Thursday, 11 December 2008

Based on the article 'African investment could be hit'
Interestingly, whilst drawing this model, the use of Southbeach clarified several points that were not explicitly stated in the article.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Window pane diagrams

Southbeach contains a Grid tool. Grids are used to 'separate' elements of a model in various 'dimensions' of separation. In this example, a 3x3 grid is used to represent the past, present and future (time epoch) resources associated with the sponsorship of a project, the customer and the team delivering the project (system structure).

The template comes from page 530, Systematic Innovation for Business and Management, Darrell Mann, 2004.

Elements inherit attributes off the grid - from the cell in which they are placed. The modeling software allows grids of rows only (pools), columns only (swimlanes) or window pane diagrams as in this example.

Each dimension is called a 'separation'. Separations can be typed: for example in space, time, by structure, by perspective, around system aspects, by role, on probability and on conditions.

Modeling trends

Southbeach can be used to model trends. Here, two well known examples of observed trends in commerce are illustrated. A potential hybrid trend, I refer to as 'amenity' is shown as the convergence of maturity on two existing trend lines.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Earth 3.0 - Scientific American

This model celebrates the launch of Earth 3.0, a new high quality publication from Scientific American. ( The model describes what is said in the editor's letter.

Note the use of a separation by Time to describe the three epochs described in the SciAm article. Focus (yellow), Goal (block green) and Risk (block red) have also been used to good effect. Note the use of an 'insufficient counteraction' (dotted crossed line) to denote that early argiculture produced only local impacts, not global harm. Note the use of the 'overloaded' (doubled line) effect to show the industrial consumption. Note the use of 'oppose' (double headed jagged effect) between the concerns about the environment, and the necessary third world development. Note also the use of 'required' (solid circle at source end of effect lines) to signify the necessary actions to bring about the potential (dotted line box) for economic and environmental progress.

Being more productive with Southbeach

This Southbeach model shows the potential harmful consequences of an unstructured approach combined with a lack of discipline and planning. It's a common picture. Let's break it down: Many people feel forced into this situation by the amount of work they receive and the amount of support from others they don't receive. This increasing work leads to increasing urgency which leads ultimately to dropping the ball (or less and less sleep, stress, less collaborative; more insular behaviour)... It has the further consequences that there is no time for planning, and no time for prioritising activities, leading to a reactive behaviour that becomes more random with time.

The Southbeach approach can be used to re-establish the discipline necessary to deal with complex situations and high workloads. It is a structured approach that enables you to break your problems down into manageable chunks that can be shared with others. Structuring thought, planning, design, work, and collaboration in this way can create more reuse in everything you do and can reduce the workload for others, giving them more time to help reduce the workload for you.

Another benefit of this collaborative approach is the wealth of experience and different ideas and approaches that can be brought to bear. More information, with more techniques for combining it enables better decision making to enable you and others to focus on what is important to get results and achieve your goals.

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Managing Enabling Technology

This Southbeach model shows an impact analysis for using Technology in business. Reading from bottom left (Technology) to top right (Increasing Profit), we can see a chain of useful and harmful effects as the intended results of automation and combining information in new ways to create new capabilities and business oportunities have their shadow harmful consequences of loss of control, information overload, and increasing cost and complexity resulting in risk of technology outages.

There is a significant management overhead for all enabling technologies. Additional risk management erodes away profits still further, whilst the use of technologies like Business Intelligence to find correlations in market indicators through data mining and provision of multi-level active drill-down reports for management to make sense of the increasing information overload permits evidence based decision making at the highest level in the organisation.

New business opportunities are identified and this often results in yet more technology to overcome the limitations of previous IT systems, and restore control to the business so that opportunities can be properly exploited.

This represents an interlocking of two evolutionary systems in an organisation; the business, and the Information Technology. They enable each other. The boundaries become blurred with time, and the politics of deciding which side of the fence to pitch your tent increase as the cycle of improvement on one side amplifies the other, and technology and business change fall out of sync resulting in solutions that were intended for one purpose being used for another, or investment being targetted at exploitation of existing technology beyond its capacity to support the growth in demand from the business.

Managing enabling technology requires a thorough understanding of both the business and the Technology, and a foot in both camps. In today's world, neither can exist without the other; Building value with business-led inovation requires a supporting culture in the people and a collaboration rooted in relationships built on trust.

