Managing complexity in business cases
Business cases come in all shapes and sizes. Mostly though they bear heavy time investments, become very complex quite easily. So, presenting or debating just the key facts can be a challenge.
Important and/or expensive business decisions require sound preparation to describe a need, develop solutions to satisfy this need and offer a path forward. Information and data are gathered to support the decision as evidence.
Making the case for a desired decision to be taken can also be shared among several people. Hence everyone is more or less familiar with the entire case and all the elements that will support the decision maker.
In the real world it is not always clear who has a 30’000ft view of the problem at hand. Even when a standardized business case template is used there are not many involved people who could give an effective 60 seconds elevator speech about the case.
Because people tend to concentrate on the details as they need to be well developed and waterproof when used in the decision making process. Stepping back for a broader view or taking the imaginary helicopter to fly to 30’000ft does not come naturally to most people.
Since many business cases deal with issues that are not simply prepared behind closed doors and exclusively handled there, there are countless encounters within the daily business life where people get to reflect on those issues or even debate them.
To be able to lead a structured discussion and focus on the crucial facts is a trait not many people possess. Instead we all know all too well about those unstructured, endless discussions that turn in circles.
Here are two example business cases that might be debated in larger groups throughout months:
Let’s say a current price erosion is being tackled with a business case to adjust the pricing strategy. Lots of data, anecdotal and factual evidence (from the market place) are being gathered. During internal sales or business development meetings the upcoming decision is being discussed as well as in the pub after the sales training.
Or a market intelligence software solution is chosen to structure vast amounts of market signals and alert the commercial colleagues to adjust their market approach. Here as well several managers offer their piece of facts to the business case and the topic explodes as an attractive hallway discussion.
But most of those discussions revolve around too many details and individual perspectives which makes it really hard to get to the core of the issue and understand the decision options clearly.
All this might paramount when executives ask for a quick run down of the business case or the classic 60 seconds elevator speech. Most colleagues are overwhelmed with the already gathered and discussed details. This can contribute to frustration and influence decisions.
In an individual worst case scenario, someone who is asked by the CEO in that mentioned elevator about that upcoming decision might come across as undeceive and off target if there is too much noise in the feedback. The CEO leaves that elevator with more question marks about the business case and maybe about that employee.
Part 2 → The story in the business case →→