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Frictionless pragmatism

Priya Ganesh

There’s a story about a farmer who lives by a river, and who used to have a large high-sided raft to ferry his sheep back and forth to fresh pasture. He visited a carpenter, and told him the raft was getting old, and that he’d need a new one, to a better design.

The carpenter went to see for himself. He waded out into the river, and took a good look at the old raft. “I could make you a replacement,” he said, “and it would be better than this one. But I have another idea.” He explained, and the farmer agreed.

The farmer no longer needs a raft. He has a sturdy bridge instead now, over which he and his flock can pass with ease. What’s more, everyone else can use it, too.

Practicality and creativity

What I like about this story is not just its pragmatism, but its lateral thinking. It solves a problem, but in a new and better way – and what’s more, the benefits go way beyond original expectations.

In a post-pandemic business environment, it’s this kind of practicality and creativity that are going to be more important than ever – which brings me to three points I’d like to make about process reform. They are simple, but they are important.

1 – The need for speed

It’s never been more important to act fast. In normal circumstances, the broad consequences of each new action would be factored into the decision – but our collective current circumstances are by no means normal.

What’s important is to empower teams to make urgent decisions, and to bypass anything that gets in their way. Action is more important than perfection.

2 – Choose to reinvent

The carpenter in our story could have made a better raft – but by building a bridge instead, he created something that was easier for the specifier, and that was also available for other users.

Why simply streamline a failing process, if you have the option not only to reinvent it, but to reduce friction in the business at the same time?

3 – Focus on what’s critical

If you’re going to move fast (Point 1) and reinvent processes (Point 2), you can’t possibly hope to be able to address everything. Instead, you’ll have to concentrate your efforts on the processes that matter most.

That’s why this third point is the standard 80/20 principle – focusing on what will deliver proportionally the greatest impact. This includes identifying best practices and sharing them more widely: for instance, examining particularly successful vendor partnerships, and seeing what principles can be derived from them that can either be used to enhance them, or that can be applied elsewhere.

The Frictionless Enterprise

Implicit in all these points is the need for clarity, utility, and flexibility of thinking – all of which are fundamental to what at Capgemini we call the Frictionless Enterprise.

The aim of the Frictionless Enterprise is to enable a smooth and seamless flow of information and collaboration between employees, their departments, and those with whom they work. It also encompasses their relationship with suppliers, partners, and obviously customers.

What it doesn’t mean is the arbitrary application of technology, rules, or processes. Instead, it entails whole new, digital ways of thinking and working, combined with the capacity to adapt constantly to new contexts – which is why it can never be a one-time fix.

Organizations can address individual pain-points for the best and fastest return, and they can transform them individually, rather than simply improve them. But none of this means these things have to happen in isolation. They can still form part of a larger plan.

For the carpenter, the larger plan was to build a bridge. For us at Capgemini, it’s the goal of the Frictionless Enterprise.

To learn more about how Capgemini’s Digital Global Enterprise Model (D-GEM) platform can transform your business operations to create leaner, more efficient ways of working and frictionless business outcomes, contact:

Priya Ganesh  has worked for Capgemini for the last 12 years, first as a Solutions Architect and now as a Senior Director leading the solutions and transformation practice across APAC. She enables clients in their transformation journey, leveraging Capgemini’s critical assets and collaboration across our Group.