Building Value with Business led Innovation

In his article Would you kiss this Pig? on his blog, Innovating to Win, James Todhunter describes a situation that is all too common in Industry. This relates directly back to my example from October on Holistic Problem Solving, describing a more evidence-based approach to strategic planning rather than focussing on short-term tactics that end up wasting company resources and people's time by investing in projects that are ultimately doomed to failure, or worse, result in missing the real opportunity that is just around the corner. In holistic problem solving, I presented the risk that if those diverted by such misguided short-termism represent a stronger force than those seeking to understand the bigger picture and obtain alignment to move forward from a sound strategic basis, then a downward spiral will result.

This Southbeach model explores the same problem from another angle; how to apply the process of innovation to building value in organisations. We see from this diagram how the perspective of innovation as "building new stuff" from a technology perspective often leads to failure to deliver the desired impact whilst understanding the business opportunity leads to building new stuff with a pre-destined purpose (as opposed to a theoretical purpose).

Clearly Technology led Innovation is an enabler for Business Innovation, and certainly for tecnology companies it is often directly applicable to building value, creating differentiators, and growing their market share. For non-technology businesses, however, Technology is almost always no more than an enabler, a means to an end, some say a necessary evil. For sure there are plenty of harmful side effects of technology; the cost, the complexity, the dependency, but it is predominantly useful as it allows us to make massive leaps in our capability through automation and combining information in new ways that can lead us to identify and exploit the new business opportunities in our markets. Managing enabling technology effectively is key.

Marketing applied to ill-conceived concepts that result in poor value propositions do not get very far, and to reuse again the colourful metaphor on which James based his article, this is no better than putting lipstick on a pig... no one is going to buy it, and if they do, they may soon regret it, as may you.

Focussing on understanding the business opportunity, or business need, to determine where to invest in enabling technology results in "the right new stuff"; stuff that has an application, and if communicated effectively by marketing, will sell, and grow your market share, and create success for your organisation and its customers.

The same concept of perspectives is used in this Southbeach model as in the one on Holistic Problem solving; there are two behaviours in the world, and they often coexist in the same organisation - these behaviours are in oppostion to each other. Those that look for ways of spending their budget on innovation or new things are putting the cart before the horse, jumping the gun, doing things the wrong way around, and they will create an increasing cost base that has no corresponding ROI; they will effectively be counteracting the work done by those that are spending the time understanding the business need to determine where to invest their budget in creating new value. Laying these two behaviours side by side like this demonstrates how they are working against each other throughout their evolution.

Companies often combine techniques of pay for performance to influence the individuals towards behaviour that is better for the business (rather than the individual), however, the annual reward cycles for individuals, and reporting cycles for companies encourages short-termism. A more effective way to create behaviour that builds long term value is to build culture; see my previous post on Drucker's Spirit of an Organisation.

Friday, 21 November 2008

Assessing Conflicting Design Requirements (Car Example)

This Southbeach Model shows one of the key principles from TRIZ, namely that everything is both useful and harmful, and its just a matter of perspective as to whether something is considered to be predomantly useful or harmful.

Consider the Car, useful, as it provides Travel; however, it consumes fuel and creates pollution, which counteracts the Environment. People still drive cars despite this, hence the car is considered predominantly useful despite its harmful side effects. Furthermore, "The need for speed", or the need to accelerate to higher speeds more quickly, results in many cars also having turbo chargers. These typically are designed to improve performance and this is often at the cost of creating even more pollution.

Southbeach can be used to understand root causes and perform impact analysis. Also, it is useful for functional decomposition of systems. Consider the following extension to the above diagram:

Here we have extrapolated that pollution contributes to Global Warming, which in turn is actually destroying the Environment, and in a much stronger way than pollution alone. The model recognises that there are also other factors contributing to Global Warming, and that these may be worth exploring. What you explore depends on who you are and what you are trying to do. An environmentalist may explore this avenue. A car manufacturer may explore the pollution avenue in more detail. There are examples of car manufacturers who have taken that extra step and recognised that the car could potentially clean the environment - having an overall positive effect. There are actually cars that clean the air now.

This model additionally shows how further design considerations result in systems becoming more complex over time. Here the need to improve cost effectiveness and reduce pollution has resulted in this car being upgraded to include an economy mode (or "green" mode). This reduces the fuel consumption. However, for comfort this car has also been upgraded to include air conditioning to improve comfort, a desirable feature of the car. This counteracts the economy, hence increasing the fuel consumption and increasing the pollution.

