Handholding is unarguably the most practical and result-oriented transformative process that delivers high performance for businesses and by extension governments. It is an assured process for resurrecting, even morbid entrepreneurial operations. However, because its implementation requires rigour and discipline, it is rarely deployed or used as it should be.
The handholding process comprises a full-featured five-step systematic implementation approach. In chronological order, the steps include diagnalytics, ideation, accreditation, financing, and drive. Diagnalytics is a custom compound word made up of diagnosis and analytics. In simple terms, it means the deployment of analytical processes in diagnosing a target business’s current conditions. As it is often said, it is best to proceed from the known to the unknown. And for most visioning and strategy development processes, the starting points are usually a detailed grasp of “where we are”. It is also the norm in every research-based investigation to understand the background problems rigorously and sufficiently. Adequate information about a target business’s current conditions, and the difficulties requiring solutions, the solution development process begins through effective ideation. There is an interrogation of the sources of the identified problems; the degrees of entrenchment of these recognized problem sources and how they interact. The brainstorming processes trigger questions that lead to other questions and even more questions until clarifying all relevant details around the problems. The flip side of it is the development of solutions. Implementers test each set of solutions on their merits and against attendant resources required to deliver sustainable results. The ideation process’s output is usually a set of workable solutions and the costs of providing them. These optimal and cost-efficient solution set are tested over a brief period with some minimal budget [usually about 20% of what is required to deliver them fully].
This phase is the accreditation period because if the solutions pass further evaluation tests, they are accredited and deployed. The deployment of the certified solution is its full financing. The accrediting of solutions derived through the ideation process signals minimal risks associated with its total funding. It implies that regardless of the mode of funding [debt or equity or its combination] risks of default or fund attrition will not apply. Fund deployment follows the scale and timing determined at the ideation phase. Deviation from the specified fund size and timing violates the handholding process, which is sometimes punishable with the entire process’s withdrawal. It usually defines these at the beginning of the engagement and rarely happens. The last phase of the handholding process is the performance management of the implementation process. As is expected, one of the key deliverables of the ideation phase is the definition of the key performance indicators of each of the prescribed tasks. At the drive phase, program managers determine their execution’s adequacy in line with their performance indicators.
Given its nature and dynamism, the handholding process stands out as a critical tool and system for orchestrating sustained entrepreneurial prosperity. If combined with the Igbo apprenticeship system and applied at a country level, it possesses tremendous potential for unparalleled economic growth and well-being. Its combination, therefore, creates a tremendously positive symbiosis that continuously leaves prosperity in its trail. Asking why diagnalytics is critical for business survival and entrepreneurial prosperity is like finding out why medical doctors need to examine a patient before applying therapeutics to them. A patient’s medical examination reveals the nature of the ailment and sometimes how deeply it has eaten into the life of the patient. It also indicates if the condition has unique characteristics and patterns that differentiate it from other such health threats. Diagnosis is by every facet of it, the heart of medicine. A poorly diagnosed medical problem will always result in wrong and dangerous treatments. Several analysts have claimed that more than 80% of hospital patients die due to inappropriate therapies rather than the medical conditions that brought them to the hospital in the first place. Similarly, diagnalytics facilitates a comprehensive understanding of the conditions in nature of the challenges faced by business organizations and government systems that submit to its application. Doing so creates the right environment for the most appropriate set of solutions that eliminates the problem.
Apart from apparent reluctance to implement the correct set of initiatives, Africa’s core problem is the design and execution of solutions and initiatives that deviate from the carefully identified set of problems. Often, there is insufficient identification of the issues, while the solution set does not have strong linkages with the problems they supposedly address. The correctness of a solution most times depends on how they are in sync with the political leadership’s selfish goals. Consequently, the satisfying condition for the acceptance and implementation of any solution is how well it assuages the program managers’ pockets and selfish purposes and not necessarily how the answer is the best suited to deal with the problems at hand. Anyway, any business or government desirous of attaining remarkable success most consistently exist in the “now” of where they are. This requirement demands knowledge based on distinct strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Appreciating the magnitudes and the evolving patterns in each of these performance parameters are critical for attaining success. Stretched and granular analysis of each of them is synonymous with doctor’s evaluation of the patient.
