execute our roadmap. For the moment, let’s just plot how we want to broadly sequence our
initiatives and which ones we want to make happen within the same broad timeframe.” TT then drew-up several rows. Each row reflected a highlevel grouping of organizational capabilities. These included Products, Sales, Marketing and Business Support. “So which initiatives should go where?” she mused. The team started to sequence the initiatives onto the roadmap. It was obvious which horizon some initiatives should go in, but for others it was less so. When they stepped back from the board after the initial round of allocation it became obvious that they had far too many initiatives stacked in the first horizon. “There’s no way we could do all of that at once,” declared Con. “Agreed,” said Karl. “We wouldn’t be able to execute that amount of change all at once. Let’s cascade some back into later horizons. Let’s do the high value and low effort ones primarily in the first horizon.” After two more rounds of shuffling, the team had created their roadmap. “Woohoo!” exclaimed Karl. “I’m really feeling confident about where we’re heading. Great job, people. Let’s celebrate, my shout!” The team smiled at each other, enthused by the prospect of the journey ahead of them and the roadmap they’d defined together and all now shared. Just then there came a discreet knock on the door as the ever prescient executive assistant entered with a tray of celebratory drinks, rather than the usual round of coffees.
RedYabber is a medium-sized company that specializes in selling traditional wooden toys to the local and global market. The name RedYabber was derived from the color of the wood they use, which has a natural red tinge, and a vision which is to encourage imaginative play (where children «yabber” or talk imaginatively). RedYabber has operated for over 10 years, building a strong business that employs over 200 people. It’s a fairly conservative organization with a traditional approach to its operational and retail capabilities. With their push into the global market, the need for online retail and digital transformation has placed an increased focus on their existing IT function and its capabilities. RedYabber’s executive team has a clearly defined strategy that articulates the vision, the target customers, the value proposition, channels and so forth. RedYabber’s vision is to “Reach the heart of every child through imaginative play the natural way”.
The key changes for RedYabber, as articulated in their new strategy, are to:
• expand from traditional wooden toys into more sophisticated toys (but still using natural wood), in order to reach today’s technologically savvy children; and • to move from labor intensive operations to scaledup operations but keeping costs low (mostly through automation). Jenny Lim is the Chief Information Officer (CIO) of RedYabber. She runs a very efficient IT operations function with a team of 22 people. Given the strategic intent for RedYabber, Jenny is facing increased pressure to support the business with its digital transformation.
• switch from mainly focusing on the local market to now reaching out to a global market («Reaching the heart of every child»);
Jenny returned to her office and sat down at her workstation. She had just attended an executive meeting where the RedYabber business strategy was discussed in depth. Front and center of the strategy was digital transformation, and this largely rested on her shoulders to execute. She looked across the floor at her team and started to think hard about the opportunities and challenges this presented for them. Flipping open her laptop, she spun-up the Jibility Canvas template in PowerPoint and settled herself in for a long session at the keyboard. After several hours of deep thought, interspersed with some impromptu discussion with members of her team, she had identified the following challenges for RedYabber IT: The business is looking to IT to provide the digital transformation leadership for the organization. IT has the opportunity to shift from an owner-operator of technology to a consumption-based model. ITâ€™s solution build capability is currently unable to deliver the innovative solutions that RedYabber is looking for. The list of challenges was tight, but felt quite daunting. However, Jenny found herself strangely excited about the prospect of the journey that lay ahead.
“Team,” she said, “we’ve got some challenges ahead of us and we need to set a new path forward. We need to set some objectives and we need to do it today!”
team agreed they were indeed the key things they needed to resolve and overcome. Jenny projected the RedYabber IT challenges onto the wall and they set about creating an objective or two for each challenge. After some discussion, Jenny declared, “If our business colleagues are seeking digital transformation leadership from IT, then let’s give it to them!” Jenny wrote up an objective for their first challenge: “establish a digital transformation capability”.
Over the next hour she took her team back through the macro RedYabber business strategy. They discussed what this meant for the IT function and Jenny shared her top challenges. Her
“But what does that mean?” asked Brett, who was Jenny’s unofficial second-in-charge. He was always practical and was the key driver of all projects in the IT area. www.jibility.com
Jenny continued to study the challenges she had just created with a determined look on her face. Suddenly, she jumped to her feet, rounded up three key members of her team and ushered them into a meeting room.