The system is now considerably more complex, and as a consequence contains many more tensions as parts of the system are working in opposition to each other. This results in another iteration of the design process, where further parts are added to compensate for the conflicting effects of the existing parts. The result will be an even more complex system, but by design, this will reduce waste by resolving some of these technical contradictions between the components. There are other ways to improve systems, and some designers are exploring how instead of adding more and more parts (increasing the weight, incidentally, and thereby increasing fuel consumption further), they are looking for ways of improving component design and simplifying the overall design to increase the harmony of the system. This involves taking a holistic approach to the design goals. We will talk more about this in future.

A further elaboration of this model might observe that Car's only produce polution when they are travelling - and it is actually the act of consuming fuel that is the primary cause of that pollution. This model below shows the pollution being created by the act of fuel consumption, and breaks that pollution down into different types using the 'is-a' construct. This elaborated model also includes blue boxes indicating the actions that could be considered to improve the situation.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Getting to where you want to be with Southbeach

There are many applications of Southbeach. Here is one...

Southbeach is a way of thinking. If your current approach is insufficient to get you to where you want to be, perhaps because there are constraints that are keeping you where you are, perhaps because there are blockers in the way of moving forward, you can use Southbeach to remove or protect against the contraints, destroy or overcome the blockers, create enablers and find a path forward.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Climbing the Wall of Worry

"Wall of Worry" is a phrase used to describe a bullish market trend occurring in the face of negative uncertainties. Risks that have been realised in the market lead to investors thinking that things can only get better - it creates a buying opportunity that through prices rising leads to profit. However, once the risks are resolved, this destroys the wall of worry, causing prices to fall back to their natural level.

This tension between rising and falling prices is explored in more detail in the following model (click to enlarge).

The above Southbeach model shows the tension between rational and emotional behaviour in the investment markets along with their causes and effects. This is a complex situation involving multiple feedback loops that essentially creates a self sustaining system that oscillates between stability and instability as rationality and experience struggle to win out over greed, fear, and emotional behaviour.

Central to this model is a self-sustaining feedback loop of irrational investing resulting in volatility in the market that produces negative feedback causing further irrational, or short term, investing. In the centre of this triumvirate of effects is greed and fear, which perpetuate the situation by creating more emotional behaviour that creates even more volatility in the market, and destroying rational behaviour, which is insufficiently counteracting the negative feedback loop that is creating a "vortex of misery" in the market. This vortex of misery is characterised by the interplay between speculators that are in adulation at the profits they are making on their short sells and the rational investors with their more conventional practice of going long, who become excluded by those seeking to perpetuate the bubble. Eventually this vortex creates a tipping point (the point at which the bubble bursts). As this MarketWatch article explains, 'For those trying to take the pulse of the market, the size of the proverbial "wall of worry" can mean the difference between a correction and a change in trend'. As Charles Mackay, in his 'Memoirs of Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds' wrote almost 200 years ago, 'men go mad in crowds but come to their senses slowly, and one by one'; The change in trend is a tipping point in the market, which in this model creates a return to sanity that removes the speculators and emotional behaviour from the game, restoring rational behaviour and adding to experience that in turn hones instinct to return the market to a positive investing cycle based on an understanding of the emotional factors that led to the original volatility and downward spiral.

At the root of this repeating cycle in the market is a causal chain shown below. In this Southbeach model, the same chain of causes and effects is shown from two perspectives. In both cases, complacency leads to emotional distortion which leads to a market bubble that increases the emotional distortion further, increasing the size of the market bubble... and so on, until the tipping point is reached and the inevitable market collapse ensues. As the market is collapsing, this leads to realisations that further feed the collapse, finally once the market has returned to 'normal', complacency sets in once again and the cycle repeats. In the model on the left, the Speculators perspective, this market bubble is seen as a good thing as it creates an opportunity to create wealth through short selling, the market collapse being harmful to them both due to the stocks they purchased at inflated prices, and due to the lost ability to short-sell and make short term profits. The rational investor, on the other hand, has exactly the opposite perspective - the reality is the same; the causes and effects play out in exactly the same way, they simply see the bubble as harmful as it destabilises the market and the collapse as useful as it marks a return to normality.

