Serverless Craic Ep26 Flywheel Strategy Applied with Phase 1 Clarity of Purpose


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We are looking at how to apply flywheel strategy from our book 'The Value Flywheel Effect, which will be published on 29 November.

In the last episode we spoke about the whole model and the four phases. They are Clarity of Purpose, Challenge and Landscape, Next Best Action and Long Term Value. This time we figured we'd deep dive into Clarity of Purpose. It's the first phase of the flywheel.

It's about knowing where you are going. And where you want to go next and what your purpose is. Are the things you're working on meaningful and valuable? There's an onus on senior leadership and/or the CEO, to make sure this is understood. Purpose is what is your business going after. And clarity is are you specific about that? Is it measurable? There's a lot to unpack in that phrase. If we don't have clarity of purpose, we don't understand the problem we're solving or what our users needs are. We can't make good decisions with regards to the work we carry out. Or where we invest our time or resources to meet those needs.

It's critical if you want high performance, autonomous teams. But if they're not aligned behind the clarity of purpose, they will go in different directions. And they won't have the impact you think they should have for your organisation. You have got to prioritise decision making, because we don't have infinite capacity.

Without clarity of purpose, it is just making stuff up. Because it doesn't really matter what you do! And secondly, execution without clarity of purpose is just busy work. You are just going but you don't know when you're done.

In some companies they'll build something because someone else built something. And sunken cost fallacy kicks in. Because they have no clarity of purpose, they can't measure success appropriately. So they tend to invest in something that's already failed. But knowing when to stop and when to try the next thing is a core rationale for solid clarity on your purpose. Situational awareness is critical. Having the data to backup, your purpose with key metrics that you're driving towards is critical as well. You need to make sure that what you're doing is influencing the right metrics. And all aligned to your purpose.

As an IT person, you can come up with a million good ideas. But you've got to be prepared to say no. This is not going to have any impact. Or this is not going to affect the bottom line. This is not going to manifest as a benefit for what we're trying to do in relation to our Northstar.

But what happens if you ignore it? It's not default or mandatory. You don't have have to get into it. I remember being asked to stop talking about why we're doing stuff and just do it. That wasn't healthy. Organisations don't become healthy. They don't become places where people want to have an impact. Instead they'll turn up and clock in the hours. But they won't move the org forward. Teams begin to solve the same problems. Because there's a lack of collaboration and people aren't communicating effectively. It becomes difficult to prioritise and organise across teams. Which is another side effect. You start to guess at things. And build stuff for the sake of building. And not focus on the overall outcome.

We have talked about innovation theatre. Where the execs, all of a sudden, start wearing sandals, sports jackets and no ties! That's not innovation. It's innovation theatre when you start putting stickies on the wall instead of using documents. They are the traps you see people fall into when it come to innovation.

Another one is the build trap. When your teams building like billy oh. But nobody knows why they're building or what they're building. And then you have what we call gold plating. You get into a big ball of mud, where engineers went crazy building a complicated system. And then all of a sudden, you need a simplification programme because it's too complicated. Or you need a reuse programme because you've built the same thing four or five times.

I always think that startups are good at clarity purpose. Well, the ones that survive are. The ones that don't survive, probably had a bad clarity purpose. That's the final answer to what happens if you don't have clarity of purpose. Over time you go out of existence!

Serverless Craic from The Serverless Edge @ServerlessEdge

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