Chapter 10: Part 5 – Transforming from Kun to Peng

For most “left-brained organizations” in the process of transforming into “The Right-Brained Organization,” the most urgent need is to shift to a “user-centered” thinking mode and understand the user’s “mental model.” Therefore, leaders will ask their subordinates to do “user research.” But often this is a “unfunded mandate.” The so-called “unfunded mandate” originally meant that the legislature passed a law with specific requirements but did not provide corresponding funding. In companies, we ask employees to do “user research” but do not provide research funding. This is a “unfunded mandate.”

More importantly, doing “user research,” which seems like a simple instruction, not only requires resources but also requires quite professional knowledge and skills behind it. There are many methods for “user research” that require respondents, funding, and venue resources. This is usually not something an inexperienced individual employee can handle.

Therefore, if you really want to promote the implementation of “user research,” you need to simultaneously increase motivation and reduce resistance from both directions. On the one hand, you may need to change processes and systems to make “user research” a must-do. For example, require at least 15 interviews before proposing new product ideas. On the other hand, you also need to empower employees and provide resources. Even establish a dedicated agency within the organization, like a “human resources business partner” or a “financial business partner,” to provide a “user experience” or “user research business partner.”

“User research” is just the beginning; the real challenge is how to get the company from top to bottom to truly accept the management philosophy of “user-centric.” The root of this problem is to change the accountability system such as evaluation and rewards and punishments. In particular, use “leading indicators” instead of financial data to review business. Managers need to shift their perspective from leading teams to achieve financial goals to a user-centered perspective. The company designs products based on user needs, allocates work based on products, and cultivates capabilities based on work. Relying on the intrinsic motivation of business success to motivate employees.

According to Christensen’s theory, companies need to design organizational structure based on “business model” rather than technological innovation. This should be common sense. But it has become a very heavyweight discovery in management. The reason is that traditional organizational structure design principles are mostly left-brain related factors such as strategy, market, efficiency, number of managers, etc. In MBA teaching content, one of the core elements of “strategic management” is constantly adjusting organizational structure. Especially now that technology development is accelerating and technology is unstable, markets are unstable and strategies are unstable; therefore, the structure of “left-brained organizations” based on strategy must also be unstable. Only in this way can it adapt to market changes. In other words, if the organizational structure stabilizes, it will no longer be able to adapt to external changes.

But user “mental models” are relatively stable and user groups are relatively stable; therefore, the structure of user-centered “The Right-Brained Organization” is relatively stable. Simply looking at markets or user “minds,” stability itself is not necessarily good or bad. Change brings opportunities. But the problem is that it takes time for employees of an enterprise to adapt to this change; especially when we face new technologies, new products and new markets. Which company knows more about its users’ “minds,” who has more opportunities to win in competition? And appropriate stability creates preconditions for internal employee learning and capacity building. Adjusting structure and accumulating internal strength; traditional organizations can also spread their wings and transform Kun to Peng.

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