Case Finnair

Systems modelling tied strategic goals to joint effort

Case Finnair

Systems modelling tied strategic goals to joint effort

Gofore helped Finnair in modelling how to become even more reliable. The end result was top-level KPIs, predictive metrics, and a new, company-wide approach to collaboration.

“As part of strategy renewal, we wanted to bring people together to figure out how to achieve top-level goals through collaboration between departments,” says Terhi Siimes, Vice President Lean and Process Development at Finnair.

The first workshops with Gofore were enough to convince Siimes that systems modelling is an excellent way to resolve abstract management issues.

Situational snapshot as a basis for strategic development

We began with a tough series of management workshops, creating top-level models of almost the entire company’s operations, and of the issues on which reliability is based in Finnair.

“This brought a huge number of revelations. Although almost all the issues were familiar in principle, our operations had never been visualised in such a holistic way. We noticed that we were approaching the same issues from somewhat different perspectives. Based on the shared viewpoint, Aini Räisänen from Gofore helped to build a visual model of where reliability originates and the factors that shape it.”

The model provided an inspiring basis for collaboration across the organisation. Räisänen, who has been solving thorny management problems for years, has a view of why systems modelling, in particular, tends to have such huge impacts.

“The problems are complex and tend to cross organisational boundaries. In addition, when interrelationships come in dozens, they are almost impossible to identify without visualisation. But when they are suddenly visualised for everyone, people start to believe that something really can be done about the issue – together.”

Goals and metrics for everyday work

Siimes views systems modelling as a great tool for creating, describing, communicating, implementing and measuring an entire strategy or overall goals.

“Systems modelling can be used to monitor where we are going, and to understand key performance indicators and their interrelationships. Potential conflicts are highlighted and sub-optimisation is reduced or even eliminated.”

Finnair clarified and prioritised its indicators on this basis. In addition, leading indicators supporting the overall process were identified.

“I thought that leading indicators were among the most valuable results of the work. They can be used to keep actual KPIs green.”

Siimes regards the way visualisation helped in implementing the strategy as another key result — this enabled everyone to see the impact of their work on the overall organisation and thus on strategic indicators.

Unprecedented inspiration to collaborate

However, Siimes views new enthusiasm for cross-organisational cooperation as the most valuable outcome of systems modelling.

“The results and approach taken to the work created an unbelievable buzz and enthusiasm. A dozen models popped up in different parts of the organisation in under a year. There was no need to chivvy anyone.”

Siimes praises Räisänen as a fantastic facilitator.

“Aini is absolutely brilliant! She deployed memorable metaphors and stories to explain the models. Not to mention her tremendous skills and ability to guide the conversation.”

Siimes recommends bringing external facilitators into strategic projects.

“Issues may be easier to understand in-house, but there can be a bias in people’s thinking. An outsider brings objectivity to the discussion. Systems modelling is always a good recipe for increasing collaboration,” Siimes concludes.

Project highlights

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Right indicators

Clarification and prioritisation of Finnair's KPIs and leading indicators— monitoring at management team level
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Clarified targets

Clear visualisation of strategic goals — easy to show everyone the importance of their own work in achieving goals
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Out-of-the-box ideas

New wave of enthusiasm in organisation and new way of thinking and approach to collaboration — a dozen sub-projects and several implemented reforms

"The results of systems modelling in collaboration with Gofore and the approach taken to the work created an unbelievable buzz and enthusiasm for collaboration across organisational boundaries."

Terhi Siimes

Vice President Lean and Process Development

Finnair

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Ari Hirvonen

Business