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2015


A continuous collaborative improvement process will become the next generation of a continuous improvement process, it is the incorporation of collaboration across your extended partner network to deliver continuous improvements.  In other words it is collaboration in the delivery of the improvements across your extended partner network.  This process will allow you and your partners to harness the powers of collaboration to increase the velocity and value in delivering improvements and initiatives.  The combination and incorporation of collaborative practices into your continuous improvement programs provides the opportunity to harness the strengths of your partners into the delivery of initiatives and the value for your network is the cross-network benefits that are shared across the network. 


This all sounds like a very optimistic case of ‘rainbows and unicorns’ in your business and partner network.  In order for this to be successful though it will require a great deal of communication, coordination and negotiations across your partner network in order to first develop the collaborative improvement process and then to maintain a collaborative improvement program.  This all starts with the definition of the concepts and the agreement from your partners regarding a set of collaborative principles that will guide the program.  The first step required though is the understanding and interest of your partners.  Once the interest is generated, the next step is developing the principles that will provide the guidelines and methods to working together, making decisions and more importantly to implementing modifications to the process.


The long term viability and success of the continuous collaborative improvement program requires a robust and set of principles that grow and change with the growth and changing requirements of your collaborative network.  This requires a process to review and modify the principles to meet the changing needs of the collaborative network.  This need not be cumbersome or overly complicated or invasive, you must though have a method for your network to evaluate and update the principles as necessary.  These principles are important because they provide the base reasons for your partners to participate and commit to the program.  These principles provide your partners with the assurance that their participation will deliver value and more importantly they also ensure your partners that their concerns and requirements will be taken into account when evaluating improvements.  Without these principles the network partners will be reluctant to participate and share in a manner that will deliver the greatest value.


Robust collaborative principles will provide the guarantee that participants will be heard and will have the opportunity to reap the benefits of the improvements.  This will start as a difficult exercise initially and will become easier to maintain as your partners accept and participate in the process.  This requires care and feeding to maintain though and your principles and guidelines should call this out to ensure compliance.  Your principles will encourage collaboration and your partner collaboration will improve your principles, this is the growth and maintenance objectives that you must support.


And now for the audience participation portion of the show…

ECommerce will have wide ranging impacts on both the retail and manufacturing sectors.  How can you focus these abilities to improve the consumer's experience?  Improving the consumer’s experience will require a re-evaluation of the sales channels, the manufacturing channels and practices and the supply chain channels and practices from the raw materials to the consumers’ homes.  In order to ensure and maintain success in this new reality you must harness the tools and capabilities in many new areas.  How can you support these continuously changing requirements?


The time is well past when an organization can spend years delivering a major business initiative, even very large ERP type initiatives must be delivered in phases.  In fact, the pendulum might be beginning to swing back from favoring large monolithic initiatives to a more nimble approach of delivery where interim solutions are delivered that build upon each other.  This nimble approach is one that I am in favor of for a couple of reasons; it supports and encourages a frequent delivery cycle that brings business value more quickly, it supports a process of evaluation of the interim delivery solutions to validate and adjust course as necessary to increase the benefits delivered based on the actual results.  How does collaboration across your network fit into this nimble delivery strategy?


A key aspect supported by network collaboration is the validation and results evaluation process required to adjust strategy and course as necessary to ensure results and expectations are met.  This is enacted through a collaborative continuous improvement cycle that is supported and embraced by your partners.  This requires a review process with your partners to obtain buy-in for your initiative.  This is an important ingredient in itself for any strategic initiative, this is so important because any strategic initiative impacts your partners as much as your own organization.  Providing a method to share results and obtain feedback from your partners in order to validate and improve your solutions will ensure support from your partners because it provides a means for your partners to participate and achieve their own benefits from the initiative. 


With your collaborative continuous improvement network in place and support from your partners you can then begin to increase the velocity of delivery of your strategic initiatives.  Encouraging and obtaining feedback from your partner network and then including and encouraging your partner network to participate in the evaluation will decrease the length of time to perform the evaluation.  In addition, as a result of the expanded information available and the partner expertise and viewpoints as inputs in the evaluation process your evaluation results will come quicker and your course adjustments will come quicker.  The greater number of viewpoints, expanded areas of expertise and also greater volume of data for evaluation and validation will increase the accuracy and decrease the time required for the validation and revisions.


I don’t mean to mislead anyone in making this sound easy because it is not.  This collaboration in delivery will require a great deal of effort from all parties involved in order to first build the process and then to maintain and even increase the momentum.  Your monolithic initiatives will be replaced by this collaborative delivery process and this will require effort to maintain over a long time period.  However I believe the results will far outway any bumps encountered along the way.


