How to reduce time while increasing impact for complex project analysis

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Business Leaders… You are asked to lead your organization in becoming more flexible, driving down cost, reducing cycle time, and improving services to citizens across the board. In short, you are asked to do much more with way less. These are some specific Agency Performance Objectives:

  • Process Simplification
  • Standardized Procedures
  • Consolidated and Streamlined Bureau Processes, Data, Systems, Technology
  • Value-Enhanced Processes that eliminate unnecessary burden on the Citizen
  • Collaborative solutions that encourage Partnerships
  • Integrated architecture processes that facilitate knowledge transfer and reuse between business, data, application, and technology components

Prove the value through analysis to integrate pilot efforts into your broader program evolution. Prove the efficiencies, quality, and scalability sought can work – and under what factors, budget implementation, workforce impacts, data maturity, and infrastructure changes. Making sure that you can see a clear line of sight between your stakeholders goals, product and service portfolio, your concept of operations, and impacts to your resources – partnerships, data, workforce, and IT.

Our Rapid Design and Analysis Services approach can help you meet these objectives. We can support existing operations, projects, new projects, or new strategies.

Which does your organization need to focus upon for its modernization efforts?

 Read more about our Our Change Services Concepts

Sample Rapid Design Services

  • Agile Project Initiation Planning Support
  • Business Strategy Development
  • Business Process Analysis
  • Capabilities Assessment
  • Project Risk Assessment
  • Business Transition Planning
  • Business Solution Design
  • Data and Information Design
  • Business Modernization Blueprint and Implementation
  • Custom Lab Services

These types of tactical or strategic analysis or project implementation engagements should be targeted to have recommendations, transition plan, and scoped budget accepted at executive sponsor level within 3 to 6 months.

Agile Project Initiation Planning Support:

Your project plan has received approval yet you lack qualified or trained personnel to begin the implementation tasks.

The Project Initiation Support Service will assist you in forming your Core Implementation Team as well as in developing the project plan, project charter, communication strategy, funding strategy, and risk management plan.

Let us help you help you get your change effort started or back on track with our two-day workshop. This effort will be a rapid implementation planning effort that will seek to get momentum for moving forward. The workshop approach focuses on gaining consensus across your team, get the common vision, high-level, concept of operations, and priorities and dependencies for key requirements and milestones.

The effort usually requires a few weeks of preparation with the sponsor and reachback to your team, a two-day very rapid and intense workshop effort with your team, and ends with an action plan and all workshop deliverables polished after real-time capturing. The goal of the workshop, whether strategic, tactical, or technical in scope, will be to build a roadmap for the future to establish a clear “line of sight” from executive to users through costs, development, and support for your change effort. MBT:7, 10b

Business Strategy Development

Your organization needs to reevaluate its strategic direction due to changes in technology, policy, or regulations. Globalization requires that you better connect with your customers. Federal mandates require that you more effectively measure how well your organization is performing.

The Business Strategy Development Service will analyze your existing customer community and determine the exact needs and wants of that community. This service helps to bring clarity to goals and objectives, lays out an approach to reach those goals and objectives, and identifies corresponding performance objectives. Your strategy includes steps to be taken to reach your desired outcomes. MBT:1, 2, 7, 12

Business Process Analysis

Your organization has a clear mission and understands the needs of its customers, but you feel that it isn’t able to operate as efficiently as possible. Your staff is stretched too thin or is slipping in the delivery of services to your customers. Another symptom could be that benchmarking indicates that your process may be too costly.

The Business Process Analysis Service will assess how well your organization is performing by evaluating the products and services you are providing to your customers. It identifies the gaps between your organization’s objectives and your products and services, business mandates, and the needs of your customers. Once products and services are well defined, this service analyzes your business processes to determine cost factors and evaluate overall efficiency and value. Ultimately, the service provides a proposed core process that includes industry best practices as well as enhancements that result from process model simulations. It also provides guidance for implementing the needed and approved changes so that you can actually see the benefits of the analysis. MBT:1, 2, 3, 8

Capabilities Assessment

You would like an objective assessment of your organization’s existing business climate, including an assessment of current leadership, staff, organizational structure, information, and/or existing technology solutions.        

