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ROUNDMAP™ Framework ─ Boosting the Ultimate Level of Truth™

Today, executives and managers struggle with the problem of stagnating or even declining growth. Often due to forces like global competition, digital disruption, erratic customer behavior, broken supply chains, government-imposed restrictions, and so on. As suggested by Einstein, we cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them. And although learned linear thinking has led to more productivity and consistency, what we now need is more creativity and ingenuity. Besides, who can afford to plan rigorously for a discontinuous future?

Objectives

Practitioners of the ROUNDMAP™ Framework aim to boost frontline performance across all relevant distribution and communication channels. Drawn from an awe-inspiring vision, astute leadership, and a shared purpose, they seek to fortify existing customer relationships while simultaneously pursue viable, feasible, and desirable innovations, differentiating propositions, and compelling customer experiences to find new opportunities for growth.

Note: Astuteness requires Conditional Leadership.

Benefits

Let’s start with summarizing some of the gains of what an integrated perspective on the business may bring you.

Obtain a complete oversight of the business to make better and faster decisions, taken from diverse, objective, inclusive, intuitive, and informative vantage points.

Change from a business-as-usual to a change-as-usual mindset, to inspire change, to cope with the uncertainty of change, and to create the conditions for change to occur.

To be able to grasp the internal and external conditions that influence the business improves the capacity to mitigate risks early and benefit from opportunities.

The only way to learn about new trends, changes in customer behavior, competitive offerings, and new market entrants is by being on top of the market.

Mental and functional silos are known to inhibit cross-functional communication and collaboration and thereby stiffle innovation, sabotage customer experiences, and decrease customer satisfaction.

Value creation and value delivery with the customer in mind will improve customer satisfaction and induce loyalty.

There is nothing more damaging to the bottom line than an alienated workforce. Provide meaningful and challenging work and encourage self-organization. The financial rewards are truly significant: 1.7x better financial results.

If you are able to engage customers to provide genuine feedback, to suggest new ideas and opportunities for improvements, the financial rewards are truly significant: 1.7x better financial results.

Firms that successfully engage both customers as well as employees outperform their peers by 3.4x better financial results (Gallup, Human Sigma).

 

A product that is relevant may fulfill actual customer demand. A product that is perceived significant may fulfill future customer demand. Significance, therefore, is what forges strong customer bonds and drive customer lifetime value.

To drive meaningful innovation, to increase customer satisfaction, and to increase the perception of future value, you’ll have to build a continuous customer feeback loop.

To understand how to benefit from digitalization and new digital-driven business models, to achieve sustained growth with which to secure the future of the company.

Contrary to common practice in a time of market contractions, firms should distribute authority by engaging, empowering, and entrusting employees.

Consolidation and exploiting resource interdependencies may lead to a positive cash flow but it will also increase fragility, thereby limiting the readiness for change.

By creating a strong alignment on vision, strategy, purpose, and mission, firm’s create a shared interest in the success of the endeavor, allowing people to collectively create for the future. Passion and commitment lead to self-motivation.

To cross the silos we’re suggesting to facilitate roundtables to increase horizontal collaboration. Hording of information could lead to self-proclaimed experts that oppose structural change, give rise to powerplay, and hinder organizational learning.

Deploy a customer data platform to create a unified profile of every customer to personalize customer experiences.

Research by Google and others confirmed that the best performing team didn’t deliver because of talent, resources, or money. Out of 250 factors that were examined, the common denominator for outstanding teams was psychological safety. Those that lacked it, didn’t do so well.

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Mastering the Situation

We’re in the endgame of the 5th K-wave, a business cycle of about 53 years that started around 1971. Many products and business models that came from innovations based on inventions in the sixties and seventies, like the semiconductor, transistor, and the processor, are reaching their end-of-life almost simultaneously. At the same time, innovations derived from most recent inventions, like 5G to power autonomous vehicles and the Internet of Things, quantum computers with unimaginable data processing speed, AI uses in manufacturing, autonomous buildings, and in diagnosis for cancer, CRISPR Cas9 and the sequencing of the human genome, and so on, are on the verge of a breakthrough.

While sudden breakthroughs are generally welcomed, seemingly inevitable breakdowns cause anxiety and fear amongst workers. Learned linear thinkers, representing the vast majority of managers, have long been persuaded into thinking that to get from point A to point B all you need to do is to follow a series of predefined steps. However, in times of erratic change connecting the proverbial dots looking forward will surely drive the company down the cliff.

