Define the right problem, deliver the right digital transformation: How to be in the top 16% of transformation leaders.

Define the right problem, deliver the right digital transformation: How to be in the top 16% of transformation leaders.

Digital Transformation is problem solving, whereby you aim to transform your business in order to reach an outcome that is not attainable by staying complacent. Your goal is the result, your problem is the barrier to getting there.

The concerning statistics as reported by Forbes Magazine is that 84% of Digital Transformation projects fail. But why? 

So many organisations, large corporates included are failing miserably at Digital Transformation and while we have multiple data points to say why, there is no definitive answer. But trying to answer this question is part of the problem. Assuming that all problems are the same is the problem.

How do we know if a Digital Transformation will fail?

Given that we can’t speak on behalf of all organisations about their failed Digital Transformation projects, we can provide insights drawn from previous work we’ve done for clients. We’ve summarised and categorised where things have gone really well, and where things haven’t turned out as intended to try and unlock some of the reasons that would contribute toward Digital Transformation failure.

Blirt, as an organisation put in place frameworks, action plans and contingencies for our clients that help mitigate and minimise any points that have detrimental effects for our clients. One key framework we use is one that helps us clearly define the problem. This is something that most organisations don’t do.

So how do we approach problem solving in the context of Digital Transformation? 

Every time we approach a Digital Transformation action whether it’s building an app, digitising a process or systemising a workflow  – we need to be solving a problem that is clear. A problem that has a clear problem statement. Quite literally, if we do XYZ action to fix XYZ problem the outcome will be XYZ – nothing more complicated that. 

However the key mistake that most businesses make is assuming that all problems are the same. They don’t break those problems down into bite size pieces, so that the relevant response can be executed.

Introducing Cynefin…

David Snowden - Cynefin Problem Solving

David Snowden – Creator of Cynefin

The Cynefin framework is a tool developed by Professor David Snowden, for the purpose of making sense of problem types, and their relevant responses.

This tool was developed because of the problems involved with problem solving. If we can best identify the type of problem, we can then effectively attribute what actions need to be done to successfully address that problem.

It’s about understanding how problems fit together and it gives us a guide for how we need to respond, based on the type of problem. Often times we see people try to handle a hard situation with a simple approach, or vice versa, where a person might try and solve a really easy problem in an over-complicated manner. Both of these types of people would benefit greatly from the Cynefin model.

So what is the Cynefin Framework?

The Cynefin framework is a tool designed specifically to help leaders make better decisions. It does this by helping leaders realise that not all problems are the same, and that  type of problem will decide what type of action is required. The Cynefin model categorises problems across 4 different domains:

  1. Simple Problems
  2. Complicated Problems
  3. Complex Problems
  4. Chaotic Problems

Cynefin Problem Solving digital transformation

For the purpose communicating how to use this model in a simple business setting, we’ll use a home builder as our test subject. Let’s call it ‘Sunny Homes‘.

Simple problem

A simple problem is an everyday, ordered problem. Something that is simple to solve via best practice that almost anyone can do. Best practices is often a route taken to solve this problem as there is a direct link between cause and effect and everyone mutually agrees on the solution. The action to this problem is to sense, categorise and respond.

Simple Problem Characteristics

  • Doesn’t require much expertise to solve
  • There is a clear, definitive answer
  • Solution is evident to the group
  • Fact-based information gathering will usually suffice

A Simple Problem at ‘Sunny Homes

An example of a simple problem at Sunny Homes would be when a customer is looking to visit a display home, but can’t quite find the address. Sometimes Google Maps doesn’t recognise the address due to the home and street being newly created; a common occurring problem. The customer calls the sales representative for directions and the sales person can help them find their destination.

Complicated Problem

The complicated problem category is where good practices can be found using some level of analysis and is usually solved with expert knowledge. There may be more than one correct answer for a complicated problem and requires a quantitative approach. The action for this problem is to sense, analyse then respond.

Complicated Problem Characteristics

  • Cause and effect relationship is not immediate but can be discovered in due course
  • Multiple correct solutions
  • Generally predictable
  • You know what you don’t yet know

A Complicated Problem at ‘Sunny Homes’ 

A complicated problem for Sunny Homes would be upon the build of a new house they start boring holes for the footings, when suddenly they hit an unexpected rock shelf. Unable to drill through it, the builder then needs to conduct a soil test to help him decide what they need to get through the rock, and how much this will increase to cost to the customer.