This series of Southbeach models was created by Jason McIntosh, a sales trader at Nomura and Mark Burnett, a management consultant at BearingPoint.

Saturday, 8 November 2008

Drucker - Spirit of an Organisation

This Southbeach model shows a perspective of Peter F. Drucker; "the man who invented management". The column on the left represents qualities of the people in an organisation, and on the right, we have the activities of the organisation itself. These two systems are inextricably interlocked and require each other in order to succeed.

In Drucker's book, The Practice of Management, at the beginning of Chapter 13: The Spirit of an Organisation, he says:

"Two sayings sum up the 'spirit of an organisation'. One is the inscription on Andrew Carnegie's tombstone:

Here lies a man
who knew how to enlist in his service
better men than himself

The other is the slogan of the drive to find jobs for the physically handicapped:

It's the abilities,
not the disabilities,
that count.

Management by objectives tells a manager what they ought to do. The proper organisation of their job enables them to do it. But it is the spirit of an organisation that determines whether they will do it. It is the spirit that motivates, that calls upon a person's reserves of dedication and effort, that decides whether they will give their best or do just enough to get by."

Drucker believed that the key to excellence is focussing on people's strengths, and that recognising excellence, encouraging excellence, rewarding excellence, and providing full scope for individual excellence is what creates good spirit in individuals. Furthermore, it is this good spirit that provides the motivation that leads people to excel and do the best they can do rather than just enough to get by.

The excellence of the organisation then, is the result of making this excellence productive for others so that the overall strength of the organisation is amplified by the strengths of all the individuals within it, each of their weaknesses being counteracted by the strengths of those around them.

In the 1950s, Drucker was the first to say that people should be treated as assets, and not as liabilities to be eliminated, the first to argue that substance was more important than style and that good practice would always win out in the end over charismatic or cult leaders. Drucker originated the view of the corporation as a human community built on trust and respect for the worker and not just a profit-making machine.

Sustainable success for an organisation is a result of individual success at every level, and individual success is enabled and amplified by the organisation that focuses on its people and on building on their successes.

How can we create successful individuals?
How can an organisation make the most of its people assets?

Management must invest the effort in understanding what people have to offer in order that they can focus on their strengths to enable them to build on their abilities and create success. Building on people's abilities builds their spirit, as does individual success. This creates a company spirit that leads to the success of the organisation as a whole. Focusing on people's weaknesses on the other hand, and building on their disabilities, often results in failure and destroys the spirit of the individual. An organisation's spirit is a result of the spirit of its individuals. So take Peter Drucker's advice, and spend the time and effort to understand what people have to offer and build on their strengths.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

President Obama

This Southbeach model shows some of the situation surrounding the recent historic rise of Barack Obama to the Presidency of the United States of America. Obama is a Democrat, McCain a Republican. Democrats and Republicans are in opposition. So, naturally, are Obama and McCain. Their opposition is greatly intensified, however, by their deeply opposing approaches to achieving the massive change demanded of the situation in the US, and the rising concerns of the people. This election campaign started out with the idea that "it's about the war"; the five and a half year war in Iraq being a hotly debated topic around the world. After time, the idea changed; the credit crunch has had significant global impact. The war has also had significant economic impact in the US. Soon people were saying "it's about the economy".

Obama and McCain had deeply opposing approaches in both these areas, Obama being against the war in Iraq, and promising to shift the tax burden towards the wealthy. Whereas McCain supported the war in Iraq and pledged to maintain the tax cuts in place under Bush for those earning over $250,000.

As well as these core electoral themes, Obama was a Civil Liberty and Rights activist and litigator whereas McCain had expressed concerns regarding affirmative action. The respective goals of these two men, whilst not being clearly useful or harmful from any general perspective - and hence divided the nation to create one of the biggest races in history, were clearly in opposition, representing fundamentally different approaches to how to achieve the Massive Change demanded of the American people.

All these factors, along with the fact that Obama was the first black candidate for President of the United States, resulted in a record turnout with over 135 million voters, including many who had never voted before.

Whilst the full confluence of influencing factors that created this reality cannot be fully expressed, debate and postulation as to the reasons for the success of Obama have and will continue to rage. One piece of research showed that there was actually a correlation between the DOW index and the McCain poll. As the DOW rose, so too did the McCain poll. When it fell, so did McCain's popularity. This was brought to a very public and critical head for McCain when, on the same day as he claimed "the economy is strong", Lehman Brothers went bust, dealing a severe blow to his credibility.

