How can business prototyping help you turn change into an opportunity for progress?
When it comes to designing and implementing changes to an enterprise, you quickly realize it is too expensive and dangerous to experiment with reality – not many companies can afford to fail when starting new business models, entering new markets or changing their IT infrastructure.
We always ensure the following three steps are performed during business transformation:
- The first step explorers the current situation and builds shared understanding about where the enterprise could be in the future.
- The second step designs the details of what the future enterprise should look like.
- The third steps realizes this design and implements the necessary changes.
When it comes to planning a transformation project it is tempting to perform these steps sequentially, as illustrated in the following diagram:
But our experience shows that it is risky to perform these steps in such a linear manner, because many questions arise during laters steps that require the skills and expertise of those people involved during early steps. Especially during the third step this may lead to new learnings that force you to re-implement processes and structures that have already been changed – this is not only very frustrating, but can also lead to missed deadlines and budget overruns.
It therefore makes sense to perform these steps in an iterative manner, ensuring that the transformation process loops back on itself. This may sound obvious to you, (and it is if you are the only person involved in the transformation process, because this is how individuals solve problems), but it isn’t at all obvious if you are working in a (potentially very large) transformation team. In fact, this simple change to the transformation approach leads to a radically different plan of the transformation project, because the interactions between the individual activities become more frequent, involve more people and therefore have to be planned and coordinated better.
Performing the transformation process in an iterative manner not only requires more elaborate planning and coordination, it also puts high demands on communication, because the process leads to frequent interactions between many people with different backgrounds. An approach is needed that ensures that all stakeholders have a shared understanding of the situation and can communicate efficiently and effectively.
And this is where business prototypes enter the stage.
Business prototypes provide a laboratory for business transformation
Business prototypes help you to effectively capture your knowledge and understanding about your enterprise, your value network and the markets you operate in. A business prototype is a concrete and explicit representation of (a part of) your enterprise as seen by those people who wish to use the prototype to understand, to transform and to control that part of reality. Depending on the situation, business prototypes can be simple sketches created on a white-board or more elaborate visual models and simulations created using a computer.
Prototypes provide an inexpensive, risk-free environment and allow you to perform controlled, repeatable experiments to deal with uncertainty and risk and explore the consequences of decisions and actions that are too expensive, dangerous or unethical to take into the real world.
Prototyping is thus an essential step in the transformation process, because it ensures that knowledge and ideas generated in the others steps are connected to each other:
- Prototyping supports exploration of the current situation of a business, because it allows you to capture the business vocabulary.
- Prototyping supports the design of new ways of doing business and organizing, because you can quickly implement new ideas and evaluate their potential to help reach your goals.
- Prototyping supports the realization of these designs and policies, because it provides a basis for creating a detailed blueprint of the future organization.
|<< Why change is inevitable, but progress is not||The Business Prototyping Manifesto||The benefits of business prototyping >>|