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Network Systems Business Unit - Q2 2019


“Sense Constrained”

You have many ideas about what could be done. But you lack the ability to differentiate and focus on the most impactful ideas for yourselves and your customers.


As a result you likely…

•Focus on using political approaches to decide how to determine the value of ideas and act on them

•Struggle to do much beyond responding to existing market trends, because innovative ideas or approaches that fall outside of established patterns aren’t trusted

•Have people that are more invested in tradition and politics, for career safety, than they are invested in customer success

Based on your survey responses, your organization or line of business’s impulse is to use politics and authority as a proxy for satisfying the customer. This creates a tension between technology and business functions, as they try to define their own ‘internal’ value over and above the customer’s value.

Learning More About my Diagnosis


Your company or line of business has been diagnosed as Sense Constrained, which means you likely suffer from an unhealthy desire to establish success through politics and traditional thinking. This is at the expense of sensing most if not all opportunity that is outside of established company norms of success. 

This is typically a result of either understanding but lacking the vision and skills to stay ahead of the market or not understanding the trajectory of the market and customer needs. Either way there is likely a culture of over valuing long term market success, which blinds key decision makers and influencers to the immanent threat of disruption and competitor advances.

As a result leadership and their people value an alignment to each other and the market based on conformity. Organizational disruption likely occurs frequently based on political decisions, that are not based in establishing and testing hypothesis with customers or employees. In short, the whole organization has a tendency to live off of past glories and turn a blind eye to present conditions --- both in the market and internally.

This often manifests as a drive to manage cost in order to drive and preserve margin. Meaning you begin to mistake yourselves as the market, and you do the utmost to preserve rather than grow. This self-improvement is at the expense of market and customer awareness and ultimately your ability to stay viable in the industry as a whole.

Your Answers: Summary

1. We create, test and validate hypotheses to make business strategy and investment decisions, because we know market success requires challenging our assumptions: Somewhat agree – We do this often enough to fuel some successful business decisions.

2. We are heavily invested in iterating on external market plays and internal improvements, because we are more about maximizing external customer opportunities than getting things checked off a list: Somewhat agree – We do this often enough and make meaningful adjustments to satisfy customers.

3. Our function’s authority, talents and interests are wholly invested in building competitive advantages for our external customers, and as a result we have given up functionally insular self-preservation tactics for open and transparent collaboration: Somewhat disagree – We may cede the authority of our functional area when the pressure is extreme.

4. We relentlessly gather external customer and market data before and after the launch of a product or service and use it to validate the initial idea and/or further investment, while also using it as a source for generating new ideas: 100% agree –  This entire statement reflects our work activities.

5. People are willing to put themselves and their ideas second when someone of equal or lower position within the organization has a better idea, and quickly find ways to support it for the growth and improvement of the organization: Somewhat disagree – We do this sometimes but do not actively encourage the behavior or take timely action.

6. It’s typical that both leadership and the product development team, i.e. everyone who has a hand in strategy and product development, has meaningful ‘idea shaping’ experience with the target external customer(s) and not just the solution: Somewhat agree – We get both business and technology leadership, as well as select individuals, engaged to test and verify ideas with customers so we invest our time and focus wisely.

Key Weaknesses – By Survey Question Answered:

Question #3: This means that a Customer-Empathetic Organization is less important than a Self-Actualizing Organization. The symptoms are:

  • When we discuss addressing vital customer or market challenges we typically avoid debates and arguments about what is best for the customer, and do not put aside our own internal bias.  

  • It’s not typical that a product or service development team, i.e. everyone who has a hand in developing a product or service, has meaningful ongoing experience with the customer and not just the solution.

  • We do not believe and live as if our growth, as individuals and teams, is dependent on freeing customer’s from the problems.  

Question #5: This means that  Calibrated Business Capabilities is less important than Integrated Business Functions. The symptoms are:

  • You are far more interested in preserving our business function’s authority than you are in creating aligned and well balanced business capabilities.

  • When you realign across business functions you do not enable better calibrated business capabilities, because you do not drive and measure the customer outcomes.   

  • A vast majority of people are not personally invested in the design of your organization, for the growth of customer minded collaboration and calibration, and are unwilling to personally lead change from their seat when the time comes.


All of the challenges captured within this Built to Compete Quadrant™ report can be turned around with greater alignment, but they are the types of issues which are going to lead to further degeneration if not addressed. The typical result of this degeneration is the risk of falling out of rhythm with the customer and market.

This can come in the form of external disruption or a self-inflicted internal disruption, if the state of the company or line of business’s response capability regresses. In most cases this ultimately impacts a company’s sense capability, as it becomes a greater struggle to stay ahead or catch up to existing / rising competition.

With our consultation, your organization can implement a strategy to become pivot-enabled and, therefore, adhere to the tenets of the Agile Business Manifesto.

Please contact me directly to answer your questions.

Contact Bill Walton, Principal  C: 917.439.3271  E:

Contact Bill Walton, Principal

C: 917.439.3271