Create Sharper Organizations with BOLT
BOLT is a new communication style and a set of guidelines that can be used to create Smart Organizations.
BOLT can help your organization become smarter by changing the way you communicate about Context, Resources and Outcomes.
at a lot of big companies, process becomes a substitute for thinking
You can download a free copy of our book on BOLT on iTunes:
BOLT is not a process, a canvas. It complements any strategic framework or process you currently use (Design Thinking, Lean Startup,…). BOLT is just a different way to gather, communicate and reason about information.
BOLT’s communication style requires to be specific as to whether we are talking about a State, a Thing, an Action, or a Relationship (STAR). Sounds easy? It’s easy, but somewhat unnatural because human languages are not equipped to make these distinctions clear. Just take “Communicate” which could be a verb, a state “Communicated” or a Thing “Communication”. Can you really use them interchangeably?
To help with that process, we created a simple, very simple visual language, based on seven symbols:
BOLT is not just a communication style that enables you to communicate more effectively, it also enables to formulate insights and generate ideas.
Let’s take Amazon as an example. Here is a company that took the oldest, most boring ecosystem on the planet, an ecosystem where things hadn’t changed much in 500 years, and created from it the most advanced commerce engine in the world.
Venkat Rao studied Amazon’s Strategy and published his findings in this Forbes article. We have translated the article (by identifying states, things, actions and relationships) in a couple of BOLT diagrams:
What we can see is that Amazon has been innovating by simply adding new states and actions in their business model lifecycle diagram and a few roles in their business context diagrams. Here lies the power of BOLT, it can help you visualize the strategy of an organization, your organization, effortlessly.
When we look at the Ecosystem diagram which represents the customer journey in the entire ecosystem (Amazon, partners and competitors), we can see that Amazon’s customer journey is very simple: customers get informed on the Amazon Web Site, then they purchase, the goods get delivered. This diagram enables us to identify the three types of innovation identified by Clay Christensen: Disruptive, Sustaining, Efficiency.
A disruptive innovation is always pulling customers away from the lifecycle (either preventing them to enter your lifecycle or driving them out of it). If we look at the customer journey of an Amazon customer, they’ll get informed on Amazon, and often go to a store to check the product they would like to purchase. Because of the prices, Amazon often sees the customer coming back to purchase the goods. Most recently Walmart, Target, … have reached a level where they can do price matching with Amazon. What do you think a customer would do if the price was the same?
A sustaining innovation provides some level of improvement in the service or product your organization provides. Retailers like Apple or BestBuy have been very successful at providing additional “outcomes” for the customer, where a customer can get educated about products or get their products serviced, in the store with an unmatched SLA.
An efficiency innovation is about improving the operations of your business model. One of the difficult aspects of online commerce is the reverse logistics process (returns). Companies are starting to involve their logistics partners to give a superior customer experience: the customer can “try” the goods as the driver waits and return them if needed. The returns happen on the spot at a lower cost for everyone (the partner doesn’t have to drive back for a pick-up), and a superior user experience.
Create an Open Information Flow
BOLT diagrams capture knowledge effectively, with a high degree of precision and clarity. This creates and encourages a true open information flow, where bias, social pressures or polarization are minimized and the volume of information can be kept manageable.
Align People’s Insight
When people communicate they most often use Actions (verbs) and Things (nouns). BOLT makes it easier to communicate about States and Relationships, which connect the Actions and Things of a system or an idea. This is why people’s insight can aligned more effectively with BOLT.
Foster a Problem Solving Culture
BOLT offers a unique point of view when it comes to identifying problems and solving them. Every problem can be reframed as a missing action between two states and they can be connected (as a graph) to other problem statements.
BOLT’s structure is directly derived from System Thinking and allows to access both the static and dynamic views of the system(s) in which your business model operates. BOLT was invented when exploring the claim languages of patents (Systems and Methods).
Develop anOutside-in Perspective
BOLT enables you to connect precisely the context of your business model to its components. Threats and opportunities appear clearly on your radar and you can prepare more effectively to what’s to come.
Hear EveryoneRally around the best Answer
All concepts in BOLT are strictly additive, this means that everyone’s idea can be positioned on a BOLT diagram. Once everyone has been heard it’s a lot easier to build consensus around the best idea possible and prioritize others for a later phase.
BOLT is so effective at formulating and executing business strategies that it allows a “continuous strategy” process where threats and opportunities can be evaluated in real-time. Our Quick Start Strategy Program can put you on track to become the best strategic player in your markets by:
- harnessing partners and competitors to create unfair advantages
- visualizing your strategic trajectory in the 3 year and 10 year horizon
Our teams of consultants can help you take control of your strategy.
BOLT can help you identify, assess and develop innovations. In BOLT terms, innovations are simply solutions to a problem. BOLT unmatched capacity to identify problems can help position innovations as part of the customer journey. BOLT is well suited to deliver disruptive, sustaining and Efficiency innovations (per Clay Christensen’s Innovation Model).
BOLT is also commonly used to carry out complex analyses that involve cross-functional teams. After a short training (about one hours), we have seen people speaking BOLT fluently and teams unlock their full potential in a few days, sometimes after months of frustrating meetings. Our consultants can facilitate your meetings and help you gain insights beyond what most people would think possible.
We specialize in implementing Dr. John Kotter’s “Eight Step Process For Leading Change“. We use BOLT to enhance the communication and cooperation of all parties involved, for instance to frame the sense of urgency or form a strategic vision.