Ironically, the stock market experienced its biggest election day rally in 24 years on expectation of an Obama victory as the Dow Jones industrial averages surged 300 points, or 3%, to close at 9,625.28 points. The US TV networks, just after 11.00pm (ET:4.00 GMT), declared that Obama had won. Obama was now President of the United States.

The result of the election is clear. Now we just have to wait for results from the policies.

Friday, 31 October 2008

Holistic Problem Solving

This Southbeach model illustrates the benefits of pro-active, holistic problem solving over the more reactive approach of working blind and responding to issues by just treating symptoms. Southbeach models naturally support the ideas of root cause analysis and impact analysis through their cause and effect notation, useful things being shown in green and harmful things being shown in red.

In this example, the harmful causal chains in the centre start with "working blind" which leads to missing the big picture and creating more work for others, as well as treating symptoms and creating more work for one's self. Both of these behaviours naturally result in making things worse.

These harmful behaviours are in opposition to the surrounding useful behaviours:

On the left we have understanding whos involved to understand others' views and create shared awareness to produce support for change; resulting in making things better. This aspect of problem solving involves stepping back from the problem and understanding the context and effects of a problem to enable more effective, complete, and widely acceptable solutions.

On the right, we have understanding the root cause to deal with the real issues, remove the actual problem, and create lasting change; resulting in making things better. This aspect of the problem solving involves stepping into the problem and understanding the source and reasons the problem came about to enable more effective, sustainable, solutions that avoid problems coming back again in different forms later on.

These two behaviours are in opposition to each other, as are their consequences - making things worse often results from short term thinking and superficial attempts at improvement. Making things better may take more effort and require more commitment, however, results in a more sustainable solution with longer term benefits.

Not that the above Southbeach model shows the useful behaviours around the outside counteracting the harmful behaviours in the middle. Over time, a shift in behaviour to the outside can dissolve the harmful behaviour and improve performance and achievement.

If this approach is not adopted however, and an organisation, society, culture, or other group continues to contain elements that behave in this harmful way, the good work done by those who are investing the extra effort to address the real issues will be undermined by those that are merely taking superficial action without considering the bigger picture.

This results in opposing behaviours that create a continuing spiral of issues, as shown below. The difference with this model is that the useful bahaviours on the outside are not actually counteracting the harmful behaviours in the centre. They are shown here merely as in opposition - i.e. this system is not improving because the harmful behaviours represent a force for negative change that is holding improvement at bay.

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs applied to business

According to Maslow's Hierarchy of needs, each need in the hierarchy (physiological, safety, love/belonging/social interaction, esteem, self actualisation) must be met before the needs in the layer above can truly be met. This is contested by some, sighting examples as the artist that will starve themselves through being absorbed by the need to express, create, self actualise; Parents that will sacrifice their health by giving their food to their children; A bear that will put herself in danger to protect her cubs, and so on. Nevertheless, the hierarchy has stood as a recognised basis from which to describe a theory of motivation. Exceptions permitting - good management and judgement must always override any rules or guidelines, the focus here when applying Maslow's hierarchy of needs to business is to ensure that people's needs are met in order to capitalise on Maslow's main proposition, namely, that once all other needs are met, these needs are no longer noticed, and the individual becomes self actualise - the only level in the hierarchy that creates growth and maximises potential.

This Southbeach model shows the motivational context that is often created in business to meet the needs identified by Maslow in the hierarchy.

Saturday, 25 October 2008

Risk of paying families to have girls

In a previous article, I described a situation in India where daughters are perceived as harmful due to the need to pay a dowry when daughters marry. This has led to abortion of female foetuses on a massive scale which, in turn, has led the governement to pay poor families to give birth to and bring up female children. Daughters are now perceived as useful as they bring income. This could have terrible consequences.

One way this attempt to right the situation could go horribly wrong has been described in this model by Anders Jangbrand:

If having a daughter leads to money from the government, plus a bonus when leaving school, this could in turn lead to an expectation of higher dowries. Furthermore, this could lead to use of girls for cheap child labour, re-enforcing still further the perception that girls are less valuable than boys.

