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Oplossingsverliefdheid

Het is een kwaal die niet zeldzaam is in digitale technologie: oplossingsverliefdheid. En tot overmaat van ramp is hij niet zo makkelijk te bestrijden en bestaat hij in twee vormen.

 

De ergste vorm van oplossingsverliefdheid is de plotse en hevige voorkeur voor een nieuwe technologie. We zien er elk jaar minstens 1 passeren die beweert alle vorige technologieën overbodig te maken. Vergelijk het met de nieuwe jongen in de buurt, perfect en ietwat warrig haar, de coolste skateboard en nog slim ook. Alle jongens in de buurt lijken plots broekventjes. Je begrijpt wat ik bedoel. Maar geen enkele technologie, hoe innovatief of veelbelovend ook, is de perfecte oplossing voor elk probleem. We zagen zo al AI toepassingen op een data bestand van een paar honderd gegevens, Blockchain platformen voor gecentraliseerd databeheer, chatbots die maar op 8 vragen het antwoord kennen, etc etc. Liefde maakt blind, wel, dan zorgt oplossingsverliefdheid minstens voor een zeer vervormde kijk op de realiteit. Als je daar aan toevoegt dat veel technologie experten van oplossingsverliefdheid hun business model hebben gemaakt, voel je aan waar er iets grondig scheef zit in onze keuzes voor technologieën.

 

Maar ook de lichtere vorm van oplossingsverliefdheid is schadelijk. Het is een scenario waarbij een hoop bestaande frustraties erg oppervlakkig bekeken worden waarna snel alle aandacht en creativiteit naar een oplossing gaat. Men raakt vervolgens zo bevlogen in het oplossen, dat men snel loslaat welke nood of probleem er aan de basis van de oplossing lag. Resultaat: er wordt iets ontworpen (en soms zelfs gebouwd) dat totaal los is komen staan van het probleem dat men probeerde op te lossen. Het originele probleem blijft dus bestaan en niet zelden creëert de nieuwe oplossing er een rits nieuwe problemen bij.

 

Diep genoeg in het probleem en de context van een business probleem duiken is onze remedie tegen oplossingsverliefdheid. Op die manier genoeg materiaal verzamelen om de oplossing in elke fase af te kunnen toetsen aan de realiteit zorgt voor de juiste koers. Ook dat is onderdeel van Enterprise Design zoals we dat bij Foursevens toepassen.

 

Zin in een babbel over oplossingsverliefdheid en hoe je er terug vanaf geraakt? Of wil je meer weten over Enterprise Design? Nodig jezelf dan uit op onze corona-veilige koffiebabbel, met afstand en op onze mooie binnenplaats.
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You need a war room!

War Rooms v2.0

In the past, war rooms were strategic places in army camps where the decision makers had the tools and information to decide their military movements and actions, as we can see in movies like Dr. Strangelove, or more recently, in Game of Thrones.

While the context of use of a “war room” has changed since then, the concepts and impacts of using one remain the same. They rely on three big pillars that will become the foundations to build successful projects in your company:

  1. Dedicated place
  2. Key information sharing
  3. Organised and direct collaboration

Dedicated place

Neither an unused office nor a meeting room; a war room has to be a specific place that will only be dedicated for projects (one at a time) and/or missions around them.

It is important that teams take ownership of the room and make full use of the available space. A key characteristic of a war room is that every surface should be usable: walls are whiteboards and/or full of post-its, posters or any interesting content. This is spacialisation: to externalise minds and ideas in order to get them “physically available to touch, see, organise” (Invisionapp, 2016).

On this basis and thanks to the fact that it is editable — ideas are not frozen —, a war room is a room-sized communication tool that promotes making new connections as well as finding new insights and generating problem solutions.

Key information sharing

Due to its accessibility, the war room should become a controlled source of information for every person involved in the project. It will be the communication center not only for teams, but also for leaders, contributors, and stakeholders. It will allow posting and keeping record of key aspects of the project “that may include change notices, requests for immediate actions and/or decisions, general status updates” (Williams, 2015). That is the basis of an organised collaboration that allows teams to adapt quickly and efficiently.

Organised collaboration

Gathering everybody in the same location and getting everyone on the same page has a lot of benefits. Knowing what everyone is doing and allowing direct communication will boost creativity, honesty, and promote helping each other. It will also improve confidence, team commitment, and give a feeling of shared responsibility.

