Friday, March 25, 2011

PTV in nutshell - The Purpose Seed unleashing its Invisible Instructions in the form of Seedal Chains?

With us already have written quite a few articles on PtC© driven Portfolio-Thread View and its frameworks ( PTV©’s EPP©, CPP© & PIP©), we thought of holistically expounding PTV© with a big picture metaphor called SPF (SEED-PLANT-FRUIT), as part of today’s blog. The primary motivation for our attempt is to create a bird’s eye view of PTV – for the benefit of those readers, who may not have the time to read all of our earlier detailed articles.

First and foremost, the purpose seed, with its five invisible instructions, is the cornerstone of PTV -

  • Vision (what the firm aspires to be)

  • Mission (why does the firm exist/what does it stand for)

  • Values (what drives us)

  • Codes (what guides us)


Together, these five part invisible instruction set, tell the purpose seed to prosper into a healthy plant called the systemic organization. Seeds, like purposes, also have invisible instruction(s) inside them – as the tomato seed turns into a tomato plant - producing the tomato fruit (as outlined in the picture on the top of the page)– very much like, how the apple seed turns into an apple tree, producing the apple fruit - and so on and so forth!

Along the similar line of thinking, words that clearly depict the aspirations of an organization are the seeds of purpose. In other words, an organization that embeds the right type of invisible instruction(s) within the purpose statement (seed) will definitely grow into the plant (or systemic organization) - the invisible instructions tell it to grow into. In its essence, PTV is all about – this purpose seed germinating into a plant called systemic organization, producing the fruit called value, for stake holders to reap and reinvest its benefits – as outlined in the picture on the top of the page!

With that said, let us see, how the following 10 principles, help us to assemble various pieces of the PTV puzzle, within the context of this SPF metaphor – where each of the principles are pictorially represented in the format (P1-P10) within the execution flow of the picture on the top of the page.

  1. Principle of purpose driven seedal chain – to produce purpose driven plant called systemic organization using its five part invisible instructions.

  2. Principle of value/energy conservation – to transform that plant (or systemic organization) and place them into the radial orbit using PTV’s 5 perspectives (4 Kaplan/Norton’s perspectives + our central purpose perspective).

  3. Principle of balancing opposites - to help identify the 6 macro dilemmas (i.e. Purpose vs. Profit, Customer Centric vs. Vision Centric Innovation, Pull vs. Push value chain, Operation Excellence vs. Innovation Excellence, long term vs. Q-To-Q results and Market based vs. Resource based view) within the radial orbit, resulting from the opposing forces of those five perspectives.

  4. Principle of seasonality - to help resolve the 6 macro dilemmas within the context of seasons (time, capabilities and geography dimensions).

  5. Principle of destiny and decision (i.e. destiny driven value accelerators called experience & capability pool portfolios (EPP©, CPP©) and decision driven strategic thread principles of P6-P10) - to help harmonize the structure and strategy part of the view – not only, to better resolve these 6 macro dilemmas, but also, solve the remaining minor dilemmas (Core vs. Edge, Effectiveness vs. Efficiency, Hire vs. Nurture talent, Customers vs. Partners, Individuals vs. Teams, Collaborative vs. Command and control leadership style etc.) or thread principles/questions that might result from these 6 macro dilemmas.

  6. Principle of difference – to help answer "what to play" question using experience pools portfolio (EPP) framework.

  7. Principle of focus – to help answer "where to play" question using experience pools portfolio (EPP) framework.

  8. Principle of team - to help answer "how do we win" question using capability pools portfolio (CPP) framework.

  9. Principle of synergy (i.e. 1+1=3 logic) to help answer "how do we win" question using capability pools portfolio (CPP) framework.

  10. Principle of harvest (fruit or value reaping/seed reinvesting within the radial orbit) – to help answer "how do we win" question using capability pools portfolio (CPP) framework.

While the first five principles (P1-P5) help us to establish the portfolio part the strategic plan – the remaining five (i.e. strategic thread focused principles), help us to channel the outputs of these portfolios, into an execution focused action plan, with a Q-To-Q mindset. In other words, the purpose seed, first transforms itself into a healthy plant (called systemic organization) as part of the longer term (5-10 years) strategic plan (using principles P1-P5), and then start yielding its fruits (or action plans) as part of its near term strategic plan (using P6- P10) - and keeps the orbital process moving.

Strategic Portfolios come to life using principles P1-P5, but led by the Seedal Chain principle!

