I could have easily defended the situation because there were plenty of examples to counter his point of view. However, I responded positively because sometimes I find a short conversation or insight can turn into a very powerful idea.
The ideas that emerged from that conversation have shaped a lot of our strategic thinking at Paragon Simulation. We thought, “You know, we do spend a lot of time doing stuff that computers can do quicker and better.”
We started automating simple tasks, as well as the more complex ones that we repeated frequently. Over the years this has massively reduced the time we spend manipulating data. This in turn has released us to focus more time on the simulation analysis, and understanding its meaning and significance.
One afternoon a number of years ago this all came together in a wonderful way during a process design workshop at Xerox. The workshop was positioned for me to deliver the simulation and to coach colleagues in using the simulation. When I got to their offices I was told there was no time for training – they needed the solution the same afternoon.
So instead we huddled around a white board and sketched out a design for solving the problem. The automated tools we had in place gave the group the opportunity to set-up a scenario, run the simulation and then view results all within a minute. Comparison reports gave us the means to quickly compare and contrast the results from different scenarios. We went down some blind alleys, but we quickly found the end of alley and we were back out on the main road towards a solution.
That afternoon we simulated around 200 business options, ranked the performance results and tested the sensitivity of the solution to external factors. When the workshop closed, I left my colleagues writing an email explaining the conclusions and solution.
One of those days that ended completely differently to the one I imagined at the start of the day.