Access to information will provide team knowledge and result in well-informed decision making.

Additionally, even if a war room has to be considered like a place where classical hierarchy doesn’t matter, it can be very useful to designate a facilitator. That person will act as the conductor, who the team can rely on. Her/his role will be to master all the information, clearly define the goals of each session, keep everyone on task, and set directions when needed.

In short, organised collaboration will result in optimising the iteration process (less wasted work), the efficiency and the working speed of the teams.

How to setup your war room?

Now that we have seen the benefits of hosting a war room in your company, and that you have assigned a dedicated room to it, here are three guidelines to make it real:

  1. Maximise your space: install whiteboards, chalkboards, use walls themselves (pin-it information and/or paint them with Ideapaint, flipcharts, post-its, and keep them up-to-date — add in all new or updated information.
  2. Make changes: use flexible furniture and open seating so that you can transform your space quickly, and add some mess into the room — let the wild creativity get inside it.
  3. Use it!: as long as you need it, and “only exit the room with clear responsabilities and accountabilities for next steps” (Wodtke, 2015).

Now, give it a chance, encourage people to use it, and let your projects reach another dimension. Would you like to give a war room a try, contact us, we’ve got a plan cooking!

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Whitepaper

Consultancy Manifesto

Consultants

Wij zijn een team van consultants. We gedijen als we elke nieuwe maanden in nieuwe omstandigheden duiken. We vinden drive en motivatie in nieuwe uitdagingen en proberen dingen te bereiken in een onbekende omgeving. Het houdt ons wakker, het houdt ons fris, nieuwsgierig, gretig en bescheiden ook.

Wat zit er in een naam?

Maar wat betekent het om in deze tijd een consultant te zijn? Veel banen zijn in het afgelopen decennium omgezet in adviesfuncties. Dus om een steeds langere termijn een nieuwe betekenis te geven, hebben we besloten dingen recht te zetten en op te schrijven. Dit is wat consultancy voor ons betekent. Dit is de consultant die we willen zijn.

Vandaar: het consultancy-manifest. Deel ons veel als je wilt, als je het ermee eens bent, is het nu allemaal van jou.

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Article

Let's make apps more courteous.

I met with Sentiance yesterday. You can use a lot of words to explain what they do, this is my version: they offer a solution for apps and websites to know a lot of stuff about their users; what they’re doing and what their habits are. From whether he’s on the bus or in the car to where he’s probably heading next (work, pick up the children from school, the supermarket), what his normal schedule looks like or if he has a dog.

Relationship

Based on this information we can make our apps and websites MUCH more intelligent. We could send relevant information and offer functionality and reminders at the right time. Which made me think about my own behavior and how irritatingly current apps communicate with us, due to lack of information about us or the willingness to do something useful with readily available information.

Notifications often irritate

Ever since I own a smartphone, I found myself turning off most notifications. Notifications were either totally useless or send me information at a time I was not interested. Both come from lack of understanding me as a user. And instead of making me a happier app user, they would irritate me to the point of turning notifications off. At times even deleting apps altogether.

We live in patterns

Not only notifications show a total lack of familiarity with who I am as a user. I have been a Youtube-user-with-login for roughly 3 years. After 3 years of daily usage, Youtube has not yet worked out that I have day-behaviour, early-evening-behaviour and late-evening-behaviour which are different.

Meaning;

  • during the day I use Youtube for work, watching mostly tech videos
  • between 19:00 and 19:30, every day, I watch videos with my two small children
  • during the evening I watch documentaries (streamed to my tele with Google Chromecast).

We watch stuff in either Dutch, English or Spanish.

Nonetheless, when I give a presentation to clients and it contains a video, it will invariably end with something like this;

ScreenshotYoutubeSuggestions

Hello Bumba, hello Samson, Zandkasteel and Bobo! Not now please, I’m not with the kids right now!

And before a video starts I usually have to sit through mostly French speaking video ads.

Apps can become courteous

Although it is easy to imagine scary ways to use information from Sentiance, there are many simple things we could do with it to massively improve apps and be courteous to our users, by showing that we understand the basics of their behavior, preferences and context. Sentiance is a fascinating platform, have a look, imagine what it could do for you. And get in touch if you feel like trying.