90 An intense discussion followed which resulted in the fleshing-out of this objective into a number of bullet points: Understand the digital strategy Create a clear vision of the digital future Invest in innovation, experimentation and learning Prioritize based on business value Build and change implementation capability Earn the right to engage with the business www.jibility.com
Build upon and sustain digital change “One challenge down, two to go!” exclaimed Brett. “What’s the next one?” They went on to craft several more objectives, along with bullet point descriptions of each. In the end, they finished up with four objectives linked back to their challenges. They also found that some of the objectives actually linked back to more than one challenge. The RedYabber IT objectives that the team established, were: Establish a digital transformation capability Transition to a consumption-based model and reduce IT costs by 10% overall Establish an agile solutions delivery approach Establish an innovation management capability
“We need to work out what IT capabilities we have in place already. This will be a good starting point,” said Jenny. Rick was Jenny’s Enterprise Architect and he was a big fan of the capability-based planning approach. “Hey, guess what?” asked Rick. “What?” replied Jenny. “I’ve been working in the background on mapping our IT capabilities using the Jibility software. What about if we use my capability map as a starting point?” “Great idea, Rick,” said Jenny. “Go grab it.” Rick hurried away to print some A3 copies of his capability map while everyone grabbed a quick cup of tea. Rick soon returned with his capability map. Jenny sipped on her vanilla chai tea, savoring the smell of the spices as the steam rose and wafted in the air. This is fantastic! she thought. She was thinking about Rick’s capability map and not her cup of tea, though that wasn’t too bad either. Rick’s list of capabilities would save a lot of time; they just needed to add the new required capabilities, remove the ones that weren’t going to be relevant in the future, and then work out which of the others needed to be changed or invested in. “Can I suggest we add a capability called ‘innovation management’? It’s definitely needed to support our objective of ‘establish an innovation management capability’,” Rick pointed out. “It would have sub-capabilities such as ‘ideas management’,
‘experimentation’, ‘research and development’ and ‘incubation’.” “I like it, Rick,” Brett said. In the discussion that followed they added several more capabilities, such as “agile delivery management” and “portfolio management”. They then set about determining the level of change required for the existing capabilities. They all agreed that their “bespoke software development” capability needed a significant level of change in light of the objectives they had set for themselves. In particular, they linked this capability directly to the “establish an agile solutions delivery approach” objective, which they all felt was key. “So, where do we focus first?” asked Brett. He was starting to think about execution. As Jenny’s 2IC, he knew delivery would largely rest on his shoulders. “We’d be hard pressed to be able to do all of this,” replied Jenny. Jenny was very ambitious, so secretly she wanted to tackle it all, but she knew that realistically they’d need to focus on the big-ticket items. They spent some time reviewing each capability and determining where to invest. Jenny wouldn’t allow the team to make everything a high priority for investment. She applied an artificial constraint that only two or three capabilities could be ranked high. This forced the team to really think about what was important to the achievement of their objectives.
Whilst Jenny was excited about the objectives they had set for their IT function, she knew that they would have to improve their internal capability.
After agreeing the investment priorities, a new capability of “digital marketing platform” scored the highest priority. This capability broke down into “social media channels”, “online chat support”, “user interaction analysis” and “automated response generation”. The IT team felt that for RedYabber to push into the global market, it was critical that they have a platform for digital marketing, as their future global sales channels were all online (currently, global sales were via distributors located in each country). Jenny grabbed her cup of tea and took a sip. It had now gone quite cold. She had forgotten all about it given the frenzy of activity around the development of their capabilities. This was exciting. Now to put some actions in place, she thought to herself.
RedYabber Actions “It’s time to put some actions around these capabilities,” Jenny said with determination, “so that we can start transforming them.” Rick chipped in, “And don’t forget actions can be related to processes, people or physical things like tools.”
