The problem with INTEGRATION


Our view on the fundamental problem with integration is that the word does not contain the 4Cs of essential successful outcomes:

  • Communication
  • Change Management effort
  • Control and Coordination
Effective COMMUNICATION strategies and plans
We know the word good or effective communication is banded around quite frequently, however, this brief analysis of the process will hopefully highlight the challenge we see in effective communication of the change effort required, in order to lead to a successful Integration project.
  1. Communication is multi-dimensional
  2. Communication is multi-channel
  3. Communication is a two way (one to one) or one to many process
  4. Communication requires time, an action plan and monitoring and control
  5. Communication requires a feedback loop mechanism to measure outcomes
The list above is by no means exhaustive, however, in the next article in this series, we will focus on each element of the communication process in turn.
Change Management effort
In the animal kingdom, if you stand still for too long, the chances are that some predator or other will catch and consume you.  In organisational life the same principles apply.  Those who accept the Status Quo for too long will become endangered and their organisations will suffer.  So, with change so endemic in organisational life, why are we still so bad at managing overall Change Management effort and process?
Even when we put Change Management front and centre in the INTEGRATION process; why does it still depend on a coin toss as to the likelihood of a successful outcome?
We believe that part of the answer lies in a fundamental misalignment and misunderstanding of ‘COMPETING PRIORITIES‘.
And this comes back to the communication processes and strategies deploy in the first place.
If we do not communicate what and why the urgencies exist and what the critical drivers for and against change are; do we believe we have any hope of a positive outcome?
People in organisations are generally very busy.  They consume, process, create, oversee, manage, do, etc., etc. a lot of information and tasks, constantly shifting priorities in an ocean of decision making and information flows.
If any Change effort and Change Management specialist does not understand and compensate for this factor, is it any wonder that INTEGRATION and Change Management efforts are less than optimal?
Control and Coordination
Like any process, control of the process itself and coordination and monitoring of the effort (resources deployed) is an essential part of driving the INTEGRATION agenda forward.
Deming’s Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle is a useful guide in this area of control and coordination.  The two words, however, do not mean the same outcome will be achieved in the end.
A clear distinction needs to be made between Efficiency and Effectiveness when controlling and coordinating INTEGRATION projects.
We have all heard the ‘busy fools’ analogy and if not, we have to guard against efficiently doing the wrong thing.  Sometimes decision-making is carried out in an environment where information is lacking and if the ‘gut feel’ is not followed in favour of imperfect information, then sub-optimal decisions can be perpetuated by continuing to justify the original decision point.
We are reminded here of a phrase in a stanza from Felix Dennis’ poem, ‘How to Get Rich’:
 “Never be late 
to quit or cut bait
In our next article on the topic of INTEGRATION management, we will continue the conversation regarding COMMUNICATION and continue to delve down deeper into analysis and commentary on the 4Cs of the Integration effort, namely


Change Management effort

Control and Coordination 

 ….to be continued in part II

© theMarketSoul 2015

The Kuznets swing and the market for labour and skills

You must have seen the headlines recently? British wages falling sharply in real terms versus our EU brethren…

We wrote about a particular economic phenomenon referred to in this post about economic cycles and particularly the Kuznets swing; which we find the most interesting and thought provoking cycle. The reason for this is that it is a generational cycle, only lasting or more accurately stated lasting anywhere between 15 – 25 years.

Image representing oDesk as depicted in CrunchBase
Image via CrunchBase

So where are we on this cycle and what does it mean for me, should be the two most obvious questions to answer?

Lets address both separately below.

Firstly we believe we are now around seven years into a downward phase of the Kuznets cycle, therefore to some analysts it would mean that we are either almost half way or to others around a third of the way through this cycle.

Secondly, and more importantly, the impact it has on market participants like all of us:

We believe that the downward phase of a Kuznets swing is the ‘exuberance‘ correcting phase; when markets and other factors of productions contributing to mostly normal market clearing activity ‘got slightly out of kilter’. The Kuznets swing is always there to bring these factors of production into alignment. It is a consolidation phase of the cycle and interestingly for this particular phase, it coincides with disruptive technological advances around Cloud Computing, dis-aggregation of intermediaries, especially in labour markets with labour or skills exchanges appearing everywhere.  Examples include, Elance, oDesk, PeoplePerHour, etc..

English: Cloud Computing
English: Cloud Computing (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Furthermore, and this is the most import action point for our readers to understand and appreciate, this consolidation and technological advance has a severe impact of wages levels and the distribution of where actual ‘work’ is being performed.

Hence headlines like the one we spotted this morning regarding real wages in Britain declining relative to other (very unproductive EU cousins) are not helpful without the pundit exploring and engaging n deeper analysis of the underlying drivers for the pressure.

The Income and Substitution effects of a wage ...
The Income and Substitution effects of a wage increase (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Our recommendation:

Understand that the world of work is changing much faster than we had ever become used to in previous generations. As active able and willing participants in this market for labour and skills we have clear choices: Up-skill, be competitive appreciate and plan for volatility in the labour supply market, by ensuring flexibility in location, skills and prices. It is especially painful to suffer real wage declines, but remember this is the market’s subtle way of signalling a problem or challenge in that particular market and a way of adjusting in order to restore the natural balance and clearing prices.

We believe every interfering politician and educating commentator should always bear this in mind.

theMarketSoul ©2013


The Inverse Relationship

Inverse Relationships
Inverse Relationships (Photo credit: Thomas Hawk)

We have always been fascinated by the Inverse Relationship between the Experience Curve and Cost.

