Key learning points from BookStore™sim at Focus on Demand conference

Published on Monday 17 December 2012 by in Blog with no comments

How often do you get at least 10 of the world leading experts in one room, with years of experience about Information Management, BiSL and organizational issues. This happened on the 13th of December during the Focus on Demand conference in the Netherlands. Two of the IM coalition members, GamingWorks and Mark Smalley organized this roadshow event.

Two sessions were held. One Dutch session with a number of Dutch experts and one English session with the invited global experts. We were very exited to see Chris Dancy, Charles Araujo, Deborah Antony, Jose Stijntjes, Ton Lieshout, Michael de Geus amongst others attend the roadshow event.

BookStore™ Information Management simulation

We ran two rounds of the business simulation Bookstore. Mark Smalley provided the Bisl expertise and Jan Schilt facilitated the learning experience. The session was aimed at letting  the participants experience ‘How Information Management Works’ and ‘How to bring value to your business’. We wanted participants to discover together the critical success and fail factors for making Information management successful. The teams started with some reading and some preparation. The first experiences?


Hey! we need more time to understand what we have to do!”

The team experienced what it felt like to have new procedues thrown over the wall without time to understand them and ask questions. After this the first round started and the business came with their first demands. We would expect to see the Information Manager setting up an Information Planning and exploring this with Business and IT. But, no way! The Business went straight to the IT team to get their projects done. As a result of this:

Application is installed, but we are missing relevent data

The team reflected on the mismatch between business and IT decision making, the mismatch between strategy, planning and operations. We used the Bisl framework to help explore and identify improvements. After a short improvement cycle we started the second round. This was much better and there was more structure, clearer lines of communication and responsibility and a more formalized information management capability.

Key Lessons Learned from the specialists using this kind of Simulations

At the end of the session we explored the experiences using this kind of simulation. These were some of the key lessons learned:

I felt the gap between business and IT. It was also visible. We did not really understand the business needs or manage the business expectations.

This type of exercise demonstrates the need for structured and well organized meetings with business, IM and IT. We need to keep on communicating. We need to inform our business what we are doing. We must involve our Business in decision making.”

The power of this type of intervention is that you really feel how Information Management works! You can easily practice the theory in this challenging environment.

“It shows in a split second that if your IT is not at a repeatable / predictable level, it is almost impossible to deliver the high level of IT and Information support to your business.

From the second (global) team we catpured the following lessons learned

Deborah Anthony  “It’s all about Human Behavior. It’s about communication, working a a team (acting as one company!)”.

Jose Stijntjes “We were so busy with ourselves, we lost the whole picture, and this is happening all the time.”

Charles Araujo “I was running the Business. I did not care about all details in the cards. I just wanted to receive solutions, ideas, suggestions etc to make by business successful. I saw too much detail and I think I was involved in the wrong meetings with the wrong people.”

Chris Dancy “It was incredible to see how 12 adults start achieving something after 7 minutes of reading and a package of cards”!

Some of the other members of the team made some very interesting comments:

“Will there be a need for Information Management when business becomes more and more experienced and infected by IT?” This is a question we could spend hours on. This was a risky moment in a room with all world leading experts”.

From an IT employee (in the simulation): “I discovered that if there is poor Information Management, I start doing something. I think about upgrades, updating the infrastructure etc. But in this simulation you will get punished because you do not know if these applications and systems are still relevant after each round. Information Management knows this. But is they are not informing us, or if we are not involved we will waste investment and effort and may cause the business to lose money, opportunities and be less productive”.

“We had some chaos in the first round, but that is a general symptom of adopting and implementating a best practice like BiSL. An interesting question is ‘Who is responsible to solve this chaos and create a more structured way of working. Is this the role for Information Management”?

Mark Smalley helped facilitate discussions to capture insights into Critical Success and Fail Factors for information management. This is one of the goals of the ASL BiSL Foundation and the Information Management Coalition. To capture these and share them with the industry so that customer organizations, training and consulting companies can align their approaches, products and services.

Mark: “The two BookStore sessions clearly demonstrated the need for an intelligent interface between business and IT that connects business demand to IT planning, business change to IT change, and IT supply to business usage. I emphasize ‘intelligent’ because it’s no longer acceptable to go to the business with a list of questions. They don’t want questions, they want answers. The questions are implicit. If not, then you’ve lost the plot. So somebody has to combine business knowledge with IT insight and combine the two in order to provide value. In addition to this substantive role, there’s also a logistic role to be fulfilled, making sure that business and IT interact effectively, from operational to strategic levels. This is what the ASL BiSL Foundation and its Information Management Coalition partners call Business Information Management, that is described from a process perspective by the BiSL framework. I’d say that the overarching Critical Success Factors for Business Information Management are defining and communicating clear roles and responsibilities but then interacting with agility and humanity while of course respecting the each others responsibilities.”

Critical Success Factors session 1
  • Business takes decisions and is well-informed by IM
  • Streamlined information flow between Business and IM, IM and IT
  • Clear roles and responsibilities, particularly how IM is positioned on the demand-supply chain
  • Frequent feedback about status for the Business, otherwise they feel isolated
  • Contract between the Business and IT, facilitated by IM
  • Intensive contact between teams while respecting each other’s roles
  • Regular structured meetings in which daily fire-fighting is put into perspective and more tactical plans are made
  • Organize a ‘counter’ as an easy point of contact for other parties in the chain
  • Organize your own department first, before you start to interact with others
 Critical Success Factors Second Session
  • Take human nature into consideration – people don’t follow processes like robots (Deborah Anthony)
  • For IT: Don’t make plans until you know what the business wants
  • For IT: Explore new technological possibilities and propose
  • Invest in some terms of reference for common understanding, otherwise communication will be poor (Ton van Lieshout)
  • Mind-set is more important than rules
  • Be careful using the demand-supply paradigm to position IM otherwise you could get into a win-lose game instead of win-win
  • Ensure that somebody understands the big picture and ensures that operational and tactical initiatives don’t unconsciously deviate from the strategic direction (José Stijntjes)
  • Realize that there’s little standardization of IM-roles in practice, so be explicit about tasks and responsibilities (Michael de Geus, Ordina)
  • Provide the business with plans, not questions (Charles Araujo)
  • ‘Hone your axe’  – allocate more time on learning and mastery instead of just hurrying on to the next job

See the latest set of CSF’s and CFF’s captured during IM coalition roadshow events.

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