Dec. 21, 2020

How to Succeed with Agile + Embracing Uncertainty

How to Succeed with Agile + Embracing Uncertainty

Ryan interviews Jacqui Rigby, Founder and Director of Rigby Pollitt Associates, about the benefits and pitfalls of implementing an agile methodology

Why don't businesses always see the benefits of adopting agile? Our guest, Jacqui Rigby, breaks down the keys to succeeding with agile—including dropping the jargon and focusing on culture. Later, Jacqui and Ryan discuss the psychology of uncertainty and how companies can learn to cultivate agility in uncertain times.

Meet Our Guest
Jacqui Rigby has more than 20 years’ experience in transformation, marketing and product often with significant P&L responsibility. She has worked at the executive level for 15 years and held 2 company Board Director positions. Jacqui led the revival of Co-op Funeral Planning, taking it from number 3 to number 1 in the market within 18 months and growing the business by 550% over 5 years. At Co-op Legal Services she defined and led a £50m programme of change across the operating model to disrupt the legal market and deliver a market-leading customer experience. At Appreciate Group, Jacqui re-directed the business strategy and led digital product innovation to support the market shift from physical to digital products for gifting and rewarding, introducing ways of working, thinking, behaving and a culture to support business agility. For the past 6 years, through interim and consultancy roles, Jacqui has worked with business facing complex strategic change agendas, bringing clarity, alignment and pace to decision-making to deliver transformational change, improving customer, people and commercial outcomes.

Show Links
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Click here for the episode transcript
Jacqui's show notes

Follow us on Twitter: @thedwwpodcast
Connect with Jacqui: LinkedIn
Books mentioned (affiliate links): The Goal, Team of Teams, Lean Startup

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Ryan Purvis  0:00  
Hello, and welcome to the digital workspace works podcast. I'm Ryan Purvis, your host supported by producer Heather Bicknell. In this series, you'll hear stories and opinions from experts in their field story from the frontlines, the problems they face and how they solve them. The years they're focused on from technology, people and processes to the approaches they took that will help you to get to grips with the digital workspace inner workings.

So, welcome to the digital workspace week's podcast, you want to give us a quick introduction?

Jacqui Rigby  0:35  
Yeah, my name is Jacqui Rigby, I've been working in transformation in its broadest sense, last 20 years, 15 years, that exact level, the last six years, six and a half years, I've been doing my own thing, working on an interim consultancy basis, which I love. And the sorts of challenges I really enjoy are the big challenging questions like attracting new consumer audience to the business, please and take us on our digital journey, which brings together process people technology and culture. And that's my sweet spot working across everything. I know enough about tech to hold a conversation. But I'm not a techie techs a great enabler. I always start with the customer. And that's that's how I work with our businesses.

Ryan Purvis  1:21  
So the first question we always ask is, what does the digital workspace mean to you?

Jacqui Rigby  1:25  
To me, it's a great collaborative space. And it's something that I really No, that's why I've started talking to you and doing this podcast, you know, it's a great way to share knowledge, to work as a community to get information ideas, and I think particularly in today's world, people are benefiting from that community feeling that community energy that we're all providing.

Ryan Purvis  1:49  
Yeah, I definitely think that it's humanized things a lot. Yeah. They can very results driven, but like, you know, busy, busy, busy, got so much to do. With the commute and all kind of stuff you you can't see on this hamster wheel, I think we've all had that opportunity to slow down a bit. Because you've got time back. Your time is precious.

Jacqui Rigby  2:12  
I'm just gonna say I think, I think actually, just the focus back on people, again, is great, you know, we've all realized that we've probably, as you say, been on the hamster wheel and focused on, you know, our personal careers and our own agendas. And it's really nice to actually see so many people collaborating and helping each other again, and think it's it's coming back into into more mainstream activity, which, which is only positive, because, you know, you learned so much from other people, you know, you don't know everything yourself, you learn so much other people, and it's great to help other people out.

Ryan Purvis  2:41  
No, definitely, definitely. I was just gonna say, I really enjoyed going through your shownotes, you were the first first repeat guest I've had where I've actually been set to read. I mean, don't get me wrong, people do fill out the questionnaire, they put in the bullet points, but you don't have a whole separate document full of notes. There's really with pictures and everything. So I think we would get permission to share some of these. Because I think, you know, it's a good summary of some of these things, specifically Angela, which I think is a really bastardized, overused term. I do want to maybe talk a bit about that. And,

Jacqui Rigby  3:18  
yeah, yeah, it is. It's a shame really, I mean, the principles are really sounds and I think, you know, you when you realize it was in 2001, when the, when the Agile Manifesto came out, it feels like it's been with us forever. And, and it's, it's sort of done some good, but it's also done some bad because I think what's happened is that the terminology frightens people. So certainly my experiences, you know, your your C suite and your leadership team who perhaps not were without jail, and they've always worked with waterfall. If you start using agile terminology, then it's something that just is foreign. And that doesn't work particularly well. And I think sometimes we've hidden behind some of that terminology as a badge, rather than actually thinking about the outcomes. So I'm really keen to stop using terminology, particularly outside those that understand and really focus on why why agility is important. You know, the benefits you can get from agility are enormous. McKinsey did a report back in March this year, and they looked at 22 companies across six sectors. And the hard benefits from employing business agility are just phenomenal neighbor financial performance, employee engagement, customer satisfaction, you know, reducing errors, improving safety. I mean, it's real, tangible stuff. Talk about that. We talk about scrums and kanbans and backlogs. We don't talk about the fact that actually there's huge financial and customer and employee benefits Magill and I think it's time to switch that conversation around and help help businesses actually move forward using agility in a way that is important to them rather than focusing on on techie techie language.

