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Series2. How to implement influence strategy with Business Prototyping?

In the previous blog ‘Business prototyping, the vehicle to bring people into action’, I explained that companies often come to failure due to their reality-free planning; Planner often neglects the willingness of organization to execute. How to deal with this? The 3 classes of problems – design, execution, ability – should be hammered down at the same time in a very transparent way.  How to tackle them all at a time? You need to create Viable Change Environment where vocal diverse stakeholders can self-coordinate themselves. Then, how to create Viable Change Environment? I brought up ‘Influence Strategy based on 6 main sources of influence.’ As one of the effective & successful tool, I proposed business prototyping. Today, I will explain how to implement it from my experience in Value Prototyping, SAP.

For the background, please see the blog ‘Business prototyping, the vehicle to bring people into action’:

1.      Everyone did an excellent job. But, we are stuck!

The IT department from one of my customers – multi-billion $ revenue, mill industry – was struggling with creeping TCO and complaints from business units. It has used decades old hardcore bespoke systems. They had no packaged solution, of course, no SAP there. Again, they have a clear gap of knowledge base from SAP world. When I got a request from the customer, SAP had already been engaged with them for the past 2 years. This also means that this is not just a matter of design or solution capability but something more. 

2.      Hey, I have been putting on weight in the past 20 years. Don’t expect me to wear a skinny jean tomorrow.   

The matured market and horrifying economic uncertainty squeezed their margin down. The company changed their strategic focus from volume business toward high profit and price-inelastic products; high class & high technology material. They were in the volume business in the past decades and everyone fearlessly fought for the victory of cost advantage. IT department continued to develop bespoke systems to resolve specific requirements from cost-sensitive individual worksite. This behavior became tradition, forming silo culture in the past decades. What’s worse, business process also grew uncontrolled from the legacy system; limitation of IT system triggered to create walk-around business processes without questioning its legitimacy.

Market and management wanted change and fast adaptation. Business users complained that IT department couldn’t provide the systems they wanted. It often ended up with lots of patch work, delivery delay, loss of business value, user confusion, and high maintenance cost. 

3.      It’s all IT departments’ fault.  Hmmm… Is it?

It looks like all IT departments’ fault. Well,…  Last time, when I came back from hiking, I found rash in the right hand. It was so itchy that I didn’t feel any other pain. I thought I had touched a poisonous tree or something-like, and told myself “I should have not joined the hiking. “ When I went to see a doctor, he told me that I ate something wrong. … …  …  Symptom was on my skin but the root cause was my stomach. And Clearly, I didn’t eat any tree!!

In fact, IT department tried quite hard to address these issues by creating rationalized standard process and replacing legacy to packaged solutions across diverse business units. But it wasn’t that easy. Most critical from my point of view is that their culture doesn’t allow just top-down decision and each empowered business unit have to say “Yes”. They said their business was so unique that it was impossible to standardize processes across the company. It made every cross-divisional initiative really difficult.

4.      Setting up Change Environment by piggybacking Business Prototyping

SAP account team together with Value Prototyping team proposed a prototyping project. Customer IT team is excited at the fact that they could see their future system with their data. But we also strongly requested to invite business people from different divisions in the project, especially OPINION LEADERS.  This was actually good chance for the customer IT team because prototyping was a really good EXECUSE to ask extremely busy opinion leaders for 2~3 full day’s workshop.  How to identify opinion leaders? Surprisingly, it’s the easiest thing in this work. Ask a key customer contact, they already know who needs to be there.  Regarding the definition of opinion leaders, please refer to the last blog. 

Sponsorship is a good expression of importance, appealing to the participant’s heart. Whenever we cross the border of silo organizations, it helps a lot especially with getting the right people on the bus.  Try to get C-level from business, corporate group, or problem-owning division than CIO. Office of CIO is a service seller whereas offices of CFO, CMO, etc., are buyers. Now you know who needs to be awaked.  We had sponsorship from both CFO and CIO though they didn’t show up in the kick-off session.  