And now for the audience participation portion of the show…

ECommerce will have wide ranging impacts on both the retail and manufacturing sectors.  How can you focus these abilities to improve the consumer's experience?  Improving the consumer’s experience will require a re-evaluation of the sales channels, the manufacturing channels and practices and the supply chain channels and practices from the raw materials to the consumers’ homes.  In order to ensure and maintain success in this new reality you must harness the tools and capabilities in many new areas.  How can you support these continuously changing requirements?

tbrouill

Collaboration Is Sharing

Posted by tbrouill Sep 22, 2015


I think everyone knows and accepts the common definition of collaboration as working together with one to many partners with similar goals and objectives to achieve a common benefit, or goal.  I have come to realize that another clarification to the definition involves sharing of skills, capabilities and resources across partners with similar goals and objectives to achieve a common benefit, or goal.  This is an important addition to the definition because it highlights the need to share across partners in order to achieve success.  This sharing is the key to a successful collaborative partnership and especially a long term partnership.


The challenge to success is in the long term view and the steps required to develop  and maintain this long term view.  This long term view is very much at odds with the short term view that is general focus of many business activities.  The short term is the generally accepted practice to view projects in a short time-frame; in other words project and initiatives are executed with short term goals in mind (three to six months) and this makes it difficult then to focus on a three year objective.  I know that these short term activities are a simple fact of life now in the business world and I am not saying that you should focus only on long term goals.  I am saying though that you should develop your plans in a manner that allows you to put together short term projects in a manner that not only delivers immediate benefits but also provides a framework, or foundation for future short term projects to develop and deliver long term business change.


This is where the sharing aspect of collaboration comes into play; to support and develop these building blocks to develop and enhance a long term partnership based on mutually beneficial goals and benefits.  Sharing is the flip side of working together, it is the glue that encourages and supports working with your partners to build a collaborative environment that supports your common objectives.  Sharing is the give-and-take that develops understanding and a strong bond across partners to carry the efforts in defining and reaching common goals.  As the collaborative bond grows stronger, the amount and types of sharing will increase bringing a stronger and more valuable partnership.


Sharing information, best practices lead to a greater bond across organizations, which also leads to greater value and return for all partners.  This requires a long term view and commitment that is supported by short term deliverables based on a framework that is robust and flexible enough to support the growth and changes that will be experienced over the long term.  It is important to remember that you do not need to deliver the end objective, it is better to build towards you end objective is steps that allow revisions to support the changing business and consumer demands.


And now for the audience participation portion of the show…

ECommerce will have wide ranging impacts on both the retail and manufacturing sectors.  How can you focus these abilities to improve the consumer's experience?  Improving the consumer’s experience will require a re-evaluation of the sales channels, the manufacturing channels and practices and the supply chain channels and practices from the raw materials to the consumers’ homes.  In order to ensure and maintain success in this new reality you must harness the tools and capabilities in many new areas.  How can you support these continuously changing requirements?


The inherent value provided by the collaboration processes and procedures supporting both the consumer community and the extended partner network is based on the assurance of a repeatable process that supports regular review and the method to incorporate modifications.  I am  not speaking here about any business value that is achieved as a result of the changes and improvements delivered as a result of following the process.  I am instead speaking of the value that the process and procedures bring to the delivery of business value, this value of the repeatable process allows the business to standardize and incorporate standard procedures into the process to help to manage the change and analysis in a very unstable and non-standard collaborative environment.


Change requires a standard method to support and guide the process and the ever increasing discontinuous change that is driven by the consumers and the consumer community can become overwhelming without a standard and repeatable process to guide the efforts.  The process does not necessarily ensure that business value will be delivered, it does however increase the likelihood that business value will be delivered and delivered on a regular and continuous basis.  Without the process, any value delivered to the business will be potentially non-repeatable and based more on the skill and the efforts from a few individuals.  With the process to support the methods, the value delivered to the business will be repeatable and not dependent on the efforts from a small number of individuals.  The process allows you to plan for and count on continuous improvements without depending on any herculean efforts from any group or individual participants.


This ability to bank on a steady stream of business value improvements brings a great deal of value to your business, the consumer community and your extended partner network.  This does not mean that the value delivery is guaranteed, it does however guarantee that the likelihood of a continuous stream of business value is much greater than without the process.  The key to continuous success is a robust process that supports a repeatable and continuous process improvement that is not dependant on any individual.  In fact, I think that the key objective of the standard and repeatable process is the elimination of any dependency on the efforts of any individual.  The process encourages the same success without regard for the specific individual driving the success. The process provides the sustainability that will carry the support and development of your community through changes of individuals that happen as a normal course of action.  People change, communities change, partners change and the process provides the map that supports the navigation through these changes.