Ryan Purvis  5:05  
Yeah. I mean, I just recently recently finished reading a book called The goal. And if you've read the goal No. And it's it's a really good way to talk about almost the the fundamentals are the fundamentals but talk about it in a different way. So that you actually don't even know you're talking about what agile as a concept and and as an ethos is trying to deliver on, which is things like getting your sequency, right, the size of your workload in your batches, and that, and the guy who wrote is an Israeli American, nothing. Who goes through this, this journey of a factory manager, who's following all the standard practices and all the correct you know, the best practices that he's been told from, from how high up downs is how you have to do it. And and he gets a mentor, and I get the whole story, because I think it's worth reading. I think there's a graphical novel as well, for people that want the short, the very short version. But he goes through this journey, and he turns the factory around, but doing things counter intuitively to how things have always been done. And uses examples in the story, I say, the sort of this factory, Ernie is having trouble with his wife and his kids and, you know, sort of turned the factory around, he's been given a short timeline to to do, you know, was a factory close, you know, that sort of, you know, it's a really well written, fictional story, that underpinned by this factual stuff. And yeah, somehow, you have to read it again, at a different time in your life, because of the things applying it and reading it again, now, at the moment of redoing our product. And all those things are starting to make sense again, because now you're thinking about Oh, yeah, you know, we, even though it's agile, and various, you know, two week sprints, people forget that those two week sprints have to belong to a strategic goal. And that's what often gets confused or lost. And people. I mean, I remember sitting with that one exact same Don't ever say, two weeks ago, or two weeks ago, we're missing the point. It's not about two weeks, it's about we've got a packet of work that will be done in a short period of time. So you can see something, it's not that long, the whole thing built in two weeks. Yeah. And that's, I think, a common mis misunderstanding.

Jacqui Rigby  7:15  
Yeah, I think I think is really difficult. If you think that, you know, lots of people have been bought up with that more classic project terminology and project approaches where, you know, we've got this sort of these two extremes of, you know, a two year five year roadmap on one hand, and then two weeks sprints on the other. And actually, you know, the truth is that agile is in between the two. But But actually, as you say, sometimes it gets sucked into the, it's two weeks, and the classic Dilbert cartoons of actually agile just means that you do the same thing, but faster. You know, it's, it's, it's, it's quite, it's quite interesting how it needs to grow up beyond its initial sort of young stage of development. And as you say that those two weeks sprints and the words like backlog and managing expectations between people who have worked in waterfall and still want those financial outcomes, and are still in the world where you write requirements. And then you do it that way versus the way agile can be done badly, which is actually we just do we live for two weeks, and then we do something else to be like two weeks, and so on and so forth.

Ryan Purvis  8:30  
You get what you do, the key word is vacations. So sitting with with beak with with the business and because I've said the business, because I'm usually on the delivery side, at dealing with with the people that want something and you're trying to explain not only, I think you've got to break these down into very small things that we can get them. The one he trying to explain the methodology, but at the same time, he tried to explain that we do these things on a certain basis, which means you're not going to get the Rolls Royce that you wanted, you might get the VW Beetle that you need, that will improve over time and stretched and molded into your Rolls Royce. But it could take us, you know, 10 years and no one really likes to hear that it could take longer than then then they wanted to take. You mentioned the jargon and then I mean, how do you get around the jargon? How do you explain it to people or what's your method or approach?

Jacqui Rigby  9:26  
Yeah, it's a really good question. I think where where it works best of all, is where the jargon that is typically agile is not used, and actually comes back to culture and I'm great. I'm a great believer in culture and culture is an outcome of actions, values, behaviors, it's not an it's not something that doesn't start with culture ends with culture. But actually if you create your own, you know, your own North Star your own vision as a business, and you create your own language that then supports agile ways of working without Using this terminology, that's where it seems to work best. I mean, you know, that's that's even how the the big tech firms have done it, that they don't tend to use agile terminology. They create their own language that means something to them, like Amazon. And if you get one, if the tech boys are doing it, and they're doing really well, and their customer focus, and that's how they're driving their business, then you know, maybe maybe that is a better way to do it. And stop, stop trying to to use the terminology that's been established or agile and create your own business terminology that links to a defined Northstar or defined purpose for that business that everyone can buy into. It's a language that everyone understands. So since it is a journey to go on, it's not a quick fix. And trying three trying to force agile terminology and sort of straight ways of working into into most businesses just tends to fail. And that's why people go agile is not for us, you know, that sort of, lets, you know, it's not right, we need to go back to projects. Because actually, it's gone in in a way that just creates too much friction, too much tension, too, you almost got to have practitioners who can use the approach but not call it that and actually worked with the business to, to define that Northstar and define the way that actually that business is going to respond, to iterate and work through an uncertain world.

Ryan Purvis  11:25  
Like you've got in your in your preparation, the Agile principles in plain English. Yeah. Yeah, we all understand we all need to do but but you haven't mentioned who at each interview, once you've talked to a chain, you've talked about it so you didn't use it to write Test, test,

Jacqui Rigby  11:43  
test test, right learn Yeah, short cycles, customer

Ryan Purvis  11:45  
procreation, I think that's such a valuable step, which I think usually the project failed, because the customers arms, they always go back to January, but they always used to it really a long project, and then you have to be involved in a day at the CFO or the party, you know, meeting not the everyday we need to go through this component with you, how's this gonna work? As you building out the, towards that vision, but the building and the nitty gritty? Yeah, it's huge show.