“Who wants to go first?” asked Jenny. In a halting voice, one you could almost miss, Ally Cullen spoke up: “We agreed that we should invest in our ‘technology infrastructure management’ capability in the context of us moving to a consumption-based model. I’ve been jotting down some thoughts on this.” Everyone fell silent. Ally headed the infrastructure team for RedYabber. She was an introvert, but brilliant technically; a quiet achiever held in high regard. She didn’t say much, and was often overshadowed by her more boisterous colleagues, but when she spoke she always had something insightful to say. “I think there are five key actions we could take that would shift this capability towards a consumption-based model. We could establish and configure a cloud-based platform, reskill our technical people for cloud-based service management, and implement new processes for cloud-based service provisioning. This would then enable us to retire some of our legacy hardware and downsize the RedYabber data center. What do you all think?” “Ally, that’s great!” exclaimed Jenny. Jenny reflected on their day so far. The roadmap was starting to come together well, but in addition they were really starting to work as a team. Team morale had been at an all-time low recently and she felt that she and the IT area were lacking a little direction. It was starting to feel like the team was back! With new-found enthusiasm, Jenny then tackled the “IT
leadership” capability and set six actions for it. A key action they agreed upon was “rebrand RedYabber IT and change perception”. Rick was busily entering all the actions in the Jibility software as they went. At the end, they had what Jenny thought was an impressive set of actions. Go team! Jenny thought to herself.
RedYabber Initiatives Brett was still worried about execution. “Can we group all these actions into some logical outcomes?” he queried. “Absolutely,” replied Jenny. “We need to do that so we can create our roadmap. I think it’s likely that each initiative we identify will end up being delivered as a project or program.”
Jenny spotted the digital marketing capability and decided to start there. She wrote up on the board: “Digital Marketing Platform Established”. She then wrote under that in bullet points: “Define Digital Marketing Strategy”, “Establish Digital Marketing Technology Platform” and “Stand-up Digital Marketing Team” as actions. “What do you think, team?” she asked. “Looks good, Jenny,” Brett replied. “I’d be happy to run that project!” Over the next fifty minutes, the RedYabber IT team filled the whiteboard with their ideas. They spawned initiatives, added actions to them, changed their minds several times, and pulled some initiatives apart to create two. They even backtracked and came up with some more actions and changed the priority of several capabilities. “Wow, that’s a real tidy set of initiatives!” exclaimed Brett. “Let’s get these into a roadmap. I’ll just put these initiatives into Jibility while you guys take a break.”
RedYabber Roadmap The team started to wander back into the room from their break. Brett had finished grouping their actions into initiatives in the Jibility software and had them projected on the wall.
intently at the initiatives. She started to see three common threads of change for RedYabber IT. She walked up and drew three big circles around the initiatives.
Ally gazed at the list of initiatives. “Brett, before we create the roadmap, can we prioritize?” she said. “Because if you ask me, ‘cloud transition’ will deliver value quicker than, say, ‘innovation management’.”
“I reckon we’ve got three Themes for our roadmap,” she explained. “‘Digital’, ‘Cloud’ and ‘Innovation’. What do you all think?”
“That’s easy,” replied Brett. He brought up the prioritization 2x2 matrix in Jibility and projected it on the wall. It had “Value” on one axis and “Risk/Effort” on the other. “Let’s plot our initiatives,” he suggested. The team proceeded to drag the initiatives one by one onto the matrix. Each received a lot of discussion and they shuffled them around the quadrants until they reached consensus. The team agreed that “Innovation Management”, although potentially delivering high value, posed some risks to the organization. A decision was made that this initiative should be deferred until RedYabber had an established digital platform and digital capabilities. “You were bang on, Ally,” Brett commented. Ally was pleased; she often felt that her views were not heard by the team. She was really enjoying creating their strategic roadmap and felt that she had made a significant contribution to the direction that RedYabber IT was heading in. The team then drew a lasso around the highest priority initiatives that would make it onto the roadmap. “Let’s see all of the initiatives in detail again,” Jenny said. Rick projected the initiatives map on the wall. Jenny sat back with her hands behind her head, deep in thought, staring
Jenny continued, “And what about if we define three horizons for our roadmap? Foundation to Competitive to Leading. Get the basics in order, then we can get fancy,” she said smiling. “Maybe,” said Brett. Being a project manager at heart, he liked timeframes. “How about year one through to year three?”
“I don’t want to put timeframes on it at this point, Brett,” replied Jenny. “We don’t know how much funding we’ll get, so we may have to go slow or we may be able to go fast. Let’s just map the horizons, then we can create the program plan once we have presented to the Executive and have funding approval.” “Yep, good point,” Brett conceded, “let’s go with your proposed Stages.” Rick spun up a roadmap framework on Jibility and projected it onto the wall. The team then proceeded to map each initiative to where they felt it logically sat. Rick added “Cloud Transition” to the “Cloud” Theme and “Competitive” Stage cell. Jenny could see that there was another initiative called “Cloud Platform Established”, which needed to be delivered before she could commence “Cloud Transition”. So, she asked Rick to add “Cloud Platform Established” into the “Cloud” Theme and “Foundation” Stage cell and then connect it with “Cloud Transition”. Brett also identified that “Digital Marketing Platform Established” was dependent on “Cloud Platform Established”. After a little while, the first draft roadmap for RedYabber IT was complete. It had been a long day, but Jenny knew that the journey to transform RedYabber IT had really begun and that the team were all onboard.
