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  • By Andrew Aitken
  • In Blog
  • Posted 29/05/2015

Lanner COO Andrew Aitken looks at the role of simulation in fostering collaboration across large projects. 

Bill Clinton once said that, “The price of doing the same old thing is far higher than the price of change.” This may be true, but it’s not always easy to convince people of this when you’re dealing with large scale projects involving potentially major changes for those involved.

Often, one of the biggest stumbling blocks to success is trying to get individuals or teams to work together. Potential new working environments and processes can mean a major culture shift within an organisation, a change which can be difficult for people to handle. It’s all very well getting people together to discuss how their current processes and practices work at the moment, but reaching the point where there’s a consensus on how to move forward is a very different matter.

Understandably, there can be a high level of emotion involved. People become attached to their way of doing things and can see any change or challenge to the status quo as a threat, particularly if it comes from one of their peers. It might be easy for an outsider to pinpoint bottlenecks or limitations currently hindering progress, but for someone who has done something in a certain way for years, this is not so easy to accept.

To ensure change is implemented in a positive and constructive way, it is integral to achieve buy-in from all those concerned at the outset. In practice, this means bringing teams together to reach consensus on the optimum route forward for the organisation. But this exercise in itself can be incredibly protracted, as those involved will inevitably have strong views, based on their own experiences and insights, on how things should look. When many views come together, it is easy to lose perspective and it becomes difficult to see the wood for the trees.

What’s really needed is greater rigour and objectivity to inform the key decisions, as when people understand the ‘why’ behind a decision, they’re much more likely to accept it. This is where simulation comes in.

Simulation provides a means of demonstrating both the immediate and long term impacts of decisions, replicating dynamically how certain operations, processes, spaces, equipment and resources are going to behave. It gives everyone the opportunity to see how potential changes would pan out, not just for them as individuals or departments, but for the organisation as a whole.

Through providing all those involved with the opportunity to understand and appreciate how potential benefits outweigh the pain of change, it reassures that decisions have been investigated thoroughly and objectively, and provides the team with confidence that a project is on the right track. By removing emotion and subjectivity, you’re more likely to reach timely decisions by reducing extensive debate, which in turn expedites timescales and potentially saves large sums of money.

While change can be difficult, it is a fact of life. Simulation takes the sting out of it, facilitating consensus and collaboration from which to move forward with a course of action. When everyone has confidence that change is being implemented in the best possible way, the end goal is much easier to reach.

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