And now for the audience participation portion of the show…

ECommerce will have wide ranging impacts on both the retail and manufacturing sectors.  How can you focus these abilities to improve the consumer's experience?  Improving the consumer’s experience will require a re-evaluation of the sales channels, the manufacturing channels and practices and the supply chain channels and practices from the raw materials to the consumers’ homes.  In order to ensure and maintain success in this new reality you must harness the tools and capabilities in many new areas.  How can you support these continuously changing requirements?

tbrouill

Collaboration Process

Posted by tbrouill Sep 19, 2015


In my experience the success of all initiatives depends heavily on the development, implementation and a follow-up of continuous review and improvement of process.  This is especially evident and important in a collaborative environment such as a consumer community that integrates with your extended network partners.  This is not only important to the success, it is also one of the most difficult activities to develop and implement a successful process.  The process requires clear steps and activities that are embraced by all participants and members of this community, this is also one of the most difficult aspects of implementing the process.


The consumer community process must support the collection, analysis and change and validation process supporting the community.  This is a very volatile community that is being pushed and pulled by both consumers and the technologies embraced by the consumers.  It is important to maintain a process that evaluates and integrates modifications on a very short cycle in order to both maintain currency in technology but most importantly to maintain the interest of the consumer.  Consumers can be incredibly fickle and consumers’ acceptance and embrace of technology is even more fickle.  Your process must walk the line of coordinating analysis and implementation in a cycle that is much shorter than previous cycles.


Your extended partner network is the next piece of the equation that requires a robust and flexible process to support collaboration of your partner network along with the integration to the consumer community.  While this particular process is quite different than the process supporting your consumer community, it does have a level of complexity related to the integration and collaboration of your external partners that you must take into account.  Any time that you must integrate a network that is not controlled by one organization the level of complexity increases.  In the case though of the extended partner network the integration and collaboration requirements and objectives are more easily implemented because the value proposition provides the weight of return on investment that will focus the efforts. 


The processes you put into place will provide the guidance and procedures to follow to support the sense and respond improvement cycles in addition to the procedures to follow to support and ensure collaboration practices are taken into consideration and followed in these processes.  The process provides the guiderails and the steps to ensure all requirements are taken into consideration in your dealings and support of the networks and communities.  Lets face it, it is just too easy to forget, or take shortcuts when you try to follow procedures from memory.  The process is put into place to ensure that your follow the same steps each time and the process also encourages you to achieve maximum value in your activities.


And now for the audience participation portion of the show…

ECommerce will have wide ranging impacts on both the retail and manufacturing sectors.  How can you focus these abilities to improve the consumer's experience?  Improving the consumer’s experience will require a re-evaluation of the sales channels, the manufacturing channels and practices and the supply chain channels and practices from the raw materials to the consumers’ homes.  In order to ensure and maintain success in this new reality you must harness the tools and capabilities in many new areas.  How can you support these continuously changing requirements?


A successful and continuous sense and respond process requires a robust and flexible framework that supports and guides the sense and respond cycle.  This framework is so important that you cannot afford to wait on a design or produce a ‘final’ design of the framework.  You must understand and take into account in your actions that the framework itself must be managed and maintained as a continuous improvement exercise in order to ensure the continued flexibility that supports the process and brings value to all partners.  As I see this, one of the key factors in all activities related to the consumer community and the relationship to your extended partners is this concept of flexibility and continuous evaluation and revision. 


We have passed the point where an organization can afford to take a long period of time to analyze and develop an all encompassing solution.  We are in an age now where the analysis, decision and implementation cycle must be crashed in order to support the changing demands of the business.  In order to crash the process you cannot just say that you will do things faster, in order to speed the cycle you must improve the analysis and then do less things in a more iterative cycle.  This is where the sense and respond framework comes into play; quite simply this framework must guide the improved analysis cycle and then consume that into a decision and delivery process that delivers a quick turnaround. 


The improved analysis can be delivered through utilization of big data collection and analysis process that supports a robust and flexible process.  The improved decision and delivery process, though, must be defined and implemented based on partners and the needs and capabilities of the community.  It must also be defined and maintained as a flexible structure that can flex as necessary to support demands as they are identified.  In other words the decision and delivery function of the framework also requires a robust continuous improvement process to guide the modifications required to improve the framework.  You must take to heart a mantra that what I did yesterday will not be enough for tomorrow.


