The [email protected] Business Simulation Game

Business Relationship Management

Baxter Thompson Ltd, Jon Baxter
This article is the second part of two  that discusses the outcomes of the BRMIConnect,written by Paul Wilkinson, owner and director of Gamingworks, a Baxter Thompson Partner who licences the "Grab-a-Pizza" Business / IT simulation.

‘This was incredible….’, 

‘I am so pleased I attended this session…..’ ,

‘ I have to do this exercise with our key stakeholders….’,

 ‘….this clearly shows we have a long, hard, rocky road ahead of us if we want to be seen as a strategic partner…’, 

‘lf we bring stakeholders together in this session we can let them FEEL the need for a BRM capability’.  

These were some of the quotes at the end of the session, what happened to get people so enthusiastic? In my role as CEO of [email protected] I first confronted the team with some statistics. ‘I have sat here and listened for 2 days about VALUE creation and BRM as a strategic partner. I have hardly heard anybody talk about VALUE leakage. More than 70% spent on IT does not deliver the hoped for value, and trillions of dollars are lost every year due to outages and downtime……..If you want me to see you as a trusted, credible strategic partner show me first how you are going to plug all this Value leakage! I went on to add ‘I am delighted to see you have spent 2 days gathering some new insights and theory….now you can show me how you will apply this new knowledge! I am expecting GREAT things’!

[email protected] the scenario:

[email protected] is a very successful company selling millions of pizzas every year, but after six months in the current year, the sales figures are far below expectations. IT is posing a significant business risk due to excessive down time and its inability to respond to changing business needs (Risk Optimization). However, the CEO has urged the Business Managers to make a challenging recovery plan, which is based on a six-month strategy to bring the sales and profit back on target (Value Optimization). Existing IT capabilities are poor, and resources are tied up in ‘keeping the lights on’ rather than supporting and enabling new innovations. In order to execute the strategic plan and effectively balance resources (Resource Optimization), the IT department must ensure that the appropriate capabilities, including Business Partnering, are in place.

What happened?

Remember the challenges mentioned in our last update, "Taking Business Partnering to The Next Level"? Role clarity? Organizational confidence in the role?

The Business Partner (BP), unannounced, came to the business requesting the strategy so they could create value for us….’Who are you’? I asked as CEO? ‘….first go and do something about all this Value I am losing, have you seen the amount of customers and money we are losing’? The IT director was busy with internal resources focused on ‘keeping the lights on’ and forgot invest in or ‘mandate’ the BP role within IT or the business. The BP role was unclear within the IT organization and was also largely ignored. There was insufficient BPs to understand or help the Business directors ‘shape’ and ‘scope’ their needs. The BP ran off as an ‘Order taker’ with a strategic business project….As CEO I asked the business director ‘Well!? Am I getting my $25 million increase…I want to notify Wall street?....’Er I don’t know’ said the business Director ‘I haven’t seen the BP again…..they did promise’. ‘Good’ I said, ‘I’ll make the announcement in a press release’.

At the end of the round the team proudly declared ‘We achieved our SLA’! however I was losing money due to outages and my $25 million project didn’t get on the change calendar!!

What happened? We reflected:

  • We met our SLA but the business is not happy?
  • Nobody ‘understood’ the Value NEEDED by the business nor the IMPACT of outages (Business IQ)
  • We were operating in SILOs, not communicating or collaborating to ensure end-to-end delivery.
  • Decision making was based on ‘who shouts the loudest’ , or users political influence.
  • It was unclear what the role was between SLM and RM.
  • The Business saw no real value in the role of Business Partner.
  • The Business dumped its ‘VALUE Creation’ demands but didn’t help IT understand the strategy in terms of Value Creation AND Value leakage.
  • The CEO with his ‘big mouth’ (who me!?) kept moaning about ‘Admin complaints from users, I want this fixed’  - IT displayed the behavior raised in Peter’s workshop ‘Saying Yes to everything even if even if it delivers no value’. As a Result the Admin changes occurred rather than the strategic project.
  • There was no visibility or relation between all the changes and how they contributed to either Value creation or leakage.

We explored:

  • Who could help IT gain this business IQ?
  • Who can help ensure that end-to-end teams communicate and collaborate – in relation to business value?
  • Who can help explore with the business real NEEDS vs WANTS?
  • Who can help ensure business impact (Leakage) is understood?
  • Who can help facilitate this type of reflection session between business and IT?
  • Who can help facilitate agreements on ‘improvements’?

At the end the team was asked. ‘What did you learn in this short exercise that you will now take away and apply? What are you going to now go and do differently’?

  • Gather Business IQ. Understand the impact in business terms of outages, understand the outcomes the business NEEDS to achieve. Ensure this is shared with IT (all ITSM processes).
  • Ensure the Business Partner gets the ‘Mandate’ to operate or claim this….Use Business IQ and quick wins to gain credibility and visibility.
  • Seek out and work together with CSI owners (Continual Service Improvement) – bringing the Business IQ into CSI prioritization.
  • Perform this exercise to explore and agree role clarity, ownership and issues to be solved. This gives us input into an agreed roadmap for raising the profile and maturity of the Business Partner capability
  • Visibility & transparency is needed to support and enable decision making.
  • Agree what behaviors ‘Undesirable’ we current experience, and what ‘desirable behaviors’ we want to realize – per role, then help ensure skills and capabilities are developed. 
  • If you don’t have the skills find out who has them and work together. E.g use the CSI manager to facilitate a strategic improvement workshop is as BP you don’t yet have the skills ‘Connect’ and ‘Orchestrate’ – you don’t have to do it all.
  • Clarify the role of BP, and together with business and IT partner clarify their roles in relation to BP.
  • As a BP I will orchestrate and facilitate some workshops to address role clarity and to identify improvements.

The [email protected] session is normally a one day exercise which can be played with IT and Business representatives. These were the results of a 2 hour ‘taster’ session which clearly showed how this type of experiential learning helped translate BP theory into practical actions to take away.


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