Now we made two of the blocks in the influence strategy matrix.


As an additional tip, once you get the right people on the bus, then have to make a strategy, how to handle them in the workshop.

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You can analyze audience by certain aspects and make a stakeholder plan by them. We also planned it together with the account team right before that workshop.


5.      Envision workshop to educate, to bring people into agreement

We had right audience, 2~4 people from each business unit and also right experts – solution expert, business consultant, moderator / facilitator, industry expert (IBU), Account Executive, etc – from SAP side. The role of experts from our side was 1st capturing the agreed requirements and more importantly, scaffold the customer discussions to the right direction. Now we also made another block of the influence strategy matrix.


The workshop kicked off. Each sessions were designed and executed by our envision methodology; a structured approach to educate and bring people into agreement.

In fact, I always prepare for a problem-solving mental model – I call meta-model – before a workshop. I won’t go too much detail but I’d like to show you what concept & theory I use. Long story short, the most perfect organization is obviously a human creature. We can borrow control mechanism from humans to design business architecture—see the picture below.  The understanding of this dynamics helps to rationalize processes that come across multiple business units.


As you can see the pyramid below, I ran the workshop by following the holistic & iterative approach.


You can imagine that each iteration is one dashboard (brown paper) on the wall. And we built it together with the vocal diverse opinion leaders. We started from people & organization; slicing & dicing their business model. At this step, I could map their product / material structure, customer structure & relevant market strategy, partner type & strategy, internal organizations, relationships (flow of money, flow of material or product, flow of core information), KPIs, pain points, business values… even potential root cause candidates. 3 years back, I developed eco-system map (method) to dynamically capture all of these in the workshop. I’ll skip this part since it would be too much for this blog.

You have people from different background. How to engage them? That’s all about story!

Afterwards, we drilled down from scenario, to business process, to information flow (event trace).


 The picture above is not relevant to this project. It was mapped in the training course.

SAP has an ARIS modeling tool, and there are also so many tools out in the market. But tool is just a tool. You have to properly select the right one to meet your goal. Vocal diverse individuals have their own version of reality, own version of business understanding. If you bring up function-process modeling and document details piece by piece, business users will be lost. Don’t forget we do modeling together with all the key stakeholders, not just one trained professional modeler. Our methodology is story-based dynamic modeling. It provides a panorama view of story from different perspectives; Sr. management, business users, and IT.

In the 3 days workshop, the audience educated each other by bringing up different opinions, agreed on the design by perspectives. Important here is ‘iteration’. Even though you agree on information flow view, you can always go back to business process and change it if you think it’s not realistic. Reality can be validated from every level.

In summary, I believe you remember “we have to attack right brains”. Right brain owns holistic, visual, and emotional capability. The above pyramid provided holistic view, workshop creates the environment of human interaction (emotion), and plus the dashboard provides visualization. In our methodology, we call 3P approach (people, problem, and picture). You may also remember “brainwash stakeholders.” Feedbacks in the short interval with high intensity are the key to maximize educational effect. The above pyramid shows you iterations from different perspectives in the 2~3 full days workshop (intensity, short interval, and dynamic feedbacks in multiple different layers).


During the workshop, some audience expressed uneasiness and even denied process changes. But, “Oops. Sorry, too late.” We were already on a same boat 100 miles far from the land. He couldn’t just jump out of the boat and his peers naturally didn’t allow it. The result? We made one standard process and high-level solution design for the 1st time they agreed.

Now we partially implemented the other four of the blocks in the influence strategy matrix here.


6.      We are done with only the 1st step. But, this is as important as the 1st step of a baby.

As we all know, organizational transformation is not one-off activity. However, this is certainly a great start.  At the end of workshop, key opinion leaders will accept, let’s say, 70% of changes but is non-committal for the rest 30% until they see something really visible; prototype system. I will explain about the fast iterative prototyping and the magic number 2 weeks in the next blog.

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