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Meme #14

Pattern breaking pattern matching

What does it mean?

Pattern Breaking Pattern Matching (PBPM) is a method we use to enable ‘structured creativity’, inventive problem solving and strategy definition. We often see companies try to tackle problems with a preconceived idea of what the issues are and what the solution might be. To overcome this, we use a PBPM approach to help clients move away from or “break” the “everybody knows” patterns when identifying issues and solutions, and then, look for inspirations from external patterns (e.g. adjacent industries, emerging digital companies) and “match” them to the problem we are looking at. This helps avoid being constrained by what has worked before and can aid progress by looking at what could work better, leveraging new and innovative solutions. PBPM is inspired by TRIZ and add another dimension around the “Breaking” part, specifically to help challenge the assumption on what we think the problem is itself before getting into “Matching”.

Why do we believe it's important?

When confronted with a challenge (e.g. a new competitor entering the market), companies often struggle to look beyond what has worked well in the past to address it. They typically get stuck in their old way of thinking or they try to look to copy their competitor, which can make them incapable of finding an effective and innovative way forward to face emerging threats.

Too often, we hear staff members say they “know their industry too well” to be able to detach themselves from the business and adopt a creative mindset. When following pre-conceived ideas of the issues and solutions, companies actually run the risk of making large investments in solutions that will not address the real problem, and therefore not deliver any value.

How do we put it into practice?

A previous engagement with a global education company provides a good example of how we typically apply the PBPM methodology. We helped the organisation identify an innovative way forward to communicate with customers during service issues, which was leading to revenue loss and increased cost to serve. We focused first on the customer Job to Be Done to understand how best to communicate in the customer context, and then combine an innovative technology approach (using open source) to create “in front of product” customer experience with a new to company customer-centric operating model. This enabled us to understand the real customer pain points (i.e. “break patterns”) and identify an innovative way forward via over the top in-product communications and a new customer service capability (i.e. “match patterns”).

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