Risk Management

This Southbeach model shows some general principles of risk management. In this example, Work is the focus and is done in order to achieve the Goal. Issues and Risks may counteract achievement of the goal. Some risks may turn into issues and require significantly more effort to resolve if they are not addressed early. Risk mitigation is a useful activity and counteracts the risks and also reduces the diversion of resources that results from dealing with issues.

The following Southbeach model provides a more detailed example of risk management in action with the addition of a grid to separate the agents in the model by timespan and aspect. This simplistic yet realistic model shows how Southbeach can be used to assess the potential impact of issues and risks and how to mitigate against them.

This example shows swim lanes running across the page separating different aspects of a project into meetings, activities, Issues & risks, and mitigations. The columns represent months in the project plan. The project status meeting in October identified the issue that there are "more problems with the solution than expected". This model was then created to perform an impact analysis and create a risk mitigation plan.

The focus of this model is "delivery of phase 1 of the solution". The goal is "sign-off for phase 2". The ultimate delivery of phase 2 and realisation of benefits, the ultimate goal, are counteracted by lack of adoption of the solution, which has various root causes such as lack of understanding and lack of awareness. These are counteracted by different parts of the change management plan.

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Goal Planning

This Southbeach template provides a structure for goal planning. This can be used for setting personal objectives, or planning company strategies.

The focus areas are the objectives themselves. However, these are arrived at by understanding the goal and what it means to have achieved that goal in terms of Key Result Areas

Here is an example of a partially filled in template:

Increasing revenue improves profit. Capability, new solution areas and building on success all increase revenue. However, insufficient skills counteracts capability; not knowing where to invest counteracts creation of new solution areas; no case studies makes it difficult to build on success. The root causes of new solution areas, too many options and failure to write up successes are counteracted by the useful enabling actions of recruitment, market research and enabling success.

In general:

Identify the Key Performance Indicators (what you will measure - your measures of success) for each Key Result Area. Set objectives designed to achieve these. Then assess the situation to determine your Critical Success Factors - the things that need to be in place in order for you to succeed at your objectives and achieve your Key Performance Indicators. Some of these CSFs may be missing, so identify the blockers and the root causes of those blockers so that you can create enablers to overcome them and pave the way to achieving your goals.

Sunday, 19 October 2008

Selective abortion by gender

Whilst there is a law against Dowries in India, the social convention and pressure on the Indian People to pay dowries for families wanting to find a good home for their daughters has led to families with sons becoming richer and families with daughters becoming poorer.

This, in turn, has led to technology such as ultrasound scanners for checking on the health of unborn children, to be abused. There is now a whole industry in India providing selective abortion by gender.

The population in India is being skewed towards males with only 37.1% of births being female in one district, Daman, as a result of an estimated 10 million female abortions overall since 1985.

This Southbeach model illustrates the situation described in the Washington Post in this article of 2006:

and further in the Guardian in 2008, reporting on the situation being so critical now that the Indian Government are offering to pay poor families to give birth to and bring up female children:

Pregnancy leads to a son or daughter. Sons provide for the family and look after their parents when they grow old, compensating for the lack of a social security program in India. Sons also receive a dowry when they marry, whereas families with daughters have to pay a dowry. This often results in poor families taking out loans which then take up to a year to repay. Some families with multiple daughters are effectively bankrupt by the marriage of their daughters.

The Indian Government passed a law against dowries some time ago. However, this is widely ignored due to the social convention and pressure to pay dowries by families wanting a good home for their daughters.

This situation has led to a low risk, high profile business for doctors, who make a lot of money out of combined ultrasound and abortion packages, with advertisements such as "Spend 600 Rupees now, save 50,000 Rupees later" creating a trend of Mass female foeticide.

The Indian Government is now attempting to correct this harmful trend by offering to pay families to give birth to and bring up female children. They are expecting to save 100,000 girls in the first year.

Whilst this reaction to the problem may result in fewer female abortions, it is creating a new market based on paying for life where poor families can now receive additional benefit from the government if they bring a female child into the world which they cannot support.

This is a problem that is spiralling out of control with increasingly impactful false solutions that threaten to destabilise the whole society.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Developing a Green Program, with integrity

In this model, I show how a company can develop a sustainable green agenda, with a high degree of integrity for the long term. Leadership is required for any green corporate program. It creates focal points for what matters to the company, such as energy, consumables, etc. Only by identifying these focal points can measures and targets be set for reducing the company's environmental footprint. By doing so, the real costs are revealed. Revealing these costs is necessary is the company is to identify the opportunities and challenges they can act on. It is these that will generate ideas for green action.

