bringing the collective wisdom of an organization together

Do You Really Know What Your People are Thinking? Here’s how Blueline Uncovers the Voice of the Business

At Blueline, we have set a high bar for creating cutting-edge interactive classroom and electronic training. Yet oddly, the fastest-growing service in our business is something we refer to as Blueline’s Voice of the Business (VOB) Process.BLUELINESIMS.COM

Maybe it isn’t really odd at all.

It’s a little funny (and a lot scary) that some custom learning developers suggest that they can do a thorough needs analysis in just a few hours.  I guess that might be okay if you are developing a simple training program.

But at Blueline, one of our core convictions is that sustainable change requires an intervention far beyond the training delivery.  Every custom solution we develop aligns to specific, mission-critical business objectives.  And when your goal is to impact the business, you aren’t going to uncover the answer in just a few hours.

About six years ago a long-time client asked if I could interview roughly 50 stakeholders – each of whom had a unique perspective about the problem that needed to be solved and the most effective response. When I pushed back, the client admitted that maybe all 50 wouldn’t have unique perspectives, that in some cases our goal would be to see what if any commonalities they shared. As a practical matter, all 50 needed to be involved if for no other reason than to earn their buy-in.

What I discovered during the interviews was that, in fact, each stakeholder did have a unique point of view, honed by their own special set of experiences.  And, that the interview questions needed to evolve and the discussion morph to get the most out of each interview. I experienced first hand the power that involvement has on buy-in and learned that the best way to get my arms around any problem is to examine it from all angles.

From the client’s perspective, the process was even more eye opening. The process delivered information, mental models, patterns, and insights that were surprising, unsettling, empowering… and even transforming.

That first experience was seminal in creating what is now Blueline’s Voice of the Business  Process offering.  Sure, the process has evolved a bit: for one thing, I’m not the only one conducting interviews. For another, interviews are just one piece of a very comprehensive process designed to allow our team to quickly become expert in a critical aspect of your business. This enables us to build consensus where there are disparate points of view, and to allow us to turn a broad range of inputs into insights.

Every new prospect demands maximum speed and flexibility in our design process.  Thanks to Blueline’s VOB Process, our clients can also expect that we will get it right.

Whether your need is to wrap your arms around a difficult business problem, build consensus where there is disparity, build buy-in, or all of the above, we’re here to help.

Get Alignment Upfront

Training doesn’t happen in a vacuum, the success of a training program depends on more than just a good design. Stakeholder commitment and buy-in is critical. Many a well-designed program rests on the dust heap of organizational training because it turned out a critical stakeholder wasn’t onboard. Ensuring stakeholder buy-in is even more vital when a training program is part of an organizational change effort.

Over the last several years we have refined a process that we refer to as Blueline’s Voice of the Business Process.  We utilize this approach in our data gathering on new projects rather than just onsite meetings with subject matter experts. It has allowed us to not only gain deeper insights into learner needs and content, but also create greater commitment and buy-in across a broad range of stakeholders.

At the core of our Voice of the Business Process, are one-on-one phone interviews with a broad representative sample of all key stakeholder groups. These interviews represent a small time investment of typically 45-60 minutes for the stakeholder. It also allows us to get input from a greater number of people than with a typical on-site data gathering session.

We then analyze these interviews for key themes, needs and insights, and prepare a findings/recommendations report. We’ve found that we typically uncover new needs or areas of concern that dramatically impact the training or communication design.

Recently, we were called in to develop training to “help users embrace” a recently implemented software system. The current assessment was that people didn’t understand the system’s capabilities or how it could make their life easier. This new system affected several different functions and departments and changed how they shared information. We recommended that we start the engagement with our Voice of the Business Process.

Through the process of conducting over 50 interviews, it became clear that “understanding how to use the software” was not the greatest need. People didn’t have a clear understanding of the business process that they were engaged in. Everyone we spoke to was dedicated, hard working, and committed to the organization’s success, but they were each limited by a narrow view of their work.

This along with some other themes uncovered during the Voice of the Business Process led the project leaders and us to conclude that a very different approach than what they had originally imagined was needed. The ultimate solution leveraged a Blueline Blueprint™ to provide a big picture understanding of the business needs and the roles various functions played in the process, along with just-in-time video tutorials on the software functions to provide the needs skills.

While one department sponsored and initially championed the training initiative, the use of the Voice of the Business Process enabled stakeholders across many functions to take ownership for the ultimate solution. In fact, the largest initial rollout of the training was by one of those other departments at their annual off-site meeting. Want to learn how Blueline’s Voice of the Business Process can help us to drive results at your company? Give us a call.

What if You Could Bring the Collective Wisdom of the Organization Together to Jump Start Critical Initiatives?

Each of us sees the world through our own lens. That is, we interpret data, events, and other intangibles of our organizational experiences through unique mental models made up of our closely held beliefs, and assumptions. This can make it all but impossible to honestly evaluate the organization – or to generate fresh insights in response to organizational challenges.

At Blueline Simulations, we help our clients to overcome this every day through our Voice of the Business Process – a comprehensive series of dialogues that encourage leaders in the organization to articulate and examine the beliefs they individually hold about the work, about the culture, about key strategies and change initiatives, and more.

It is, at times, a profound experience.

At the heart of the Voice of the Business Process, Blueline’s learning experts (who are, by necessity, external to the client environment) conduct dozens of expertly facilitated interviews with key executives on a strategic topic of the clients’ choosing.

In these penetrating dialogues, leaders are invited to speak in an unguarded way about their mental models – the insights, perceptions, beliefs, assumptions, and even emotions they hold– about a critical organizational challenge.

This is remarkable from the participants’ point of view. Many confess that they have never had the opportunity to reflect so thoroughly on the initiative in question.

The outcomes are remarkable, too, from the sponsor’s point of view. After the Blueline team is finished collating, dissecting and synthesizing all these unique perspectives, we share them with the interviewees through a series of facilitated group discussions.  What happens during these discussions is quite spectacular. Insights emerge.

And the best part is that they’re not our insights – they’re yours.  We’ve just created a forum for your people to view the organization and its challenges through a different lens.  So by the time we’re done, everyone has already bought into the action plan.

We’d love to tell you more about Blueline’s Voice of the Business Process offering, and explore how this disciplined process might jump start your most critical initiatives. Call us today.