Models improve culture?

Smart folk can crack complex challenges if working in a supportive culture, but dynamic models may help with that.

A contact in New Zealand recently highlighted a case where an IT group in a big mess cracked the quite complex challenges they faced with my friend’s help in building a culturally supportive team environment, so maybe they didn’t need the kind of quant-modeling that SD can offer.

But … I recently had a high-tech start-up case where sales/service/tech-development were at each others’ throats about where effort and spend should be focused. We laid out how product development had been giving access to new potential customer groups, how sales efforts were winning adoption of those potential customers, and how service efforts were getting the product installed with customers to generate revenue and profits.

The process took about 2 hours with the white-board diagrams populated with best-guess information from the small group in the room. At no time did conflict surface and the group left with a strategy they subsequently worked up over a couple of months into a working model for their business, to be used as a continuing management dash board to assess options and steer the strategy.

What seems to have happened is that the picture of how the real ‘stuff’ of the business worked (customers, products, installations, sales …) with the numbers on how those factors and the system as a whole was changing became the focus of everyone’s attention, rather than the fact-free recriminations that had previously occurred. They still have their inter-personal issues, but seem to have got to a place where the shared understanding of how the business works and what the numbers are doing pushes those tensions into the background and allows reasonable decisions to be agreed.

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