The greatest method to ensure the continuous improvement process is actually part of the name, ‘process’.  Process provides a guide and you will find over and over that great things will come from the process if you only follow the process.  In my experience I have found over and over when a failure occurs the greatest factor feeding into and even driving the failure is when the execution of the process breaks down.  What I am recommending is that you start with something that is simple and build on the foundation as you define requirements.


And now for the audience participation portion of the show…

ECommerce will have wide ranging impacts on both the retail and manufacturing sectors.  How can you focus these abilities to improve the consumer's experience?  Improving the consumer’s experience will require a re-evaluation of the sales channels, the manufacturing channels and practices and the supply chain channels and practices from the raw materials to the consumers’ homes.  In order to ensure and maintain success in this new reality you must harness the tools and capabilities in many new areas.  How can you support these continuously changing requirements?


In order to be successful and deliver value for both your consumer community members and also your extended partners you must institutionalize a continuous process of analysis and response to the demands of consumer community members and your extended partners.  These demands will ebb and flow from all involved parties based on reactions, new influences and new capabilities, both external and internal.  This, in fact, is the crux of the challenge; how to send the changing influences and respond in a positive manner that will focus the changes and demands into a positive reaction that brings value to both your consumer community and your extended partners.


This process of analyzing and responding to a series of discontinuous changes and demands that end up influencing all of the involved partners can be overwhelming without a framework and a process that guides the analysis and the response from all parties in the relationship.  In all business and technology functions the process and the framework supporting the process is critical to the success and in this initiative of building a collaborative consumer network and integrating your extended network partners it is even more important.  It is also important that you take the framework and process to heart and do not simply play lip service.  The level of change and the level of integration in this framework is so great that your framework and your process must flexible and robust enough to withstand the continuous impact of the change being pushed from all directions. 


What makes this process continuous?  It is probably a little easier in the current technology environment to implement a continuous data collection.  Rather than determining what data to collect you simply collect it all and this is not an unreasonable request because of the advances in big data and the improvements in storage costs.  This collection also includes the interactions with your external partners as well as interactions in the consumer community and interactions between the consumer community and all partners both internal and external. 


Next comes the sense and respond aspect where you need to regularly analyze and review the analysis of the interactions data.  First your sense aspect of analysis should be performed at a minimum of a weekly basis and this should both validate previous assumptions and then identify variations to the assumptions.  These variations to earlier assumptions must then be reviewed and evaluated on a weekly basis to identify trends and potential impact to the community and partner environments.  These evaluations must include the previous reactions and also previous questions to understand the trend and then identify modifications to take advantage and validate the changes as they unfold.  It is important that this is done on a weekly basis to provide the timely review and timely change decisions to both take advantage and support the changing demands.


And now for the audience participation portion of the show…

ECommerce will have wide ranging impacts on both the retail and manufacturing sectors.  How can you focus these abilities to improve the consumer's experience?  Improving the consumer’s experience will require a re-evaluation of the sales channels, the manufacturing channels and practices and the supply chain channels and practices from the raw materials to the consumers’ homes.  In order to ensure and maintain success in this new reality you must harness the tools and capabilities in many new areas.  How can you support these continuously changing requirements?

tbrouill

Sense And Respond Input

Posted by tbrouill Sep 13, 2015


There will be many sources and types of input to your sense and respond framework, to the point where it may seem that the volume and the sources become overwhelming.  It is important in these cases that you first capture information and the source or circumstances of the information so that it can be analyzed at a later date.  Remember you do not have to analyze and understand how all information fits at the time it is collected, you simply must collect it.  This will short circuit the sense of overwhelming that is a natural experience.  Remember there are two steps to this process; the first is the collection and storage of the information and the second is the analysis of the information.


The sources of input are important to understand and encourage, they come from so many different directions, people and activities that it can be easy to overlook a piece of information that may be important.  In this practice it is important to collect the data without evaluation, the evaluation must be done based on all of the information that is collected.  This is somewhat counter intuitive because the normal practice and response to information input is an evaluation and determination how it fits into and with the other information you have at hand.  It is important to break this habit in order to increase the value of your analysis and evaluation.


Big data analysis practices this type of analysis based on the entirety of the data in order to improve the outcome of the analysis.  This process to evaluate based on the all off the data is providing essentially a restart to the analysis every time you look at it.  This is important from a data perspective however you must also take into account the points where you have implemented a change.  It is important that you collect an analytical picture of the data from the point prior to the change so that you can then perform a valid comparison of the analytical results after the change in order to measure these results.  It is critical to base your analysis and change on the data and the more data that you have to compare, the more accurate your analysis and evaluations of results.


