There are no “soft” professions like design and OD. Here’s Why.

By John Dillard


When introducing Microslices to executives, I find that individuals in the creative services and organizational development industries are often most skeptical. This, despite overwhelming evidence that data science applies to even the most creative disciplines, and admonitions from leaders like Verne Harnish that “all companies are software companies.” If you are such a firm, or buy services from such a firm, ignore this trend at your peril.

Therefore, I think it’s worth noting a company that has successfully introduced Microslices to both fields. Meet

Four years ago, Sally Hogshead, founder of How To Fascinate, had a very clear offering, productive team, and solid clients. How To Fascinate has always been in the business of “helping organizations and the people within them uncover their most valuable traits,” but at that time, Sally and her team delivered one-of-a-kind results to clients on foam boards, without the use of technology. Initially, How To Fascinate was somewhat resistant to high tech because it didn’t provide the same “artisanal” feel that was typical for great creative professional services firms.

The downside, of course, was that this approach prevented Sally from bringing her team’s brilliance to a larger audience. In this case, “larger audience” meant more than just a few additional clients each year; it meant hundreds of thousands of people all over the world.

The solution was clear: Sally decided to change courses and implement an accelerated and automated delivery of the firm’s ideas. To implement this strategy, the firm narrowed its scope and focused on building the extraordinary, then replicating and automating only those items. In the course of a single day, How To Fascinate was suddenly able to reach thousands of individuals. After the firm’s first marketing push, this shift translated into $100,000 a day.

This isn’t some high tech application of IBM Watson or Google TensorFlow. This is right here right now: a professional services firm providing soft knowledge work, and disrupting itself by embracing data science and automation.  Sally Hogshead’s success is the tip of the iceberg. Once large data sets are accumulated on her clients, the possibility for real-time customization, and human-like advice giving, is very real.

Sally’s success exhibits Microslices in every way. She specialized her core professional services, automated the delivery of those services to clients, andcompressed timeline for delivery. Her experience also exemplified the Microslices relationship between technology, data science, and people. Microslices does not imply the end of humans in the workplace, it simply allows machines to do what machines do best and leaves humanity to the humans.

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