We had the opportunity to add real value to businesses during the course. I seemed to be playing around with insignificant companies no one had heard off. In those days the SME sector was still seen as the poor cousin of the blue chips - who attracted all the talent and resources. Entrepreneurship was not treated as a profession. Thankfully times have changed. During the course I focused on customising content for entrepreneurial organisations. Previously this kind of content was only available to large blue chips. My MBA project - a strategy consulting solution for a mid sized business got published by a peer reviewed double blind tested academic business journal. The article included all the areas I now offer as a service offering. It primarily focused on customising Clausewitz’s famous work ‘On War’ for Entrepreneurial Organisations. It felt nice to have validation from MBA professors on Business Strategy from across the world before I graduated.
Cracking the Code
During the course I focused on aspects you would normally think of. Business Level Project Management, Communities of Practice, How to leverage Technology? SHRM, Marketing and Integrated Communications, How to conduct business research? to name a few. All these courses were applied in high growth SME environments. They supported the case company to enter and grow its presence in a new market. So all the content was co created by interacting with the target market as it was developed. The content was also designed to be offered as a service both internally and externally to clients. This meant I had to understand how to help the business build internal capacity but as an external support provider. I feel cracking this bit was the hardest part. So the next stage was to design processes and tools. This was to ensure that the delivery of the service was as polished as the custom designed content.
Risk Identification and Grading
The current state business mapping I developed for bizStuff starts the delivery process well. It is based on custom designed business analysis systems I use. It helps the client company to understand what their business actually looks like. It is important to remember most growing companies suffer from significant perception/ reality gaps. This means their circumstances change so fast they find it difficult to keep up with how the company is coping with the growth. Here the bizStuff Framework focuses on not just the whole picture. It looks into the embedded risks and complexities the business has to manage to achieve the business goals set as well. More importantly it gives the founders / executive managers an understanding of the kind of risks and complexities they have at what level of decision making in their businesses. It also helps with grading them. This helps to narrow the perception of the risk and what it actually entails. The same goes for complexity.
How to define the outcome before you start?
The needs of the client company are then organised into a business level project. Our business project management course syllabus focused around PMBOK / Prince 2. I managed to customise a version of KanBan to co generate value with my clients as well. It meant having to take on twice the work load, but hey true passion demands sacrifice ! This PM methodology ensures the scope, deliverables, timelines, the QA standards, the potential bottlenecks are identified early on. Kanban is also flexible enough to allow for any emerging concerns to be factored in - provided they don’t change the scope of the project. The co creation approach helps the client to make full use of the content I customised during my MBA and commercial knowledge built up over two decades of working in the SME sector.
In simpler terms, this approach allows us to focus on generating innovation. The prime areas of focus tend to be centred around tacit assets they have embedded in the business. They can range from not utilising technology optimally. To staff feeling they have to limit themselves in various ways. This means they are not leveraging their assets to the fullest extent they possibly can. The prime focus being generating additional revenue, understanding the cost base accurately and managing the risks in the business effectively.
How to organise each session with clients?
During each interaction the SECI framework ensures measurable value is generated and applied for the benefit of the business. SECI is a knowledge creation framework that is commonly accepted to generate creativity within the business norms. This means the new knowledge is of practical value for the business. It also allows you to measure the value generated per session. This helps with measuring the ROI.
Overall, these Tools of the Trade allow bizStuff to generate creativity and innovation as part of the daily interactions with clients. More importantly they have been certified by area experts in their respective fields and our clients. The way these tools have been streamlined is to ensure clients gain a positive ROI as a normal experience. The kaizen processes of continuous improvements in place ensure these tools stay in touch with the developments in the market place. The co creational approach allows entrepreneurs to gain access to much needed skills and expertise in a way that suit their needs the best. This approach has awarded bizstuff with a UK Top 50 Business Adviser status for 2014.