The “making things happen” evolution

by Bogdan on August 14, 2010

Recently I have been involved in mentoring a team of business analysts. One of the core issues was related to helping others making things happen at a faster pace.

So how are we making things happening? It all starts with a stimulus – an aggression, an emotion or just a thought (e.g. an idea)

Evolutionary speaking, the first way of getting into action was pretty straight forward:

Stimulus –> Action

This is still the most “popular” way we react to physical or emotional stimuli. It might be useful when we face a life threatening situation, but this “auto pilot” mode might be dangerous in a business situation… Luckily, the approach evolved to a better one:

Stimulus –> Thought –> Action

But when more than a thought emerges, a decision needs to be made, so our “equation” becomes:

Stimulus –> Analyze –> Decide –> Action

Here is where most of us would say … enough already. Think for a minute about a more complex situation (such as an e-commerce project), that requires detailed preparation:

Stimulus –> Analyze –> Decide –> Prepare –> Action

This is not the end: everything between Stimulus and Action can be further expanded. The analysis may be preceded by research, the decision could incorporate validation from others and the preparation could include anything between pure resourcing to simulation and testing.

With every evolutionary step, the chain of “making things happen” gets longer. So gets the time and energy spent and, if we add the “several people involved” factor into this equation, the complexity is not just adding up, is multiplying.

But really, is there any way to shorten the time between the stimulus and action while maintaining the robustness of the chain?

Well, while we have an abundance of Agile techniques and fast tracking – they all have limited applicability, as sometimes it is impossible to break down the scope / deliverables and to do parallel processing.

But there is a much better way.

For individuals is call internalization. Think of the time you learned a new skill, say, driving. In early stages, the process was similar to the long chain: analyzing, deciding, preparing, checking, etc. Experienced drivers use the short fuse, from stimulus to action, as they really are on automatic pilot mode.

This also works in the business environment and it comes under several names: procedures, processes, drills, etc. Once a successful path between stimulus to action is found and documented the entire process gets quicker – although the chain is not shortened..

So, it is very important to:

a)    Start by treating a new project by replicating the best practices in that field
b)    After every new endeavor is closed, document the lessons learned
c)    Fine tune the business processes and work procedures according to previous two points (a and b)

What other shorting techniques do you currently use?


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