As it turns out, PTV driven systemic organizations are built on a key causality principle called “seedal chains” – where, the purpose seed (with its five invisible instructions) grow into a type of organization, depending upon what the invisible instructions tell it to grow into. We chose to call this principle as “seedal chains”, because, seedal chains, unlike the traditional causal chains, carry the remnants of the five invisible instructions (in the form of sub instructions) within their navigational path, even unto the utter most parts (or nodes) of the organization, in the form of genotypes (growth opportunities called experience pools) and phenotypes (capability characteristics called capability pools). In other words, the systemic organization that learns to keep these invisible sub-instructions (called genotypes and phenotypes), vibrant and alive within their genes, is going to be the winning organization– as these sub-instructions, later, play a key role in discovering the winning strategic paths!

Once these sub-instructions driven seedal chains are well established within a systemic organization, the value/energy conservation principle (# P2 in the 10 part principle list) takes charge, and forms the radial orbit with PTV’s 5 perspectives – which in turn, creates the six macro dilemmas, as a result of the opposing forces existing among the five perspectives - as outlined in the embedded radial orbital diagram, in the top of the page. This is the moment, the principle of “balancing opposites” and “seasonality” (#3 and #4), kick in, as they, not only help us to resolve these dilemmas with a “DOING BOTH” mindset, but also, position us to leverage the fifth principle of "destiny and decision" based frameworks (i.e. destiny driven value accelerators called experience/capability pool portfolio and decision driven strategic thread principles part) – to identify the optimal experience/capability mix, needed, to win and sustain the growth for the next decade to come!

At a high level, PTV recommends a minimum of 10 portfolio structures (Human resources, purpose/brand, market, product, services & experiences, assets/inventory, investment capital, processes, risk and three more specialized EPP©, CPP© & PIP© framework templates), that is represented as an interlinked object relationship constructs (i.e. sheet tabs in excel terminology) that are further interlinked with a semantic layer with dynamic foreign key relationships within PTV’s analytics/synthesis balanced foundation layer. The added benefit of this interlinked analysis/synthesis balanced foundation layer is that it also helps us to build a flexible end-to-end real time, corporate performance management (CPM) system – to measure, monitor and manage the performance of the strategic plan –as covered in our articles, that are published as part of our role as Executive Global Partner with ABS's global strategy consulting division.

Strategic Threads come to life using principles P6-P10, but led by the differentiation principle!

Now that we have understood the fact that systemic organizations are filled with myriad of sub-instructions called genotypes and phenotypes (i.e. child instruction paths mushrooming from the five part purpose seed instructions) - it puts the strategy development process, altogether in a different spatial dimension – as strategy under PTV, is all about uncovering these sub instructions or genotype/phenotype mix (or ORDERLY experience/capability mix, out of the DISORDERLY within the systemic organizations -as outlined in the CONNECTING THE DOTS or serendipity road article).

In other words, the job of a strategist under PTV is as that of a sculptor, who makes art out of the rock – and, all that the sculptor is doing is - just chiseling away the unwanted edges of the rock to give life to an “already existing art” that just happen to be buried inside the rock. Put another way, different variations of the orderly strategy are already buried inside the disorderly rock called the systemic organization, and all that the sculptor is doing is just chiseling away the unwanted edges to give life to the already existing strategic path. Simply put, depending upon what edges the strategist chisels away, the rock turns into that appropriate strategic path - that is already buried inside the large rock that is filled with disorderly paths – which by the way, was the primary driver, that made us to come up with PTV© - to help strategists to intuitively identify those winning paths!

As it turns out, every one of the threading principles (i.e. P6-P10) within PTV are designed with a noble goal of identifying those invisible sub-instructions or value accelerators (i.e. experience/capability pool mix) with a help of EPP©, CPP© & PIP© frameworks. Once the winning paths with the value accelerators are identified (i.e. growth opportunity is matched with capabilities), the 10 box SWOTC analysis is performed as part of the EPP/PIP/CPP frameworks, to help identify the micro level decision dilemmas that might result from the internal and external opposing forces – and, this is where, seasonality and “balancing the opposites” principles, again help us to make the final decision with a “DOING BOTH” mindset – i.e. balancing seemingly opposing micro choices with a help of seasonality balanced constraints of capabilities, time and geography dimensions . Another intriguing insight here is that, the better (& faster), we resolve these seemingly opposing dilemmas, the better the outcome will be - as these opposing dilemmas based value accelerators are the ones that is going to help our organizations to enter into a new season of uncommon success.


