In part 1 of this blog, I suggested that the traditional approach of identifying and prioritizing business transformation initiatives is dated, lacks critical elements for success, and stifles creative solutions. Part II of this blog (below) introduces an alternative approach and structure to consider for enabling business transformation.
One solution to mitigate concerns, diminish risk, and unleash a permanent culture of continual improvement and efficiency is to incorporate a scientific approach in the organizational structure. The core of this approach is to establish a parallel group in the live business environment that mirrors the entire business process. By creating such a group there is a real opportunity for risk controlled experimentation and observation. This approach is commonly used by the scientific community to test alternate solutions to problems. The modified organization thus becomes a place where ideas are cultivated, tested and measured in a precise and methodical manner thereby maximizing positive impact and minimizing risks. Hard data and analysis produces real facts and a basis for further transformative ideas.
An example highlighting the benefits of a dedicated simulation environment is apparent in the 1995 movie, Apollo 13. In one scene; Astronaut Ken Mattingly (played by Gary Sinise), who had been grounded because of exposure to German measles, spent hours in the full scale Apollo simulator optimizing the procedure to power up the command module using the battery power from the Lunar Module - Aquarius. After an explosion in the command module, the lunar module’s batteries were needed to provide critical power for the command module to return to earth. Using a dedicated lab and a simulation approach, Mattingly working with the NASA engineers to develop the perfect sequence of events to power up the command module without using more power than was available. After hours of trial and error and testing, Mattingly created a workflow that remained within the available power limits and eventually returned the Apollo 13 crewmembers to Earth. Had this simulator not been available, the outcome of that now famous Apollo mission in 1970 may well have been tragic.
This example demonstrates just how critically important a parallel testing environment can be. Similarly, business undertaking significant transformation initiatives should take advantage of what a dedicated scientific simulation environment can offer. Benefits include the ability to:
- Repeat business test scenarios at will
- Measure +/- impacts across the entire business ecosystem
- Stop processes as needed to evaluate progress
- Implement rapid changes and retest quickly
- Discovery of additional improvement opportunities.
When implemented, an effective simulation laboratory represents a microcosm of the larger business operations and can be used as a proving ground for validating change. In turn this enables business to operate as efficiently as possible and eliminates unintended consequences that can often occur. It is worth noting that this type of environment requires significant resources and therefore is best suited to large-scale/complex transformation initiatives where the cost/benefit makes sense.
In conclusion, establishing a permanent business transformation group operating in a parallel production environment offers key benefits which are not found in the conventional approach used currently by many companies. Among these benefits are the ability to mitigate rollout risk by providing a safe and secure way to experiment with the combination of new process workflows and system developments. Also, the ability to test software and measure change in a production “sandbox” environment, without any risk to the actual business process, provides a comforting level of risk mitigation which is not possible in a traditional approach. The quality and the utility of system enhancements to the business groups is enhanced with this approach. Another critical benefit of this structure is the impact of the efficiencies gained from ideas that would not be pursued in a conventional structure due to concerns about adverse impacts to the production processing. Finally, encouraging employees to solve problems in new, creative, and perhaps unorthodox ways may be the best reason to implement this scientific laboratory structure to achieve real breakthroughs as you pursue business transformation initiatives.