Solutions As A Platform

So I'm starting a company. The model I have right now is somewhat layered in pivots of where I need to be first and where I'm starting.

The long-term vision is quite abstract. I'm providing a platform for business leaders to leverage solutions created by experts to their existing challenges. This may sound quite abstract so let me break it down a bit further.

A primary expectation of a business leader is to solve challenges their teams face (or at least keep things going at the status-quo depending on the organization). Every business has challenges, and those challenges impact every area of concern in the organization at different levels at different times. Lots of businesses have the same challenges, however, there are some traits that make solutions that work in one place a foolish thing to try elsewhere. Imagine the change needed for a Fortune 500 needing to ship software products faster, now imagine applying all that process overhead to a Toronto startup of 50, or even 500 people. Some aspects might work, but a lot of it will simply miss the target. In otherwords, solutions must be specific to organization characteristics.

In management consulting there is this idea of a case, which is something business students spent a lot of time "solving". If you solve enough cases and can conduct yourself in a reasonable way you'll probably get a job at a management consulting company. By the way, if you're interested in learning more about this topic, I've found that I just couldn't stop listening to this FirmsConsulting podcast about all the skills management consultants need.

This is not a skype call with an expert

This will be a platform where leaders can select pre-built solutions and lead the change on their own with additional metrics to help them stay directionally successful. The solutions will provide a roadmap for a very self-serve high-autonomy experience. In material terms, let's say you want to improve how much software your business is shipping. This is a traditional throughput problem and fits very well into the Theory Of Constraints model so well that someone actually wrote a book about this topic (and the book is highly worthwhile).

But that's not good enough for all cases. Yes, the five focusing steps are a great plan at a high-level and the Pheonix Project walks you through sensible real-life solutions. However, implementation will be the simplest aspect of any change if you do the other steps correctly. You must correctly prime your organization, measure the change, and ensure things don't revert back to the "old way".

The solutions will contain clear stages that you need to promote yourself through while trying our various techniques offered in that stage. Once you've completed a task you will take a diagnostic report to track metrics but also ensure your promotion to the next stage of your change is backed by numbers and not gut feelings.

Consider for a moment this diagram from McKinsey:

My offering can't take on all of these challenges at once, but I can speak to these concerns in a very obvious way. I am offering:

  • A platform which provides solutions that have already been de-risked and improved upon by others.
  • A platform which constantly exposes the roadmap, progress, and health of the initiative
  • Likely to be cheaper than hiring a consulting, also, offering more internal autonomy
  • Accountability ambiguity can be accounted for in diagnostics and corrected rapidly.
  • Develop your leaders. It's like bowling with the inflated bumpers. You can't lose, but you can learn to play without them.

The goal of a solution will not to be a perfect bespoke map for every individual, but get something close to 80% fit in broad enough terms that leaders can fill in the rest. The platform is just the map, diagnostics, support, and resources. Leaders do the execution and get the rewards.

Where I will start

Before I can take on the world, I have to take on a smaller challenge. I'm going to scale down the platform and target the domain I can confidently speak about: Software Development.

I'm going to work on a few small cases, market them around to software managers, and gain some traction. Because of the diagnostics I can refine the solution and provide advice about common pitfalls, and especially what works well with similar groups.

There are additional pivots and add-ons that I will introduce, but that's a story for another post.