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Article

Work-together-day

We are consultants. We are the kind of consultants who believe in close collaboration with the customer. We therefore tend to work at the customers premises. As a team, we only see the colleagues who work at the same customer, the rest of the team we only see now and then.

Consultants have to be a source of knowledge and expertise, constantly updated knowledge since we work at the edge of new technology. We build that knowledge by studying, reading ridiculous amounts of articles and by gathering experience on our projects.

Every consultant struggles, somewhere along the way, in some project. We sometimes struggle with very new or very old technology, we sometimes struggle with complex organisations or organisational politics, we sometimes struggle to convince customers of alternative solutions we see. We don’t go with the flow. But that struggle can be a lonely journey if your team is far away and little known to you.

Monthly work-together day

Since last year Foursevens has started a work-together-day. Once a month we convince our customers that our consultants work a day at our own office. We work on our projects but share, discuss, request reviews to one another. And we eat together, have coffee breaks together.  We get to know new people, we chat about every day life and do what ‘normal’ colleagues do every day.

Thanks to work-together-day we have been able to create a strong company culture. We have increased the sharing of experiences and knowledge and learning possibilities for everyone. We can relate to other people’s struggle because we know what they are doing. And by building relationships, we are more active online, on our collaboration platform, and we continue sharing.

We often help customers implement a new way of working and therefore constantly explore new and better ways of working for ourselves.Intro

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Article

2030 according to Foursevens

A weekend together in Amsterdam. A rainy afternoon in a nice pub. That’s all we needed to get going. As digital innovation consultants, we often help our customers imagine what their future can look like. We investigate what they do today and come up with possible digital services that would ensure a bright future for their customers and their organisation. It is rare that we make time to imagine our own future or the future of our society. You see, our society is not a customer of ours. But with a nice drink at hand we started to imagine what 2030 will look like. And we’re happy to share some of our ideas;

3D printer in every household.

3dprinter

A 3D printer will become as common and affordable as a regular printer. Most people will have one in their homes by 2030 and will have very easy applications to select designs and have them printed.

Self-driving becomes standard.

selfdriving

Self-driving cars will become the standard in certain areas with dense traffic. It will still be possible to drive these cars manually. It will also still be possible to drive a ‘manual’ car, but they might get excluded on some roads.

Growth of small businesses, decline of large corporations.

LargeSmall

Small businesses will become much more important in our economy. Digital small businesses will be the largest growing kind of small businesses. Technology will make starting up a business and running a business easy, cheap and attainable.

Digital Direct Democracy

ddd

Politicians have some serious disruption heading towards them. The representative democracy as we know it today is nearing an end. Technology will allow for a shift towards direct democracy in which direct and immediate involvement of the people is made possible.

Intercontinental travel through space.

UplaceinSpace

The last 20 years have not done much to air travel times. Instead of faster airplanes, we believe some forms of commercial space travelling will emerge, resulting in faster intercontinental travel times. Shopping malls could make much more sense in space than they ever have on earth. Some duty free shopping on your way to New York?

Conclusion

Our conclusion is: we live in exciting times. And there is much more fun ahead. Do you believe these are scary times? Do you believe your organisation is not up to this? Then maybe we need to talk. We help companies make sense of digital innovation, especially those companies who prove bad at reinventing themselves.

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Article

Where does Foursevens come from?

7777 is het ‘four sevens’-patent dat werd geregistreerd door ene Marconi’s Wireless Telegraph Company op 26 April 1900. Voor die datum worstelde Marconi met interferentie tussen de stations. Zijn onderzoek resulteerde in de creatie van een zender-ontvanger-systeem waarin alle componenten op elkaar afgestemd waren. Wat een heerlijke inspiratie voor ons werk.

Dank u Mr. Marconi.

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Article

Writing for 2 readers

What is the live cycle of an analysis document? One or more analysts are asked to analyse a project. In the best case they will talk to a lot of people and write down their conclusions in a document. In the worst case they will only look at a lot of existing tools and put down conclusions in a document. Big documents, packed with long texts, diagrams and the lucky few might contain some wireframes.