Each idea has both benefits and costs, and must be realized in a business case. The raw ideas must be developed into a case for action under the guidance of sponsors in the business. They must work according to sound principles such as end-to-end process design, cradle-to-cradle thinking (cycle of inputs and outputs via the environment). It is these developed ideas, based on sound business case, that can create the change projects that can demonstrate results. Only this will create learning in the organization about the value of green thinking and sustainable development.

As part of this process, the leadership team must challenge the staff themselves to take ownership and create ideas. But unless that loop is closed with the sponsors - the business owners who areable to take action to create change projects, staff ideas and desire for green action will go nowhere. The model therefore shows the complex structures required for a successful program. Now that money is tight again, due to the financial downturn, looking recession and pressures on costs, making the business case for green will be more, not less, important.

Documenting solutions - TRIZ

Here, Southbeach is used to visualise a solution, well known to TRIZ practitioners. The tension in a system, between the length and weight of a moving part, can be overcome using just four solutions. Here, we show them counteracting the oppose relationship between the two system attributes. (Also see, TRIZ Contradiction Matrix and TRIZ 40 Principles)

Mind maps

Soundbeach can be used for mind maps, but it is not a mind mapping tool. The default box sizes for agents can be adjusted to work for different styles of diagram. In this case, a simple map.

Why Process Now - Gartner

At BPM 2008, the European annual conference on Business Process Trends, editor Paul Harmon gave an excellent keynote speech in which he explained some of the reasons why companies were increasingly focussed on process improvement projects, many including workflow and process automation. While he was talking, I penned a series of models. In this one, I captured his speech as it related to a report by Gartner.

Friday, 10 October 2008

A global solution is needed - counteracting the Minsky Moment

The world's seven richest developed nations meet to discuss a global solution to a potential Minsky Moment. Model based on commentary by Robert Peston of the BBC.

Day of reckoning on Credit Default Swaps, 10th Oct 2008

According to Robert Peston, BBC, The underlying illness remains in the financial system, as manifested in the record amounts banks were charging each other yesterday for lending to each other for three months.

Saturday, 4 October 2008

World on the Edge, 4th Oct, 2008

Whatover happens in Congress, the crisis is now global; that means governments must work together. The Economist, 4th Oct, 2008, World on the Edge, Leaders

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Financial Stabalization Bill 2008

This model was developed by Howard Smith. It shows media reporting of the situation surrounding the rejection of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008. Key aspects of the model include:

Votes by both houses are required pass the bill. However, these votes depend on changes to the bill, proposed by both sides. These proposals however are in conflict. The proposals by Democrats, which they view as necessary to allow them to vote for the bill, unfortunately are disliked by Republicans, thus reducing the Republican vote. And vice versa. Thus, there is a tension between the proposals. This arises from politics - Main street back lash on the measures generated by the combination of the required draw down on tax revenues coupled to the real or perceived excesses of Wall Street, lead to calls to punish the greedy bankers.

Note how these factors conspire to degrade the vote, and this, delay the passing of the bill ... leading to political and financial uncertainty. This causes destruction of savings, pensions and investments.

Credit Crunch root causes in 2008

Model by Howard Smith. There are many theories about what caused the financial crisis of 2008. Here is one. Globalization and the connected world has led to intense competition and transparent markets, making it hard to make money via conventional means. Thus, esoteric business models and financial instruments are created. A focus on these, as well as service models and knowledge work far from the source of real value/work, lead to inflated virtual value bubbles. That's fine while confidence is high, but it hides systemic weaknesses in liquidity. But when the chips are down and a segment of the market collapses, the weakness of liquidity is clearly revealed, leading to a loss of confidence and a credit crunch.

The consequences could be a shift of economic power to those developing economies to whom real work has been "outsourced" by those companies in the developed economies that considered this step necessary in order to compete.

Subprime Crisis - grid example

Southbeach includes tools to draw grids, swimlanes and pools, so that it can be used for many common diagramming types. Here is an example of a grid used to illustrate the factors at play in the subprime financial crisis.

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Developing Raw Ideas

In this model, Anders Jangbrand of CSC, explains the conditions required for the successful elicitation of raw ideas, and their development into developed valuable ideas.

