Simulation Is Fun!
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Years ago, when Popkin Software was a company going from 45 people (when I started), to 75 people, to 100 people, to 125 people (and was then bought by Telelogic, which was later bought by IBM), I’d often pass by the front desk area and watch folks who were manning the phones play some sort of video game in their spare time to idle away the in-between phone call minutes. And I thought to myself if only we could make enterprise architecture like a fun game to play, we’d have even the people at our front desk helping us put the tool through its paces, build examples, and so forth. If a game like SimCity can be so popular, why not Enterprise Architecture? To me, documenting the organization’s important processes and getting a clear look at the network infrastructure in place or needed to enact those processes is fun. To others, perhaps viewing the output is interesting, informative, valuable, awesome and far out, but building the architecture not necessarily ‘fun’.
Simulation is the closest sub-aspect of enterprise architecture that I’ve seen that could readily be migrated to a ‘fun’ video game. It gets your brain thinking, and you can see the output animated on your screen, with little icons representing your game ‘tokens’ running through the simulated process flow diagrams.
Fun and Valuable
Not only is simulation fun, it’s valuable. First, it enables you to examine key business process flows, and – while putting in simulation information – drives you to adjust those flows to represent the actual business as closely as possible. You find yourself adding in decision gateways, additional processes you hadn’t thought about before, what kind of information is passed between parts of the organization and other organizations, examining your business to understand what kind of probabilities to enter at gateways, etc, etc, and so forth. And then – push the button and watch it all unfold in front of you. Second, you get valuable information on all kinds of automatic measurements and reporting statistics, like Six Sigma results (how your organization is achieving its goals – we’ll cover this in an upcoming blog), where your bottlenecks are, how your bottlenecks can be alleviated by adjusting the process or the manpower put on it, process optimizations, and so forth – and at the end of the day, provide reports to management that have some statistical analysis backing them up. Fruit for an interesting conversation and ammunition for a powerful argument.
Fun Videos to Watch
Here are some fun and interesting videos to watch on System Architect's simulation of business processes: