The control of Organizational Systems can never be a matter of one-time decision-making, but rather it requires perpetual cycles of acts and effects on which over time any effect becomes the reason for another. A System Control Tower (SCT) is a centralized function that helps companies/system orchestrate (effective adaptation) in order to ensure that it is able to achieve its goals and maintain its identity despite changes taking place in the environment. The goal is to enable advanced visibility and standardized, real-time analytics from a single source of truth to provide an unobstructed view of where to take action and apply resources.
Organizational systems require a system control tower in order to steer the system towards its indented goals (set course) considering environmental conditions in other to allow effective course correction and adaptation. The cockpit must provide for the ability to define the system, where it’s want to go, its current state, and its efficacy in achieving its objective.
The system control tower in order to be effective should have same characteristics of a air traffic control tower which show system in relation to its environment plus a flight cockpit in order to steer the system based on input from within the cockpit and external conditions.
The Control Tower is fundamental in order to carry-out effective system governance/steering in to provide important data that enables, learning, course correction and adaptation; innovation and transformation in order to ensure long-term sustainability and viability. In order to gain the expected benefits, it is necessary that the system/organization adapts and transform itself within the ecosystem in which it operates.
A system control tower is more than just an Information Technology project. Implementing a SCT is much more than that in that is must aid effective governance (based on Cybernetics principles) and adaptation to guarantee sustainability and viability by doing the right things.
Key essential elements of a SCT:
- High quality external information feeds (exogeneos variables) and major events
- High quality internal data (variables and their relationship). Critical essential variables associated with goal states stability designed within variety engineering
- Understanding emergence of variables state that are associated to:
- System elements and their attributes
- System elements relationship and their attributes
- Organizational structure relationship and environment association (country, market)
- Governance model association to specific operational functions
- Real-time Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
- Real-time and predictive alerts based on deviation critcal variables stated goal threshold
- Processes and automated workflows to trigger immediate response
- Real-time analytics
- Decision support capability by providing a space for simulation models
The purpose of the System Control Tower is to create and share valuable information in a visual manner in order to undertake effective (governance) decisions in order to ensure that the system set-course is maintained and if needed adapted. In order to satisfy the needs of system governance the cockpit should consist of:
This space covers the know definition of the system paradigm and its set-course:
- System purpose
- System elements , relationship and properties
- System governance model (VSM)
- System Goals
- System Variables and association of goals to variables
- Process Management
- Enterprise Architecture
This shows current status of the system critical essential variables which are displayed graphically and numerically. Usage of color (red, yellow, red) to show in which difficulties are encountered (versus planned goals) which require vigilance. Critical variables to show relationship to initiates and event to facilitate learning and decision making and trigger any further review on efficacy of the initiative.
Furthermore critical alerts should be given based on critical variable state. Each of the variables must have related history showing trajectory.
This space covers monitoring variables and reacting to alarms alerts
- Inserting events (2) and relationship of events
- Status of goals, efficacy of goals (the right goals)
- Actual variables state and trajectory
- Alarms algedonic signals
- Governance model efficacy : key indicators with respect to governance model
- Real time analytics
SYSTEM COURSE CORRECTION
Based on system actual state versus set course initiatives are carried to adjust to set-course that influence efficacy and efficiency of current system paradigm and adaptation to future paradigm with respect to decision support:
- Course correction statement (3) to manage coordination action
- Initiative mgt: what type , status (planned ,actual, wip) date, cost, benefit
- Course correction action : when where benefits
- Realization System Adaptation Specification : the WHAT the HOW
- Modelling space : simulation model , casual loop
- Innovation management space
- Transformation management space
- Team initiatives
SYSTEM RELATED STUFF
In order to use System Cockpit related functionality is needed such as:
- user admin
- calendar for events
- internal social media for discussion, comments
- Banner of things happening, internally and externally,
- Project mgt space to show initiative status with respect to realization
Key characteristics of the cockpit
In order to be effective the cockpit should allow visualization and data that specific to system viewpoint: therefore cockpit must show spaces relevant to area of governance
Must be able to roll-up aggregate data to highest level for global level at the same dime disaggregate to its level of its governance.
It must provide smart graphical and tabular data to clearly show system state and areas of intervention. Graphics to have dynamic data relationship: by scrolling over a graph or data object must allow for additional data pop-up
The cockpit must clearly show key performance of essential variables and identify negative trends. The cockpit must allow for the monitoring of all types of incidents, situations, and changes that might lead to operational interruption or major swings. They know when an interruption has occurred and help coordinate a response.
Data is obtained from various sources about occurrences around the world. So much information is gathered in that the control towers need to use analytics to sort through these to define which ones are important to the system in relation to system in focus. It is important to know which occurrence needs to be attended to and which can be ignored.
The System cockpit must be managed by team in order to manage data and ensure that only data that is relevant is associated with the cockpit.
- Initiative: system initiative to do something
Type of initiative: course correction, alarm action, innovation, transformation, change mgt, training. Areas of the system influenced: system elements, VSM governance framework
- Events: events that may influence goals and variables. Event origin: internal or external: Event type : course correction, innovation, transformation: relationship of event/influences to variable: Date, cost , expected benefit
- Course correction statement: Identification of course correction: type (responsive, preventive) , person or team, brief statement , areas of the system (elements and VSM) , variables, statement of work (effort)
- The Control cockpit is not just a tool but requires a team in place that is continuously understanding system behavior, learning from past actions, process improvement, performance improvements, innovation agents, transformation agents
- The cockpit must allow of both responsive and preventative course correction. Key alarms require immediate response; while performance aspects such as capability and potentiality can be of a less urgency. Once problems occur in the system an analysis needs to be made of the source of the problem. Often this can involve analysis of the data in the systems to understand reason for the deficiency or what went wrong that caused the problem. The cockpit key aims should allow for continuous learning that will enable responsive and preventative action.
- Diagnosis framework:
To better understand and manage steering and adaptation which can either be responsive based on system state of the past an present or preventative based on potential future conditions, steering correction or adaptation which require suitable response with the relevant urgency based on two fundamental criteria:
Has the change, situation, or incident that can cause an interruption already occurred?
How imminent is the impact and how fast do we need to respond?
- Responsive (past)
A: Mitigate System Impact – Immediate
Serious failure has occurred and quick reaction is required. The cockpit should provide visual alarms in order to allow rapid reaction. The typical example is an explosion or fire at a supplier, an earthquake or a tornado. Root cause analysis and corrective actions are not needed in these cases. The main goal is to mitigate the impact. Preparedness and speed are key
B : Improve System performance – later
Related to initiatives to improve performance whereby critical variables/KPI has shown performance below stated goals. Initiatives include improvement in performance, efficiency, effectiveness, capability and potentiality.
The goal is to improve performance and prevent an interruption. The Control Tower watches performance indicators (KPI’s) and highlights deteriorating KPI’s as they pose higher risks. Root cause analysis and corrective actions are key elements in the resolution process.
- Preventative (future) Crumbling paradigm
C: Prevent System Impact : Immediate
While event has not yet happened, it is imminent (high level of certainty) requiring relevant action to minimize or prevent impact. A typical example is a supplier in financial distress or experiencing major quality issues. Here root cause analysis and corrective actions are not important. The main goal now is to prevent the impact; preparedness and speed are again the key
D :Prevent System Degradation Later
This kind of initiative considers environmental conditions effect on the system that could lead to significant impact on the system sustainability and viability requiring adaptation such as innovation and transformation. The goal is to prevent degradation of the system requiring project-like setup and time to understand the issue. (Root cause analysis is necessary to develop the best “response”, scenario planning, causal loop diagram, governance simulation)