Friday, 30 May 2008

Europe fuel protests spread wider

Southbeach notation is effective at capturing the conflicts and dilemmas within global or national issues in a clear and unambiguous way.

In this case, the coupled effects of a growing demand for oil, particularly in emerging economies, at a time when future supply is uncertain, is leading to rising fuel prices. This is leading to protests by citizens who depend on burning fuel oil for their liveihoods. As a result, strikes across Europe are occuring and subsidies are being asked for.

Governments could implement subsidies, and/or reduce high tax levies on fuel, but they don't want to. It would limit their tax incomes, and, would counteract the green agenda. Rising fuel prices are good in the eyes of green activists. Less fuel burnt means less global warming. Less travel means less globalization and less damage to the environment. By contrast, putting in place subsidies or lower taxes for fuel would not only send out a bad signal, it would further increase travel and degrade the planet further. Governments like taxes to be high, so they can spend more money pleasing other interest groups and voters. So they like high fuel prices and can claim they are green at the same time. BBC news

Thursday, 29 May 2008

Boys with knives

This model explores the causes of the change in culture, typified by today's news in UK of more teenage stabbings. "The shooting of 17-year-old Sharmaake Hassan in Camden, north London, brings the number of teenagers killed in the capital this year to 15" Source: BBC news
Similar things are happening in other parts of the UK and in other European cities.

Note how Southbeach can be used to posit questions about effects crossing perspectives, in this case, our view of the 1950s and today.

Friday, 16 May 2008

Antartica pollution and exploitation

The situation illustrated shows the effects of increased shipping in the Antarctic.

The model shows how the combined effects of fishing, the exploitation and hunt for resources, tourism and research exploration are contributing to an increase in shipping in the area. Overcrowding is leading to accidents. The ships traveling these distances have supply needs, and this brings more ships (feedback loop).

The ships store heavy fuel oils and this poses a risk. The oil and other cargo can be released during accidents – the frequency of which is increasing as the number of ships rises. Ships also consume the fuel, a process which releases both sulphur dioxide and carbon dioxide. This, coupled to the potential accidents, is releasing increased pollutants in the Antarctic.

The ships have other polluting effects. Notably, they create sewage and grey water waste, and also carry alien species into the region from their points of origin.

Over fishing of the region is another major negative factor. It arises from multiple causes – whaling, the pet industry and the pharmaceutical industry etc. This is driving a new form of fishing, an aggressive vacuuming of krill from the sea. This consumption of krill and shrimp is itself a danger because other fish depend on krill in the food chain. Birds and other wildlife in turn depend on the fish.

As a result of this situation, it has therefore been proposed that the following goals are pursued. The goals are indicated in the model:

  • To give to the Antarctic a “world park status”. This would counteract both the number of ships visiting the area and limit fishing by humans.
  • To create a register of Antarctic vessels. This record would be required in order to enforce any treaty, such as the potential introduction of requirement and regulation governing the strengthening of ship’s hulls. These measures would counteract the impact of accidents when they occur, since there would be less chance of the release of oils and other pollutants carried onboard the ships.

The model shows that there is a useful side effect of accidents, which is to raise public awareness, leading to a strengthening of lobby groups which could bring the necessary regulations into being. Additionally, tourism brings more ships to the region, but also helps to educate and raise awareness.

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Plantstones store carbon

This odd looking model was developed based on an example in New Scientist magazine, 5th Jan 2008 "While Others Lock Carbon Away for Years". What the model says is that new strains of wheat and other crops can create a strong amplifying effect on the ability of the plant to create plantstones. They are therefore a potentially important solution to countering CO2 omissions.

Plantstones are created by the plant growing and consuming minerals. Plantstones remain in the soil even after the plant decays. Thus, carbon can be stored in the plant (when it is alive) and afterwards (when it is dead) by virtue of the plantstones it leaves behind. Get this right, and the counteracting effect on greenhouse gases is strong.

Plantstones form as microscopic grains of silican in plant leaves, particularly in grass-based pastures and crops such as sugar cane and wheat. This is refered to as phytolith occluded carbon

Global warming tipping point

A model drawn from an article: NASA: Danger Point Closer Than Thought From Warming

Risk workshop

(Model by Mark Burnett)
Used during a risk workshop.