Here’s an unscientific summary of the most important themes from NIST’s 2018 Model-Based Enterprise Summit in Gaithersburg MD, April 2-5.
- Culture eats strategy for breakfast.
- ROI is tricky as it cuts across organizational boundaries
- The elephant in the model-based enterprise room, is training
Let’s deal with first things first: culture eats strategy for breakfast. Peter Drucker said it first, and Phillip Jennings and Mark Debbink of Newport News Shipbuilding found it’s still true today on their model-based enterprise journey.
Jennings and Debbink are part of the Newport News Shipbuilding team that started down the MBE road in 2006. Their first thought was to understand how they really did things. Then they’d know what to keep and what to change.
They found enormous reserves of creativity in their subject matter experts. They found strong leaders. They also found that all this energy, talent and vision struggled with management process. The fact that NNS runs four ship building programs and each has its own way of doing things added to the challenge. One common denominator that was quite sobering was the discovery that Post-It notes drove production throughout this multi-billion-dollar enterprise. In all, it took seven years to get a handle on the situation.
The solution pitched to NNS’ president in 2013 was more than a little counter intuitive. Change would have to come from the bottom, from subject matter experts, and from implementing an agile structure. Management processes would have to be dismantled: take away all the titles, the direct reports and the reporting. Move away from management per se, toward agile structure and leadership.
Jennings described the experience as solving four Rubik’s Cubes at once. Each ship building program is its own Cube, and each function represents a different face of the cube. Get things working better on one face of the cube and the other five faces go to pieces.
This is part of the reason NNS has gone through five reorganizations in the past seven years. Reorganizations is needed to instill a more agile structure that empowers subject matter experts and executive leaders. Repeated reorganizations prevent the old culture from re-emerging.
“To be successful we had to evolve our workforce and build a new culture,” says Jennings. “Leadership and cultural change are the keys - and culture change comes last.”
Stay tuned for future posts on MBE ROI and MBE training.