Rick loved its simplicity. “Yep, that’s great. It really simplifies the message to our troops and our customers,” he said.
“This is fantastic!” exclaimed Jenny, beaming at her team. “Print it out. I can’t wait to take this to the Executive!”
104 TaxCobber is a startup technology business, providing an online tool that utilizes artificial intelligence to interpret tax law and the history of past rulings in order to provide tax advice to accountants. The TaxCobber co-founding team have been working day and night on their product and are nearing what they consider to be their MVP (Minimum Viable Product) ready for launch. The startup team of Mike Andrews and Susanna Johnson met while they were at university. They became good friends and, while working for bigger firms, started to talk about a new idea for disrupting the taxation advice industry. What started as a side hustle turned into an obsession, and before they knew it they’d thrown in their day jobs and plunged head-long into the new venture. They were soon working out of Mike’s downtown apartment, living on noodles, caffeine and seed funding provided by generous friends and family (including $50,000 of Mike’s own savings). Both were tech savvy, but Mike was the stronger technically. Susanna could code, but she had the business brains of the two, and a flair for sales. Perfect founding partners: one a technical genius and one with the street-smarts.
105 Mike and Susanna were excited about TaxCobber, but with the product only a few months away from launch they needed to turn their attention to the establishment of business operations and the execution of their TaxCobber business strategy, the vision of which had been a big factor in attracting their early investors.
• marketing and sales • expanding the TaxCobber team • establishing back office systems, including Finance and HR • securing the next round of funding Mike and Susanna’s favorite motto was “Find a Way or Make One”. This had been their mantra every time they’d hit a roadblock. With their launch just around the corner, they’d certainly got their work cut out for them now! Hopefully, this motto would hold them in good stead.
Mike and Susanna agreed that they needed to design and implement business operations focusing on:
Mike and Susanna sank down in beanbags in Mike’s living room with their morning coffee. Susanna picked at the loose strands of material fraying from the faded corduroy that covered the bags, watching the odd Styrofoam ball escape from various small holes. She took a sip of the bitter coffee and made a mental note that she really needed to go back to drinking peppermint tea. “So, Mike”, Susanna said, drawing in a deep breath, “it’s getting to the tricky part now. It’s been so hectic and fun building TaxCobber, but we really need to start thinking about how we’re actually going to run our business. I feel really good about our strategy, but we have to get our operations up and running ready for the launch.”
hour, they’d filled the whiteboard. They both sat back and looked at the list. “This is doing my head in,” said Mike. “We need to prioritize.” “What are our most significant challenges?” Susanna responded. After another forty minutes of debate, they whittled the list down to four key challenges: Sales to early adopter customers to get feedback and prove problem/solution fit
“I agree,” said Mike. “It feels daunting thinking about all the stuff we need to establish for the business – sales, finance, marketing… The list feels endless. It’s hard to know where to start.”
Marketing – in particular, digital marketing
Susanna rolled out of her beanbag awkwardly and brought herself to her feet. She grabbed a marker and moves to a rickety whiteboard that they picked up at a weekend second-hand street market. It had one caster wheel missing, so you had to hold the board when writing so that it didn’t tip over.
Securing the next round of funding, as the seed money was running thin
“I found this approach the other day called Jibility,” she said. “It helps you determine what you need to do to implement your strategy, and at the end of it you have a roadmap. Want to give it a go?” “Sure, why not?” Mike replied. “So, it starts with defining our key challenges. Not like we have a shortage of them!” Susanna laughed, and they got into a serious discussion about the challenges they faced and the major opportunities they might be able to take advantage of. After an
Establishing basic business operations such as payments, accounting and other support functions
“Easy,” said Susanna, with a wry smile. “We can do this! Now we know what our big challenges are, let’s set some objectives.”