In closing, the purpose seed (with its five invisible instructions) is the cornerstone of PTV - as it, not only grows in to a dynamic warehouse of invisible sub-instructions (i.e. genotype/phenotypes), but also, transition itself into an optimal mix of “experience/capability pool paths”. Those organizations, who find a way to uncover these hidden paths, quickly, much ahead of the competition, are going to be the winning organizations in the 21st century – as strategy, in the next decade is all about uncovering these hidden paths (i.e. value accelerators) and translating them into an optimal experience/capability pool mix based strategic insights/paths– for us to win and sustain the double digit growth. The question however is- are we ready to embrace it within our strategic planning processes -and prepare our organizations, to face the dynamic challenges of the next decade. The call is yours and we are ready to help and serve!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

PTV© on the Serendipity Road, Exploring the Unexpected?

Courtesy:Google's images further customized to suit our article

With us, already have covered the Power through Collaboration (PtC©) driven Portfolio-Thread View (PTV© with its EPP©, CPP© & PIP© frameworks) in detail - within the last few weeks, we conducted an informal survey among few strategy practitioners, with a simple question – “What is the single most important criterion they use to select the strategic view to solve their strategic problems?” While we received variety of answers – the single most common and consistent thread, we found across all the answers was – “the ability to come up with a proprietary and profitable insight, much ahead of the competitors”. Although this answer might sound like a no-brainer on the surface, beneath it, it is a three part answer -
  • The structure part of the view (with its set of frameworks, tools, techniques and templates) -must be flexible enough to be customized, depending upon the business situation.

  • The strategic insight development process part of the view- must yield proprietary insights, quickly much ahead of the competitors.

  • The strategic execution/measurement part of the view -must be able to monetize those proprietary insights within a time period.

It all comes down to CONNECTING THE DOTS!

As we further analyzed these three answers – we recognized a rhyming pattern emerging with the following key words – flexible, customizable, proprietary, quickly and monetizable. As we further synthesized the “spirit and essence” of these five words in one phrase – it all came down to “CONNECTING THE DOTS”. Simply put, “the view that helps strategists TO CONNECT THE DOTS is the winning view.

While this “connecting the dots” process might sound like a simple slogan on the surface, in reality – it is one of the most challenging tasks to do – and so, we as strategists, not only need to be equipped with a flexible view (i.e. structure part with its frameworks/tools/templates/techniques), but also, need to be talented enough to facilitate that “connecting the dots” process – for us to reap its benefit 100%. Put another way, the structure and strategy part of the view must work harmoniously together with a “doing both” mindset, for strategists to excel at this “CONNECTING THE DOTS” process!

PTV© on the Serendipity Road!

The next pragmatic question is - what does it really mean to “connect the dots” within a strategic planning scenario? As I was thinking about the best way to answer this question – “SERENDIPITY”, one of the most popular words in the English language, coined by the Linguistics scholar Horace Walpole (based on an Arabian poetry) popped up in my head - and so, we started our inquisitive literary journey in to the Middle Eastern poetry world, to learn more about this word!

The word Serendipity, although has been voted as one of the most popular words in the English language, linguistics scholars, until today, cannot absolutely define what this word really means!Part of the reason being is that, this word apparently depicts the intuitive process of “exploring and/or discovering orderly things from unexpected places (which is filled with disorderly things), especially when one is in not in serious quest of". As I started thinking more about this definition, I was struck with a light bulb moment- PTV©, like Serendipity, is also the process of discovering ORDERLY things from DISORDERLY - by just connecting the dots (or glues) existing within the business realities.

In other words, it is like a sculptor making an art out of the rock – and, all that the sculptor is doing is - just chiseling away the unwanted edges of the rock to give life to an “already existing art” that just happen to be buried inside the rock. Put another way, different variations of the orderly strategy are already buried inside the disorderly rock called the organization, and all that the sculptor is doing is just chiseling away the unwanted edges to give life to the already existing strategic path. Simply put, depending upon what edges the strategist chisels away, the rock turns in to that appropriate strategic path - that is already buried inside the large rock that is filled with disorderly paths – which by the way, was the primary driver, that made us to come up with PTV© - to help strategists to intuitively identify those winning paths!

Three Princess Story comes to life on the Serendipity Road!

