With “Explosion and Simplification” to the digital information supply chain

Axel Helbig

What do Leonardo da Vinci and the Exploded View model from foryouandyourcustomers have in common? Both use the advantages and strengths of visualization to describe, concretize and explain interrelationships and functionalities of objects in a simple and easily understandable way. In companies, the exploded view lays the foundation for better collaboration, planning and development - in today's world also for a successful digital information supply chain.

Leonardo da Vinci, painter, sculptor, architect, anatomist, mechanic, engineer and natural philosopher - it was undoubtedly one of the most famous polymaths of our time who invented technical or anatomical drawing some 500 years ago, visualizing and documenting the human body or one of its many inventions through his drawings. Exploded View Model uses the same method, but not to represent a physical object, but an abstract object, an organization comprehensively as a model; it offers the user insight and overview as well as the necessary tools for a contemporary work.

Example of a Conceptual Exploded View in this case the creation of a training platform for a company

The perspectives of the Exploded View

A company is a highly complicated organism consisting of numerous interconnected elements that must work together for the entire system to function smoothly - analogous to the human body, a building or a machine.

The Exploded View divides an organization into six layers or six maps for orientation and navigation. The most basic is the Data Layer, the top layer is the Customer Layer. Along these layers, the relevant elements and their interdependencies can be identified and visualized, affecting all types of business realities: From projects to programs, from use cases to workflows, innovation, business strategies and breakthrough decisions. This conceptual visualization of the enterprise not only gives users of the model an not only an overview, but also provides them with a common language and a better understanding of the ideas, concepts and inner workings of each organization.

In order to understand how these work, what may be not work, how weaknesses at the individual levels can be identified, errors corrected and new challenges addressed and mastered, the first step should be to describe the current realities at the corporate levels and to understand them by all the people involved: What is the reality today in our organization and at the individual levels and their interaction?

This is done in an AS-IS model. It is the starting point, point A, the status quo within an organization, from which one can move to point B, to the TO-BE model - from how are we positioned today, to what do we need to be even better positioned in the future. The basis for being able to implement appropriate projects that bring about the necessary change and development of our company towards the future, a common understanding within the company of where we want to move towards is essential. Only then can the company's reality be sustainably influenced, changed and further developed.

How can a company address real challenges in a thoughtful way?

When designing the AS-IS model, you start at the top level of the Exploded View and identify the customer at the Customer Layer. Who is the company selling to? Who does it want to target? What do the target audiences look like and what are their expectations when these customers interact with the company? The channels through which a company communicates with its customers are on the underlying layer, called the Experience Layer. Channels that the organization uses to inform, communicate with, market to, sell to, and serve its external audiences. Typically, organizations have more than 80 or 100 channels that they use consciously or unconsciously. Some channels were created a long time ago, some are quite new and partly still unknown in the company.

The exploded view model from foryouandyourcustomers

These channels need to be well thought out, they need content, they need to be designed and maintained, and they need people who feel responsible for them and fill them. These people in their roles, in their teams within a particular organizational structure are identified on the organization layer. Now that it is clear who in the organization is responsible for the customer experience, the elements that support those people in their work need to be defined. These elements reside on the Performance Layer. The Performance Layer contains all the tasks, all the processes, all the tools needed to accomplish the work. And, of course, it would make sense for people with similar tasks to use the same process, the same tool, or the same steps.

Now that we know how employees in the company design customer experiences, we need the appropriate tools that enable them to do so in the first place. These tools can be systems, they can be machines to produce a product, or they can be the infrastructure needed to do the work. We identify and describe all these elements on the asset layer. The foundation and base on which the company stands is the Data Layer. The layer that contains all the necessary information, based on the workflows and processes defined by the people within the organization to communicate and sell the products and services through the channels that ultimately create the customer experience.

How can an organization create value-based models?

The TO-BE model is, as already mentioned, the reference point, the orientation in which direction the company should develop. Along this goal we start to derive and define the relevant and necessary measures, projects and changes over time towards this defined and aspired reality at the different levels.

In order to work out and visualize the inner workings of the company in ever greater detail, step by step, and to initiate corresponding projects on the basis of these findings, various modeling tools are used. These modeling tools are simple tools that companies are already using to create a better understanding and a more accurate picture of the business reality. For example, the organization's system landscape or process maps, use case diagrams, market segmentations or an information model of foryouandyourcustomers. These tools help to get as close as possible to the reality of a company at the various levels and to initiate the necessary change processes.

The Exploded View enables a new quality of understanding and collaboration within an organization. More and more companies are using this methodology for faster understanding and better results. In the end, however, the Exploded View is a model. It is not reality and, conversely, reality is not the model. What we can do with it is describe reality as accurately as possible and of course there will always be some residual ambiguity. We will never be able to represent all of reality with a model, but what we can do is improve that reality. We can create a better understanding between colleagues, between teams, even between different business units and beyond. And we can use it to develop and shape a desirable reality that lies in the future.

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