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Concrete Steps to Starting Your Digital Transformation: Stay Sharp Episode 39

By July 8, 2024No Comments

Episode 39 of Razorleaf’s Stay Sharp podcast, Navigating Change in a Model Based World, sees the return of a familiar face as co-hosts Jen Ferello and Jonathan Scott welcome Jennifer Herron back to the podcast. Jennifer, the founder and CEO of Action Engineering, first joined Jen and Jonathan in Stay Sharp Episode 34: Models Beyond Engineering with Jennifer Herron. There, the trio discussed how model based definitions (MBD) underpin the digital thread and a model based enterprise. This episode picks up where that conversation left off, including the shift in mindset that’s required and how to start making a digital transformation.

Centering the Discussion on Release and Change

Jonathan starts the discussion by proposing a focus on the business process of a product’s release and inevitable changes. While “model based” and release are a more obvious pairing, model based and the product change product are less so. But as Jennifer points out, the only thing constant is change. “You’re always releasing, you’re always changing all of your product data all the time,” she explains. “How do you manage all that? How do you see yourself through all that chaos? I think you have to do it by doing business in a different way than you are doing it today.”

The different way of doing business that Jennifer suggests has to do with shifting your mindset about how you work. And doing so with a clear objective in mind is critical, otherwise the digital transformation process is pointless. As Jonathan says, “Change for the sake of change isn’t going to help.” You’ve got to know where you want to save time and improve efficiency, understand how the new capabilities will do it, and know how your organization is going to behave or operate differently to make it actually happen.

How to Start Your Transformation

The first piece of advice Jennifer offers to companies who want to implement digital data and model based capabilities to support the digital thread and save resources is not to think you have to do and know it all from the start. Particularly when it comes to creating detailed process mappings as a prerequisite for evaluating and digitalizing processes. Planning doesn’t have to be perfect to get started—in fact, a good-enough start plus some expert input is often a much better way to go.

Next, she recommends starting your transformation with the change process itself. She acknowledges it’s not the hot topic everyone in the industry is excited about right now, but managing product changes isn’t hard to do with the available tools and it can have a huge impact. “If you can document the reporting and the communication methods faster—which you can if you’re leveraging 3D digital tools—I think that’s a really important step. It’s something that people can implement quickly and get value out of model based data,” she explains. “And you can build some quick interest in that and get people used to a faster change cycle using 3D data.” She adds, “We’re replacing the drudgery so that people have time to do the smart stuff.”

How You Can Make This Happen

For listeners who want to make these transformations and mindset shifts happen, Jonathan offers this advice: “You have to change the way you talk about the problem. You have to create safe spaces for people to do these things. You have to be willing to look at the different perspectives and bring it all together.” He adds, “Get some momentum, see some success, get people to buy into the change.

Jennifer also points out that this can start small. “It doesn’t have to be you’re leading a team. If you’re given a problem to solve, be open to asking experienced folks, be open to asking folks in other departments. Create that environment, even if it’s just around you, because if you do that and somebody else does that, then you can slowly, over time, change the culture of a company.” As Jen says, a great place to start is “Always be curious. Always be looking for how could I be doing this better? How could we be doing this better.”

Learn More About Digital and Virtual Twins

The full podcast episode offers more details including how to go for the easy wins early in your transformation journey, how to go about shifting your organizational mindset, and how AI may be able to help.

Be sure to check out part one of the conversation with Jennifer Herron in Models Beyond Engineering with Jennifer Herron, then continue the conversation in the new episode, Stay Sharp Episode 39: Navigating Change in a Model Based World, and join us each week for a new podcast.

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