Jacqui Rigby  12:14  
Yeah, I don't think you know, for me working do the customer credit creation, I have found them but one of the most exciting aspects, you know, in my, in my recent career, actually, starting with a blank sheet of paper, coming up with some ideas through it through a sprint process, and researching it, you know, doing, actually getting consumers into a laboratory environment, and not just writing down listening to what they say, but looking at the body language, the way they're scrolling through things. Yeah, tells you so much to actually watch somebody see your, your sort of your non working sort of version of your first idea, it's amazing, you just, it's just so powerful, you know, and seeing the reactions positive and negative. And that, that, that takes you out of, we're doing things because the business needed, and it actually goes, this is what customers needs, this is the problem that we're solving for them always solve isn't important problem for them, are we solving it effectively. And that and there's some there's massive subtleties in that, you know, that the content, you know, the layout, the imagery, you know, the journey, I mean, it's just and it never ends, because actually, consumers develop over time anyway. So that's a brilliant way to to work with customers. And if you solve their problem, then you're going to sell them stuff, and they're going to recommend you, if you solve a business problem, then you might not solve their problem, which means that actually doesn't work. So outside in, rather than inside out thinking, I think he's a great principle of that comes from agile, and I really enjoy the customer, customer research the us, all of us.

Ryan Purvis  14:02  
That's funny, you mentioned that I was thinking about something that I was you were saying this was talking about how this company keeps the choreo who the story, they keep bringing consultants to solve the business problem. And they come back every year with the same you know, with with another solution, solve the problem, but the problem still persists. And they brought this guy, another guy in who spent, you know, an hour listening to all the stuff he said, You know why you can't solve this problem to the CEOs? You said why he said, Well, the people that are part of the decision body to solve this problem, don't want to solve the problem because they personally benefiting from having the problem. So you never solve the problem, until you saw that they will get there you know, they whatever the personal emotional drivers of this problem, always be there and they figured that out, then they changed. They changed and they finally got the problem solved. But, you know, 10 years later and having many millions of consultants to tell them what they already knew. Only that it was a it was a human problem. Not business problem.

Jacqui Rigby  15:02  
Yeah, that's fascinating. I think that probably happens, you know, more often than, than you realize, really, I think, like scene and personal opinion, personal emotions and and also personal debt the way that people might benefit from a certain situation financially. Yeah, that's just the way the world works, isn't it. But also, I think there's also a sense of historically, that leadership historically has been very top down, it's been, you know, the people at the top are supposed to know all the answers. They're supposed to define all solutions. And actually, if you flip it around, and you put the customer at the top of the triangle actually go or Let's be led by the customer, then business, a lot of businesses say they do that, but actually they don't. It's a it's a belief system that actually is quite hard to undo. That actually flipping it around and being led by the customer will give you the it'll give you the better outcomes, but it's hardest for, for leadership that's maybe been bought up where we're actually it's important to be right at the top rather than listen to the customer.

Ryan Purvis  16:05  
Hmm. I think, yeah, I've seen that with some products, it's in some senses, you're not. And I think your word lenders is a good word, as opposed to be told by the customer. So the customer needs to tell you what they want. But you need to listen to all of them, and figure out what they're asking for. And neither sometimes the underlying thing, not the Yeah. And it's a good way to go. I mean, that's hardly feels good. Sometimes I think.

Jacqui Rigby  16:34  
Now I agree. You know, it's, you know, I started my life in, in market research. And I guess it's always always stuck with me is that you ask a direct question, then you're quite often not getting an answer that's useful. In that way, the way that you do your your research, and whether that be classic market research, whether that be you know, more, more one UX research. And it's really important not to ask a direct question and expect a direct answer that is going to actually be be the Nirvana. And still too many people think that's the case. You know, we're way too complex for that. Our attitudes and behaviors, and our feelings are a lot more subtle than that. And it's sometimes difficult for us to articulate it. So you need really good quality, people who can actually set up the research and ask questions in the right way. And as I said, you know, watching body language is is massive, because that's, that's what we're getting away than what they're saying out their mouths.

Ryan Purvis  17:34  
What are you looking at? So, I mean, there's, there's websites like, for example, where, you know, with a software product, you can put up your pages, and people can come and review it and click on it, you can use a prototyping tool. So for that, what do you use well, or

Jacqui Rigby  17:51  
more for more for when you actually you actually, you built a prototype, or half working prototype, so that, you know, he doesn't have to be fully functional by any means. And and you get people in a in a in a lab setting? And you know, you are you've got a structured questionnaire. Yeah, but you're, but you're and you're the things you want to try and get out of it. But you are not, you're not just looking at them, where they're clicking for where the heat where the heat map is of their eyes, or what they're saying, but you're actually watching the body language that's that's happening at that time. And I think that qualitative research combined with more measurable sort of direct research, the combination, I think is really powerful. But I would never, for me, I would never just look at the things that are automated tools, because the value of human understanding of human language and body language and tone is is really important to add into the mix. And that helps you get under the skin of people.

Ryan Purvis  18:54  
Yeah, I mean, I could see it in sort of pre COVID times, you can get people into bolding easily how that would work. But nowadays, we have to sort of do it a different way. And then this does is humans doing the testing? It's not Yes.

