When asked to describe the dream policy at a Westminster leadership conference Michael Barton, chief constable of Durham responded with; “I would give every person in this country a year of National Service”, this was part in jest and before you get concerned he wasn’t referring to the armed services. “This would be National Service with a difference. For 12-months, people would have to become entrepreneurs, use their initiative, solve problems and learn how to fail”.
What I feel Michael was driving at with this statement was that although modern education equips people to solve closed problems with clear-cut yes/no answers, in the real world it’s rarely so black and white. There is a big need to arm people with the tools to tackle the real-world questions and uncertainty, and given Mr Barton leads the best-performing constabulary in England, I can only presume he knows what he is talking about.
There is a lot of talk in the retail industry now about the need to be “agile”, this could be anything from ‘agile’ projects to ‘agile’ development, but ironically for all too many the result is anything but.
So, I ask myself, is this just a different way of closed thinking? At S4RB when we say ‘agile’ we mean in action and mind. Agile development methodology is intended to yield agile results with frequent tangible deliverables for customers. When we work on solutions for customers we pride ourselves that we can take our clients from the Statement-of-work to a fully operational system typically within three to four months. With this we can ensure maximum impact and return on investment (ROI) and also add further value with future phases if required. For example; engaging with suppliers on a quality scorecard around complaints could be rolled out in under 16 weeks, and then in less than 12 weeks later extend the quality scorecard to include other metrics such as returns, waste or consistency.
Solutions for Retail Brands – The clue is in the name!
My colleague Peter recently wrote about consultancy led software solutions and it’s something we feel very passionately about at S4RB. It is not only the core to our approach but enables us to provide our client base with rapid effective and truly agile solutions.
Two years ago we did a proposal for a supplier portal based on our supplierENGAGETMsoftware. As with many retailers there was also an in-house technology department who boasted their own ‘agile’ process and the decision was taken to build something internally. 18-months on and the internal stakeholders were still awaiting a system. Meaning the problem was not solved and with this came no ROI; just expenses. I‘m pleased to say the retailer in question is now talking to us again about how we can assist, but that isn’t the point, what matters most in this situation is that the solution or approach was not agile and more importantly probably never had been.
I agree whole heartedly with Mr Barton, success comes from people who use their initiative and, whilst yes there is process, also think outside the box to ensure that we don’t just deliver systems but that we deliver solutions. I’m proud to say that we have this and encourage it throughout S4RB. And, I am pleased to say our customers agree!