Tools for business transformation

Eight questions for Proudfoot CEO Pamela Hackett on enterprise aerial mapping (EAM)
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"One of the biggest inhibitors of real transformation was not that people are resistant to change but that people don’t know how to participate in change," says Pamela Hackett

Staff reporter

What is enterprise aerial mapping (EAM)?

It sounds like a technical, academic model, but it's far from it. It's a wall-to-wall, bottom-up look at your business, both good and bad, looking through a people-first-focused lens.

Think of it like you would a helicopter view, seeing how everything connects and works, and where there are interfaces between process, function and people. It takes into account the true value stream and individual processes. It then reviews how you manage your business, what tools you use, what your customer and supplier touchpoints are, what are your regulatory issues and requirements, what communication points exist, and what technologies are in use and how they work with the rest of the business. Once you've done this, you start to have a better picture of your current-state operating model and what results it's giving you. It can be very revealing.

Add to it the behaviours your employees are demonstrating and their perceptions and attitudes, as well as the results they are achieving and the cost of any unintended results like waste or lost time, then add safety, as well as what's happening beyond the gate in your community, and you'll have a very comprehensive understanding of your business.

Couldn't you just process map and get the same understanding?

No, far from it. Anyone can process map. It's not the same. Process mapping is a linear view of processes, mapped out through the lens of the process. Often, it's made even more linear doing the maps in software applications like Visio, which is fine once you've completed the exercise but not before.

While aerial mapping starts with the process, it can often end in a complex pile of spaghetti we call the real world. Imagine doing 10 traditional process maps, even worse if you do them by 10 different people or teams who don't speak to one another. You'd end up with 10 isolated maps that may not connect - you would lose the ‘between the cracks' view of the business, where things can really break down and where your advantages in cost, service or even innovation points can be lost.

What's the key factor in EAM versus process mapping?

Aerial mapping is so much more effective than process mapping - it's an employee engagement exercise that creates real business advantage. It encourages business-forward discussion, debate and critique of your current ways of working, but, more importantly, it focuses on looking at what the model should be. It looks for improvement as well as innovation. It also looks at automation, which in today's world of skill shortages can be a formidable replacement for the lack of skills; it asks the question: "Can this skill be automated to enable us to no longer need it?"

An aerial map is touched by many more people than the traditional process owners. It is created by absolutely everyone who in some way has an impact on or is impacted by the process. These people are then engaged in discussions about what needs to change and what is working and can be leveraged.

What key steps does EAM entail?

Because EAM is a key engagement tool and richer than a traditional business process improvement activity, the key steps are focused on people as much as tasks. Here are the four things you need to line up well for it to be a success:

1. Secure the enterprise-wide scope and select the key people influencers who work within the scope, then open the doors to full-on collaboration. You need to get everyone bought into and aligned around the fact that EAM is a team sport - the teams need to be ready to open their eyes and minds to beyond the door to their department.

amela ackett chief executive officer of roudfootPamela Hackett, chief executive officer of Proudfoot

2. Determine the key elements critical to capture in the aerial map - how work gets done; select the processes, systems, tools, roles, behaviours and assets you want to include and then the depth to which you want to map them depending on initial views on their level of criticality. This may change once you gather input and feedback. Some points on the map may be far more or less critical than you think and finding this out is the beauty of the mapping exercise.

3. Find the right place to build the map and make it to life. Consider it as you would a drawing, a real-life map on a billboard-sized canvas, showing the structure of your business and its real-life touchpoints. Capture everything you can that wraps around that structure, what they touch, what they look at, what they use, where they interface. This is the picture of how work gets done.

4. Bring everyone who is engaged in the work to talk about the work. Have them discuss the pain points and leverage points - the good, the bad and the ugly. Then make sure they speak of the why. Why do they feel these points, systems, tools, behaviours act for or against the achievement of work? Remember, the outcome of the aerial map is to improve results. This should be the starting point. How is the result positively or negatively impacted by the way it gets done?

5. Demonstrate and document the conversations and the impact of the conversation points. Use posties, photos, reports. Run show and tell sessions in small groups. Then log all the points and classify; stop, start, continue. This is the improvement log and the basis of your action planning. It builds your business case for change. And include solutions as they come up; these will be your quick wins that give your project momentum.

Based on your experience, how do people react to an enterprise aerial map?

Recently one of our client commented that they'd never seen the business through this lens. It gives people a bird's-eye view of where they fit and how they make a contribution or can make better contributions in the future.
It also helps people find a voice to be able to be heard when they have ideas for how to make a business better. It's a positive employee engagement and participation tool with strong results.

Don't people already know what their business looks like?

While businesses work towards specific goals, they are often siloed and don't consider this kind of process. We find that it's very common for the first time employees are able to see how everything connects, yet somehow the overall business process does not. You could call it a discovery learning exercise. The outcome is a bit of an oxymoron: big picture detail. You allow people to step back and see the big picture, but also get right up close and see the detail concurrently.

How does it help management?

EAM is today's iceberg story. You know the old picture of the iceberg, and the story that management only see what's above and a few inches into the water, and yet all the activity and issues are far beneath the surface. The reality is that your people usually see 100% of the issues in the business, they just don't have too much opportunity to see how they impact the issues; or if they can see it, they don't have the capacity or reach to address things that are outside their control.

EAM enables and gives people a vehicle to reach beyond. Management can tap into the employee base to see through their eyes what needs to change.

EAM also allows you to do something bigger than process improvement. It allows you to hack your business. No hacker ever worked through the process to get to the answer, they work around the process by looking through a different lens. EAM allows for this hacking - real change rather than a process improvement step.

Importantly, EAM is a way to enable change to happen where work gets done. Not a transformation office approach where it is led from afar but through real grassroots involvement at the ground floor. We call this a t-Lab approach, where transformation happens in the living lab of your workplace.

Where have you seen it work best?

We've used it to analyse the end-to-end current state of an underground mine to solve logistics issues. We've used it to map out full wall-to-wall businesses to reinvent the business ready for an acquisition. We've used it to identify where the issues were with a new technology that was not being adopted by people. The applications are endless when done right and with the real spirit if employee engagement is at its heart.

In our annual Triggering Transformation Survey, one of the biggest inhibitors of real transformation was not that people are resistant to change but that people don't know how to participate in change. EAM gives them the tool to do that.

Pamela Hackett is chief executive officer of global consulting brand Proudfoot. She leads the Proudfoot global management team, and has held various executive roles, including the global leadership of Proudfoot People Solutions practice, the growth of Proudfoot Asia, president, EMEA business, and is executive sponsor of the Proudfoot Institute.

Join us at Future of Mining Americas on the 29-30 October, 2018, in Denver, Colorado, US, where Proudfoot's CEO Pamela Hackett is part of a 'Masterclass on Transformation' knowledge exchange.

For more information on this year's programme and speaker line-up please click here.