Complex Problem

The Complex problem category is where solutions are discovered through testing, hypothesis and experimentation. Often referred to as innovation, the complex problem is one that many business leaders overlook and dismiss. The only way to get an accurate representation of the most desired outcome is to conduct a series of experiments to base your decision. The action for a complex problem is to probe, sense and respond.

Complex Problem Characteristics 

  • Cause and effect relationship is not apparent
  • One problem may affect many others
  • Experimentation is required to figure out what questions need to be asked
  • Routine solutions do not apply
  • We don’t know what we don’t know

A Complex Problem at ‘Sunny Homes’ 

An example of a complex problem at Sunny Homes would be during the construction phase of a new home and the tiler has laid the wrong tiles. The tiler can’t come back to rip them up and re-lay the correct tiles for another 3 days. As a result, the painters, kitchen fitters, window fitters and plumbers have all be delayed which will push back the delivery of the completed house by 4 weeks. What’s worse is that the home owner who was set to move in now has nowhere to live for those 4 weeks as she has already terminated her lease at her current residence. 

Chaotic Problem

Chaotic problems require immediate, emergency and/or rapid responses. During crisis, there are actions to take to prevent further harm or damage. This type of problem does not require any investigations, no hypothesis testing and certainly not extended periods of time to find a potential solution.

Chaotic Problem Characteristics

  • First priority is to contain the chaos
  • Time is of the essence and no process is to be used
  • The aim is to bring under control, to only then figure out what problems fit into which categories
  • Look for immediate results

A Chaotic Problem at ‘Sunny Homes’ 

An example of a chaotic problem for Sunny Homes is upon finalising the construction of a new home, the builder starts pouring concrete for the driveway. The only problem is, the concrete truck driver has forgotten to put his handbrake on and the truck is now rolling toward the house threatening lives and extensive damage to the house.

How can Blirt help your Digital Transformation?

If your digital transformation has stalled, or you are not sure what problem you need to fix first and the implications of neglecting any other problems, contact us and we can show you how to effectively use the Cynefin framework in your business.

Alternatively, listen to this weeks podcast on The Digital Transformation Show, where we unpack this Cynefin problem solving framework and how you can use it inside your organisation.

The 7 Questions You Should Be Asking About Your Business

The 7 Questions You Should Be Asking About Your Business

If you own a small or medium enterprise (SME), you have probably heard the statistic that 60 per cent of small businesses don’t make it past the three-year mark.

Recent figures suggest the market is becoming even rougher in Australia. Data registry and analytics company Ilion provided Fairfax Media with statistics in August showing that business failures increased by 12.7 per cent during the last financial year. More than quarter of a million entities were deregistered, 87 per cent of which were SMEs.

Data from earlier in the decade from the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), reported by the Huffington Post, found businesses fail for really simple reasons. About 44 per cent were poorly handled strategically, 40 per cent had poor cash flow and 33 per cent experienced trading losses.

A brief look at that list suggests that some forethought and external expertise early on can help a business avoid some big problems.

Blirt’s approach is for small business owners to ask themselves seven questions about seven subjects: vision, market, strategy, the business model, customer experience, employee experience and the top priorities to action.

We go into the questions comprehensively here and in the Blirt podcast.



The purpose of asking the questions is to see what requires improvement within the business. The business owner must always approach this process through a desire for constant improvement, because some of the answers may prove uncomfortable. By asking the seven questions regularly, a business owner can move past their own biases and identify the gaps in their own knowledge and determine where they need assistance.

Blirt has developed a strategic framework which acts as the tool that guides business owners through each step, allowing them to efficiently uncover the areas that need improvement.

The seven questions you need to ask about your business


1.    What is our vision? Is this driven by our purpose? What’s holding us back? How can we overcome those obstacles?

The vision of a business defines its direction and acts as its northern star. It is a subjective view of what the future looks like for the marketplace or humanity once the business has achieved its purpose. By contrast, purpose is the job the business exists to do or the problem that it solves.
A business should achieve its purpose every single day and consistently work toward its vision but never fully achieve it. For example, (very simply) if the business is an online clothes shop, its purpose would be sell clothes and its vision might be to make the world a more stylish place.


2.    What is our market? Who is our ideal customer? Are we perceived as different? Does this difference help us – so is it competitive advantage?

A business must continually put itself in the shoes of its customers. What are customers looking for, and how does the business satisfy that demand?
Are there enough customers out there to make a substantial market? What is the ideal customer within this market segment? And, how do we understand this customer and go deep in supporting them?

If poor strategic decisions are the top reason for business failure, the decisions at this early point – deciding who customers are and what makes the business unique – are critical to the long-term survival of the business.

