CULTIVATING A MULTIFACETED APPROACH TO PROBLEM-SOLVING - In conversation with Yvonne Hyland
When it comes to problem-solving, it is always a great strength to see the forest for the trees. The ability to break down complex business problems requires the ability to see the big picture, more than having a narrow specialization. When one possesses a growth mindset and seeks continual learning this enhances ones ability to quickly synthesize and distill the situation, which serves to enable problem-solving.
We are in conversation with Yvonne Hyland. Yvonne has been working as an entrepreneur and intrapreneur for over 30 years, adopting a multifaceted approach. Having a comprehensive background in entrepreneurship, technology, and manufacturing, Yvonne speaks about how her experiences in each area enables her to quickly comprehend the big-picture and define and execute solutions that drive business success and growth.
You are internationally experienced and are at the unique intersection of business, entrepreneurship, technology, and manufacturing. You have had experience with all the aforementioned. Tell us how these various backgrounds add to what you bring to the table and how you approach multifaceted situations.
“My extensive experience in manufacturing, business entrepreneurship, and technology has shaped my perspective and sharpened my skillset when it comes to problem-solving. Through a manufacturing lens, I have learned to solve problems by looking at the stage-by-stage processes, measuring the outcome versus plan, and how to best reconcile the two.
“The manufacturing approach I adopted is to be process-oriented and structured. There is a series of steps that you have to go through when you manufacture a product. You start with raw materials or components and end with a finished product. Key points in the process should be thoroughly vetted with an emphasis on meeting an agreed level of quality since the later you figure out you have a problem, the more costly it is to fix it.
“As an entrepreneur, the perspective I have adopted is being consciously opportunistic. I’m always looking for an innovative approach and utilizing fast yet calculated risk-taking. Being an entrepreneur, you are constantly creating and building relationships with your employees, clients and partners in the ecosystem. The ability to motivate is a significant component of an entrepreneur’s success. You will need to motivate your potential clients, employees and partners as you persevere through obstacles and hurdles to see your vision through.
“From my experience working in the technology field, I have developed a perspective on utilizing technology to benefit the business. It isn’t necessarily about understanding how the technology works but it is essential to understand what it can do. The emphasis is on understanding the technology potential and how it can benefit and enable you and your vision.
“I’m very pragmatic in the way I approach things. It is relatively easy to see the problem. The question then turns into how to best adapt to the situation by understanding the context, seeing the potential solution options, and making the optimum choice. Context is crucial since the solution to the problem will vary depending on each situation’s risks and stakeholders. Part of my career was launching and transforming businesses in the heyday of consulting. At that time it was as much about fulfilling demand as it was about selling services, solutions, or products. To do that sustainably, you had to be focused and do it well. A lot of the risks were centered around not over-promising and under-delivering. During that phase of my entrepreneurial career, it was about speed, but not at the expense of quality. How do you do that? By finding innovative and imaginative ways to upskill people quickly to create intellectual properties that could automate things. Alternatively, during an economic downturn, it can be necessary to make significant pivots to focus on cost optimization, demand generation and measured profitable growth.
“When I was employed at a large corporation, one of the products I launched was essentially a package of productized services and data. The challenge I encountered was that the corporate culture impeded our speed in bringing products to market. We could have sold and delivered much more and more quickly, but the organization was too big with many corporate inhibitors. One of the main challenges in intrapreneurship is getting the larger corporation to be as quick as the new venture. It was a matter of the corporation organizing itself to be efficient and speedy in its operations to match our speed, or to carve out the new product group as a separate business with its own set of processes and metrics, a type of “skunk works plus some corporate foundational support” approach.
“As a consultant, one of the big business transformation projects that I led focused on trying to help companies simplify their products so they could produce them more cost effectively and deliver them quicker. For example, I worked for a large technolgy company where they had around 4,000 options on one particular computer they were selling. Whereas in reality the products sold had the same couple hundred options each time, and they rarely sold the rest. An extensive rationalization minimized the number of options. The impact was the ability to deliver quicker with greater margins. That’s how you should approach packaging, productizing, and selling these products.”
All of the above experience provides me with the ability to break down complex business problems and quickly synthesize and distill these to others to drive effective resolution.
Thank you, Yvonne, for your insightful outlook.