Dutiful reader one

This document is sent out to the project’s stakeholders; marketing managers, project managers, business experts. They are now asked to approve the analysis. They are in fact asked: ‘is it ok we build this thing and spend your money for the coming X months’. What ‘this thing’ is, can only be imagined by reading 200 pages of somewhat technical descriptions. If they’re lucky there will be some visuals hinting at what the end-result might be. Most readers will flip through the pages, looking for something to catch their attention. They will then come across a more pressing matter or something more enticing to look at and leave. If all goes well, one guy might take the time to read through the whole thing and send some comments. Because he felt he had to.

Critical second reader

The analysis document is a tad technical because this document serves a second purpose. Once the stakeholders have given their approval, this document will be shipped to a team of developers. The lead developer will read the document and write a technical analysis. Lack of time might make him start preparing the planning directly, cutting the work up into smaller pieces, deciding who will be building what. The lead developer will invariably have lots of questions, see lots of voids and ask the analyst to come and clarify.

Economy of scale

Would you write a blog post if you would know only two people would read it (I’m sure I wouldn’t!)? Would you write a magazine if you would know only two people would read it (and it wouldn’t even make them happy)? Would you write a short story? Would you write a novel? Then why are so many analysts writing 200 to 300 page analysis documents for no one to read?

We are analysts. We don’t do too many documents. We especially don’t do long documents. Imagine our architect would have written a ‘house analysis’ document. Barely a few sketches of what some parts of the house would look like. And a lot of words explaining what our ‘bathroom needs’ are and what our ‘kitchen needs’ are and what our ‘moving from one floor to another requirements’ are. Architects do drawings, maps, 3D rendering, they build models, if you’re lucky they will even do videos of you walking through your future house.

We want to have business walk through their future digital product before they decide it’s worth their money. We do drawings, mockups, prototypes. And we talk and explain what needs explaining. We then agree and write things down for developers to read. We want developers to receive detailed user story descriptions, data mappings, screen descriptions. They understand user stories and it allows them to easily do their work.

Analysts talk to business people and IT people. We join them around great ideas. Not around long documents.

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Projects are popup shops

Have you ever walked out of a shop because the shop assistant wasn’t friendly? Did you ever decide never to return to that restaurant because the waiter was rude?

People react well to friendliness. I learned from Willem Verbeke (link in Dutch) that biological things happen when treated in a friendly way. People get an oxytocin boost. It makes them feel good. It makes them feel confident and full of trust.

We don’t run a shop at Foursevens. But then again, any project could be considered a shop. A temporary shop with a certain goal. We could call it a pop-up shop. And part of the success of this pop-up shop is that everyone wants to come in and collaborate.

We believe being friendly is an important factor in the success rate of our projects. It allows us to convince and motivate people to collaborate. As a consultant you arrive in a ‘community’ as an outsider. Some people will warmly welcome you. Many people haven’t asked for you to be there. Some people will even doubt the need for your popup shop to ever open its doors. But by approaching everyone in a friendly and respectful manner, we build healthy relationships. Relationships that allow for open communication and that can lead to positive collaboration.

We believe in friendly.

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The Power of Talking to People

I am a consultant. I spend most of my time in other people’s offices. I spend a few weeks there and move on. Most offices of large companies and organisations are similar. Most offices are very grey. (did you know color-psychology says grey shows ‘lack of energy, lack of confidence’).

Is open office space open?

A very popular thing in most of these organisations is email. Email has become the main way of communicating. Most employees prefer to send an email when they have a question. They send an email when they want to share something. They send an email when they have an opinion. They send an email when they have a document to share. They spend large part of their day sending emails and responding to emails of collegues. Collegues who sometimes sit only a few metres away. They invariably complain about receiving too many emails. You’d start to wonder why all these organisations have adopted open office space and VOIP telephones.

Walkie talkie

And in comes this consultant. Eager to make a difference. To get things done in this surrounding I use two extremely effective, horribly simple methods: ‘walk and talk to people’ and ‘pick up the phone and call’. Finding the right person to talk to in an open office space is very easy. You walk to the floor where this person sits and then ask whomever if they know Mr This-and-that. You might have a few stops before you get there, allowing you to meet more people and get to know new parts of the organisation.

Face to face contact cannot be replaced by anything. People communicate better, are friendlier and more positive in face-to-face conversation. It is easier to convince people when talking face-to-face. And as an analyst I have some convincing to do. Calling on the phone is an ok substitute for talking face-to-face, especially if you’ve met before. It will save time, it will save space and direct conversation is certainly the strongest antidote to misunderstandings.