Both gazed intently at the rickety whiteboard. “The first challenge is sales,” Mike stated firmly. “We need to get enough early customers to get product feedback and demonstrate to future investors there’s a market for TaxCobber.”
“I think if we had 100 customers, with more than 50% of them paying, that would be a great start,” replied Mike. “That’s a great base to get feedback, fine-tune the product features and work out a pricing model.” Susanna drew a line from the sales challenge and wrote up the first objective for TaxCobber: “Achieve 100 customer sales for TaxCobber – 50% are paying customers”. After another twenty minutes, Susanna and Mike sat back in their beanbags and took the whiteboard in. There were now a set of objectives linked back to their original four challenges. The objectives were: Acquire 100 customers – 50% are paying customers Establish a digital marketing strategy and capability Launch product at TechCrunch Startup Battlefield Establish minimum viable business operations Secure another $500k in funding to support product launch “Cool,” said Susanna. “If we can achieve these objectives we’ll be well on our way. I’m stoked!”
“So how many customers do we need?” Susanna queried.
TaxCobber Capabilities Susanna rolled back out of her beanbag. Yet more Styrofoam balls spilled onto the floor. She grabbed her phone and took a picture of the whiteboard that detailed their challenges and associated objectives. She emailed it to Mike so he could bring it up on his tablet. She grabbed a dish cloth from the kitchen, noting the stack of dirty coffee cups and empty noodle boxes accumulating in the sink. If this startup doesn’t kill me, she thought, then the kitchen definitely will. She laughed to herself as she wiped the whiteboard clean with the musty cloth. “Okay,” she began, “let’s work out what capabilities we need.”
“What’s a capability?” Mike enquired. “Well… It’s stuff we’ll need to do as a business to meet our objectives,» Susanna replied. “Like sales or managing our finances or marketing. Let’s make a list.” She grabbed the whiteboard marker. A short while later, they’d created a list of their primary capabilities. They were: sales, marketing, financial management, customer support, product development, people management and technology platform management. Once they’d done this, they started to break them down into more granular sub-capabilities. “Customer support” broke down into “Support Documentation Development”, “Customer Query Management”, and “Customer Training”. Soon, Susanna and Mike had a whiteboard full of capabilities. They couldn’t think of anything else they needed to get their business off the ground. Pretty much all the capabilities they’d identified were new. About the only capability that already existed was “product development”, and so they ascribed a medium level of change to this capability by writing a little “M” in a circle next to it.
109 They then wrote their objectives on yellow sticky notes and stuck them to those capabilities that they felt most impacted each objective. When it came to the objective “secure another $500k in funding to support product launch”, they hesitated. “I’m not sure what capability supports this objective,” said Susanna. “Maybe we’ve missed a capability?” suggested Mike. After further deliberation, they added a sub-capability to “financial management” called “capital management”. “Where do we start? Shall we prioritize?” Susanna scratched her head, as they all seemed like a high priority to her. “I’m not sure we have a business without all of these capabilities.” Mike replied, “How about we work out the ones that will absolutely stop us in our tracks? Ones that would literally cause our startup to fold or fail to launch.” After another half an hour, they’d determined that the highest priority capabilities were “product development” (because without a “killer” product you have nothing to sell), “capital management” (because without seed and early stage funding you have no “oxygen” for the business), and finally “sales” (because without early customers, you haven’t yet proven you’ve solved a customer problem and so it’s harder to attract investors). Most of their capabilities had stars allocated to them: three stars to the high priorities, two for the mediums, and one for the lows. A few capabilities had no stars allocated to them. These can wait, Susanna thought. “Looks cool!” Mike exclaimed. “Let’s get some actions going.”
“Phew!” Mike exclaimed.
Susanna smiled and walked over to the coffee table in the living room. The timber was stained with numerous overlapping white rings from all the hot coffee cups that’d been left on the table. Parts of it formed patterns that looked remarkably like the Olympic rings, she mused. Certainly, starting TaxCobber felt like an Olympic event to her; like a marathon where the finishing line seemed to keep moving further away. Maybe this Jibility thing could help Mike and her to get some momentum going on their startup now that their software was getting closer to being ready for use. She rifled through the markers, USB charging cords and other random objects scattered over the table to grab some more sticky note pads. Throwing a pretty pink one at Mike, she said, “Let’s come up with some actions. For each capability on our priority list, think of an action, write it down on the sticky note, and paste it on the capability on the whiteboard. The action could be some tool we need to get, like a system, or something related to people, or even a process we need to put in place. Whatever comes to mind, just write it down and stick it up. Let’s give ourselves thirty minutes to come up with as many actions as we can. Ready… set… go!” Mike and Susanna started to furiously write down actions on sticky notes and put them up on the board. A few fell off onto the floor, but by the end of about twenty-five minutes they were starting to run out of ideas. Back in the beanbags they surveyed their work: a whiteboard covered in actions. Many of the capabilities were three-deep in sticky notes. But they did notice that some of the capabilities had no actions against them, or only one. “Maybe we should come up with some actions for those capabilities?” Mike said.