The input of data must continuously be expanded in order to increase the value from the analysis and evaluations.  You probably notice a theme in the continuous nature of expansion and evaluation, this is important because as your understanding and the impact of your consumer community expands you must expand the input that you collect to perform analytical evaluations.  These broad and changing inputs are the foundation of your future success in utilizing and expanding the consumer collaboration community.   Direct surveys of consumers only provide a limited picture where the analytical evaluation of actual data can provide a more accurate picture of the demands and desires of the community members.  When you couple this information with your external partners’ information related to sales, manufacturing and supply chain, you can make more accurate and informed decisions to grow your business and retain the consumer.


And now for the audience participation portion of the show…

ECommerce will have wide ranging impacts on both the retail and manufacturing sectors.  How can you focus these abilities to improve the consumer's experience?  Improving the consumer’s experience will require a re-evaluation of the sales channels, the manufacturing channels and practices and the supply chain channels and practices from the raw materials to the consumers’ homes.  In order to ensure and maintain success in this new reality you must harness the tools and capabilities in many new areas.  How can you support these continuously changing requirements?

tbrouill

Sense And Respond Cycles

Posted by tbrouill Sep 12, 2015


The success of your sense and respond process is dependant on the decision implementation cycle; your decision cycle must be short and must incorporate and encourage flexible decisions that allow quick modifications.  In order to be successful, your sense and respond framework must discourage long evaluation cycles and instead institute quick decision and implementation cycles that test and confirm the analysis as the changes are implemented.  This short decision and implementation cycle also reduces the risk of making a bad decision that requires extended rework and starting over.  Its not that the sense and respond cycle always results in a good decision; its that a bad decision has a smaller impact and can be quickly adjusted to move forward.


The cycle should provide a new release every two weeks in order to provide a rhythm for the expectations of the community.  This does not mean that your cycle must take only two weeks between the start of your analysis cycle and the implementation of a modification, it does mean though that you must get into the rhythm of sprints for delivery.  This can be very difficult in an environment that includes the consumer community and the extended partner participation because of the juggling priorities that must be accounted for in the process.  The agile cycle though supports the sense and respond cycles very well and provides the structure to support the shortened delivery sprints. 


You must understand that this two week delivery cycle will take a bit of time to build the pipeline, it is important to maintain a history of the decisions and the modifications in order to guide and feed this pipeline also.  You must also understand that this shortened two week delivery cycle does not preclude your organization from large initiatives.  In the case of a large initiative you must maintain the pipeline of your delivery cycle with the modifications that will come together to delivery the large initiative.  In fact, I think that this shortened delivery cycle can support and even enforce the overall success of a large initiative because you are in fact validating and potentially revising along the way to improve the end product.  This is the classic definition of agile methodology. 


In order to maintain a rhythm and a process of improvements though you must maintain the history and the roadmap for the future delivery cycles.  This roadmap must also be informed and revised based on the results of deliveries in order to define and implement the improvements suggested by the results.  Just implementing a two week delivery cycle does not mean that you have met the objectives, you must also implement the sense and respond process framework as a key process supporting the two week delivery cycle in order to guide the deliveries and institutionalize the improvement cycle.  The sense and respond framework provides the practice for continuously building upon your accomplishments.


And now for the audience participation portion of the show…

ECommerce will have wide ranging impacts on both the retail and manufacturing sectors.  How can you focus these abilities to improve the consumer's experience?  Improving the consumer’s experience will require a re-evaluation of the sales channels, the manufacturing channels and practices and the supply chain channels and practices from the raw materials to the consumers’ homes.  In order to ensure and maintain success in this new reality you must harness the tools and capabilities in many new areas.  How can you support these continuously changing requirements?


Sense and respond across your extended partner network that incorporates the demands and opportunities of both your consumer community and your extended partner network can be very complicated to manage.  This is why you must clearly define the framework that identifies trends, determines options and directs selection up front and must also focus on maintaining this framework.  The methods defined and supported in your framework are the milestones and guides for your identification and decision making process, the framework also should provide a method of tracking historical options that were identified and not selected so that your future analysis and decisions have a starting point and a potential reason for the direction.


