The value of digital twin models in non-business cases

I have extolled the power of digital-twin business models for business challenges and strategies.

But, their utility extends far beyond the corporate world. So let me shed light on how digital twin models can play a pivotal role in non-business settings, from public services to charitable organizations, and a myriad of non-profit agencies.

A Journey Beyond Business

My career has focused on tackling business challenges, but I’ve also had the privilege of helping a diverse array of non-profit endeavours; from focused charities like the Motor Neurone Disease Association to health services, to International Aid Agencies, They can even help where several agencies are collaborating to make some part of our world just a bit better.

I’ve seen the transformative power of applying strategy dynamics principles and dynamic business models to non-business challenges – much more robust plans and the means to manage and adapt their implementation.

Now I hear that the Millennium Institute has also been using our AgilSD approach to building visual, quantified models for their work. The Institute is dedicated to helping countries and international agencies plan and manage their efforts towards achieving the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

As Matteo Pedercini, VP and COO at the Millennium Institute says “AgileSD aligns very well with our approach at MI, where we need to move rapidly to quantitative simulation and avoid confusing our partners with too many types of diagrams. Very useful!”

Why AgileSD works for non-business cases

What makes AgileSD so adaptable and generic is its focus on starting with the desired outcome and working backward through the causal structure required to achieve those outcomes. The only distinction from non-business cases is that the outcome of interest is not so much about financial results as it is about the development of social benefits such as boosting female education, or the mitigation of harm, such as Amnesty International‘s efforts to protect people from oppression.

Surprisingly, when crafting digital twin models for non-business cases, we find strikingly similar elements and structures to those found in business architectures.

Instead of customers, there is some population of beneficiaries whose needs drive the demand for the support the organisation provides.

There is a range of services and activities that collectively constitute the benefits offered, akin to the product range a business offers.

The organisation – or network of agencies – employs the various types of staff needed to make the entire system work and deliver those benefits to those beneficiaries.

Then, there’s a need to build capacity to deliver this support effectively – sometimes physical or IT capacity; sometimes in the form of staff.

Lastly, though these organizations may not pursue financial profit, they must be viable, making financial resources and cash flow relevant in these settings too..

How to do it

Since non-profit systems feature the same underlying principles as business systems – even many of the same elements and structures – we can do exactly the same in these settings that we do in business cases.

Build out the digital twin model, taking care to match its structure and performance at each step to what we observe in real world. (DO NOT map out what you think the system structure may be and then go hunting data and validation afterwards)

Use that model to plan and test the strategy for the organization..

Then use that same model continually to implement and adapt that plan.

There is a short FREE online course explaining how to do this, using a case example in community policing, at Then, there’s the full course on business modeling – just start from a non-financial objective and look for ‘beneficiaries’ of the system instead of ‘customers’.

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