Jacqui Rigby  19:07  
Yeah. Yeah, exactly. And that's, they say, you know, you can you can set it up. So you I mean, there's much more scripture we have got to create because because at least we can do that, that user testing remotely. Which is, which is, which is sort of much more much more powerful. I think you lose a little bit of distance wise, because you can't quite see the body language in the same way as if you sat in the room. But hey, that's just the world we're living in when we're all spare or suffering from that's not quite the same speaking to you by via this than if we were sat in a room the last Yes, it's just the way it goes.

Ryan Purvis  19:41  
I mean, I think this has been good because it's gotten everyone to the same level. And now I know everyone's comfortable to the point that they can all jump on a zoom or teams or whatever your platform of choices and save on, you know, five hours of commuting time, which is really the biggest benefit of To a large extent, is the saving time. But in the same token, you know, you've got people that wouldn't have taken a job somewhere because it was it was far away from where they were, now they can take that job in their business could benefit from skills that potentially wouldn't have gone locally, which I think is better for.

Jacqui Rigby  20:21  
Yeah, the markets really opened up for finding people, as you say, from across the world. And as long as you can get the timezone to work, it doesn't matter so much where you are. And it's, it's, it's it's building greater sort of greater opportunities for the best individuals and great opportunities for businesses to, to have that open minded view to bring in people from from anywhere.

Ryan Purvis  20:48  
To discuss psychology of uncertainty, I think this is a good opportunity to bring that in, because I think we're all a little uncertain in the future. What are your thoughts in that space?

Jacqui Rigby  20:57  
Yeah, it's interesting. I mean, I'm a biochemist originally. So I've got a real interest in in science, I tend to, to like looking at some of the science behind behind bits and pieces. And I think what's really interesting about uncertainty, when you understand how your brain works, so as hunter gatherers, you know, uncertainty was something that was that drives fear and anxiety. And it was designed to protect us. Now, that works when you're hunter gatherer. But it doesn't particularly work in a business world where you have to face into that concerns. So as in your brain is, and I've done this in, in, in testing, the more uncertain situations you put in front of people, then you can detect that the brain switches from that rational side, into the the limbic system, the emotional side, which is where your fear and anxiety sit. So it's no surprise that in uncertainty, the vast, vast, vast majority brain switches into this fear and anxiety mode, because that's what it's designed to do. And the other thing that our brain does, which which doesn't help us is that it's rewarded by certainty, in the loss of feelgood factor of certainty. So the problem with uncertainty, and you've seen this in businesses, I've talked to a lot of people who've seen the same things is, is that it drives things like status. So people just just wait for something to happen. They go into analysis, paralysis, let's get some more data. Or you can end up with some very rational decisions and extreme uncertainty where actually, the behavior is very knee jerk and irrational, or we get things like groupthink, where it's all about, let's let's just focus on what we know, between us. And let us just take all the risk out, which of course you can't do. And you end up with the lowest common denominator of a solution that sometimes isn't even the solution to the problem that you started with. And that's all linked to this uncertainty that our brains don't really help us to manage uncertainty particularly well, naturally. So recognizing it, and finding ways to to then tackle that is really important, particularly at this time.

Ryan Purvis  23:05  
Yeah, I think, I mean, I was talking about brothers 40 by conspiracy theories, which I think is pretty common in most conversations. When you talk about COVID owners, there is some very good conspiracy theories, and not I mean, this is one great way to get the world to use less cash, because you've got anyone using contacts, you know, and payment cards, etc. You know, it's another way for people to improve their hygiene at a global scale. I mean, you know, ever wearing masks, it's a good thing as long as your bad thing. Well, I mean, depending on what your view is. But there's, there's obviously people that that find comfort in, in finding a conspiracy theory that works for them. And then the last thing about conspiracy theories, it has to be partially true. True. And it's, I think, I think it is people's brains, or in trying to cope with not knowing when 2020 one's going to be like, I mean, some people think that 2021 magic can mean everything we find, because at the end of 2020 but we all know that this is one of these things that takes as long as it takes and so be it. The reason why I was sort of going on that route is that you mentioned sort of groupthink and, and I was chatting with someone else about it, and they were going on the same route as someone else on you know, thinking these are the guys that are very smart people very, you know, very successful. But they're almost in order to cope with not dying or mixture with the fetal brain. They're so buying into stories that resonate with, with what they wanted to believe and sort of looking at either I'm the one that's a little bit crazy, because I'm not believing that or they were crazy because they all believe that just to get through the day.

Jacqui Rigby  24:49  
Yeah, there is a lot of cultural that pull of you know, because what happens because because because your brain actually wants to get that reward from that feelgood factor. It focuses on things that make you feel comfort. It focuses on things that it understands it focuses focuses on patterns of the past, and the disruption of what's going on in the world today, for for your natural brain, then you're pushing that away, and you're seeking certainty in what you do know, which then brings you down into this sort of risk free world, which of course, isn't risk free, and become smaller and smaller. And you can see that in, you know, you can see that in businesses who are busy, but not moving forward. You know, that's, you know, that there are some businesses who are taking advantage of the good, although there are businesses who are in this de risk situation, and they're not moving forward, they might be really busy, but they're not moving forward. And they're, some of their competitors may well be moving forward. And as this all starts to unfold, standing still, as we all know, in any business doesn't work. But it's hard to fight against that need for certainty in order to move forward. And that's why we struggle so much.