Pure logical would dictate that (and indeed a convex demand curve) that as you ‘slide’ down the curve, the price / cost would become lower. Yet in practice, this hardly ever happens? Big Question mark…

Is this because the further we slide down the Experience Curve, the more utilitarian (fancy economic term we used there!) the benefit becomes? Yet, it also adds to the overall risk of the Experience or Value being added.

English: An example of the relationship betwee...
English: An example of the relationship between the IS-LM and Aggregate Demand curve in Economics. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Is this a counter intuitive argument or are we just getting plain confused by the inverse relationship?

theMarketSoul (c) 2013

DUO (Photo credit: Fabrizio Aiana (AKA trystan_o))

The Future is Collaboration

The future of work and engagement has already begun. That is stating the blatantly obvious, but are we really prepared for it, yet?

A Spinning Jenny, spinning machine which was s...
A Spinning Jenny, spinning machine which was significant in the beginning of the Industrial Revolution (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here is a little taster of what we think the future of work will look like for most individual participants in the labour and skills supply market.

The key is that the industrialised ‘factory’ and production line models are now slowly but surely falling apart. The expectation for grown up individuals to turn up 5 days a week and sit at ‘battery hen‘ cubicles and perform tasks a ‘production line’ manager allocates and oversees are numbered.

The slow revolution was unleashed in the third industrial revolution or rather the digital age revolution at least 20 years ago when personal computers become more prevalent. We wrote about this HERE.

This image was selected as a picture of the we...
Clusters (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The fundamental problem today is that no one has yet effectively resolved the ‘contracting’ and hence TRUST problem of delivery on a large scale. We can do it effectively on the micro level, with freelancers selling there individual skills on small tasks and projects, where the risk of failure or an adverse outcome is mitigated. However, we have not yet evolved far enough up the trust hierarchy to fully outsource mission critical projects to ‘clustered’ skills and solution provider hubs, in remote and distant locations, far removed from the core.

Some of the critical inhibitors are these:

  • Immigration policies
  • Commercial legal frameworks
  • Fiscal constraints

Some of the important contributors are:

  • Digitisation and speed of the Internet
  • Platforms where suppliers and demanders of services can be matched
  • A common global business Lingua Franca

These are only a few of the factors either contributing or detracting from moving the revolution on in significant leaps and bounds.

Therefore, to conclude this first stab at a look at the future world of work, we hypothesis that the future will have large groups (what we will call CLUSTERED SKILLS HUBS) of skills pools bidding for contracts to supply services and solutions to leaner and meaner multinationals in cross border transactions and flows that are worth trillions of dollars annually.

Right now, we can’t see any major G20 sovereign government dealing effectively with this challenge, to ensure that they contribute and facilitate the move towards the new future of COLLABORATION.

theMarketSoul ©2013

Are we all ‘Process Junkies?’

Our previous post on Transaction Cost Economics made us pause and think for a moment.

English: A design process.
English: A design process. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Why are we so fixated by process, yet so bad at the design aspect of the process?

By this question we mean the following:

Process design is focussed on capturing the greatest number of transactions or interactions and to efficiently and effectively ‘process’ them.

Yet all processes have EXCEPTIONS. If so, why are we so bad at designing Process Exception mechanisms?

Pareto efficiency is fine and there always has to be a cost benefit analysis of the value added in every process, but we miss or frustrate too many users by not moving beyond the confines of the cost-benefit, by just leaving the ‘Exceptioners‘ dangling, frustrated and bemused.  If the old adage holds true that one negative word of mouth feedback is the equivalent of 10 positive comments, then that 10% exception item begins to be of major concern.  Even at a lower tolerance threshold of say 5% exceptions and negative experiences, the risk and cost associated with negative customer / client feedback seems worth the effort to pay a bit more attention to managing the DESIGN and process loops to effectively deal with the exceptions.  We’ll leave efficiency at the front door for the moment…

theMarketSoul ©2013

In the Cloud, Structure is everything!

We have been having several conversations with colleagues and practitioners in both the Enterprise Strategy and Architecture space around both Cloud Computing and the Integrated Service IT delivery space.

Our brief conclusion is that Organisational Structure is everything.

We believe that you cannot effectively move IT Service delivery into the ‘Cloud’ and / or integrate some of the hybrid Cloud solutions and other architecture requirements, without fundamentally adjusting / realigning your organisational structure to fit the new model or modus operandi.

Therefore, the first item on the IT Change Management agenda should be a fundamental rethink and adjustment of Structure.

What usually happens is that once IT Services gets delivered into divisionalised organisations, the service quality and cost gets fragmented and ‘scope drag’ and loss of focus and control occurs.

This makes us conclude that maybe the same approach utilised in Natural Gas extraction, namely ‘Fraking’ should be utilised in IT Service delivery, in the absence of Organisational Structure change:

Go in deep and then cut across the silos in order to get to the core solution (service) delivery, because in the absence of structural service alignment, the only other option is to be as scientific and innovative as you possibly can.

theMarketSoul ©2011

An Insight into Cloud Computing

It strikes us that managing IT Service delivery maturity is a bit like the ‘Clouds’ before the major storm.

Everyone is rushing around battening down the hatches, because the frameworks and tools are so rigid and require protecting; rather than having ‘modular’ solutions available that are both flexible enough to withstand the battering of the storm; yet can be re-instated very quickly and efficiently, should the storm have managed to ‘flatten’ the landscape.

We will begin to explore some of the Cloud Computing economic and philosophical issues in a series of new articles to follow.

theMarketSoul ©2011