The digital-first organisation

If digital transformation is about changing old organisation to be more fit for the internet era, then digital-first is about designing an organisation from scratch for the the digital age.

Some of the principle for that might include:

  • Never finished – everything, the systems and tools orgs use, the products and services they deliver, the culture and structure of the org, all of it is never finished. It all requires ongoing investment of time, money, effort and expertise to keep pace with the environment the organisation operates within.
  • Information flows

Modern product practice

Modern product practice organises for the fast flow of value. That means continuous everything:

  • Research
  • Experiments
  • Value proposition
  • Discovery
  • Market analysis
  • Ideation
  • Design
  • Validation
  • Development
  • Measurement
  • Insight
  • Delivery
  • Business models
  • Adoption
  • Roadmapping

Work In Regression

Like Work In Progress, but rather than work that is being done, it’s work that is being undone, it’s work that suffer entropy.

Orchestras and Jazz bands

The metaphor of the team as an orchestra with someone in the role of conductor is only one way of imagining how teams are organised. It suggests perfect synchronisation under the control of a pivotal person.

I prefer an improv jazz metaphor for how teams work. Everyone is equal in their contribution, and appreciated for the uniqueness they bring. As someone joins they add to and changing the music, but when they leave the music carries on.

OrchestraJazz band
Dependent on one person (conductor)Inter-dependent contributors (all equal)
Easy to spot disruptive variationImpossible to predict effects of changes

Loose-coupling is the idea we need now.

The current crisis we face has revealed lots of systemic and societal issues and inequalities, and lots of inadequacies in our thinking and how we’ve constructed our lives based on our mental models. One of the ideas we’ve built upon is that tight-coupling provides security, solidity and reliability. We’re starting to realise that the downsides of tight-coupling include over-reliance on structures and systems that by their very nature include single-points-of-failure, cascading failures, and knock-on effects.

Tight-coupling is the idea that the parts of that system should be dependent and reliant on the other parts. A business with a fixed supply chain that relies on a single supplier is tightly-coupled, and if that supplier fails then the business fails. A family with a single source of income from one person’s job is tightly-coupled, and if that employer fails then the family fails. A person with few or highly specialised skills needs an industry that requires those skills, and if that industry fails to need those skills then the person fails.

Loose-coupling comes from computer system design, and in our internet-era we should be considering how ideas that understand the nature of networks can be used in our mental models. Loose-coupling means that any part of the system can be replaced without disrupting the entire system. A business can quickly and easily swap suppliers, a family can shift to another income source, a person can make use of lots of different skills.

Now more than ever, as we think about what the future of our society, our economy, our businesses, and our lives look like, we should be avoiding building tightly coupled systems and convincing ourselves of the illusion of solidity that comes with it. Instead we should build loosely coupled systems that give us multiple routes through the networks, allow us to replace parts more easily, and are adaptable, flexible, and able to respond to changes and crisis.

Linking TV programmes

Running route planner app

An idea for an app for runners: It asks how far you want to run, e.g. A marathon, over how many days, e.g. 30, and then plots a circular route on Google Maps for that distance. And if you miss a run it would spread that missed distance out over the remaining days. It could even allocate the distance to be run each day on a curve so that you start with a smaller distance and go further each day and by the end of the time period you’ve covered the total distance.

Safe Driving App Idea

This app would have four main aspects:

1. Sat nav
Pretty standard functionality but essential for getting users to put their phone into windscreen holder and open the app.

2. Looped video recording
Lots of drivers are using in-car cameras to record what’s going on in front of them so they’ll have evidence if they have an accident. This app would make use of the phone’s camera to record short videos that loop so erasing the previous recording unless you press a button to save the video.

3. Braking distance warning
Since the app is already using the camera and the GPS it could also use both to detect the vehicle in front, measure the distance between the two, and calculate the stopping distance at that speed. It would then alert the driver if they are getting too close and not leaving themselves enough safe braking distance.

4. Driving efficiency reports
Since the app is collecting data about the driving it may as well show the driver with a simple dashboard with things like top speed, average speed, etc., and more interestingly driving efficiency by calculating all the accelerating and braking and providing a score that encourages more efficient driving next time.