Ryan Purvis  26:07  
Yeah, it's funny, you bring that up that way, because, you know, this is conversations that I've been having, and colleagues have been having with with businesses with work that they need to do, and they're not, they're not doing the work, because they're sort of in this sort of segments, while it's home, see. And then you hear another conversation with businesses are going at a rapid rate to make changes, they building new things, whatever they know, whether it's buildings or new software. And again, you sort of got this dichotomy and you go, Why Why is it one way wasn't the other one, I think it comes down to people's ability to absorb risk, will be comfortable, that there's a risk of what they're doing, but better to do something than nothing. which I think will mean that some companies will shut down unfortunately, I

Jacqui Rigby  26:51  
think it's interesting. I mean, I remember many, many years ago, and I've had a few examples of this is that the decision to do nothing is a decision. And I've had to say that to some leadership teams, because it's very easy to think that doing nothing means you've not made a decision when you have you've made a decision to do nothing. And as a consequence of doing the thing, it might begin as not saying it's the wrong thing. But it is an active decision to do nothing. And that's us. It's hard to fight against. But but actually making that point clear sometimes to people is, to my experience is a bit of an eye opener for them.

Ryan Purvis  27:32  
Yeah, that totally right. One of the things I wanted to come back to the agility and one of the things you do with McKinsey and Company was the five operating models, strategy, structure process, people and technologies I've already read. I mean, I know about the first two, but I've only really ever looked at the triangle in the sense of process people and technology. How does the structure and strategy apply nowadays, do you think?

Jacqui Rigby  28:01  
I think strategy, it comes back to that, you know that you do need that purpose, that North Star mean, North Star is a bit of an over over rated 10 bits of terminology. It's not my favorite, but people tend to understand it. So you know, why are you in business? And where are you? Where are you going? That strategy needs to be something that is tangible, is easily understood, is externally focused, or internally focused. And gives you your purpose, and that you can align your organization behind. And your structure, it's things like being able to be to be flexible, because in order to respond to uncertainty, then you need to be flexible to adjust your resourcing levels, your skill sets, you need to be able to pull virtual teams together. So it moves you away from this really static structure of solid reporting lines into a world where you've got the you know, the very typical agile cross functional teams, the actually are not fixed. You know, you people can sit in more than one team, you can dissolve teams and set up new teams. So I think those are the two things that in strategy and structure the really come through in the mean business agility, and that starlings to what McKinsey are talking about.

Ryan Purvis  29:22  
Yeah, because I saw this in another practical implementation, which was a US military time when they were they changed the structure of me, it was very hard, who probably saw this, but they changed the format to be because of the I think it was in Afghanistan. The enemy in that case was not structured and slow. It was it was small and nimble, and they had to change as well. And they set up basically an agile implementation across all the various branches. But it's a book team teams if you've heard us, I'm not sure.

Jacqui Rigby  29:55  
I haven't read it, but I have heard about it. And I think and I think there's a lot to be learned. From the military situation, the more people that I speak to, with military backgrounds, or people like yourself having these conversations, you realize that there's some very innovative stuff happening in the military sector. So I'm on my list to read that.

Ryan Purvis  30:16  
Yeah, it's a, it's a pretty good. It's been a while since I've read it. But as you were talking, I was thinking about that, you know, they went from having the sort of chain of command going up and down to commands to having an hour and a half call every day, which everyone joined. And, you know, from that call, it was really a very simple devenus phone call, but obviously, a lot longer, the breakout sessions would happen that need to happen, and they would circle back and, and then carry on with, the decisions were made a lot quicker, as opposed to, you know, slow moving, which was the biggest, biggest thing for me.

Jacqui Rigby  30:49  
Yeah. And also, the decisions are made more because it's, it's it is a mature business, the closer that you've actually got a decision making to the front line, whether that be the front line, literally military terms, or whether that be the customer, then the more relevant those decisions are going to be the further back you get in an organization of a hierarchy, then the connection with the customer frontline is distant. And it says a really good parallel business, the military, actually, we can use the same terminology of frontline County,

Ryan Purvis  31:18  
you can get some discussions with felt like you're at war. I mean, I remember going to a couple tenders, and you walk into your presentation, and you're walking past your competitor. And a friend of mine tell the story, how he did his presentation. And what he did is he in the room, he put an X on it on the floor. And then anytime he had something negative to say he stood on the x. And then the rest time, you know anything positive in the room, and you do a demo and all the rest of it. And then when the next cost came in, they thought they were supposed to stand. It was negative, or construed as negative. And I mean, I think they won the deal. But I just thought that is This is war war, but it's no good tactic. It's a good strategy to play.

Jacqui Rigby  32:06  
Wow, that's brilliant. Brilliant. Hilarious. Hello. So

Ryan Purvis  32:18  
you put another diagram here, which is the business agility, which is from mintzberg. Johnson's call, I really understand where you're at, talk me through that one. Yeah,