My concept of sense and respond provides a framework to quickly analyze the environment and then come to a thoughtful decision that allows you to move forward.  It is not meant to be and should not be implemented as a reactionary process that jumps from one crisis to another, this will only lead to failure.  Instead the sense and respond framework supports a method to identify questions and challenges quickly and then, just as quickly, come to a decision that addresses at least a portion of the challenge to allow you to move forward and collect more information.  I am using the phrase sense and respond to convey a sense of urgency and speed in analysis and decisions, not to convey a sense of emergency or haphazard decisions and unfinished analysis.  I think the biggest impact of the sense and respond process that I am suggesting is the cycle time for analysis, decision, implementation, confirmation and then further analysis.  You want to identify an area that would benefit from a modification to support the identified need, quickly implement the decision and then just as quickly validate and potentially revise the decision.


One of the chief benefits of this sense and respond method is the fact that you are quickly moving forward to respond to the quickly changing environment that makes up both your consumer community and your extended partner interaction to the community.  Another major benefit is that implementing the process of quicker and more focused decisions reduces the risk of a bad decision that could set back your progress and require re-work.  The greatest enemy of your consumer community and extended partner interactions is spending a great deal of time in analysis and review and then implementing a change that does not meet the objectives and must be re-done.  You can easily implement three or four small revisions that will move you forward in the time it requires for one major revision, then if your major revision causes a negative impact you must spend another block of time to reverse the revision, re-analyze the problem in light of the new information and then re-implement the revision.  You just don’t have the time to spend on this type of re-work and the risk of issues is just too great.


And now for the audience participation portion of the show…

ECommerce will have wide ranging impacts on both the retail and manufacturing sectors.  How can you focus these abilities to improve the consumer's experience?  Improving the consumer’s experience will require a re-evaluation of the sales channels, the manufacturing channels and practices and the supply chain channels and practices from the raw materials to the consumers’ homes.  In order to ensure and maintain success in this new reality you must harness the tools and capabilities in many new areas.  How can you support these continuously changing requirements?


Sense and respond is a type of practice that guides and informs quick decision making that is a requirement of the consumer collaboration community.  Any time that you are participating, coordinating or managing a framework that is subject to quick and discontinuous change you must incorporate a method that helps you to quickly react to surrounding circumstances and change and the sense and respond approach, in my opinion, is the most effective method.  There is a very important aspect of a sense and respond method you must keep in mind, the decisions are generally short lived and it is important that you keep this in mind as you are analyzing changing demands in making a decision.


This decision making process must be built on the foundation that the decision will be short lived and will require modifications or completely new decisions in a short period of time.  This means that your decision process cannot be allowed to take a very long time at all, you must quickly analyze the information at hand and then even more quickly make a decision.  It is very important though that you make a decision that can easily be built upon or quickly changed when new facts or additional changes warrant.  This is the key to the success of a sense and respond framework that your decisions are open and flexible to allow you to change and add new aspects to the decision without starting from square one.  You must maintain the process and practice that the decision while made in a very short time frame will also more than likely have a very short life span. 


There is an old saying; “I don’t want to know the history of forestry, I just want to know about this one tree”, and this is a very good model to utilize in making decisions in a very short period of time.  In other words your analysis should be very focused on one or a small number of questions and then the decision must be one that focuses on the response to the one or small number of questions.  Don’t let your decision making process expand to take into account more aspects than are necessary, expanding the decision and the process will only take longer and increase the risk of making a bad decision that then needs to be ripped out, taking you back steps and research that you can’t afford to do again and this is something that you just cannot afford.  You must always move forward and your decisions should move you forward to at least add more information for analysis and updates and revisions to your decisions and the community features and functions.


And now for the audience participation portion of the show…

ECommerce will have wide ranging impacts on both the retail and manufacturing sectors.  How can you focus these abilities to improve the consumer's experience?  Improving the consumer’s experience will require a re-evaluation of the sales channels, the manufacturing channels and practices and the supply chain channels and practices from the raw materials to the consumers’ homes.  In order to ensure and maintain success in this new reality you must harness the tools and capabilities in many new areas.  How can you support these continuously changing requirements?


Sense and respond should be viewed as a type of guidance system that provides a means to quickly identify, analyze and react to changes in your community in a thoughtful and speedy manner.  The consumer community technical architecture and framework, along with the participating members demand a very fluid and flexible environment that responds quickly to the changing capabilities and demands of the members.  In fact, your community will surely wither and die if you cannot meet the changing demands of the community members. 


There are two factors driving this requirement of flexibility and response; first is the consumer members and the second is the cloud technology and services that your are utilizing to support the community.  The consumer community members are a tech savvy group that embrace technology and jump into new technologies and services in the leading wave.  The cloud technology and services used to support the community are themselves very fluid and flexible and this in itself demands and drives similar flexibility into any community based on these services.  Think about it; how many new apps and services do you see on a daily basis offered on your smartphone?  Then think about the consumer reaction and incorporation of these new apps.  This is what is driving the types and speed of change in your collaboration community.


