What’s Possible? What’s Probable?
Got a problem? In the business arena, there are plenty of problems. The same is true in government and non-profits. Pick an industry and I assure you it’s full of bugs, issues, inefficiencies, waste, slop and sludge. And each of them is an opportunity for value-creation. However, each of those problems is mired down in habit and institutional behavior. So how do you crack the existing code and create something new? How do you DESIGN a new workflow from slop? You have to be able to widen your lens, free your perspectives, and idealize what’s possible. That’s divergent thinking. What’s possible. Of course, having spent most of my waking hours at that altitude, it’s also important to be able to identify what will work and decide what is probable. Then you execute. Create the opportunity for value-creation and execute it.
Don’t always assume there are rules. Some of what you think are rules are actually myths, habits, bad habits, addictions to stasis, and what sheep and lemmings call “the way it’s always been done”. It isn’t pretty. Loosen up. Imagine anything goes. Some people call it Idealizing the Design. Brainstorm. “If we weren’t so bound by our habitual way of thinking, what would be possible? In a dream, how would you do it? Why are we doing this? What does the customer wish we would do?”
This part is tricky. You have to identify what will work but refrain from selecting a process or series of activities that are bound by your old habits and sense of what is possible. Your beliefs about what is possible are bound by your adherence to what you think are the rules and your budget, your schedule and your current infrastructure. Designing a new business architecture (enterprise architecture) means believing outside the box. You have to believe before you can think. You need new beliefs. Otherwise, what you build will look alot like what you have always built. So take the risk of suggesting that in order for your new, idealized workflow or business process to work, you will need XYZ. Could be a new system, new interface, new staff, new skills, new B2B functionality. If it’s in the best interest of the organization and its customers, do it. You can always scale back if you have to.
Applying the arts of divergence and convergence in workflow design may require more than one facilitator. Most people aren’t good at both. It may also require an outside consultant or a whole host of facilitators depending upon how wide you want to throw open your lens. Remember, enterprise-wide design and architecture must be holistic if it’s going to remain aligned and survive. Otherwise, what you design will act more like an uninvited guest in the house.