SF “a significant competitive advantage” – news from Sweden

We’re all just back from the SOLWorld 2012 conference in Oxford.  Among the participants were a total of EIGHT members of the Hi5 management team.  Hi5 is a software company based in Umeå, Sweden, (www.hi5.se) and they’ve been working with sfwork since the start of this year.  Shakya Kumara has been leading workshops in Sweden and giving coaching to a significant proportion of the management team.

Niklas Tiger (yes, that really is his name) is CEO of Hi5.  On returning from the conference, he offered this reflection on their SF experience to date.

Back at work after a very inspiring SOL World 2012 conference where I have learned many new perspectives and ways to make use of SF and also made many new SF friends, I can’t help to reflect on how implementing SF as a way of managing change in our organization and also in collaboration with customers really has transformed our company. A very low tech down to earth example of this happened as recently as this morning, and I thought I might share it with the SOL community as a proof of SF being able to make huge impact in an organisations everyday life. So back to what actually happened this morning:

Seven people gathered in a meeting to discuss a potential security issue with our customer connected networks (we’re an IT organization providing outsourced IT services to customers over Internet and making it secure is a big thing of course). What usually happened before our “SF era” begun in January of 2012, and also indeed happened in the beginning of this meeting as soon as we had introduced the topic and free discussions begun, is that we start to define the problem. Is this really a problem? Some disagree it is. How much of a problem is it? Many different ideas on that. What is the REAL problem? It turns out there are many potential security issues within the topic defined. What other problems that are related can we also bring into the discussion? There were a few suggested. Are those problems really connected? We couldn’t agree. Why haven’t we already done something about it? Was someone to blame? The list goes on…

Our technical people are VERY skilled and where we usually end up is in an endless “battle of skills” focused on who can best define the problem using knowledge, experience, hearing of what has happened elsewhere, or even only the loudest voice as the ammo. Focus gradually shifts to winning the discussion and the reason for being there in the first place (actually creating some positive change) is forgotten about at the same time. In our “before SF days”, that would usually be where we would end our meeting, realizing we had run out of time. And maybe, in worst case, we would hand out the task of finally deciding on what our real problem was to a smaller group, before we would get together for another meeting. Eventually we would of course agree on something and move forward with some remediation of “the problem”, but it was very time consuming and many times it would also end up in nothing when competing with many other things also needing our time and attention.

Well, now we have SF and today was different! After 15 minutes of this problem talk, I realized what was about to happen. So, instead I suggested we for a minute parked the “defining the problem discussion” and instead turned our attention to what the situation would look like if we started out with a blank piece of paper and designed something new that was “the best of the best”. Where a handful of tech guys the minute before couldn’t agree on almost anything, it took us only five minutes to identify the future perfect and there was no disagreeing on this. My reflection on this was that I have probably heard our people defining this problem at least 20 times at different occasions over the past 2-3 years, but I have never heard anyone define the solution – and all the time it has been only five minutes away!? We then went on to identify what we already have in place that will help us move in the desired direction, and we found a couple of obvious counters along with ONE that very few knew about but that will be an essential building block in moving forward. Finally we listed some possible next steps and ended up with many both small and large things we could do. We selected three that we can get on with immediately, where one of these was a first little step towards a bigger one identified. We ONLY do small steps these days… Before ending the meeting, I asked if anyone had anything to add. There was nothing! No more need for going back to defining the problem. And the smile on people’s faces told me that for the first time there was true belief the we would this time really “fix” the problem. At least we had a very good beginning! The rest will be history in a couple of weeks – that I know by now!

So, while all of you SF professionals spend time figuring out more high tech aspects of SF, such as the similarities or differences between PP and SF (where I really can’t contribute much), I will keep enjoying the low tech side of it just using the SF tools that are already there. It’s a pleasure going to work every day seeing all the magic that is created, and also what it does to the people involved! As for the business side of things – I see SF as a significant competitive advantage, so don’t tell our competitors… 🙂

Cheers, Niklas

It’s so nice when your clients appreciate your work in a public way!


One response

  1. This is a really wonderful story. It reminds me the SF belongs in the hands of who uses it.
    Often we find ourselves debating the nuances and forget that we all come from different and varied ideas. That is what makes SF work. thanks for sharing.

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