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?