The Capabilities Assessment Service will analyze the skills and capabilities of your staff in relation to your mission requirements. The service will also analyze the leadership and current organizational structure in relation to your mission requirements as well as the specific needs of your staff. Once the existing business climate has been assessed, this service will analyze the existing information availability and exchanges as well as the technologies and applications that you are currently using to meet your mission. Overall, this service is designed to assess your operational capacity to meet customer demands. MBT:1, 2, 3, 4

Project Risk Assessment

An existing project of yours has been challenging with respect to technology, management, and/or funding. Unknown risks continue to emerge, forcing the management team to be reactive rather than proactive. This has resulted in senior management concerns that the project is at risk.

The Project Risk Assessment Service will identify and document overall risks by looking at all facets of your project. The service will document these risks and develop mitigation strategies and provide guidance to eliminate or accommodate the risks. MBT:2, 3, 4, 7

Business Transition Planning

Your organization is faced with a large-scale change either in leadership, vision, or a new technology implementation that will impact the way you do business. You know that this large-scale change will affect your people, processes, and organizational structure but you need help planning for that change.    

The Business Transition Planning Service will analyze the major changes that your business organization is facing, and how those changes will impact your strategy, processes, people, and/or technology resources. Since most major change events will actually impact many facets of your business, this service will take a robust and broad look at all areas that will most likely be impacted by the change. This service is focused on equipping you with a strategy that accomplishes a phased implementation of change components resulting in a pre-determined future state. MBT:1, 2, 3, 4, 7

Business Solution Design

Your organization has a clear challenge in performing tasks related to one of your mission areas. You feel that your organization would benefit from an automated solution (new system) to meet this mission challenge. 

The Business Solution Design Service is focused on a specific need or problem within your business organization. Specifically, it will analyze those aspects of the business that contribute to the problem. Additionally, it will analyze scenario-based alternatives that will simulate the problem with the use of technology. The service will define required technology components based on needed business features. MBT:1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 10a, 11

Data and Information Design

You feel that your organization could be more effective in sharing internal information, or in sharing data with other organizations. You know that the data you need is out there, but your organization can’t seem to find it, get it organized, or use it.    

The Data and Information Design Service will analyze your current and future data needs, determine whether the required data should be independently gathered and stored, and will assist in defining the steps to implement any required data-sharing relationships. This service is focused on producing actionable recommendations to improve the way data flows within and between DOI business organizations. MBT:1, 7, 9

Business Modernization Blueprint and Implementation

Your organization needs a make-over starting from a thorough customer analysis, thinking through the organization’s strategy and processes, understanding information needs, and then recommending the right technology solutions for the future.      

The Business Modernization Blueprint and Implementation Service is the most robust and thorough analysis service provided by the lab. This service begins with detailed customer analysis and extends into developing new goals and objectives for the business. The service then takes a closer look at the products and services for the business, followed by an analysis of needed and existing processes, skills, and technology solutions. This service provides guidance for the development of a Modernization Blueprint and its implementation. MBT:all steps

Custom Design Services

Your transformation support needs are cross-cutting, complex, and requires more combinations of discrete intermediate staffing support, and definition will come over time.

Support Intercambio and the Culture Jam June 21st 2014

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edited by
Matt Tricomi

This February 2014, Xentity lost an important member to its family – Consuelo Arias.

She is the Founder’s Grandmother. She came to the U.S. from Mexico in the World War II era. She believed education was fundamental and that it opened so many opportunities, and you had to earn it. She learned English early and perfectly (not even allowing the Three Stooges to be shown on TV in her house). She soon trained as a nurse and later as a nurse practitioner, spending her career working at Boston area Hospitals such as Mass General. She raised four children on her own, stressing the pursuit of learning and the power of education. She adored her grandchildren and always welcomed a spontaneous visit.  Although she loved to travel, she never drove a car.  She was devoted to professionally helping others and that frequently spilled over to family and friends. Her dry sense of humor, brilliance, and caring ways were her hallmarks. 