It’s also important that a business finds a market space that it can own by developing a unique offering that is different from the competition. This is most critical in a well-established industry where the competitors are large and experienced.

For example, there are plenty of online competitors for our clothes store and well-established competitors including Amazon. This store might be able to differentiate itself through efficiencies that create lower prices or quicker distribution, or it simply might offer more stylish designs.
The process of developing competitive advantage is analysed in question four.


3.    What is our strategy? Where is our growth focused? Does this support how we are positioned?

The Blirt podcast mentions that strategy is more an end point than a process. If we compare business to a battle, the strategy is the outcome or the commander’s objective rather than the actual plan to bring about victory.

In his paper The Importance of Strategic Management to Business Organisations, Julius Tapera from Lupane State University analyses leading academic literature and determines that strategy gives business the impetus to work proactively and is more likely to develop profitability. The paper also suggests that strategy can be in a process of continual development.

If a business’s strategy is not achieving the vision, the owner has to decide whether to change the strategy or the vision. It isn’t always the strategy that needs changing; sometimes, a business may find that it has tapped into an unseen market with excellent growth potential and might choose to re-position to take advantage.


4.    What is our business model? Is it creating value? What metrics tell us? What practices reinforce the value creation process to build our competitive advantage?

A business model can be displayed as a diagram which shows how a business creates commercial value or will create commercial value. Business metrics, key performance indicators, dashboards and other statistics can provide objective answers about if the model is working in the marketplace.

Today’s essential tool for businesses is a comprehensive Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform that can provide all this detailed analysis and show where a business is succeeding – or failing.

Blirt helps businesses utilise Salesforce CRM, the market’s leading CRM, and bring about business transformation through it. Businesses can automate interactions with customers and obtain comprehensive data from almost anywhere in the world on any device through Salesforce.

Salesforce cloud platforms are also imbued with an artificial intelligence, called Einstein AI, that can draw conclusions of its own and save time by performing tasks itself.

In his seminal 1985 strategic management work, Competitive Advantage: Creating and Sustaining Superior Performance, Michael Porter breaks down the creation of a product or service into a value chain. He theorises that each link of this chain can add value to what a business produces and so create competitive advantage.

Consider what makes furniture giant Ikea successful. Is it the design of the furniture? Is it the warehouse-style shopping experience? Is it the range available? Or perhaps its affordability? In fact, it is all of these things. Each link in Ikea’s value chain gives it an advantage over other businesses and they all combine to create an unassailable competitive advantage in the marketplace.

Every time a business introduces a system giving it additional competitive advantage over its competitors, it is multiplying the competitive advantage it has. Doing this is crucial for a business to succeed on the global stage.


5.    What is our customers’ experience? How do we acquire, retain and grow our customers through our brand personality and experience? What improvements need to be made?

Customer experience is simply defined as the unification of sales, marketing and service across a platform that can be used to acquire and accelerate the customer journey. Businesses are becoming more cognisant of it today because customers return to businesses where they have a personalised experience and ignore businesses where they do not.

Businesses with a leading CRM platform should plug it into every department to gather as much data as possible about customers. This can be analysed and business owners can make changes to their interactions with customers and automate steps using the CRM so the customer journey is smoother, and the content that customers receive is more relevant. This personalisation helps retain customers in the long-term.


6.    What is our employees’ experience? How do we acquire, retain and grow our talent? What improvements need to be made?

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs sets out the five things employees look for in their employment. It starts with physiological needs at the base (food, breathing, sleep), then safety, love (friendship) and esteem (respect from others, achievement). Meeting these needs is crucial for providing an excellent employee experience.

However, self-actualisation sits at the peak of the pyramid as the highest human need. It is the idea of using employment as a vehicle for reaching one’s full potential. An employee achieving this sees work as more than a job, but rather something that aligns with their character, makes them a better person or fulfils a higher purpose.

The vision of a business is an important place for self-actualisation to start – and is often a place where businesses seem to fail. Forbes points out that a World Economic Forum report recently found that millennials rate ‘purpose’ at work the second most important criteria for taking a job. And a Gallup report from 2016 discovered that only 40 per cent of millennials were connected with their company’s purpose.


7.    What one, two or three things that, if we delivered, will shift the needle of the business?

The answer to this question will vary depending on the business – it might be on-boarding, innovation or optimising customer experience. Answering the first six questions honestly will generally help a business uncover any major discrepancies that need addressing.

Ultimately, this process of questioning requires action. It necessitates passion and a desire to change from the business owner. And if you act on your insights, it’s possible to bring about business transformation.