“Guess we’d better,” replied Susanna. “If we don’t create an action then nothing will happen, and we can’t have that!” After another ten minutes, all the prioritized capabilities had actions against them. Mike was a technical whiz who specialized in artificial intelligence. Susanna had no idea how he did it, and was constantly amazed at his ability to create technical solutions to every tricky problem that arose. However, Susanna was the one with more business savvy. She looked at the actions and focused in on those allocated to the “financial management” capability; these would fall to her to implement. The actions included: Implement payment gateway (physical) Implement finance system (physical) Create three-year budget and forecast (process) Create investors’ prospectus (physical) Susanna to become TaxCobber President and CFO (people) Start tracking expenditure (process) Establish financial tracking and reporting (process) She was excited about the prospect of crunching the numbers on their new venture. It felt like she was keeping score. It was good to have certainty about where their money was going, and it gave her a sense of being in control; a little bit of certainty in a startup world where it usually felt like you were free-falling every day.
“Yep, good idea,” replied Susanna. “Maybe we should group all the business process stuff together, the systems actions together, and then people. Then break these up into logical initiatives for us to focus on.” Susanna took a quick photo of the whiteboard and then they cleared the coffee table quickly by sweeping everything into a pile on the floor. The dregs in one coffee cup spilled out onto the carpet, adding yet another feature to a floor that was starting to resemble an expressionistic artwork. They started to pull stickies off the board and sort them into logical groupings on the coffee table. An hour went by (interrupted only by a quick run to the local coffee shop for more caffeine) before they stood back and surveyed what they’d created.
Mike bent down and silently moved two stickies from one pile and placed them onto two others. Susanna nodded in approval. They’d done it. They had turned a pile of stickies on a whiteboard into a focused set of initiatives. Susanna looked again at her financial management actions. They’d formed up into five initiatives being: “Implement Finance Systems”, which consisted of the “implement payment gateway” and “implement finance system” actions; an “Implement Financial Tracking” initiative, which consisted of the “start tracking expenditure” and “establish financial reporting” actions; and a third initiative, called “Create Investor Pitch”, which consisted of “create three-year budget and forecast” and “create investors prospectus”. They combined the “Susanna to become President and CFO” action with another action titled “Mike to become CTO”, into an initiative called “Allocate Company Roles”.
“Okay,” declared Mike. “We’re on the home run. Let’s make a roadmap.”
“That’s a lot of sticky notes,” Mike declared staring at the whiteboard. “We should start to group some of these together so we can tackle them in a logical sequence.”
TaxCobber Roadmap Mike scanned the living room of his apartment.
“I’ve got an idea,” he said, scurrying off to the kitchen. He returned with a pile of cardboard drink coasters. Over the years he’d developed a habit of souveniring these from bars he’d frequented, and had shoved them all into a kitchen drawer. He always meant to bring them out to use, but as evidenced by the stained furniture that adorned his apartment, he always neglected to remember they were there. He threw them onto the coffee table and started to write the name of each initiative on the back of them with a black marker. He then walked over to the wall and lifted off a cheap black and white print of the Paris skyline with the Eiffel Tower. It was a reminder to him that if he ever managed to scrape enough money together he wanted to tour Europe. Maybe TaxCobber was going to be that ticket to France. Wouldn’t that be cool, he thought. The wall behind the print was chipped and had a brown water stain that looked vaguely like a map of South America. Now he remembered the other reason for hanging the print on this particular spot on the wall. Mike grabbed some Blu Tack, a few sheets of paper and some string. “Let’s turn the wall into a roadmap,” he explained. “First we need to work out what our Themes and Stages are.” Susanna replied, “I’ve been thinking about that while you were writing up the initiatives. I think funding will be the big determinant of how much we can do. What about three stages: ‘Pre-Funding’, ‘Pre-Launch’ and ‘Post-Launch’?
