What is Enterprise Aerial Mapping?
Enterprise Aerial Mapping sounds like a technical, academic model but it’s far from it. It’s a wall-to-wall, bottom-up look at your business warts and all, looking through the lens and developing it with the people who work in your business. Think of it like you would a helicopter view, seeing how everything connects and really works, where the interfaces are between processes, functions and people as well as the actual value stream and individual processes themselves. Throw in how you manage the business and the tools you use, what your customer and supplier touch points are, what regulatory issues and requirements are out there, what communication points exist, what technologies are in use and how they work with the rest of the business, and you start to have a better picture of your current state operating model and what results it’s giving you. Add to it the behaviour people 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’ve got a pretty good understanding of the real world.
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 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 whom 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 breakdown and where your advantages in cost, service or even innovation points can be lost.
What’s the key factor in Enterprise Aerial Mapping 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 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?’ A great Aerial Map is touched by many more people than the traditional process owners. It should be touched by absolutely everyone who in someway 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.
Based on your experience, how do people react to an Enterprise Aerial Mapping?
They say WOW, I’ve 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 great employee engagement and participation tool.
Don’t people already know what their business looks like?
Not usually. They have an idea and they know how it should look, but sometimes this is the first-time employees are able to see how everything connects. 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 get right up close and see the detail concurrently.
How does it help management?
Enterprise Aerial Mapping is todays 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 percent 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, deep 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 grass roots involvement at the ground floor. We call this a t-Lab™ approach – where transformation happens in the living lab of your workplace – real-time, real-change, real-results.
Where have you seen it work best?
Any business that wants to make true transformation – deep change in the way work gets done and the way people are engaged in that work – needs to use EAM. We’ve used it to analyze 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 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. The future of business is people. People power technology, people make things happen and people get results. It starts by spelling out your vision of the business, then getting them involved in the big picture detail – the Aerial Map. When you do that, they go on to create the business everyone wants to work for.