At Xentity, she supported our early work in the private sector, learning about our impact, and she became our biggest fan. She would check in, scan and send newspaper clippings. Admittedly, she did chuckle initially in 2003 when we got into Government transformation, but as she saw our impact, she cheered us on. When Matt asked in 2008 whether to pursue 8(a) or not, and sought guidance from ‘AyAy’, she said “If you can make more of an impact this way, then do it.” She supported the process of getting 8(a), eventually processed in 2010. 

During her latter years, instead of receiving gifts or flowers, she instead insisted on donating time, money, etc. to charities such as in cancer research, animal protection, and education.

You can see a brief video that was played at Culture Jam clicking here or on the photo.

In Memory of ‘AyAy’, Xentity is sponsoring a fundraising event supporting intercambio.

http://www.intercambioweb.org/

The Non-profit, founded in 2000, Intercambio is bridging our communities divide – helping everyone communicate, and starting with language. They educate parents, families, kids, workers. They promote and sponsor ESOL (English as a Second Language) courses to adult immigrants as well as workshops in life skills, culture training, and citizenship. To date Intercambio has helped 9,000 immigrants and trained 4,400 volunteers.

Culture-Jam-2014---Tickets---For-Intercambio-Website

They also reach out to the established community to help connect the immigrant community. Events like “Culture Jam” is just one of the those events. It celebrates the rich diversity in our community. It is a fun event with world renowned music with a mix that just cant be labeled – salsa, hiphop, cumbia, funk, merengue, etc. 

Celebrating the rich cultural diversity in our community, Left Hand Brewing Company is proud to host Culture Jam for its second year! Three time Grammy-Award winning Ozomatli will return to the Longmont stage, bringing Colorado together for a family-friendly evening of world class music, dancing and the arts to benefit Intercambio Uniting Communities and Longmont YMCA.

More info is at InterCambio web site.

What if there was a way to improve the game of football and reduce concussive injuries at the same time without losing the games appeal

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edited by
Matt Tricomi

We are always interested in transformational projects for data. Or data that can help drive transformational projects. Transformation – which we admit a word they is likely overused, but nonetheless – may be due a adopting new cultural norms, a new business practice, or due to a technological evolution. It may impact how a program runs, how a products is made or distributed, or workforce efficiency or asset acquisition. 

It could also be how a policy change impacts its community, its constituents, or its workforce as a whole. 

Given the Super Bowl season we are in here in the U.S., lets take a look at how professional football has adopted – or not – major rule changes that have impacted its game play, its fans, its players, safety, and entertainment value.

It has been a long time since American Football has rethought its approach to scoring.

It has dabbled around the edges with two point conversions but not fundamentally addressed this aspect of the game since 1912 or introduced a truly transformational offensive rule change since 1933 when emphasizing the forward pass.  

What if there was a way to improve scoring and hence offensive strategy of the game of American Football, reduce injuries while at the same time increasing the games scoring options, its unpredictability and hence fan appeal? What would this game look like?

By challenging some of the basic unspoken assumptions underlying the game, football can be refactored to draw out exciting and unpredictable aspects of a team’s offensive potential, turn the offensive side of the field into a point generation sweepstake and reduce the probability of injuries.

At the heart of this new design are principles that challenge footballs current assumptions that have determined its scoring system for the last hundred years and hence offensive strategies for the last half century.  These new principles are:

  1. Any play that generates points cannot have an excessively high rate of predictability for success, i.e. the current Point after Touchdown (PAT),
  2. The points from successful scoring plays, field goals or touchdowns from scrimmage, should be directly correlated to the yards gained during the scoring play,
  3. Increase the risk and reward opportunities for the offense whenever and wherever possible without slowing the game down,
  4. Develop incentives to maximize the scope of the fields scoring geography,
  5. Incentivize select types of plays and skills to reduce excessive injury causing collisions.

