Simulation Modeling

Success and the garden of failure

Rick Wakeman is quite often quoted as saying “success is buried in the garden of failure”. I must admit I quite like the metaphor; a philosophical approach to life. It’s meant of course for us to reflect on our mistakes as being a more positive experience: a mistake is only bad if you don’t learn from it. “A person who hasn’t made a mistake hasn’t made anything”, takes a similar perspective. As a reflective state, I can see the merits but think it falls substantially short if we’re talking about future ambition. Adopting this philosophy for life is all very well but knowing the size of the garden clearly would be an important factor, as success appears to be indirectly proportional to it.

However, this is not a phrase for the next production meeting or worse still, the next shareholders’ meeting.
In business, a trial and error approach is not usually the best and is rarely the most efficient. I can’t imagine a business plan that begins ‘We’ll give it a go and see what happens, sooner or later we’ll get lucky – happy days!’.

If I could stretch the analogy to a business process then this would probably fall into two categories: a process that is (or has become) inefficient and/or a process that has yet to be designed or introduced. This could be for example, an existing poorly performing production line or a new manufacturing facility/line that has not yet been built. Both scenarios require a certain amount of ‘digging’ in order to give confidence to a successful outcome. The inefficient production line could have several ‘intuitive’ solutions; increase accumulation buffers, change the layout or replace a machine for example. The new facility will need capital investment and approval, which in turn will solicit an expectation of return on that investment: informed, evidence-based figures are needed and not speculation.

Simulation modelling can provide the necessary tools to evaluate many scenarios and solutions. It can test the intuitive, iterate through many configurations, provide objective comparisons and produce results to support informed decision making. This is done in a digital environment, not the real world. We can therefore run many, many scenarios in a fraction of the time and exponentially reduce the cost of doing the same in reality. To get to the best solution therefore, we are reducing risk, saving costs, improving design and increasing efficiency.

If we were ‘digging’ for the success criteria of our business process it wouldn’t matter if our ‘garden’ was a window box or the State of Texas. We have a simulation model; the spade can stay in the shed.

In summary (staying with the horticultural theme):
The shoots of success come from the seeds of simulation.
Don’t speculate – simulate!

Want to find out more? We’d be glad to hear from you and discuss how your business could benefit by using simulation:

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