The Ruling Mode of Operation

What will ultimately determine your firm’s mode of operation depends on whether you’re riding the remains of the 5th outbound K-wave, or are on the verge of the inbound 6th K-wave. When you’re part of the outbound wave, you’ll need to be in a consolidator mode and pull up your defenses, while scouting for new ideas and innovative ventures. When you’re part of the next inbound wave, you’re likely in a challenger-mode, looking for overlooked segments, testing assumptions, and hoping to one day bring down the incumbents’ walls.

To master a specific business situation from an integrated viewpoint you may want to consider questions like:

  • What/who is causing the breakdown and how can we respond to it?
  • How long can we defend our market share?
  • Can we extend the product or do we have to abandon it?
  • Will a different business model offer new opportunities for sustained growth?
  • Can we become more cost-effective while at the same time improving customer experiences through digitalization?
  • Can we decouple segments of the value chain and find strategic partners who can do a better job?
  • What is the customer’s job to be done and are we currently providing the best product for hire?
  • Are there (overlooked) segments in the market in which we can play to win?
  • What gaps and constraints hinder us to make progress?
  • What scenarios of growth should we consider?

A Scrimmage of Two Archetypes

Our addiction to the linear way of thinking has led us to believe that the best way to direct a company is from a centralized command and control structure. In a typical bureaucracy, it is the CEO at the helm that is making most if not all of the decisions, which are then passed down through a chain of command (hierarchy), expecting everyone to abide by these decisions, in an effort to maximize productivity and to achieve a consistency of output. As long as the success of the business depends on executing the mission with military precision, this linear and masculine structure makes sense ─ I’m no fan though, but habits are hard to break.

However, when growth is in decline and employees no longer trust a CEO’s objective judgment to make the right decisions on their behalf ─ as is confirmed by international research (Edelman Trust Barometer, 2018 and onward) ─ the bureaucracy is at its wit’s end. We’ll need a new paradigm, a different way of thinking and organizing.

Today, most companies are in either a Consolidator mode or a Challenger mode of operation. And these two modes collide: it’s the age-old battle between the decadent defender of the old versus the fearless pioneers of the new. I’ve explained the Four Archetypes of the Business Cycle in a separate post.

In brief: In a Consolidator-mode, a CEO’s natural response to a Challenger is to defend existing revenue streams for as long as possible; to either buy time, and to allow for the allocation of resources to support favorable and scalable initiatives carried out at the base of the operation, or to abandon the operation. If to buy time, a Consolidator has to develop a customer retention strategy to keep existing customers close. To do so, it needs to convince customers of the significance of future value that could be obtained from an ongoing relationship. This is why we’ve created the Customer Roundtable Blueprint.

To compare the two states, the masculine versus feminine mindset, you may enjoy a classic presentation by Mark Gungor, called the Tale of Two Brains. Although a generalization, Mark makes a clear distinction between the male brain, in which ‘everything and everyone is kept in a box while making sure none of the boxes touch’, and the female brain, in which ‘everything and everyone is connected.’

While on the subject, by focusing on empathy, and emotional triggers in general, the commercial operation will inadvertently change to a predominantly feminine mode. About 90% of a buyer’s decision to purchase a product, as described in the Customer Roundtable Blueprint, relates to emotional triggers. It’s one of the main reasons why women tend to be much better in practicing customer success, and therefore in engaging and retaining more customers than men generally are.

Everything is Connected

When we set out to design a system to plan for commercial growth, we didn’t realize that without executive backing our system had little chance of being deployed. While research suggested that driving customer and employee engagement could lead to 3.4 times more financially effective outcomes (Human Sigma, 2008), 2.7 times higher operating margin (Towers Watson, 2011), and 22% YoY net income improvement (Kotter & Haskett, 2011), these results won’t be achieved without strong leadership support and a culture in which frontline employees are being entrusted and empowered.

Therefore, to benefit from an engaged workforce and a loyal customer base, firms have to consider the dynamics of the entire business enterprise. Because it all ties together: you can’t develop a loyal customer base without developing the desired products, you can’t deliver on the promise when your supply chain is a mess, you can’t devise a (digital) vision without customer feedback, and you can’t grow sustainably without a shared vision, a shared strategy, a shared purpose, and a shared mission.

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The Circular Motion

ROUNDMAP™, as a proprietary integrated business framework, was constructed from the ground up, using a method closely related to Systems Thinking.