Jacqui Rigby  32:31  
I love this. I came across it again, recently. And when you think how old it is, you know, it's it's quite incredible. What you what you see is that the environments goes, goes ever upwards. And business strategy moves further and further away from it, because the pace of change of business strategy over time, tends to not keep up with the environment. So when you went where we are now, there's there's four phases to it. And where we are now is is is the flux phase, where you've got high uncertainty where the environment is rocketing ever upwards, and a lot of businesses are active going around the loop. So you've got this sort of horizontal line of the business, difficult to describe and is when this is a visual thing. And then you've got the environment moving further away from so the gap, the strategic drift between the strategy of business of a business and the environment gets bigger. And at that point, you're the you're heading to phase four. And phase four, unfortunately, is either demise, because you don't change and you just fell off a cliff. Or you choose to transform and therefore you bring yourself back closer to the environment. And the company that the thing is important about that is it's about getting back closer to the environment. So it comes back to what's what's going on in the world. What's happening with customers, what sendings What's their problems, our priorities as consumers has changed. And we've seen a probably an acceleration of lots of tech aspects of probably five years and in working at home. The technology we're using, for example, just for two people are saying that's probably a five year acceleration point through through COVID. And I'll be loads and loads of other examples. So if businesses are taking advantage of that, then they can transform and they'll win customers. If business is standing still and being very busy. Then the environments gone. The environments just too far away. You know, Arcadia last week is a is a classic example, unfortunately, of a business that are set up businesses that you know the leadership style is is out of out of favor in the world today. And then we're very stuck in retail premises in a very low digital footprint. And that just doesn't work. I mean, promarker sort of broke broken the back of things because because they've got a slightly different business model. So they haven't been haven't gone to a digital space, but even they're looking at that now. And so not adapting your business model to the environment just ultimately will end in failure. It's just a matter of time that people stick to stick to what they know, they stick to business models that weren't before, you know, Kodak blockbusters, you know, we know them all Woolworths now Arcadia, we, you know, it's really, it's really obvious. When when brands actually in businesses don't, don't move with the times, and you've got others that continually reinvent themselves mean, IBM is great, great example, IBM used to just be a, you know, a PC manufacturer. And then then competitors came in, were undercutting them, IBM, were really slow to innovate couldn't, you know, couldn't match the prices of the new competitors. So they completely reinvented themselves in terms of their business services and Enterprise Server provider and look at them now, you know, it's a brave thing to do to actually switch switch your switch your route. But if they haven't, that, that business would not have stayed say, didn't stayed around, it wasn't going to compete in PC. So it just changed his business model. That's where you bring yourself back to the environment and find something that's relevant to the environment today.

Ryan Purvis  36:20  
I mean, in comparison, I would look at Microsoft, and avala was going one direction. And another has gone a different direction. I mean, I would probably argue that the involvement a lot of the groundwork for that to happen in the grand juries and that sort of stuff. I mean, that that, that wasn't all Nadella. But if you look at how they are no longer reliant on the Windows operating system for the revenue, you know, that's a huge shift. And they've also become much more of an integrated play. Which solution was we open takes us to play these to be the guys in between SAP and Oracle and Microsoft. Now Microsoft is pretty open. And you find it very hard to to not use a marshal product, one way or another. One of my frustrations at the moment is I find windows 10 really bad. But I'm exploiting a Linux option at the moment. But I can't find stuff that I need to use. And I'm feeling unfortunately, but stuck with this with barshop. Going for the Mac, which may happen. If I want to save if I forget was the example you gave around around companies to transforming or falling apart and going to demise. Go look at the local pub, and off the first lockdown. And going on to you know, to eat in a restaurant, how many of them went and found a mobile solution so that you could order and they could deliver on takeaways and the rest of it. So they had a back up plan and how many didn't do and all the ones that didn't take that opportunity for whatever is that probably had, you know, financial constraints, or whatever it is. They're not surviving the second lockdown, which is a sad part. And that's, I mean, it's a very simple example. But it affects you know, very much the UK culture ever allowed to go to a pub and have a beer and hamburger. And I've watched it on neighborhood, you know, two good pubs one of them stayed and one of them's gone. I mean, it'll be used by somebody else, you know, we're going to use the public. But the donor obviously misses the opportunity to prove it.

Jacqui Rigby  38:26  
Yeah, I think it's it is tough. I mean, a lot of a lot of pumps and independent pumps and an independent restaurants, then, you know, thus it might be financial, it might be experience, and you've got the whole thing about uncertainty. And actually, no, we'll just wait until it's all over because it won't be long, we'll be fine. All those things combined. And as you say, it's it's really sad to see and you know, there are some great examples of restaurants and pubs finding different ways to to at least survive but it's it's it's tough, but certainly certainly doing nothing is not is not an option because this is this is not as you were saying earlier, this is not going to go away and quickly, you know, time is time has proven time has proven that

Ryan Purvis  39:13  
Yeah, yeah. Well, I mean, we were looking at at the numbers this morning, and according to the UK numbers we were looking at in South Africa because we're going back there for a couple months. Yeah, you could just see how even in a place where where they've they've almost gone back to normal camp barring washing your hands and wearing a mask. They still having a couple 100 cases a day now. I know for a lot of creative favors, not lethal. There still is the viruses still they still permeating because if you're going to leave, it's gonna be a cyclical problem, as opposed to an inherited indec which feeds that uncertainty. Again,

Jacqui Rigby  39:50  
it does, it does.

