sharing insights on innovation in established organisations

altershape blog

I remember some legendary tennis matches from my childhood. Matches between top players like John McEnroe, Ivan Lendl, Boris Becker. But most of all, it was Andre Agassi that kept me hooked on TV. Apart from being a great tennis player, he had some rock star allure, was funny at the right times, was just enough underdog to earn extra sympathy points and he made an impressive comeback. So when he’s interviewed by HBR, I’m all ears. And he has some interesting life lessons to share.

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October 30, 2015

No goals, no glory

Take a minute to think about your latest change project. Did you achieve the goals of the project? Can you actually, honestly tell? If not, you’re not alone. Most projects fail to specify concrete, falsifiable goals. Goals that allow you to check whether you have achieved them or not.

Why is this, and how can we improve?

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Often, the trigger for new projects consists of ideas at two levels: very generic and very specific. For example:

  • Generic: “We need to improve customer experience.”
  • Specific: “We should let customers enter their personal data online before their visit to our branch office.”

Both levels are relevant. Both contain useful information. But something is missing: the link between them. Luckily, the BA is in the perfect position to make that link visible.

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Roger L. Martin‘s recent HBR article on adaptive (= reactive) strategy vs proactive strategy got me thinking.

In his article, he disagrees with the VUCA driven school of thought that claims that, due to the increased volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity in today’s world (hence VUCA), strategy is now fast reaction thinking. People that regard strategy as planning are likely to take this approach. However, as Roger also explains in his book, strategy is not about planning. It’s about making difficult choices and organising your company around these choices.

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Gartner says by 2016, 70 percent of the most profitable companies will manage their business processes using real-time predictive analytics or extreme collaboration. By making processes “aware” of a wide range of work interactions and their context, these processes can dynamically change their behavior through a feedback loop.

Looking at the clients I have recently worked with, I can see examples where process execution can benefit from such real-time analytics. For example, in the postal sector, the sorting and transporting activities could become more efficient when they are dynamically optimised for the current flow of incoming mail items. This may even improve the customer service and experience: as the logistic process becomes more dynamic, there is less need for planning, which increases the customer’s flexibility. Business process managers and architects should thus assess the trade-of between cost efficiency and customer experience.

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