“Systems thinking is a holistic way to investigate factors and interactions that could contribute to a possible outcome. A mindset more than a prescribed practice, systems thinking provides an understanding of how individuals can work together in different types of teams and through that understanding, create the best possible processes to accomplish just about anything.” ~Dr. Marie Morganelli

By perceiving the world as a series of connected systems, and by understanding our part within them, we can begin to make better decisions, be better teammates, suppliers, or strategic partners and find infinite new ways to be more productive in all areas of our (corporate) lives.

Besides, similar to nature, business growth isn’t linear, it is circular. By practicing linear thinking we consider an idea or a process to begin from a point (A), follow a series of connected steps, and end at a point (B). At the end of the business cycle, point (B) can be anywhere. To discover it, we need to think outside the mental and functional boxes and make connections among unrelated concepts or ideas.

The Value Hub Theory

My journey to devise the Framework began in 2012 when I was asked to assist a local radio station to transition from a traditional broadcasting company to a two-way communications company. Following a brainstorming session, I found a ‘systemic pattern’ that led to the description of the Value Hub™ theory.

Essentially, the theory suggests that every entity has a value deficit on one hand, and a surplus on the other. When two Value Hubs are drawn to each other, because one hub is able to fulfill the deficit of the other, value starts to flow between them. When the deficit is filled, both Hubs depart as there is no more reason to stay connected.

When in partnership with others, essentially forming a value network, the hub becomes a node. However, most relationships

Value Chain Theory

By using Michael Porters’ Value Chain theory, we began to describe the activities within the Value Hub. At first, we focused on the aspects of customer interaction. We found that existing marketing and sales models, and the linear funnel analogies, in particular, did not incorporate the social dynamics that had begun to surface following the rise of social networks and dynamic web technologies. Meanwhile, these social dynamics inspired Marketing focus more on customer satisfaction, engagement, and advocacy.

We came to realize that the customer interaction process should NOT be perceived as a finite linear customer journey, from suspect to purchase, but as a continuous lifecycle. This circular motion of building lasting customer relationships, enabled by social dynamics, was the start of what became the Customer Roundtable Blueprint.

Besides, we found the arrangement of the Value Chain theory, particulary the separation of primary and secondary activities, impractical. Instead, we divided the value chain along the line of the supply chain (the supply-side of the Business Dynamics), on the one hand, and the demand chain (the demand-side of the Bustomer Dynamics) on the other. With Delivery (the wider perspective of Service) as the bridge in between the two sides.

This arrangement also provides a better understanding of a SWOT Analysis, while it allows for a clear distinction between the backstage and onstage competitive advantages.

The Bigger Picture

From experience, having led various companies, we knew that functional silos, a direct consequence of a bureaucracy, interfered hopelessly with horizontal collaboration. We realized that Taylorism, which had long been confined to production, has also invaded every other department and division of the organization. And while Ricardo Semler had made a strong case against product disaffection on the factory floor due to Taylorism, very few people seem to realize that the same division of labor and the preoccupation with specialization has led to customer disaffection in the frontline operation. Frankly, most frontline employees don’t have a clue or even care who the customer is, let alone bother with improving their lives.

To drive the customer lifecycle process firms really need to consider the ruling silos dynamics. Harvard’s Heidi Gardner confirmed that firms with better cross-functional collaboration achieve more customer loyalty and higher margins:

“As innovation hinges more and more on interdisciplinary cooperation, digitalization transforms business at a breakneck pace, and globalization increasingly requires people to work across national borders, the demand for executives who can lead projects at interfaces keeps rising.”

To survive and thrive in our digital age, the need to communicate and collaborate effectively across the silos is even more pressing as digitalization is all about finding new ways of creating value between the silos. Additionally, the corporate value chain extends far beyond the traditional boundaries of the business enterprise and now includes key external partners in the supply chain and those in the demand chain. Having a highly connected, preferably digitized value chain has become a precondition for driving an integrated business (IB).

Supporting Harvard’s Heidi Gardner findings, Financial Times’s Gillian Tett, author Patrick Lencioni, and Harvard’s Vikram Mansharamani all confirmed that horizontal or cross-functional collaboration is critical to the success of any business endeavor ─ as do we.