As it turns out, the story behind this word has been told in the form of a poetry by Firdausi's Shahnameh in the year 1010, as part of his fairy tale The Three Princes of Serendipity – which is based upon the life of Persian King Bahram V, who ruled the Sassanid Empire. The poetic story goes like this (below) and as pictorially represented in the picture on the top of the page.

One fine day, three princes from a region called Serendip (Scholars believe it is a region from ancient Asia between India, China and Sri Lanka) were sent by their father on a prolonged journey to acquire practical wisdom as part of their training. They wandered through the Arabian deserts and apparently lost all of their fortunes including their ability to get back home. While trying to find their way back home, they ended up meeting a camel driver. The camel driver apparently was searching for his lost camel and inquired about the camel to the three princes. Though the three princes never saw the camel, they tried to accurately describe it to him using their newly acquired wisdom - to get his favor (or resources to get back home).

They start narrating the characteristics of the camel –“It was blind in one eye, and did not have tooth, and was lame as well”. Now the camel driver’s interest level started rising – and the princes continued – “the camel was also carrying butter on one side and honey on the other, and was carrying a pregnant woman”. Being so impressed by their description (as it so accurately described his lost camel), the camel driver unfortunately started ACCUSING the princes of having stolen his camel, and took them to King Behram V. The king in his wisdom recognized the fact that the three princes merely assembled (or connected the dots) various insights based on their observations of events and evidences they saw, as they were walking in the serendipity road!

Here is the factual account of their creative wisdom or insight of connecting the dots and king’s ability to discern the facts –

They thought that the camel was blind in the right eye because the grass had been cropped only on the left side of the road. They also concluded that it was missing a tooth from the bits of chewed grass scattered across the desert side. In addition, its footprints seemed to indicate that the camel was lame as they saw only three foot prints and a dragging footprint. Also, ants were one side of the road and flies on the other – which made them to infer that the camel was carrying butter on the ant's side, and honey on other. Finally, the hand imprints on the ground (in one of the resting areas) made them to conclude that the camel must have been carrying the pregnant women as it was the practice in those days.

Interestingly by God’s providence, as these princes were being inquired by the King, another person ended up bringing the camel to king’s court with the same description, and so finally, King Bahram V, in his wisdom discerned the fact that the princes were innocent and granted them FAVOR- and honored their wisdom of CONNECTING THE DOTS!

So much impressed by this story, Horace Walpole wanted one word to describe this “CONNECTING THE DOTS” type of wisdom exhibited by the three princes - and ended up choosing the word, SERENDIPITY, based on the place where they hailed from – Serendip. What a great poetic insight!

Their edgy helping gesture- is nothing but, Purpose Innovation!

As we take a deeper look at this story – it is interesting to recognize the fact that these three princes indeed were charting multiple core paths (road ride, camel ride and/or chariot ride) including the edge option of helping the camel driver (to find his lost camel), as part of their “GET BACK HOME” goal. Out of those paths, the edge option of helping the driver, on the outset, although, looked like a distraction from their traditional core paths (i.e. finding their way back to go home to Serendip), later turned out to be the winning path. In other words, the edgy path of “HELPING THE CAMEL DRIVER” – although, got them in to trouble in the beginning (i.e. false accusation part), later turned out to be the path that won them the favor – which eventually helped them to perform many more adventures in the future as well!

As it turns out, the three princesses put one of their precious “cultural capital asset” called “collaboration and/or helping each other” skill to work and created their “out of the box” path, in collaboration with this camel driver who, by the way, happen to be from a place, totally outside of their network. Although it sounded like a risky path in the beginning, later turned out to be the most profitable path! The insight here is, while companies are well justified to chart their winning paths within the constraints of their four walls (or within their industry vertical boundaries), in some situations, they must also, go out of their industry networks and start collaborating with partners from those other industry networks to win in this 21st century– as we learn from this story - and as promoted by our Purpose innovation concept within our PTV.

Their edgy helping gesture and Ed Schein’s “helping culture” mindset!

Interestingly enough this “inter network collaboration” or the so called “cultural capital behavior” driver called “HELPING EACH OTHER” has been getting lot more press lately – as it seems to be the one of the important, emerging cultural capital assets, that is going to revolutionize the organizations of next decade – in the words of Ed Schein. Ed calls this as "the humble inquiry that equilibrates the relationship between the vulnerable person asking for help and the powerful helper" – which is further, amplified within one of my comments in the HBR Executive Education group discussion groups recently.

