Inspiring change

Inspiring change

Understanding Life Cycles is Naturally Sustainable

Photo by SunsoakedCreative, Newquay, Cornwall March 2014 View image

Life cycles are real things. All living things have them. We are born, we live and we die. It is strange then that in the world of Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) projects, people rarely mention the actual life cycle of the products or of everything else connected to the products.

Life cycles in life and Product Lifecycle Management Projects

Early in my career I remember chatting to people about how frustrating certain business decisions were and the response from the more experienced around me was, “Things go around in cycles, roughly 10 year cycles, get your head around that and it will make more sense”. They were right; of course you have to get older to realise they were right, creating a cycle in its own right!

Life cycles are everywhere; we are fundamentally linked to them by nature. Our own life has to be the biggest. Then there’s plants, animals... I remember doing the life cycle of frogs and butterflies at school and the art world helps us visualise them in lots of different ways, for example, a life cycle in a box by Damien Hirst, A Thousand Years.

When I work with companies on Project Lifecycle Management projects (PLM), I rarely hear people talk about life cycles, never mind analyse them or use them as a benchmark for what happens today and why change is necessary. I wonder if things would make more sense and if we would feel closer to the decision to change if we did.

Let’s have a think about business life cycles, off the top of my head 5 come to mind, the life cycle of the:

  1. Business itself
  2. Products & services
  3. Careers of the employees
  4. Customers & consumers
  5. Economic environment

PLM is all about joining the dots, being more transparent and more collaborative but sometimes I feel that the reality of making those things happen is daunting

Just taking the most basic life cycle; Introduction – Growth – Maturity – Decline, if a business plotted where it was on that curve for all 5 of those categories the results would be very interesting and enable everyone to understand where that business is and why change is being focused on certain areas. It would also serve as a reality check to ensure that change is being focused on the right areas at the right time.

PLM is all about joining the dots, being more transparent and more collaborative but sometimes I feel that the reality of making those things happen is daunting and the focus turns very quickly to data, IT and business processes. 

There is always the business goal of more, better, faster, defined in some way but I think we miss the fundamental connection to where each part of the business is in its life cycle and how change will impact that or not. 

If you are there, stuck in the detail or fearful that the PLM project might not deliver to expectations, take a step back and look at those 5 life cycles, where your change should be focused will probably jump off the page, then hopefully you won’t have to wait another 10 years for it to come round again.

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