When these principles are applied to the offensive scoring events/plays like field goals, extra points and touchdowns from scrimmage, they open the door to the development of dramatically different offensive and by implication defensive strategies.  These new principles and designs will incentivize the types of play calling that will mitigate the chances of injuries by moving play downfield. Additionally, it can create opportunities for completely new and different emphasis on underrepresented skill positions like place kicking or rare long distance scoring from scrimmage. Lastly, it places a richer strategy dynamic for the fans who know 95% of the time what the next type of play will be called. It is the exception to be fooled.

Before we get into the details, we need to introduce a couple of borrowed and proven concepts from other sports that support the principles articulated above. These concepts will enable the offensive drive new approaches to football strategy. The concepts are defined as follows:

Degree of Difficulty (DoD) – a rating which reflects the difficulty of the maneuver or action an athlete is attempting to perform in sports such as gymnastics and diving, and which is factored into the final score. In the new approach to football we define the DoD as follows:

DoD for field goals and point after touchdowns is the equivalent to the reduction of the width of the goals posts by 0, 25 or 50 or 75. Table 1 describes the goal post distance and the allowed scoring methods.

Table 1 – Degree of Difficulty – Goal width and Scoring Method

DoD

Goal Post Width

Used for

Field Goal

Used for

Point after Touchdown

0

18’ 6”

Yes

No

25%

13’ 7.5”

Yes

No

50%

9’ 3”

Yes

Yes

75%

4’ 8.5”

Yes

Yes

Borrowing a the idea from the three point play in basketball that the further you are from the goal the more valuable the shot should be, the DoD for football is the distance from the line of scrimmage to the end zone. For simplicity of audience understanding and visualization on television, we introduce the idea of Point Zones on the field. 

Point Zones which are predefined areas of the field that determine the possible points on a scoring play based on the distance from the ball to goal posts or goal line.

Offensive Scoring

So what do these concepts look like on the field.  We will now describe how these ideas affect the offenses 3 main scoring methods and where the approach should not be applied.

Notable Changes

1898: A touchdown was changed from four points to five.

1904: A field: goal was changed from five points to four.

1906: The forward pass was legalized. The first authenticated pass completion in a pro game came on October 27, when George (Peggy) Parratt of Massillon threw a completion to Dan (Bullet) Riley in a victory over a combined Benwood-Moundsville team.

1909: A field goal dropped from four points to three.

1912: A touchdown was increased from five points to six.

1933: The NFL, which long had followed the rules of college football, made a number of significant changes from the college game for the first time and began to develop rules serving its needs and the style of play it preferred. The innovations from the 1932 championship game-inbounds line or hashmarks and goal posts on the goal lines-were adopted. Also the forward pass was legalized from anywhere behind the line of scrimmage.

1960: The AFL adopted the two-point option on points after touchdown

1994: There is now a 2 point conversion following touchdowns (teams now have the option of passing or running for two points or kicking for one after a TD);

Field Goals

Let’s talk field goal!  In Figure 1, we introduce the combined Point Zone and DoD for field goals that support the principles listed above and show them in the context of the field of play.    

Figure 1 – Field Goal – Point Zones and Degree of Difficulty

For example, if the offensive team chooses to kick a field goal from the 23 yard line, in effect kicking a 40 yard field goal, they would have been situated in Point Zone 3. If they chose a DoD of 50%, 25% or 0%, they would have the opportunity to score 5, 4 and 3 points respectively.  A coach’s decision would obviously need to take into consideration, the current score of the game, environmental conditions and the skill of the kicker and the supporting special team.  In effect this opens up the field and offensive strategy dramatically for teams positioned with talented kicking operations or provides alternative approaches as the game clock winds down at the half or end of game. This creates a “moment” where the fans at the stadium or watching on TV no longer have a high degree of certainty of what is going to happen next – hence increased attention. It also will lead to fundamental redesign of offensive strategies.  For the players, the model provides opportunities to score more points from more areas of the field without having to “grind” out the drives risking injuries as the field shortens.

