Generating Impact With Lean Thinking

We often hear from clients that they are looking to enhance the impact of their insight departments. By taking a cue from engineering, you can cut out waste, refine your working and become a lean, mean insight machine!

Alexander Cypzirsch

Consultant at C Space

From engineering to insight – I believe strongly in the value of building bridges between disciplines. If you’re keen to find out more about lean thinking and discuss ways to sharpen the customer focus of your value chain, get in touch. I would love to close the loop.

Applying engineering lessons to insight

At C Space, we make a point of bringing our clients together for roundtable discussions so they can share their challenges and successes with peers and enjoy a pause from the frenetic day-to-day.

At a recent roundtable, I heard one challenge in particular mentioned repeatedly; it was about refining ways of working to enhance the impact of insight departments. As a production engineer by training, and having worked in the business for a couple of years now, this sparked a thought. I realised there was a considerable connection between this insight challenge and the concept of ‘lean thinking’.

Simply put, lean thinking brings the customer closer to the business, focuses on avoiding mistakes, and overall helps a company keep their processes fluent rather than static.

So I invite you to accompany me through the coming paragraphs and discover which elements of lean thinking can help you create your own positive impact.

#1 Reducing Work In Progress

An important aspect of lean thinking is reducing waste. Managing multiple work streams simultaneously, switching topics, refocusing constantly – we all experience this daily. It’s stressful and makes us less productive.

A project can easily lose momentum if the time between the start and the end of a process is too long. We want to keep these lead times short and productivity high. In engineering, this means reducing the work in progress in our system, meaning fewer work streams at once.

But wait, isn’t that counterintuitive? Many assume that the more work you put in to your system the more you get out, which is true to a certain extent. But – and you can go into detail on Little’s Law here – when you struggle to get into a flow and start working inefficiently, that’s often because there are simply too many different things going on at the same time.

Speaking of achieving objectives quickly: have you ever thought about having your team work in sprints? Set clear targets that are achievable within 1 or 2 weeks; small but focused initiatives with a clear, pre-defined outcome. Smaller pieces of work go through your system faster and not only will this create flow, but faster learning too.

Learning: Reduce the work in progress to focus your actions and achieve objectives faster

#2 Closing the Loop

Learning is important – the quicker you learn as a company, the better; be it from your teams to understand their insight needs, or from the market to ensure you are developing and delivering your propositions accurately. This is now where feedback loops become important. It is not enough to learn about these aspects in momentary snapshots. Continuous and regular feedback is what allows you to make adjustments every step of the way rather than just stopping at crossroads.

So to land your initiatives quickly and with great precision, you constantly need to reach out to your customers. Furthermore, to translate insights into impact, it is important to get your stakeholders on board. They can provide experience and energy to help you stay focused on what really matters.

Learning: Establish learning cycles. Having teams and customers provide the right feedback at the right time increases speed and precision – not only of your work, but for the proposition development of your company as well.

#3 Failing Safely

Creative work has the potential to push companies forward but it also needs room for failure. I’ve seen it various times, and I am sure you’ve either experienced it yourself or observed it in others: the fear of failure that comes with picking up a pencil and stepping closer to the drawing board, especially for those who’ve seldom had the chance to discover their creative potential.

Being agile and able to adjust your path constantly allows for safe failure to happen. Because even if a creative idea proves to be unsuccessful what’s the big deal? No big investments have been made, no opportunities missed, because feedback was available before any harm was done.  In fact the opposite is true; you’ve used the chance to learn a new lesson. The security this provides can encourage initiatives throughout the whole team and can lead to great and innovative work!

Learning: Create space for safe failure by establishing quick feedback loops to unleash that creativity.

#4 Thinking in Objectives

Now we’ve discovered that reducing work in progress and closing feedback loops can be fruitful, it is time to focus our attention on the horizon; where do you want to go?

While you are aiming to facilitate successful project work, you should also think about the final product – the finish line of your journey.

It is easy to lose focus, so try to stick to your goals and don’t lose sight of the very final output. By doing so, you can ensure all your sprints are aligned to the company strategy, which makes positive impact much more likely to happen.

Learning: Define your objectives first and reflect on them continuously to stay on track.

You may be interested in:

Steve Huffman, CEO, Reddit: The Evolution of Community

Steve Huffman, CEO, Reddit: The Evolution of CommunitySubscribe to the Outside In podcast: In 2005, when Steve Huffman co-founded Reddit, the 21-year-old engineer envisioned a place on the Internet where people around the world could connect with one another through...

Sal Khan, CEO, Khan Academy: Personalizing Education for the Knowledge Economy

Sal Khan, CEO, Khan Academy: Personalizing Education for the Knowledge EconomySubscribe to the Outside In podcast: In 2005, when Sal Khan was tutoring his young cousins, he started to see a pattern: personalized education (in this case, tutoring) helped students to...

Ed Bastian, CEO, Delta Air Lines: Restoring Confidence in Air Travel

Ed Bastian, CEO, Delta Air Lines: Restoring Confidence in Air TravelSubscribe to the Outside In podcast: Over the decades, the airline industry has had to grapple with the aftermath of several historical crises, including the Gulf War, 9/11, and the Great Recession....

The Better Why: Insight Meets Activism

The Better Why: Insight Meets Activism

Research Live

Last month, Customer Agency C Space published The Better Why report – a piece of industry-leading thought leadership around how the current crisis has changed customers and business – and what this means for insight. C Space’s UK Managing Director Kathryn Blanshard explains more.

A closer look at the first steps in C Space’s DEI journey

A closer look at the first steps in C Space’s DEI journey

by Leah Ben-Ami (C Space)
Reward Gateway

Leah Ben-Ami is the Director of Learning at C Space, a customer agency focused on putting their client’s customers at the center of the work it does, and the way C Space approaches the work. Here’s a look at the 10 steps the organization took to improving DEI, as told by Leah:

A sense of community

A sense of community

by Bronwen Morgan
Research Live

Online research communities offer businesses a means of getting closer to their customers, generating insight and validating research findings – but they can also foster connection and empathy in uncertain times. C Space’s regional CEO Felix Koch shares his thoughts.

The Future Customer, as featured in The Times

The Future Customer As featured in The Times // Raconteur How has COVID-19 shifted your shopping mindset? Are you more mindful of the brands you shop at? The Future Customer special report, published in The Times, looks at how COVID-19 has...

The Better Why

The Better Why

Raconteur

In the battle for relevance, why does the promise of big data alone still fail to deliver? Context holds the answer. 

Pamela Newkirk: Confronting the Reality of Racism in Corporate America

Pamela Newkirk: Confronting the Reality of Racism in Corporate America Subscribe to the Outside In podcast: America was founded on principles of justice and equality. Yet, it has never lived up to these ideals in regards to how citizens of color are...

Customer Inside: A Practitioners Guide to Online Communities

Customer Inside: A Practitioners Guide to Online Communities C Space partnered with the Market Research Society (MRS) and 130 client side practitioners to explore & understand how to get the most out of online communities (and the agencies...