Separation and Alienation

Because of a lack of a shared purpose and confusion about what the company aims to achieve, departments have become separated, “each defending its products, its ideas, its brilliance,” as stated by Tett, thereby creating disconnected organizations crowded with people that alienated from the whole. Needless to say that employees’ passion and commitment suffer deeply because of the disconnectedness and alienation ─ as predicted by Karl Marx (although born in Germany, Marx spend most of his life living in exile in London because of his political publications).

Why is this particularly harmful today?

To appreciate this, you’ll need to understand more about the characteristics of business cycles, in particular the Kondratieff long waves or K-waves. We’ve explained more about these phenomena in the article Ascending from Decline. In summary: We’re in the final stage of a long wave, a business cycle of about 53 years that started in 1971. Many products and business models are simultaneously in decline; ready to be disrupted. A linear (or sequential) way of thinking isn’t going to help firms in this stage. To ascend from decline, executives need to stimulate a nonlinear way of thinking, often addressed as spiral or systems thinking. Hence, the ROUNDMAP.

As a consequence, the linear and masculine command and control structure, which can be beneficial in a more predictable market, however, it isn’t going to help the firm in times of unprecedented and unpredictable change. Instead, leadership has to rely on more collaborative, distributive, and supporting management structures, taken from practices like servant leadership, stewardship, holacracy, or sociocracy.

The Framework

ROUNDMAP™ consists of several components:

  • The Business (Venture) Roadmap, consisting of:
    • A map to help firms discover, design, develop and direct new business ventures.
  • The Business Model Matrix™, consisting of:
    • Four foundational business models: Product Centricity, Customer Centricity, Resource Centricity, and Network Centricity.
  • The Business Roundtable Blueprint™, consisting of:
    • Four Mastery Aspects: Strategic Mastery, Commercial Mastery, Operational Mastery, and Situational Mastery.
    • Four Maturing Lifecycles: Business Carousel, Product Carousel, Customer Carousel, and Growth Carousel.
  • The Customer Roundtable Blueprint™, consisting of:
    • A comprehensive map of every aspect of customer interaction, including the social dynamics and emotional triggers.

The Framework combines both nonlinear (the round trips) as well as linear (the roadmap) mappings, explaining the Framework’s name. What type of thinking to use depends entirely on the situation; hence the use of terms like Situational Growth™ and Situational Mastery™.

The bedrock of the ROUNDMAP Framework is the Customer Roundtable Blueprint, which offers an effective tool for frontline employees to communicate and collaborate across the silos, by removing mental and functional barriers. The Framework suggests to set up roundtable sessions, bypassing the silo barriers, to discover new opportunities for growth and translate these opportunities into viable, feasible, and desirable business ventures.

When we bring the key elements together in one image, it looks like this:

The critical parts of the ROUNDMAP™ Framework are (plotted from the center to the edge):

Framework as a Stack

Another way of perceiving the Framework is to see it as a stack of five layers:

The Business Roadmap

As mentioned, the Business Roadmap offers the linear part of the ROUNDMAP Framework. We’ve cross-referenced the four management functions (to the right of the image) of the Framework with the stages in the Business Roadmap.

ROUNDMAP™ Framework ─ Boosting the Ultimate Level of Truth™ 2

The Practitioner Program, offered by ROUNDMAP Academy, will provide more insights into each of these components. Just be aware that success is a delicate balance, requiring Leadership, management, and staff to be in close contact with the market to effectively respond to the forces exerted onto the business (text continues below image).

Child's Play?

Even as a child, the ability to bring everything together in the correct order is considered an achievement. Similarly, employees want to contribute in a meaningful way to the purpose of the organization. The study of Coch and French (1948) found that stakeholders react more favorably and become more committed if they participate, for instance, in the process of change or strategy development. Few desire to be just a cog in the wheel.

Feel inspired? Contact us for more information.

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P-O-L-C Framework

Just for references: A manager’s primary challenge is to solve problems creatively. While drawing from a variety of academic disciplines, and to help managers respond to the challenge of management have long been categorized into the four major functions of planning, organizing, leading, and controlling.

PlanningOrganizingLeadingControlling
VisionOrganizational DesignLeadershipSystems
MissionCultureDecision MakingProcesses
StrategizingSocial NetworksCommunicationsHuman Resources
Goals Teams
Objectives Motivation
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Edwin Korver

Edwin Korver

Architect of ROUNDMAP™ - Advancing Grandmastership of Business™ ✪ Business Model Matrix™ ✪ Polymath ✪ Generalist ✪ Systems Thinker ✪ Board Member, CEO CROSS-SILO BV

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