Ryan Purvis  39:52  
Yet another diagram which I really liked, which is the triangle in the circle, so that from organization as well. machines to organization as organisms. And

Jacqui Rigby  40:04  
yeah, I mean, it's McKinsey. And after they do like some of the McKinsey articles, I think that I think they are very well written, they don't, don't pay me for quoting them, but I find them really well written, well researched, because they've got access to so many companies. And it's a great diagram with with showing the hierarchy of leadership where, you know, the the CEO, or whoever it is, sits at the top of the organization, and the structure laid out and and underneath and things go up and down the line and get Chinese whispers on the way down and Chinese whispers on the way up. And the customer is actually never did never to be seen in the whole equation. And that's that's how businesses were run our military was was was run for many, many years. And we are still seeing more of a change in recent times, of these of this sort of approaches and organisms. Again, being a scientist, maybe the word organism sort of really, really sort of piqued my interest. But that fluidity that that sort of, you know, when you actually get into a culture where you're empowering people to make decisions, you're empowering people to actually take some risks, where you're actually supporting people. And if things don't work out the first time, then actually, you've learned from it rather than it being that blame culture where, you know, you've put something out in the market, and it hasn't done what we want to do. It's actually Okay, we've learned some things, what have we learned how to use the information to do differently, but it's about knowledge sharing, you know, actually having these cross functional teams to solve problems together. You know, having tech and non tech people in a room together, is so powerful. I remember, you know, back back nine months ago, kicking off the start of a new product development. And the workshop made sure that we had people from across the business and had finance in there, we have compliance in there. Most people need compliance to the end, and then wonder why compliance won't sign anything off. You know, people from the retail team, people from marketing people from product people from across the tech team, so that you're using that knowledge to help build solutions use knowledge to help solve problems, and you're all equal. And you know, it's unfortunate first night last night, with Sean Connery, just because it was a late Lazy Sunday night film, Richard Gere and Sean Connery was just you know, when you see that Roundtable, and you see all the Knights, the round table, everyone's equal. It just made me think last night that that represents that McKinsey model is, is actually you have a you have a team where everyone is equal sat around a table. And I wonder why more businesses don't have round tables in their meeting rooms, rather than the square and oblong ones, I think it'd be great to actually walk into a business and see that the boardroom actually had a round table in

Ryan Purvis  42:57  
Yeah, it's some nerd you mentioned, I hadn't thought about it. And then you probably find all these things, all these lessons we learn, you know, I've always we've always complicated allies by all these things. I mean, this hierarchical thing, I think, goes back to the guy who I'm reading a book called the lean, lean startup, I think it is I mentioned as well. And this goes back to the factory mentality and how you need to be efficient and effective. This is where the problems come in, you know, having having eight hour work days, five days a week as opposed to getting stuff done, based on people being conscious contributors and accountable for what they seem to do. I try to find it but but it is exactly that problem is that we we've almost retrofitted a very hard core structure onto everything made everything so complicated, and I think it makes businesses very difficult. Yeah, always there's a certain tipping point with a business the longer longer becomes about the customer. The people employed are there to maintain the business bureaucracy and red tape. So you get these massive organizations 100,000 people 1500 50,000 whatever it is, and majority of that is just keeping the business going. Not actually solve the problems, they solve problems internally which you know, pretty often worthwhile to have less people for the first place I'll find the name that management consultant because I think it wasn't he was consultants here at the Center for pain reporting

Jacqui Rigby  44:33  
everywhere consultants,

Ryan Purvis  44:35  
yeah, they do they do but you know this organism I mean, I think is it is a very smart way to put it because you can have a very healthy organic healthy team which is healthy or other organism and you know, cancer team, which is destroys everything and that's probably where these things fail. Yeah, unbalanced team. Yeah.

Jacqui Rigby  44:53  
I mean, you still need you know, you need that common purpose or has to understand what the common purpose of businesses and the purpose of that Have a cross functional team that is aligned to that. And you still need the same measures, you know, it's not it's not a, it's not a free for all, where you're just letting people go and do what they want. But you're measuring, you're measuring things in a way that is aligned to the purpose, people understand the measures, they're accountable for those measures for their accounts for for learning to improve to improve the outcomes. And whether they be you know, customer, people, you know, financial, and having that balance, balance view, and then accepting that putting something out in the marketplace, the first time you launch your your MVP, then it's not meant to be perfect. It's not meant to work in a way that actually drives millions of pounds of money, it is there to actually put it into the real world, take it out of the research, testing environments, a real world and keep learning from it. You know, it's not a it's not a phase one. It's not a final product. It's the first version that's actually going to the real world. And we'll keep learning and keep learning, keep learning. But we know, the measures that we're trying to, we know we're monitoring, and we're looking at the data, we understand the outcomes we're trying to drive. We're improving the outcomes over time, we'll do some things they'll take us backwards, you know, sometimes you change something thinking it's going to do a positive and actually it doesn't, or you do an A B test and find that actually makes no difference. But you've learned something. My my favorite, my absolute favorite scientist is Brian Cox. Yeah. And he's the quote of his I love is the essence of science is to be delighted to be wrong, because every time you're wrong, you learn something.

Unknown Speaker  46:36  

Jacqui Rigby  46:37  
No, I think if we apply that and more in a in a business world, then I think actually we wouldn't, we would get a lot further because people be prepared to test things and try things and learn from it, rather than being afraid to fail, because that just that just inhibits curiosity inhibits creativity, if you're afraid to fail, right now we need we need that more than ever, because we need to innovate in our way out of this in a collaborative way.

Ryan Purvis  47:05  
Yeah, I think you're I mean, if you look at it from a political point of view, this is one of the problems we have in in our society is that people, people feel like they can fail. If you look at the the acronym failed his first attempt in learning if we actually let it be that way, that you didn't maybe as a screening system, maybe I don't know, we almost feel like you always have to be right. You always have to be successful. You always have to be, you know, on top of things. Are you being judged? negatively?

Unknown Speaker  47:36  
Yeah. You know, there's

Ryan Purvis  47:37  
a need to get away from that. I think I think there would be a lot more. I mean, you just look at the average politician know, and trust what they say because because everything they say is is not authentic, usually. Because they have to be right. And they have to have a flame. And maybe they admitted that they actually don't have a plan and we're making something to go along. But we're using science to make it up and it's going to change everyday.