This is where the sense and respond continuous improvement process and practice comes into play to support your needs.  Sense and respond requires a defined review and decision making process to ensure that actions are executed in a thoughtful manner and not a reactionary haphazard manner.  This process provides guidance and a set of rules to follow to ensure that the action is will provide a positive impact.  Thoughtful does not mean slow, thoughtful in the case of a sense and respond process simply means that you have evaluated options before making a decision.  In the case of the consumer community, or any initiative really, that utilizes leading edge and volatile technology it is important to incorporate a process that can be quickly executed to come to a decision quickly.


The beauty of this type of environment, where the technology and the demands are volatile, is that the impact of the decisions are relatively short term and you can expect change or revisions would be highly likely to be required regularly.  This does not mean that you should make reckless decisions though, this does mean though that you must make good decisions quickly.  The change or improvement resulting from the decision should be monitored and you must be prepared to evaluate and adjust the change quickly.  This is all supported through the sense and respond continuous improvement process.


And now for the audience participation portion of the show…

ECommerce will have wide ranging impacts on both the retail and manufacturing sectors.  How can you focus these abilities to improve the consumer's experience?  Improving the consumer’s experience will require a re-evaluation of the sales channels, the manufacturing channels and practices and the supply chain channels and practices from the raw materials to the consumers’ homes.  In order to ensure and maintain success in this new reality you must harness the tools and capabilities in many new areas.  How can you support these continuously changing requirements?


In order to maintain a high level of participation in your consumer collaboration community from both your consumer members and your extended partner network the participants much feel that they are realizing positive benefits.  From the consumer perspective they must feel they are realizing benefits from the direct feedback of the consumer members and benefits from the community host it the form of early sale notification or other types of special savings.  From the extended partner network perspective they must feel they are realizing benefits from the direct feedback of the consumer members and the data collected that can be used in analysis.  Finally from the community host perspective they must feel they are realizing benefits from increased sales and product and services feedback directly from the consumer members.


This can be a difficult balancing act across the participants and the host to ensure that there is a high level of perceived and real benefits provided to all of the participants.  This is where a robust continuous improvement framework will provide the greatest level of support.  After all, the process of maintaining and improving both the community and the resulting outcomes from both the community and the participant perspective is a process of trial and error improvements that is simply a continuous improvement process that requires the framework to ensure continued success.  The challenge in this particular incarnation of the continuous improvement cycle is the participation and suggestions of the consumer members of the community must be analyzed and determined using a ‘sense and respond’ process, which is essentially another type of continuous improvement exercise.


Reacting to the changes in the consumer community that are demanded from all directions can sometimes feel like an overwhelming task due to the rate and types of changes.  There are changes in technology, procedures, features and functionality, architecture and framework that are all sometimes coming together at the same time due to the nature of the community, the participants and the technology.  This reactionary environment requires an extremely flexible response procedure that embraces the change rather than ignore or fight the change.  This is where the sense and respond process fits in and provides a method and practice that supports the volume and frequency of change, I think of sense and respond as a type of agile continuous improvement.  


The consumer community build on the open cloud technologies that directly interacts with the consumer cannot afford to wait on long lead times or even medium term lead times to deliver new content and services.  This is where the sense and respond process will really shine and support the speed at which you will be required to deliver.  This also supports and even institutionalizes flexibility in the community and the interaction with your external partners to allow the benefits to be achieved more quickly, which will make everyone happy and encourage the continued support of the community and the efforts.


And now for the audience participation portion of the show…

ECommerce will have wide ranging impacts on both the retail and manufacturing sectors.  How can you focus these abilities to improve the consumer's experience?  Improving the consumer’s experience will require a re-evaluation of the sales channels, the manufacturing channels and practices and the supply chain channels and practices from the raw materials to the consumers’ homes.  In order to ensure and maintain success in this new reality you must harness the tools and capabilities in many new areas.  How can you support these continuously changing requirements?


Data collected from the consumer community provides a vast reserve for analysis of trends and consumer desires across your extended partner network that can and probably will be disruptive to the current consumer trends and desires analysis practices.   Both focus groups and surveys have a critical failure point inherent in their architecture and that is the questions that are asked, asking the wrong questions can provide bad results that result in poor decisions and strategy.  These issues then have a tendency to snowball and feed on themselves resulting in additional poor decisions.  On top of it all, these types of analysis can be very costly and time consuming. 


