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Continuous Improvement, OpenStrategies, Performance Management

Outside-in thinking with OpenStrategies

It was great to catch up with Phil Driver and Paddy Austin from OpenStrategies recently and to discuss their latest thinking on the use of OpenStrategy  approaches.  I’ve blogged and written about this before, but in brief…

An OpenStrategy is a system which enables multiple stakeholders to map strategic information in a manner that is transparent, accessible, collaborative and validated. The system comprises a simple, yet powerful, information structure, a web-based tool, a strategy-validation process and support systems including workshops, training and facilitation.

The OpenStrategy information structure is based on PRUB-Strategic-Thinking: the simplest and most readily understood language which has the greatest value to the most people in a multi-stakeholder planning environment.

OpenStrategies' PRUB Thinking

The PRUB information structure is made up of four types of information or ‘Items’:

Projects: Organisations run Projects such as building a new local market, developing a communications campaign, developing health services, planting flaxes and trees around a wetland or building an irrigation scheme and filling it with water.

Results: Organisations produce Results from these Projects such as a new local market, a communication campaign, a new health service, a restored wetland, or water being available to farmers.

Uses: The community Uses these Results, eg by purchasing produce from a local market, reading the information from a communications campaign, receiving service at a hospital, people enjoying studying flora and fauna in the wetland, or farmers using water for irrigation.

Benefits: The community creates Benefits from their use of the things that organisations produce, such as healthier citizens due to eating healthier local produce, more engaged citizens, healthier citizens as a result of receiving more effective medical care, people having a sense of oneness with nature through their experiences in the wetlands, or farms being sustainably profitable.

The particular insight Phil gave me was the value of starting with Uses: ask stakeholders what they want to be doing, or what they want their children to be doing at some point in the future.  For organisations that can get the answers to those questions, the choice of Projects (and Results) becomes so much simpler.  Interestingly, Phil suggested NOT starting by identifying Benefits.  Benefits are usually more generic: happier, healthier, wealthier, more engaged.  What people do to achieve those benefits (Uses) is rarely generic and that is why you need to understand Uses first.

This is such a customer-focussed approach that subsequent use of techniques such as Lean or Six Sigma should be applied in light of desired Uses.  In practice, this means designing faster, more efficient and more stable processes to create the Results that customers/stakeholders can use.

I summed it up by saying that OpenStrategies is a brilliant way to “bring the outside in” to an organisation, whereas, all too often Lean and Six Sigma are “inside out” approaches.  I know they shouldn’t be, but how else do you explain the best examples of Lean and 6S improvement (particularly in the public sector) where the customers are still completely dissatisfied?

If you’d like to understand how PRUB Thinking can help you improve your organisation’s performance, do get in touch.




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