Unknown Speaker  47:59  

Jacqui Rigby  48:01  
Yeah, I think I think the recent, the recent sort of months have really shown that I mean, politics aside, you know, it's impossible for anyone to predict what was going to happen. It's impossible for people to predict when lockdowns are going to wind because you don't know we don't want people's behaviors going to be done when the virus is going to do it. And when the vaccine is going to come out and doing what other treatments are going to be you don't know what else is going to be driving nature. You can't seem to the future and expect anyone or whatever side of the political fence you sit on to go right this is the plan for the next six months, we know exactly what we're going to be doing through every situation and every tear and every blardy blardy blar. He just comes it's it's a little known, in a way it's a it's a it's an example of where agility is most important. You know, cuz you're learning all the time and some things we've done. As a nation, whatever nation you're in, will have driven some benefits and some some negatives. And but actually, you've learned from it. Yeah, you can see that in the in the change in the way they've done the tears this time they learn from it, not saying it's right, but they're just keeping adapting, and every country around the world is doing is doing its own version of test to learn. Yeah. It's not a two year project where you can let all your milestones and go wrong. As long as we get our milestones, we'll be fine.

Ryan Purvis  49:29  
The funny thing is, with a dune buggy design, I'm not trying to do an agile approach on Yeah, I think that's exactly the issue that having the charter run in that it's becoming an agile project. But they haven't got the vision really clear. And then manage expectations very well. Correct.

Unknown Speaker  49:49  
certainty is really, really difficult.

Unknown Speaker  49:54  
Yeah, yeah.

Ryan Purvis  49:57  
I mean, I suppose we can't predict the future but if we can There's, for example, if we knew that lockdowns were going to be a common thing, and we just sort of made it part of our part of our operating model. And we talked about that in the future and look, you know, schools will be different works gonna be different. So, you know, there's no, there's no going back to normal there there is. And there's also no new normal. It's just what it is. Yeah, maybe it would be a little bit less anxiety. And you also, if you didn't have a TV, with the news every day, making it sound like, you know, everyday is Armageddon.

Jacqui Rigby  50:34  
Yeah, after watching the news, now, I have to say I catch the headlines, but But yeah, I'm just trying to try to just get on with life as best as best you can. And there's loads of positives to come out of the situation. You know, there's some horrible situations, but there are some positives. And actually being able to focus on those as long as you as long as your family and families and friends are safe. And well, then then actually, there are lots of positives to look out into.

Ryan Purvis  51:01  
Yeah, I'll be honest, I think I think we all gonna be people, unfortunately. But you can have someone that's going to get it and they may not survive. And that's almost what I'm always worried about it being a stigma. And I'm worried about it as a people using this as an opportunity to get our own conspiracy theory bang bandwagon. I think we should look at the benefits like you so benefits are people are spending more time with their families more time with their kids, which they wouldn't have been spending. I mean, we've had a newborn, she's two months old. If this was not a pandemic, I would have probably been in office four days before the week. Now I'm carrying on my chest, mostly carrying this big weight on the front of my stomach.

Unknown Speaker  51:49  
Yeah, well,

Unknown Speaker  51:51  
at some point, right. Exactly.

Ryan Purvis  51:53  
Exactly. Time. Is there anything else want to cover?

Jacqui Rigby  51:57  
That was That was really good. I really enjoyed that. Thank you very much, Ryan.

Ryan Purvis  52:00  
It was great to have you on. Where can people look you up if they want to get in contact?

Jacqui Rigby  52:05  
If Find me on LinkedIn, so che si que si and then Rick brh eBay. Best way to do it. Find me on LinkedIn.

Ryan Purvis  52:12  
I'll put that in the show notes. Super, thank you very much. Well, then, without further ado, we're done. Thanks.

Unknown Speaker  52:19  
Thank you. Cool.

Ryan Purvis  52:21  
We'll keep in touch.

Jacqui Rigby  52:22  
Yes. Cheers, Ryan.

Ryan Purvis  52:27  
Thank you for listening today's episode. Hey, the big news producer, editor. Thank you, Heather. for your hard work on this episode. Please subscribe to the series and rate us on iTunes or the Google Play Store. Follow us on Twitter at the DW w podcast. The show notes and transcripts will be available on the website www digital workspace that works. Please also visit our website www dot digital workspace that works and subscribe to our newsletter. And lastly, if you found this episode useful, please share with your friends or colleagues.

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Jacqui RigbyProfile Photo

Jacqui Rigby

Helping businesses to solve customer problems through bringing together people and tech; building a culture of agility to thrive

Jacqui has more than 20 years’ experience in transformation, marketing and product often with significant P&L responsibility. She has worked at Exec level for 15 years and held 2 company Board Director positions.
Jacqui led the revival of Co-op Funeral Planning, taking it from number 3 to number 1 in the market within 18 months and growing the business by 550% over 5 years. At Co-op Legal Services she defined and led a £50m programme of change across the operating model to disrupt the legal market and deliver a market-leading customer experience. At Appreciate Group, Jacqui re-directed the business strategy and led digital product innovation to support the market shift from physical to digital products for gifting and rewarding, introducing ways of working, thinking, behaving and a culture to support business agility
For the past 6 years, through interim and consultancy roles, Jacqui has worked with business facing complex strategic change agendas, bringing clarity, alignment and pace to decision-making to deliver transformational change, improving customer, people and commercial outcomes.