The recommended Point Zones take into account the current statistical kicking performance.  In 2014, there were no misses in the NFL statistics 0-20 range (in effect the 3 yard line) with five attempts.  This practice, in effect violates principles #1, 2 and 3.  In the recommended model, the Point Zone scoring system acts as a disincentive to taking the chip shot by only granting 1 point up to 27 yards or requires the team to change the DoD and increase risk to achieve up to 3 points or go for the touchdown.  This stimulates a change in risk reward thinking, possibly moving teams to take more shots at the end zone while in zone 1.  It certainly provides more options for the fans to think and speculate about what could happen by removing the predictable decisions. More fans would sit and watch what would have been the “gimmes”.

As the Point Zones move away from the goal posts/line, the risk and reward calculus changes. The field goal now has the potential to nearly rival the touchdown as a primary objective for the offense. The field goals maximum value is 6 points if kicked beyond the 62 yard distance with the maximum DoD of 50%.  This may seem like an unlikely event, nearly equivalent to the current record of 63 yards, but we believe with reintroduction of tees and the greater point incentive, the distance will be conquered with increased investment in kicking skills and techniques.  Most importantly, it gives the offense numerous options to exercise and keep the fans guessing and supports all of the principles.

Point Zone 3 is where the value of the field goal in the new and old models converges.  The field goal kicker can score 3 points with no change in the degree of difficulty while kicking between 42 and 62 yards.  In 2014 through week 12 they were hitting 75/102 attempts successfully or roughly a 25% failure rate. No guarantees. It is here, the model provides an incentive for the team with a greater reward for riskier behavior.  An accurate kicker can realize up to 5 points for a successful attempt with a DoD of 50% within Point Zone 3. How many of the 75 successful field goals could have earned 1 or 2 more points and as a result made a difference in the game’s outcome. Once again, the situational context of the game will be a key to the decision process and provide a means to capture the audience with new strategies.  Not all fans want to see just hard hitting.

Touchdown from Scrimmage

In the new model, touchdowns from the line of scrimmage are also subject to the similar risk reward calculus as the field goal.  For a play from the line of scrimmage, the DoD is the yardage required to score. Figure 2, shows the Point Zones and the associated additional points that would be added to the six points when a touchdown is scored.  Once again, the idea is to incentivize the offense to attempt more tries to score over longer distance by increasing the number of points that can be gained.  The incentives would encourage teams to open up the offensive strategy and introduce plays to spread the field and reduce the number direct collisions occurring at the line of scrimmage.

The rushing offense style strategy seems to lead to most injuries.  “Offensive lineman (center, offensive guard, and offensive tackle) sustained the most injuries (18.3%) of all positions; however running back had the highest percentage of injury for any one position (16.3%)”. (3)

Spreading the offense can mitigate “the leading mechanism of injury is football’s full-contact nature, with player-player contact accounting for 64% of all injuries and 13.4% of injuries attributed to player-surface contact. More specifically, being tackled (24.4%) and tackling (21.8%) accounted for a majority of the injuries.

In the spirit of reducing injuries, the DoD points would not be used to incentivize kickoff and punt returns.

Figure 2 – Point Zones for Plays from Scrimmage

Point after Touchdown (PAT)

The point after touchdown is straight forward.  By default, the goal post will be set to DoD of .50 for a 1 point kick (See Figure 3). The team will have the option to set the DoD to .75 and go for two points.  Passing or running for two points will no longer be an option to minimize injuries.

Figure 3 – DoD and Points after Touchdown

Tying it back to transformation in our world

Professional Football has been around several decades now and has adapted and adopted to changing norms. There are more norms for it to address – social responsibilities, players safety, impact on youth, simplifying rules, financial access, organization non-profit status, etc.. The tale though shows how a major program/entity such as this, with so much on the line can choose to adapt and adopt, with some fall off, turbulence, and alienation, but ultimately thrive with its constituents. Its easy to throw mud at the largest professional sports league in the U.S., and there is a lot to throw. While at the same time, there are always lots of good takeaways from leading organizations as well that show how adapting, adopting, adjusting minor and major rules through varying time tables can actually happen when leadership can stand behind a change.

So what is the point of this metaphoric drivel

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So what is the point of this metaphoric drivel about cowpaths, space shuttles, and chariots?

Yes, fair enough. Aside from being a fun story, there should be a point.

I think there are 3, not unlike the Goldilocks story.

