A multinational US based automaker was considering altering the company’s strategy and business model in the face of changing realities. A resilience and innovation gap can grow into an existential risk. Statistics show that companies are six times more likely to go bankrupt today than 40 years ago.
Today, the car ownership model is gradually being replaced by a model where a vehicle is a service. In view of this, the automotive company declared itself not a manufacturer any more, but a mobility company.
Going through extensive changes, the company wanted to become more resilient and innovative, and therefore, reduce risks and increase income. They believed that the core factors in achieving these goals are professionals and their effective cooperation. The company began looking for ways to facilitate effective networking to ensure the seamless flow of ideas and collective participation in thinking and decision-making processes. As a testbed group, the company’s analytics team was chosen. It incorporated analysts and data scientists on a wide range of applications from company infrastructure to smart mobility solutions.
The company’s social specialists used the Adaptive Cycle Theory to explain that there are four phases any company goes through again and again regarding its strategy in different spheres. They used the term “adaptive resilience” to explain that professionals’ networks inside the company should be flexible and adaptive. The social specialists claimed that teams should also have different but complementary workstyles.
The Adaptive Cycle: corresponding professional workstyles and network types in the company (click to enlarge)
To build such resilient and diverse teams, the company followed the concept of mirroring. Like sport teams who use video recordings to view their own games, members of the testbed group needed an equivalent business process simulation tool to help reflect their performance from the perspective of communication and collaboration.
First, social specialists responsible for the project gathered data about employees’ networks and their features. With the help of questionnaires, specialists learned how people were connected regarding innovative ideas, expertise, and projects. The second information resource was employees’ mailbox data showing people’s interactions. Then the network analysis tools were applied to analyze the existing relationships between the employees.
The simulation was developed in AnyLogic, which provided the opportunity of multimethod business process simulation. The developers used agent-based modeling to replicate the employees’ network and system dynamic modeling to imitate the adaptive cycle. As a result, the simulation reflected possible networks and collaboration in each phase of the adaptive cycle. AnyLogic business process modeling software also provided the possibility to incorporate Python codes right into the model for in-simulation network analysis.
The business process simulation model can be exported and delivered as a standalone application, where the employee can enter the network ID and then get access to the simulation with interactive and user-friendly AnyLogic interface. With the business process simulation model, employees can:
- See their network statistics and compare it with their peers and persons of higher positions. They can get insights into their network connectivity and their position in this network, and then compare their own metrics with the highest and the lowest performances.
- Learn the robustness of their network to understand how resilient their network is and if it can adapt to different phases of adaptation cycle.
- Do what-if analysis. The employees can run various scenarios including or excluding people from their network and see how it will influence the network and the users’ position in it. This way they can learn the role of other people in their networks and find the best network solutions.
Employees are not the only ones who can use the business process simulation tool. It also enables social specialists to:
- Experiment with the networks in a safe digital environment to understand how to build resilient teams.
- Verify ideas about the adaptive diversity and resilience concepts.
- Better understand employees’ preferences, strengths, and weaknesses regarding collaboration and teamwork in different adaptive cycle phases.
With the help of AnyLogic business process simulation software, the company’s social specialists responsible for increasing the company’s innovation and resilience level got some significant results:
- The model enabled them to validate the adaptive diversity and adaptive resilience concepts they use when building teams for various challenges.
- It gave social specialists deeper insights on how to put teams together for better adaptive capacity.
- It helped social specialists segment employees into different groups according to their workstyles and collaboration preferences and find some tendencies in this regard. It would help the specialists build effective and resilient teams for particular projects.
Regarding employees from the testbed group, it was argued that the best way to improve their performance was to let them develop innovations on their own, offering the right environment. With the business process analysis tool, the company gave their employees the opportunity to analyze their network, their position in it, run digital experiments, and make their own decisions about possible changes.
In order to find the most effective way of mirroring for employees, the company tried different visual learning approaches. All of them provided employees with information about their networks, but only business process simulation gave them the opportunity for experiments. Simulation proved to be the most effective tool so far. After getting access to simulation, the employees changed their collaboration behavior significantly, which has increased the effectiveness and robustness of the networks.
The business process simulation proved to be a powerful tool for both social specialists and employees themselves concerning improving professionals’ collaboration. There are plans to expand the project from the testbed group to the whole company. Thus, the business process simulation model, where the core elements are employees and their interactions, could be an effective tool for business companies to improve their performance.