Autodesk got its start when we democratized CAD technology by making it available on personal computers that were much less expensive than special-purpose workstations so that small mom and pop architect shops could graduate from using their drafting tables. We have never forgotten that and still serve mom and pop shops today, but in addition to small shops, we also have large firms as customers. For them, we are often a trusted advisor instead of just another vendor. Part of the reason is that we work closely with them to help them solve their workflow-related problems.
One of the things that some of our larger customers take advantage of is our Future of Making workshops. In these workshops, a customer identifies a problem that they are having, and Autodesk works with them to apply problem-solving techniques in pursuit of solutions. Over a series of blog posts, I have shared some of those techniques. This blog post shares another one.
One approach to customer-workflow problem-solving is to:
- FRAME THE CONTEXT — What is changing in your business?
- ANALYZE FORCES — What is the impact to your business?
- EXPLORE OPTIONS — What might you do differently?
- ENVISION YOUR FUTURE — What should you do differently?
- DECIDE BOLD STEPS — What will you do differently?
The list below contains hyperlinks to blog posts I have already shared:
- FRAME THE CONTEXT
- ANALYZE FORCES
- EXPLORE OPTIONS
- ENVISION YOUR FUTURE
- DECIDE BOLD STEPS
Here's another technique that can be used during the FRAME THE CONTEXT step. A STEEP Map can identify what forces are shaping a company's world.
The elements of a STEEP Map include:
- Society - What changes in society, education, culture, and shared beliefs are setting the context for your industry?
- Technology - How are emerging technologies transforming the way you plan, design, procure, build, and service your products?
- Environment - What are the changes in the environment (including weather, water, and waste) having an effect on your industry?
- Economy - How are broad economic forces, such as the state of the markets, currency, employment, interest rates, and risk perception affecting your industry?
- Politics - Which political forces, policy decisions, and legislation are affecting your business?
Working with our customers in answering these questions helps companies determine how these forces will affect their organizations in both positive and negative ways. It is essential for companies to consider external forces before they make decisions. Many employees have limited imaginations as they are shaped by their own experiences and beliefs. Problem-solving techniques like STEEP Maps are simple and easy to apply to open up their imaginations. The time investment isn't very steep but the return can be great.
The STEEP Map was derived from the PEST Analysis created by Harvard professor, Francis Aguilar. Aguilar included a scanning tool called ETPS in his 1967 book, entitled Scanning the Business Environment. As with most things in business, the name was later changed to create the current acronym.
Technique sharing is alive in the lab.