Change Agents can’t come in too hot to put in new technology and abandoned the old as there are consequences

Change Agents can’t come in too cold and put in new technologies just putting it in the footprint and same design footprint of the old.

Change Agents need to find the transition balance between the old and new that allows the new ecosystems to be adopted and the old ecosystem to adapt.

To get this balance, there are three factors standing in the way of introducing a disruption such as this:

  • Scaling – Scaling Research Readiness for solution expansion, adoption, and architecture qualities
  • Legacy – Legacy investment stakeholders agendas
  • Transition – Patterns for new investment that benefits the new solution and addresses legacy investment stakeholders

Read the next blog post for considering the disruption factors on an example topic – advancing our global network keeping up with the Computers to make the internet truly 21st century.

More to come.

What cow paths, space shuttles, and chariots have in common

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A colleague recently sent me a chain email (they do still exist) about the old adage on how new technology is driven by thousand year old standards. I had seen it before. I remember then I liked it. But, my new habit on chain emails or viral urban legends was to poke around. Being childlike, I hope for fun new ways too see things, but being a problem-solver as well, I am skeptical of these amazing discovery of trivial connections. Regardless, its still a fun story where one can mine some good nuggets.

The anecdote essentially notes how historical inventions are connected and a moral. Reading it backwards, it connotes how the width of the space shuttle rocket boosters are due to width of railroad tunnel. And how railroad tracks width are due to the carriage wheel width. And how that width is tied to chariot width because of the width of two horses. Point being, the boosters width is derived due to width of two horses rear-ends.

Like I said, it is fun, but the tangents are more loosely coupled and coincidental than the “seven degrees of Kevin Bacon” concept. Snopes nicely walks us through how while this is true, but only through generalities – not unlike how someone could say the clothes we wear now is because of a medieval tailor sized it that way. Snopes can be a party pooper some time, but they did also note a few things about people and change (insert my agenda HERE). This is why I do like stories like this as I can tie my own tangential take-aways from it.

Snopes points out humans presets on change:

Although we humans can be remarkably inventive, we are also often resistant to change and can be persistently stubborn (or perhaps practical) in trying to apply old solutions to new conditions. When confronted with a new idea such as a “rail,” why go to the expense and effort of designing a new vehicle for it rather than simply adapting ones already in abundant use on roadways? If someone comes along with an invention known as an “iron horse,” wouldn’t it make sense to put the same type of conveyance pulled by “regular” horses behind it?

It goes on for several more examples noting how new innovations leverage the blueprints of previous generation inventions, regardless of their direct influence. The tone felt a bit down when noting this, but I felt this continuity is not wholly a bad thing.

As a physical society that build infrastructure to share, this compatibility is needed to limit the impact of disruption while progressing towards addressing societal challenges of Maslo’s Hierarchy of Needs globally.

For example, lets say there is a future decision to stop using dams for hydroelectric power and go into a series of nano-electric generators that works off river flow that would impede water less and generators more power. This is great as we have a lower cost, simpler, more efficient solution that also does not disrupt the ecosystem such as riparian development, fiash spawning, etc. like dams have for decades.

How do we transition to the new nano solution. The railroad story says we would use the previous footprint of the dam, and once ready, slowly migrate to the new solution to allow the water flow to slowly come back in place. This would allow the wetlands and riparian ecosystem to grow back at natures pace, and allow for fish and river life to adapt generationally.

Yet, the new solution does not require the same footprint. We could build it anywhere along the river. It could even be setup in a series of micro generators, and once the level of energy put into the grid matches the dams, in theory, the dam could just be exploded, and we could progress on without anyone in the future anthropocene historic footprint to be aware that a dam was ever there.

But, removing the previous infrastructure in a responsible way will be key. Blowing up a dam means the water release would cause major sediment displacement, kill the dam-resulted adapted riparians and wetland ecosystems, and generations of fish and river life would actually die as a result. The dismantling process, though not required for the new direct energy human need, is very critical to consider the indirect impact of the evolved ecosystem. 

If still interested, check out the follow-up blog post So what is the point of this metaphoric drivel