A team’s success or failure with cash-flow is caused by its success or failure with conversation-flow. An agile team is always asking “are we talking about the right things, in the right way, at the right time, with the right quantity, quality and cadence of conversation-flow?” That’s essential to be focused, fast and flexible in an increasingly VUCA world (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, Ambiguity). You show me a company in which cash-flow derailed and I will show you a company in which conversation-flow derailed.
Just look at Sony. From a high of nearly $160 in year 2000, its share price has been languishing in the $20 range, where it was back in 1987! Sony was on the leading edge of portable music (remember the Walkman and then MP3 players). Not anymore. Sony used to be very strong in laptops and TVs. Not anymore. With a little nudging, on his way out the door in 2012, the prior CEO, Welshman, Sir Howard Stringer reminded us of a quote he had said a few years earlier, that at Sony, “The love affair with the status-quo continued even after the quo had lost its status!” Yes, the status-quo has lost its status, as has status-slow, it’s now status-flow! Where your conversation-flow goes, your cash-flow will follow! They fell asleep at the wheel!
Conversation-flow is the unfolding flow of how you are linking and accumulating the four components of any journey … thoughts, questions, decisions and actions … into the breakthrough trajectory of the journey that you want. Most crucially, notice that conversation-flow is inclusive of actions. Actions are a conversation with reality. If only you will get into action, you bring reality into the conversation giving you feedback about what’s working and what’s not working, loud and clear, helping you stay awake at the wheel!
That single idea, that actions are a crucial part of the conversation, is at the heart of agile thinking:
- Google refers to it as, “launch early and iterate often” – in other words, get to a minimum viable product (MVP) early, take the action of launching it into the world (as a beta, with a limited release, with a focus group etc) to get reality into the conversation with feedback about what works and doesn’t work, and iterate rapidly from there.
- The “Agile” methodology of software development achieves this as a repeating cycle with “sprints”. Big projects are chunked into short sprints, which are often just a few weeks long, in such a way that at the end of every sprint there is a real deliverable. This could be a new feature, new screen or a new module, not a paperwork deliverable, which we release into the world to get reality into the conversation. We want real feedback from real people on a real deliverable.
A strong cash-flow trajectory comes from a strong conversation-flow trajectory. A team must be developing its agility to triage the full agenda of conversation-flow required to survive and thrive in the future. Triage is an acute form of time-management, priority-management, resource-management, attention-management, focus-management, frankly everything-management, in a high-stakes, real-time-unfolding journey of a situation. That’s business these days, which is a struggle for most teams, resulting in their triage going partial with partial situational awareness. Falling asleep at the wheel! It’s the team leader’s job (whether that’s you as a manager, executive or CEO) to facilitate full triage, staying fully awake at the wheel. If you don’t, no one else will. Look in the mirror! The fullness of your team’s triage is a reflection of you. Any attention deficit and bad things can happen, probably bigger and faster than you imagine, a la Sony. Enterprise wide and enterprise deep, we help teams assess and triage the quantity, quality and cadence of their conversation-flow to be AGILE:
- Anticipating Change
- Generating Confidence
- Initiating Action
- Liberating Thinking
- Evaluation Results
Cash-Flow is not king! AGILE Conversation-Flow is! The question for teams is, “Do we have the agility to be fully awake at the wheel, triaging the totality of our conversation-flow up a breakthrough trajectory so our cash-flow can follow? Or do we exhibit fragility, falling asleep at the wheel, allowing avenues of our conversation-flow to be on the slippery slope of a breakdown trajectory, inviting our cash-flow to follow?” There is nothing we like more than to have a conversation with people like you, because it can be the beginnings of an inflection point in your journey and helping you be more AGILE.