― Arthur C. Clarke, Profiles of the Future: An Inquiry Into the Limits of the Possible
And Clarke was right. We'll interpret technology a little bit broader than just hardware and software. There's much more magic going on before we ever get to any software architecture or line of code. That's what this blogpost is about.
We don't state that "magic" is one of our products, but what happens in our workshop rooms comes close to it. Without realizing it, we show you what we've already analyzed, that you probably didn't realize yet. We see it on an abstract level, and translate it to the goals in your world.. It takes a while to convince you, but once we get there, we really do nail it.
That is why our consultants provide added value. That's nothing new, but was worth mentioning to build my story to follow.
The stages of the magic show
I'd like to elaborate on how workshops at LoQutus are performed, so you can see how the magic actually sparks. I won't discuss concrete examples, to make sure I stay on topic.
Most workshops we host, have the following phases:
Magic sparks from the combination of these phases, rather than one specific phase. So we make sure not to skip any.
In this phase, we want to get to know your problem, your business, your process at hand. This may be a very large digitalization program, or may be as small as "how are we going to organize these 50 documents?".
This is typically the time where you perform an unformatted brain dump in our direction. As we have a certain distance from your organization, we are able to spot some holes or dents that you may not have noticed yet, on which we can build and improve. We love that. It's not what the outside world gets to see, it's your actual work-flows.
Next, we try to make sense of the brain dump, together with you. We ask the right questions, at the right time. Not during the implementation phase of a large project which is typically too late and very costly. No, we ask them right now. And we try to pry for deeper underlying desires or wishes and try to alleviate and empathize with any issues you are currently facing.
This is not the most fun part for you though. I always explicitly state that "we didn't come here to ask easy questions". You also can't really prepare for these questions, just go along with it. We may be taking a rather long walk around your actual problem, but that way, we are looking at it from different angles.
When most of the tough questions got answered, we start to build an abstract model to house the problem at hand and all of its events, information assets (input/output), triggers, stakeholders, limitations, legislation, …
Note that we haven't talked about technology yet at all. We may have already assured you that product A or B could be used, or confirmed that product C that is currently being used, may not lead to the final solution, but this is still very preliminary. First the actual problem, then the solution.
We rephrase this abstract model, so you can hear it with our words and confirm that what we've captured is correct. If it is not, or if it is incomplete, we return to the Understand phase.
Note that we will always use your jargon, but we'll rephrase ourselves, to make sure we got it right.
When enough abstraction has been made, and we are starting to feel confident that we grasp your context sufficiently, we start to challenge our own abstract model. Sometimes with completely out-of-the-box ideas that may need to fit in, sometimes with the limitations we gathered before, and then some. The goal of this phase is to make sure that we haven't made too simplistic assumptions, that future scenarios will work, …
By this time, we will have talked about so many related things, that maybe your vision on things will have changed a bit. This turning point returns in almost every workshop we host. I must admit that this is the most uncomfortable part for the consultant. Have we been wasting time on topics that turned out different than what we assumed for the past 2 hours? Did we focus on the wrong thing and wandered into the magical land of irrelevant details?
Experience taught us however that this turning point will probably turn right back to you. Because in the midst of discussions, you may have lost sight of some very important constraints or limitations, that initially led you to our current abstract model.
Thanks to the Challenge phase, you're sure you've also covered those and that turning point is crucial to the understanding of your workshop contributors as well. You'll feel connected and will have the feeling that you really contributed and you'll feel that we are on track to build your solution. You can stand by that solution as it is tailored to your needs. You'll also have more insight into the problem, and made all reasoning steps yourself too.
By now, the most difficult part is behind us. We'll keep repeating what we've learned during the workshop, what abstract model we've built and how it withstood all challenges faced. Even if you weren't able to follow all in-depth discussions of the Challenge phase, you will still be on the same page thanks to the numerous summaries we present you.
This may even occur during sub-parts of the other phases. So to state the maybe (not so) obvious: these phases are iterative steps in a process to success.
Finally, we make sure that you are assured, because it is not because we made this really exciting, beautiful, elegant, abstract model that all your problems have been solved. There will be next steps to take, maybe even follow-up workshops and your initial problems will not have melted away just yet. But we want to make sure that you go back to your (flex)desk/car/couch with an assured feeling that the problem was analyzed in new ways and that the foundation for something great has been made. You still don't know exactly how it happened, so let's just call that magic.
Magic is our business, so it seems. And by following natural processes during workshops we've discovered 6 phases that provide our consultants with the fuel they need to make sure they get the information they need and make sure the project transforms your business in profound ways.
Are you curious how this would affect your business issues? Think of your top 1 priority and how this relates to a technological challenge and get in touch
This approach can't be "learned" so much as it should be part of the analytical skills of a good consultant. You think you have what it takes? Join us!