Earlier this month, we had the opportunity to speak at Microsoft’s Future Decoded event. Microsoft Future Decoded is an action-packed two-day event with keynotes and breakout sessions from industry experts to help business and technical decision-makers leverage the latest technologies. The theme of the 2019 event centred around how businesses can prepare for the future of work, in an AI-driven era.
During the two-day event, Microsoft made it clear that AI is key, and organisations may be left behind if they don’t adopt AI soon, but what does this really mean? A report commissioned by Microsoft cautioned that the UK risked losing out to competitors like the US and China if businesses failed to introduce machine learning into business models. But as Cindy Rose, Microsoft’s UK CEO pointed out, 74% of business leaders surveyed don’t think they have the right structures in place to fully capitalise on this.
The only thing we know about the future is that it will be different. Peter Drucker (2014) Innovation & Entrepreneurship
Let’s take a step back. 10 years ago, smartphones, as we know them, didn’t exist. Today, however, it seems as though nearly everyone owns one and is perpetually gazing at a glowing screen. It feels like technology is progressing faster than ever, but the reality is, technology is an evolutionary process. Each generation of technology improves over the last, and the rate as we progress from generation to generation is speeding up.
What we are seeing now however, more than ever before, is a sense of urgency, and technology is accelerating the pace of change. It is imperative that businesses explore technology and identify what’s worth investing in, rather than either following, falling behind or worse, spending a lot on technology that doesn’t fit and ends up causing you to fall behind.
The enterprise that does not innovate ages and declines. And in a period of rapid change such as the present, the decline will be fast. Peter Drucker (2014) Innovation & Entrepreneurship
This is why we, at Razor, developed The Razor Sprint - to help businesses who believe that technology can enhance what they do and want to make a change, rather than watching from the sidelines. The Razor Sprint has four key phases:
- Understand Explore,
- Refine & Plan
- Build a Prototype
Understanding your business is absolutely key - including understanding your people and your why. We take the time to find out what the business strategies, principles and objectives are. We ask and find out who the users are, and what they are currently doing. We understand the problems they are having and what we can measure. It is also crucial to understand and document the shared goal, to ensure that we are specific with the outcomes.
Explore, Refine & Plan
We then explore each of the issues raised and put them through an ‘acid test’, exploring potential solutions. We select a single solution to be taken into the next phase, forming the foundations for developing a plan that clearly defines what is to be achieved, the metrics that will be measured and steps on how it will be achieved.
Build a Prototype
The third phase is where the magic happens - it’s where we start building something. Something that is real. Something you can see working. However, it is important that the team is clear on what needs to be created based on the outputs from the planning phase, and each member of the team is clear on what their role is.
Think of this process a bit like ‘scrap heap challenge’ but without the scrap heap. We make something almost against the clock out of all the amazing tools at our disposal.
The final stage in the process is an exciting one to get to and feels a lot like the last camp before the final climb to the summit. This is where we test what we have created. During the development phases, new questions will have formed, as it takes new and interesting deviations and we need to ensure that we validate the results of that process.
The prototype is run, as best as possible, next to day-to-day activities, and once testing is complete, clear next steps are defined.
It’s a fairly straightforward and simple to follow the process, but we practice and have gotten really good at applied science and knowing what is possible. While The Razor Sprint can feel a little challenging at first, once the process gets started, the feeling soon changes into excitement.
We promise that engaging with what we do will help you gain clarity on what is possible and make progress, faster.