A newer internetwork collaboration driven insight - NESIGHT!

As I was further meditating this poetic story – we saw few other insights emerging, one after the other, in the form of a composite insight– and so, we thought of renaming this “uncommon wisdom/insight generating” process (or story) with a new terminology called NESIGHT – to refer to the intentional practice of creating composite insights, using “internetwork industry vertical cultural capital asset” or resource called “collaboration/helping each other”. How is it different from the regular insight generation process? Nesight generation process, apart from the typical self seeking insight development process, also, lets the “inter cultural industry vertical network” resources to germinate their insight generation part, before synthesizing them as a holistic nesight, just as in our lives, we sometimes, need to look beyond our close friends, colleagues, and relationships to the lesser rigid connections (or weaker ties) – as they might be the ones who bring the light in to our lives- as it happened in the life of these three princesses.

The Jewish version of the same story and Joseph, the first purpose innovator!

On a side note – there is also a Jewish version of the same story in the name of Rabbi Yochanan—the only difference being is that instead of three princesses the story revolves around two Jewish slaves and a master – but the rest of the story, by and large remains the same.Yet another resembling story in the biblical days is the story of Joseph – as he was also falsely accused in the beginning – and then later, not only, was vindicated of his false accusations, but also, was elevated because of his Nesight producing talent.

In our opinion, Joseph was one of the pioneers who put the “inter industry network collaboration” to work (perhaps in a rudimentary form) in biblical days –as he was the first one to come up with the “Harvest-Tax-Store-Consume” business model, much ahead of the famine (i.e. recession in today’s terminology) as opposed to the prevailing business model of that era (Harvest and Consume). The reason we call it as purpose model is that “tax and store” was the function of treasury department, that was managed by different organization of the kingdom, whereas harvest was managed by a different organization –and, this is where Joseph applied his nesight and combined/interweaved both of their functions in the form of a “inter organization business model”, thus, BREAKING AWAY the traditional organizational boundaries of those days for a noble social cause of “HELPING THE NEEDY”. The impact was that his business model (or PURPOSE MODEL in the words of PTV) saved all countries of the known world from starvation (i.e. recovery in today’s terminology) during the big famine.

Arjuna, the Archer - yet another CONNECTING THE DOTS story!

Yet another story from the epic of Mahabharata might be appropriate here as well – expounding, how an inquisitive, connecting the dots mindset, helps us to appreciate the key principle - “justice always prevails at the end”- very similar to how it happened in the life of these three princes and Joseph!

Arjuna, being the most favorite mentee of Guru Dronacharya, is being promised that his Guru would make him the best archer in the world. But then Ekalvaya, an equally skilled archer (but not fortunate enough to have a Guru like Drona) starts learning archery intuitively, by keeping a statue of Drona as his Guru. Over a period of time, Ekalavya starts performing better than Arjuna - and now Drona is faced with a dilemma – whether to keep his promise to Arjuna, or go by his consciousness and make Ekalavya to win. Drona, in the beginning chose to honor his promise and try to trick Ekalavya – asking his Thump as the Guru Daksha (offering or tuition fee), thus stopping him to perform archery forever.

At this point, the story gets interesting – although, it would appear as if Drona’s scheme would harm Ekalavya (for no fault of his own) – as the story unfolds, Drona, also asks Arjuna to defeat Drupad to pay for his Dakshina (perhaps to show fairness on his part). Now the defeated Drupad’s son who finally eliminates Drona, while Drona himself was also forced to kill Arjun's son, in the war – proving the point that the connection of seemingly unrelated dots within different parts of the story, at the end proves the point that JUSTICE ALWAYS PREVAILS at the end – as it happened in the life of three princes and Joseph.

Conclusion - PTV is all about CONNECTING THE DOTS!

Finally, in closing, if we could further synthesize the nesights from these three stories in one sentence - PTV© like Serendipity, also is the process of discovering ORDERLY things from DISORDERLY - just by connecting the dots (or glues) existing within the business realities – very much like, how the three princesses connected the dots within the Serendipity road, where the camel was lost. Yet another nesight, we garner from these stories is that we don’t reach Serendip, by plotting just one path - rather, we have to set out multiple paths in good faith and lose our bearings serendipitously- as echoed in the words of Warren Buffett –“We're prepared. Our elephant gun has been loaded, and my trigger finger is itchy" – and rightfully so, feel the same, based on the lessons learned from these stories and the words of Warren Buffett!