About Blirt

At Blirt, we specialise in helping small and medium enterprises transform themselves across sales, marketing, service and finance, with the objective of improving their processes and results. We can help you develop a strategy and business model that works and then implement the changes to move your business in the right direction.

If you would like to find out more, book a discovery call to find out what you need and tell you more about our approach.


Digitally transforming your brand; How to move from brand advertiser to brand publisher. (#14)

Digitally transforming your brand; How to move from brand advertiser to brand publisher. (#14)

In this episode, the Blirt team break down what it means to move from brand advertiser, to brand publisher.

What does it mean to be a brand publisher?
This is the concept of ads being replaced with content and customers choose to engage with your content and move through the customer journey due to that content. Ads are still useful, but they’re not the main game. This isn’t a new game, it’s been around for as long as news and magazines, ie over 100 years. Listen to hear a few examples from the last 100 years!

How do marketing teams work differently when they think as publishers not advertisers?

It’s about defining content across the customer journey and using that content to build relevant experiences which enhance buying behavior.

It’s less about interrupting and more about engaging or servicing to create an experience. Think simply about what problems a customer has and create answers.

What’s the framework to think like a publisher?
You need to create a publishing model. Here’s the one referenced in the Podcast.

  • Audience
  • Customer Journey Content Architecture
  • Platform Solar System (Star, Planets, Satellites, Comets)
  • Editorial Calendar
  • Content Asset Library
  • Amplification (Paid, Earned)
  • Measurement
  • Review, repurpose & repeat

How do you manage this?
We talk about the tech platform for workflow; creation, approval, library and then distribution with measurement. And, we talk about building an internal and external team.

Big News from Dreamforce

Big News from Dreamforce

More than 170,000 people. Over 2,700 sessions. Expert panels, case studies and keynote speakers. And, of course, world-changing announcements for businesses using the world’s leading customer relationship management (CRM) platform, Salesforce.

Dreamforce, the world’s largest non-profit technology conference, wrapped up recently in San Francisco, California. Over the four days, a number of trailblazing technologies and ideas were announced that will change the way small and medium enterprises (SMEs) globally do business.

Firstly, what is Salesforce?

Salesforce is much more than just the world’s leading CRM system. It is a system architecture designed to give SMEs control over their data and deliver richer customer experiences. Its platforms – Sales Cloud, Commerce Cloud, Marketing Cloud and Service Cloud – provide knowledge-driven insights to the sales, marketing and customer service functions of a business and take action through artificial intelligence (AI).

Salesforce gives unprecedented power to users through:

  • Cloud-based systems that enables business owners to access data and change processes or automation anywhere in the world and on any device
  • Reliable cloud infrastructure framework that allows for multi-tenancy, giving a guarantee that data is secure
  • The largest business app marketplace in the world, Salesforce AppExchange, which enables businesses to customise Salesforce so it meets their business requirements
  • An integrated artificial intelligence (AI) system, Einstein AI, that automatically delivers insights and personalises the customer journey

Sales cadences

Some of the biggest announcements at DreamForce centred around Einstein AI. Salesforce has maintained that the purpose of its AI brainchild is to make people’s jobs easier, rather than replacing humans entirely.

The announcements are therefore all about giving businesses more power from anywhere and helping them take advantage of insights in sales and marketing. These changes are the latest in a line of improvements that Salesforce has made to a system that delivered as many as 475 million predictions, recommendations and lead scores last year.

Businesses can now use sales cadences to create sequences for their sales teams to follow, which can be set out to meet legal requirements or best practice. Managers can effectively set up a cadence to train their sales representatives live. This creates a dynamic sales environment where sales representatives are guided to listen to customers and the technology is empowering them to improve customer experience.

Siri and Einstein: a genius match

Salesforce Einstein & Apple Siri Integration

One of the biggest initiatives to come from Dreamforce was Einstein Voice Assistant, which enables users of Salesforce’s platforms to work in their CRM through the voice function of their phone or smart speaker.

Salesforce can be easily accessed and changed in the field using any device, and this innovative system will allow users to make their alterations hands-free. Through Einstein Voice Assistant, users can access dashboards, make updates and access briefings in conjunction with Siri, Google or Alexa.

Salesforce users with Einstein Voice can speak conversationally into their phones to log notes, set up phone calls, create meetings, look at follow-up tasks and analyse insights. In meetings, Sales representatives can speak to their phones to draw up the information they need and display it for other participants.

