Strategic Program Key Points – Our Guide to a Successful 3D Data Transition
Rhiannon, Jennifer, and Duane sat down to talk about the evolution of the Action Engineering 3D Transformation Roadmap, how it came to be, and what we’ve learned along the way.
Rhiannon: Jennifer, how did we get to this roadmap?
Jennifer: As we’ve worked with companies over the last 14 years, there were planning cycles about how to plan this work, and we would plan the work, and then we would do some work, and then we would plan the work, and do some work, and plan the work, and do some work, and so on. We have had the opportunity to go back and take a look at all those efforts and understand what worked and didn’t work. The roadmap is the result of that analysis, a sequence of strategic steps that can make the process go faster, and with more clarity.
Rhiannon: Duane, how do you think the Agile mindset figures into the efficiency of the transition?
Duane: I think Agile is a mindset you want when you’re implementing MBD because there’s no set formula that works for everybody, so you have to iterate, you have to try things and see how they work in your environment. And sometimes it means you don’t get it right the first time and you must iterate. You might get close, but to get what you want might take two or three iterations.
Agile is a mindset you want when you’re implementing MBD because there’s no set formula that works for everybody.
Rhiannon: I think understanding your environment happens in the early stages of the roadmap, so at the later stages when you’re doing pilots and adoption, you understand your people and their challenges already.
Duane: The other thing that learning Agile does when you’re doing team formation, it starts to get you thinking about the democratization of information, because when you start connecting all of this information together, more and more people can have input and influence on what the end product is, and with that Agile mindset, you’re more prepared to crowdsource and hear what other people are saying.
Jennifer: I always hear from leaders that they want everybody to ask for it rather than them pushing it down. And I don’t think you get there until you start building that iterative approach. It’s two sides: a grassroots effort and a top-down initiative in this iterative soup, making all the people uncomfortable but with huge potential.
Jennifer: Rhiannon, what do we do about all these uncomfortable people?
Rhiannon: Well, first we need to accept all the different people that are going to be uncomfortable in different ways. Early in the roadmap, we do stakeholder identification and introduce clients to our persona universe, so we can talk about the range of comfort and values and motivations to consider. We also need to think about the roles people have in their transition initiative. Often the people that come to us initially aren’t necessarily the people who are in leadership, but rather the people who think that this is a really cool idea.
We need to accept all the different people that are going to be uncomfortable in different ways.
On the roadmap, we start with getting executive buy-in. In most of these organizations, you need some top-down buy-in, or you’re not going to have the psychological safety it takes to work with an Agile mindset, iterating and making mistakes. You need leaders who are committed to setting a different tone. We talk about Clarke’s four levels of psychological safety: inclusion, learning, contributing and challenging. You can’t innovate until you get all the way up to challenger safety and that’s an uncomfortable idea in many organizations. They want the innovation to happen, but they don’t recognize how their culture is preventing it. The Agile iterative approach is a great way to say, “Yep, we’re learning. Yep, we’re making mistakes. Yep, it’s all good.” You can’t get to the “Wow, how can we be really different than the status quo” stage until you’ve created safety around that learning and iterating stage for the people who will be impacted. This is part of the reason we front-load the roadmap with so much of the OCM and neuroscience, so much people stuff, because too often clients want to start at GO and instantly start innovating, right, Jennifer?
Jennifer: Yeah, always.
Rhiannon: But it’s sort of like showing up at the track without any pit crew or training or…
Rhiannon: Yeah, and expecting it all go fine. “I have the body of the car and I have the equipment; I don’t have a pit crew or tires. And I’m going to Daytona. What could go wrong?
Duane: Or they have never worked with the pit crew before, and that can be almost as tough as not having a pit crew. Many of our clients are used to a siloed hierarchical process, and with anything model-based, you’re moving information around, and you must trust that information. You can develop trust in a tool over time, and you can develop trust in the processes over time, but you also need to develop trust in the people too, and that is something that hierarchical organizations really struggle with. It’s a part of their structure to not iterate and give time for a team to really come together. With Agile iteration, people aren’t as afraid to fail. The fear is understandable, failure is a non-starter in many organizations. If you’d fail, you’re branded for a very long time, your budget gets pulled, and you don’t have the people that you need on your team anymore.
Rhiannon: What we’re saying is that the roadmap is more than a roadmap. A Daytona map would be pretty boring anyway, you’re never going to win a race if all you have is a map of an oval. It’s a plan that includes identifying the pit crew, organizing the spare parts, planning the race strategy, finding your lead team members, and finding your sponsors.
Jennifer: All the things.