The data and collaboration pipeline must be defined and configured as a two way feed; the data from the consumer community will feed the data store to provide the basis and data for the analysis and then the network partners utilizing the data in their analyses must have a means to request additional types of data.  This is the means to increase the value of the data, quite simply the feedback and revise loop in another example of a continuous improvement loop in this process.  This continuous improvement loop provides the framework required to improve and increase the value of both the community and the data provided by this community.


The key challenge that I see to this continuous improvement loop is the methods used to obtain new data requested by the extended network.  This requires a little bit of imagination in order to gather the intelligence and data in a manner that results in honest feedback and not just posting a survey on the community.  For instance, if you are interested in the perception of quality and usage of the product you could start with consumer purchase ratings and then add to that the option for a potential consumer to submit questions to the people that purchased the product or even the community at large.  You can see that it requires some imagination to develop an unobtrusive method to collect the data that provides value to both the community members and then it requires a combination of imagination and intelligence to collect and analyze the data.


The care and feeding maintenance of both the community and the extended partner use of the data derived from the community requires a continuous focus in order to maintain the value.  For one thing, the community members require the focus to provide new and fresh content and capabilities or they will simply walk away from the community.  The community support must take into account the objectives from their extended partners as one type of input for new content and services.  This provides a great basis for these new services and you can be sure that the extended partners will actively participate in developing these new services and content when they begin to see a return on value.


And now for the audience participation portion of the show…

ECommerce will have wide ranging impacts on both the retail and manufacturing sectors.  How can you focus these abilities to improve the consumer's experience?  Improving the consumer’s experience will require a re-evaluation of the sales channels, the manufacturing channels and practices and the supply chain channels and practices from the raw materials to the consumers’ homes.  In order to ensure and maintain success in this new reality you must harness the tools and capabilities in many new areas.  How can you support these continuously changing requirements?


The consumer collaboration community can make a very positive impact on both the relationship and the value derived from and for your extended partners.  The consumer community opens a new avenue of data directly from interested and engaged consumers that can be utilized to better understand consumer practices and objectives along with direct reactions to products and consumer services such as direct product delivery and product quality.  I see an opportunity to use the community members to eliminate the need for services previously provided through surveys and focus groups.  The combination of the consumer community and big data analysis can replace the majority of surveys and focus groups through the analysis of data provided directly from the consumer.


The consumer community provides the framework to support the participation and encourage retention of consumers on the site.  This participation from consumers provides the basis of data that will be available to analyze.  It should be obvious though that the value provided by this data increases as the volume of data collected increases.  The value and accuracy of research performed on the data is enhanced by the volume of data.  In order to gain the greatest value you must increase the ‘stickiness’ of the consumer site to increase the retention and consumer participation.  So the first order of business is building and maintaining a site that encourages and supports the participation and retention of consumers after they have found the site.


While the site is the gateway for consumer participation, you must also identify the objectives of your network partners in order to provide a focus and methods to support your extended partner requirements.  From the outset I see two important areas where the consumer community can provide information and guidance to your extended partner network; the quality of the product and accuracy in demand planning and forecasting.  The quality of the product takes on not only the quality in producing the product but also the methods in delivering the product in a presentable fashion.  The accuracy in demand planning and forecasting also includes the analysis of the product lifecycle in forecasting the needs.  This is where the the consumer community will really produce value.  The important aspect of both the quality and the improved demand forecasting is the data collection from a wide source of consumers; the more data from consumer response collected, the more accurate the analysis. 


Your consumer community will provide data from consumer interaction and reaction to other consumers and this information can provide an extreme value in the product lifecycle and accurately defining the consumer desires and more importantly when the product has run its course of sales and should be eliminated.  You can use the consumer data to identify when comments and interaction on products starts, as it builds interest and then as the interest declines to improve the demand accuracy and also identify new products.  You can use the consumer community to test and refine products in limited runs before committing to a large manufacture run saving a great deal of expense in producing a product the consumer will buy.


The data collected for analysis allows you to perform survey type analysis from consumer response to products and other consumers rather than simply form the survey questions.  This eliminates the risk that your survey is not asking the proper questions.  You can analyze consumer actions and quickly refine the questions without impacting the data and the analysis.  I see this as one of the greatest values provided by the consumer community.


And now for the audience participation portion of the show…

ECommerce will have wide ranging impacts on both the retail and manufacturing sectors.  How can you focus these abilities to improve the consumer's experience?  Improving the consumer’s experience will require a re-evaluation of the sales channels, the manufacturing channels and practices and the supply chain channels and practices from the raw materials to the consumers’ homes.  In order to ensure and maintain success in this new reality you must harness the tools and capabilities in many new areas.  How can you support these continuously changing requirements?