Autodesk got its start when we democratized CAD technology by making it available on personal computers that were much less expensive than special-purpose workstations so that small mom and pop architect shops could graduate from using their drafting tables. We have never forgotten that and still have Mom and Pop customers today, but in addition to small shops, we also have large firms as customers. For them, we are often a trusted advisor instead of just another vendor. Part of the reason is that we work closely with them to help them solve their workflow-related problems.
One of the things that some of our larger customers take advantage of is our Future of Making workshops. In these workshops, a customer identifies a problem that they are having, and Autodesk works with them to apply problem-solving techniques in pursuit of solutions. Over a series of blog posts, I thought I'd share some of those techniques.
One approach to customer-workflow problem-solving is to:
- FRAME THE CONTEXT — What is changing in your business?
- ANALYZE FORCES — What is the impact to your business?
- EXPLORE OPTIONS — What might you do differently?
- ENVISION YOUR FUTURE — What should you do differently?
- DECIDE BOLD STEPS — What will you do differently?
A variety of problem-solving techniques can be applied during these steps. One of the techniques that can be used to ENVISION YOUR FUTURE is to use a Project Vision statement:
The Project Vision statement consists of two sentences that force participants to clarify the value proposition of the undertaking, identifying the core customers and their needs, the nature of the offering, the value to the customer, the key competition or alternative, and the differentiation.
- FOR - Identify the customers of the project.
- WHO - Identify the customers' needs, problems to be solved, and/or opportunities to pursue.
- THE - Give the project a name that is memorable, sappy, and reflects the nature of the undertaking.
- IS A - Describe the nature of the project. For example, is it an initiative, a strategy, or a key element?
- THAT - List the project's benefits and services.
- UNLIKE - List the alternatives, competitors, and similar undertakings.
- WE - Describe how you will differentiate your undertaking from what is offered by competitors.
These statements become guiding principles for further development as well as pitches.
Adopted from Geoffrey Moore's Crossing the Chasm, the Project Vision is based on agile software development — a practice applied throughout Autodesk.
Technique sharing is alive in the lab.