Four people Adopting Model-Based Design

With the past few blogs we have looked at the tasks associated with adopting MBD.  In this post I want to address how to work with the people involved in these changes.  To start, there are 4 typical types of people involved

  1. Enthusiastic adopters:  Excited by the opportunity to use modeling techniques in their every day activities.  They do not require motivation to adopt these new processes.
  2. Evidence based adopters:  Strong support for the process once sufficient (1)  information has been provided to show the benefits of adopting Model Based Design.
  3. Schedule based blockers: Objections to the adoption due to concerns around impacts on deliverable.
  4. Security based blockers: Objections based around concerns around job security due to changes in processes and required knowledge base.

As a consultant I have found working with type 2 and 3 people is the most rewarding for both the initial start to adoption and the long term outcomes.

Working with enthusiastic adopters

Enthusiastic adopters tend to be non-critical adopters.  As a result when they talk to other people who are taking blocking positions they do not know how to articulate the “why” behind use of MBD; this can lead to frustrated interactions.  At the same time the energy they bring to the adoption process should not be discounted as it will help to drive the project forward.

Keys to working with them

  • Help them to use their energy to motivate other people past pain points.
  • Help them to see where and why there are valid “blocking” questions

Working with evidence based adopters

Evidence based adopters are, ilebpsmallto a degree, the polar opposite of the enthusiastic adopters.  They are people who ask questions about how MBD will be used within their process.  For them the exploration phase, with the associated background research is critical.  Once they understand how the new tools and process benefit them and their company they can explain it to other people who have questions.

Keys to working with them

  • Provide background papers from SAE, IEEE, AIAA,…
  • Work with them to create demonstration models to evaluate performance based on their actual work
  • Review their current workflow to understand where improvements can be introduced
  • Acknowledge pain points that exist with adoption of MBD into their frame work.  Look for ways with them to mitigate those issues

Working with schedule based blockers

Schedule based blockers are often the managerialdownload equivalent of the “evidence based backers”. The oft quoted phrase of “Changing processes during an active project is  like changing the tires on a moving car.” Schedule based blockers often have legitimate reasons for why changing processes at a given point in time is not correct.  However, like evidence based backers by showing them the decreased development time that can be reached utilizing MBD methodologies can remove the blocks.

Keys to working with them

  • Discuss the long term(2) scheduling benefits of Model-Based Design
  • Show how a phased adoption approach can mitigate the scheduling impact
  • Acknowledge difficulties in transitioning during an active project and look for ways to mitigate those issues.

Working with security based blockers

There is a small percentage of employees who perceiveja15featurejobs5 new technologies as a threat to their job security.  While Model-Based Design can be used to reduce a workforce it is normally used to empower groups.  When working with them it is important to explain the limitation of any tool, the best saw will not build a house on its own; it still needs a hand to guide it.

Keys to working with them

  • Talk about their domain expertise and how it maps onto the new tools(3)
  • Show them how new methodologies (automation) can remove some drudge work tasks

Final thoughts: #1

People’s motivations stem from rational points of view; understanding their point of view allows you to communicate with them and address the issues that they bring to the table.  It is only through meaningful consideration of all points of view that consensus can be reached.

Final thoughts: #2

About 5 to 6 years ago I was working in a coffee shop when a young girl came up to me, pointing at the laptop screen she said “Is that an airplane”.

I told her “Well it is the model of an airplane that I am making”

After a pause she responded “Cool…. does it fly?”

With the push of a button I showed her this demo, the NASA lifting body example.


She watched for a good 2 to 3 minutes as I tweaked parameters making the plane rise, fall and eventually crash before she gushed out “You draw pictures and you make planes fly that is incredible”

I never forget how incredible what I can do is.


(1) The line between evidence based backers and security based blockers is clear when you see how they respond to information that addresses their question.  An evidence based backer will move towards adoption as their issues are addressed.  Security based blockers will continue to add new issues until you focus on the keys to working with them.

(2) Long term in this context implies 6 months to 1 year; i.e. enough time to move into a new phase in product development.

(3) There is sometimes a false perception that tools take away the need for domain knowledge.  More often then not showing how new tools empower people to do more with their knowledge is enough to move them from blocker to backer.

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