The best solutions are always those standing on a sound understanding of the underlying problems and situations. That is why the ideation process is structured so that it digs deep into the hard-core of problems. Its primary investigation tool is continuous questioning [i.e., questions built on more questions] to unravel the pillars upon which the problem stands or gain strength. The beauty of this process is that one person does not deliver it. Persons with a diverse understanding of the nature of the problem or subject matter come together to interrogate it. It is moderated by a guide who does not stifle the free flow of question-led brainstorming process. Thus, participants both question and provide possible answers at the same time. Suggested solutions go through further interrogation the test their adequacy. At the end of the rigorous process not only is the problem better understood, but the most feasible set of solutions are also advanced either for further interrogation or for adoption. It is often rewarding and satisfying to know that the answer followed a systematic and rigorous investigation process. Such solutions do not terminate with their design and must include a comprehensive determination of the different sets of advanced solutions’ cost implications. Chosen set of solutions must also be cost-efficient relative to other suggested strategic pathways. Additionally, it is most appropriate to clearly outline the required steps for effectively implementing the chosen solutions. Combining the cost-efficient solution and its detailed implementation pathway defines the adequacy of ideation outcomes’ feasibility condition.
The rigour of the business ideation process gives real meaning to diagnalytics. It is not just enough to formulate solutions based on understanding the country or company’s current situation. The solution discovery process matters a great deal as it determines the chosen problem-solving strategy’s quality and adequacy. That is the beauty of the ideation process. The brainstorming session ensures substantial and comprehensive coverage of all factors in the solution determination framework. Ultimately ideation generates the best set of solutions that are not only feasible but most efficient. Executing both the diagnalytics and the ideation processes correctly is key to achieving maximum performance transformation success. Doing it right sets a solid foundation for strategy accreditation, full program financing and a performance drive. Fundamental errors in those first two phases will result in wrong therapies as the diagnosis, and the curative therapeutics will also be wrong. Such faulty foundations lead to apparent failures in performance enhancement programs.
There is no gainsaying stating that about 93% of businesses fail because of the wrong articulation of strategies. These statistics include those organizations that have enlisted the services of the “so-called” strategy consultants. The failure sneaks into the strategy development process through wrong problem identification and weak solution design process. Ultimately, design solutions miss the target sources of the problem. The result is the disposition of resources on the wrong set of problems. Another usually missed point is the integration of the future into the design process. Strategies make little sense if they are designed based on the realities of today alone. Knowledge of the past and the current situation is only useful because they help in orchestrating sustained high profitable performance over long future periods. Scenario evaluations, therefore, become incredibly relevant as part of the diagnalytics and ideation processes in the overall strategy and transformation process design.
In summary, regardless of whether the performance revamps process targets a business or government organization, the methodical handholding process will undoubtedly deliver the good. This excellent performance optimization is particularly proper with meticulous and rigorous execution of the process. The implication is that the right foundations are in place. Thorough implementation of the diagnalytics process delivers the necessary step in the foundation building process. By effectively identifying the problems, opportunities, and threats of a system, it is easier to initiate the innovation-making and problem-solving strategic pathway through the ideation process. But both approaches are not as easy to conduct as many briefcase-carrying strategy consultants make them seem. The eventual tragedies that follow are that firms and governments sink loads of money and end up receiving truckloads of PowerPoint documents, seemingly showing the way to the desired transformation. The truth is that most failures occur at the diagnalytics and ideation phases of the transformation process. Worse still, many fail to focus the entire strategy design process unsuccessfully anticipating and solving unforeseen problems.