113 “Stuff we can do without the need for more money, or things that we need to do to get the next round of funding, goes into the first horizon; everything we need to do for launch goes into the second horizon; and finally, the third horizon is all the stuff that can go after launch.
“Perfect!” enthused Mike. He then wrote these Themes and Stages on A4 sheets of paper and, with these and his string, created a grid on the wall. “I’ll start,” Mike said, as he tacked a coaster inscribed with “TaxCobber Version One” onto the grid square that was the intersection of “Product Development” and “Pre-Funding”. “I reckon we can finish off a launch-ready version of TaxCobber with the available funding we have left.” “That would be great,” replied Susanna, who was still thinking about how hard it was going to be to raise money.
“As for Themes,” she continued, “we could just align our initiatives with the major challenges facing us that we identified right back at the beginning. What about four Themes of ‘Funding’, ‘Product Development’, ‘Sales and Marketing’ and ‘Business Operations’?”
Over the next forty-five minutes, they placed most of the initiatives on their roadmap wall. Those initiatives that were related to each other on the same Track, or that were dependent on each other, were connected with string. Susanna’s finance-related initiatives were plotted accordingly. “Create Investor Pitch” was allocated to the “Funding” Theme and put in the “PreFunding” Stage. The “Implement Finance Systems” initiative was allocated to the “Business Operations” Theme and the “Pre-Launch” Stage, and then was linked as a precursor to “Implement Financial Tracking”, which was put in the “Post-Launch Phase” (as Mike and Susanna figured they could keep tracking their expenditure in a spreadsheet up until this point).
Susanna sat back and observed the wall. “Brilliant!” she affirmed. “We now have a roadmap to bring our startup to life. I love it!” Throwing herself triumphantly back into her beanbag, Susanna was somewhat dismayed as a seam finally gave way and Styrofoam balls exploded all over the floor. She looked quickly at Mike, and there was a short pause before they both collapsed into uncontrollable laughter.
For a full list of available resources, including software and pre-built capability maps to help you develop your own strategic roadmaps using Jibility, see www.jibility.com. Here you can download free templates and tools, and find more discussion material. Start experimenting with Jibility! You can use it to plan all sorts of things, from whole-of-business plans, to departmental plans, through to planning your next big business venture. Weâ€™ve even used the Jibility framework to create roadmaps for software products, individual projects, not-for-profits, and, believe it or not, to create personal roadmaps (what are your personal challenges, objectives and the capabilities you need to invest in, and actions to take, to get there?). The possibilities are truly endless! Check out the Jibility app. Itâ€™s an easy-to-use tool for creating your strategic roadmaps and comes with plenty of pre-canned roadmaps, building blocks, capability maps and fully worked examples.
Cheers from Chris, Chuen and the Jibility Team
Stay in touch with the evolution of Jibility and the community discussion at all the usual places.
The Conspirators Chuen Seet Chris (Benny) Benthien Jonathon (Jonno) Andrews Ulrich (Uli) Holtel Alex Pereira Alexandra (Digi Ally) Lodge Kai Ashford-Hatherly Tenaya Seet
Cristian Southall Karl Johns Mike Edwards Ian Creese Tracey-Ann Morris Brett Birkbeck Con Tsolakis The Lotus Team (Citigo)
The Jibility Team
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ROADMAPS MADE SIMPLE
Jibility’s book is your essential guide to the concepts, methods and techniques behind strategic roadmaps. Complete with lively case studies and examples, we’ve distilled our years of experience and expertise into an easy, engaging read. Insights from our years of strategy consulting Tap into the experience of our world-class consultants who have developed and delivered strategic roadmaps for some of the world’s leading organizations. Real life examples Understand what does and doesn’t work in the real world when creating a successful strategic roadmap, all within the context of the latest thinking and approaches. Simple method Access our simple method for strategic roadmaps, which makes sense of valuable techniques like capability-based planning. Easy to read Anecdotes, examples and humorous experiences make the subject of strategic roadmaps fun!
Business and Technology Strategy Roadmaps Made Simple. A detailed guide to using the Jibility method to develop roadmaps for your strategy....
Published on Apr 6, 2018
Business and Technology Strategy Roadmaps Made Simple. A detailed guide to using the Jibility method to develop roadmaps for your strategy....