Base Camp Digital Preview: Strategic Doing in the industrial space

June 3, 2020
Achieving purposeful transformation by quickly forming action-oriented collaborations.

This week, Scott Hutcheson presents on the concept of Strategic Doing during his Smart Industry Base Camp Digital webinar "How Smart, Connected Products Are Enabling New Business Models." Today the director of the Purdue Agile Strategy Lab shares some insights applications of Strategic Doing in the industrial space. Take a look…

Smart Industry: Sum up the concept of Strategic Doing. 

Scott: The Strategic Doing discipline enables people to achieve purposeful transformation by forming action-oriented collaborations quickly, moving them toward measurable outcomes, and making adjustments along the way.

Smart Industry: What about applications in the industrial space?

Scott: Successful industry leaders are usually really great problem solvers. Not all problems, however, are created equally. We have tried-and-true tools to help us solve highly complicated problems, but those same tools usually don’t help us make progress on complex problems. Complex problems have too many variables that we don’t control, too many unknowns, and there usually isn’t an underlying process that is easily seen and understood. That’s where Strategic Doing adds value. We see Strategic Doing being applied successfully to lots of challenges that have proven resistant to other tools. These are usually challenges that demand collaboration across organizational boundaries. Digital transformation can be hard because it democratizes data. We now have data from lots of different points in the product life cycle; but to get the highest-value insights from that data we need an efficient way to link and leverage the knowledge and insights embedded across the enterprise to come up with hypotheses and test our hypotheses to improve the overall enterprise.     

Smart Industry: How is Strategic Doing fueled by modern digital capabilities?

Scott: This quote from The Technology Fallacy: People Are the Real Key to Digital Transformation (Kane, 2019) is really insightful, "Only by fundamentally changing the way the organization works—through flattening hierarchies, speeding up decision making, helping employees develop needed skills, and successfully understanding both opportunities and threats in the environment—can an organization truly adapt to a digital world.” This is what Strategic Doing helps accomplish. Digital transformation is primarily a people play, not a technology play. To reap the rewards of digital transformation, we need to think differently, behave different, and do our work differently. These modern digital capabilities can help facilitate thinking, behaving, and doing differently.

Smart Industry: Provide an example of a Strategic Doing approach in modern manufacturing?

Scott: We were working with a 100-year-old manufacturing firm that had reinvented itself a number of times over the course of a century. Recently, however, they were seeing the signs, again, that reinvention was imminent. What was once a niche offering had become a commodity. They had a hard time differentiating themselves from other firms that offered what they did. Their workers would quit to go work across the street for a buck more ah hour. They couldn’t compete on cost. They would need to complete on value. Yet, most of their most recent “innovations” were cost-cutting, not growth-oriented innovations. They looked to Strategic Doing to help them find the ‘adjacent possible’… the market opportunity that was hard to see, yet close by. In a series of Strategic Doing workshops with their leadership and a couple of key advisors, they realized there was an opportunity to get paid for what they knew, not just what they did. It turns out that the knowledge and insights they had about material handling was of high value to others. They developed a new service line in material handling analytics. This new service line, when combined with their core business, began to help them regain their competitive edge.