The ever-increasing popularity of smart speakers suggests that these Salesforce features are essential for the future. A study conducted by Voicebot, PullString and RAIN Agency his year found that almost 20 per cent (19.7 per cent) of US adults have a smart speaker, a number which equates to roughly 47 million people. The survey also predicts 50 per cent growth in adoption by the end of 2018 – meaning 30 per cent of the US population will have them.

Another Voicebot report found that when someone buys a speaker, they tend to use it. Just short of two-thirds, 62.7 per cent of people surveyed, said they used them daily. Only 12.7 per cent ‘rarely’ used them. Forbes reports on studies showing that 20 per cent of mobile searches were voice services in 2016 and that, by 2020, half of all searches will be voice searches.

In episode #11 ‘Live from Dreamforce‘ on the Blirt podcast, we point out the adoption of smart speakers are reminiscent of the smart phone revolution. It’s likely we will see employees coming to work with smart speakers in the future, expecting to be able to connect them to the CRM and bring up insights in meetings. Einstein’s Voice Assistant will help to make that a reality.

Einstein Voice Bots, another product, enables businesses to create personalised voice experiences for their customers with its Bot Builder, which links into Salesforce and enables customers to speak through any smart speaker.

Partnership with Apple

The Salesforce app for Apple systems is being rethought, with the integration between Siri and Einstein AI one of the results. A host of iOS 12 capabilities will work in conjunction with Salesforce, including Widgets, Face ID and Business Chat. The new app will be available in early 2019.

Salesforce Mobile software developer’s kit (SDK) has also been optimised to work with Swift – Apple’s programming language. Salesforce Mobile SDK enables businesses to develop their own apps that work inside Salesforce and use the power of its platforms. With Salesforce, businesses can use the right combination of metadata and code-driven tools so that they can customise their apps to work the way they need to. Salesforce’s Mobile SDK adds to the customisation and allows different frameworks and languages.

The reworked Salesforce Mobile SDK will be available later this year.

Apple will also launch a new learning platform called Get Started with iOS App Development Trailhead Trail that will teach keen developers to build iOS apps using Swift – which will be a useful skill for career growth.

Partnership with Google

Salesforce continues to build its partnership with Google, chiefly through better integration between Salesforce Sales Cloud and Google Analytics 360. Einstein Lead Scoring and other e-commerce measurements can be imported into Google Analytics 360, which helps businesses gather more insights from their purchase data.

There are also a suite of productivity improvements that the closer relationship has brought about, including a feature which enables Salesforce tools to appear in Gmail, and the Lightning Object Creator, which can turn a Google Sheet into a Salesforce app within minutes.

Partnership with Amazon Web Services (AWS)

Salesforce announced a closer integration with AWS, where it currently runs most of its public cloud workloads. Salesforce is now on AWS in Australia and Canada, which represent its first infrastructure expansions internationally using cloud services from AWS. It’s expecting accelerated growth in both countries as a result.

The expanded partnership with Amazon is will offer enhanced privacy to app developers, who will be able to use an Amazon network connection instead of the public Internet, and it will allow customers who use both Salesforce and AWS to publish and subscribe to Salesforce Platform Events in AWS in a much simpler fashion.

Customer 360

Customer 360 will be a revolutionary tool enabling SMEs to link up platforms so that marketing, commerce, sales and service all work together.

Salesforce’s platforms for marketing, commerce and service – Sales Cloud, Marketing Cloud, Commerce Cloud and Service Cloud – work in slightly different ways. For example, Sales and Service Clouds’ consumer records are Person Accounts Objects, Marketing Cloud has subscriber tables called Data Extensions and Commerce Cloud’s customer tables are Customer Records.

Customer 360 is a new system that gives customers a unique identification and marries together the same customer’s records across the system, ensuring the records are updated and that there are no duplicates.

Salesforce 360 customer view

Salesforce’s visual representation of how Customer 360 works

The end result is greater power for SMEs to deliver better customer experiences. For example, Customer 360 will allow marketers to use Marketing Cloud to create a journey for abandoned shopping carts that are triggered by Commerce Cloud, which can lead to further sales.

Customer 360 is currently in a closed pilot release but it is expected to be made available for the general public in 2019.

You can also click here to see the complete series of announcements on the Salesforce website.

What Blirt Offers

Blirt shows you how you can make your business a more successful, data-driven SME by using the world’s leading CRM platform, Salesforce. As a Salesforce Cloud Alliance Partner, Blirt knows how businesses can use the system’s latest innovations to improve customer experience.

If you would like to develop your own data strategy that will improve the experience your customers have, we can book a discovery call and help get you started.

If you are passionate about Digital Transformation and how it can change your business, make sure you check out The Digital Transformation Show by Blirt.

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