BMC Diabetes with Hal Rabbino
The BMC Diabetes project in 1997 used the reference behavior pattern, coupled with qualitative stock-flow diagramming to shift the global strategy of a diabetes diagnostic company, and to explain to its leadership why it had missed this critical turning point and how to make the transition.
Initial Project Description
ISC Live Lab Co-investment and Return on Co-investment
Context. In 1997, we were in an early phase of ISC’s work, in a form called the Leverage Institute. After three years in systemic strategy at the ITAM, Jim was now in the doctoral program in decision sciences at the University of Texas at Austin. We were merging the fields of system dynamics and strategic decision making, testing the emerging “strategic decision simulation” framework in field settings like BMC.
Co-investment. In this fieldwork, we co-invested our intellectual property of the blending of system dynamics and strategy and our financial capital in the time to write up what we found in a case study.
Return on Co-investment. The return we received started immediately, the first day, in two parts. First, while we had intended to develop a detailed simulation of the problem BMC was facing, we experienced the power of a strategically clear question–when we used the system dynamics framing of stocks and flows to ask the strategic questions of (1) the organization-level behavior they were trying to shift, and (2) the core dynamics influencing that behavior, we found that they were missing a key dynamic in their narrative. This was the first return: the power of a well framed and mapped strategic question. It made the missing, strategic element simple and clear.
The second return came that first afternoon, when we saw that we could explain dynamically (1) why smart people had missed this key element, initially, and (2) why they now needed to pay attention to it. This was the first time we saw that we could describe with simple clarity the dynamic evolution of the strategic understanding in a complex system–how they had arrived at this point, the required shift, and what they could do going forward–a key feature of our research going forward.