We present this White Paper for those of our partners who would like to understand a little deeper and more thoroughly the fundamental role that spatial visualization technologies will play in the field of management.
Experts from Singapore, Kazakhstan and Germany took part in this study.
In general, we have come to the conclusion that management technologies must be understood, redesigned and built from scratch.
Right now, with digital transformation in full steam, the time is right to Build Back Better!
Governments and companies that will be the first to adopt spatial management technologies will make breakthroughs in their developments.
HOW MANY STRATEGIC DECISIONS OF FIRST LEADERS ARE BASED ON INCORRECT DATA? ALMOST ALL.
Stone Age in Management Technologies Today
Our team claims to have created a technology that will determine the next evolutionary stage in the development of the management sphere of large companies and organizations.
Its full name is Bastau — a technology to accommodate spatial data visualization for the top management of transnational companies and holdings, heads of states, governments, and international organizations. The presented drawings describe the approach to displaying the complete structure of an arbitrarily large and complex organization in a spatial visualization mode. The technology can be used by corporations, for example, or even the government of an entire country. Moreover, it is a technology of interactive control in a 3D mode.
It is important to note that spatial visualization technologies have been successfully applied in various fields for many years, including physics, chemistry, astronomy, architecture, and engineering. In the film industry, computer games and 3D entertainment, as well as 4D, 5D, 6D, etc., these technologies are common—you could even say that they are the standard.
But what is the use of the spatial visualization of data in the field of management? Well, that’s where things get interesting.
The authors claim that any information systems that leave the user in two-dimensional space are now outdated. Perhaps for this reason, the modern management systems in large organizations can be attributed to being artifacts from the Stone Age. Literally all existing CRM-systems of the largest industry players are now outdated. You can simply throw them away.
The understanding of three-dimensional space is believed to develop even in infancy, and is closely related to the coordination of human movements. The visual ability to perceive the world around us through the five senses in three dimensions is called depth perception.
The depths of understanding of these various processes are just not enough for top managers in today’s world. The traditional ways of retrieving data from a nearby employee in a hierarchical chain are now outdated.
The Bastau methodological approach runs counter to the established hierarchy of how information is reported. The problem here is not only the technological structure—rather, the problem is nothing but the laws of society.
Here is a concrete example. Imagine that a senior manager, whether the President or the Prime Minister, must make a decision on any particular issue. He contacts the relevant minister and gives instructions to study the situation and then give suggestions. This minister, in turn, further sends a request to his own deputy. The deputy delegates to the director of the department, and this passing along of instructions continues down several levels, sometimes up to fifteen different levels.
In a horizontal format, colleagues from other departments and units whose opinion may be important are also involved. As a result, the question “flows” down the system to the performers, who are the real sources of information located in the lower echelons. The first methodological problem, then, is a total loss of time.
Subsequently, the following problems occur: The answer also flows in the original pattern, but in the opposite direction. With the passage of each new level, the degree of adequacy is lost. Nobody likes to send bad news upstairs. Actually, they often don’t go upstairs at all. Data is “smoothed out,” and the sharper and problematic parts are removed. Someone on the way back will consider the fact that it does not correspond to the level of senior management to know about the presence of such insignificant details, and will cut out some of the data. Someone has their own opinion, and the data is transformed along the way beyond recognition. Someone is hiding in the various arrays of departments, and as a result, the leaders are in an information vacuum. They often know exactly what they allow others to know in downstream units, and the quality of strategic decisions is reduced many times. The speed of access to information is also too low. As a result, many vital decisions are made based on incomplete, outdated, or simply erroneous data.
In general, the higher the position in the hierarchy, the less true the information actually is. Communication channels are clogged, and this can be seen by the voluminous folders with documents accumulating in reception rooms, and also in organizations that have completely switched to electronic document management. This can be demonstrated by the number of unexamined documents in the “for consideration” list.
Often, in the “middle units,” performers do not introduce anything fundamentally new. They are only intermediaries, and they spend their time coordinating the flow of documents. Losing their time is both a waste of public/company funds and an inefficient use of human resources.
Therefore, the decision-making process at the level of the entire state/corporate system is significantly delayed. Mid-level managers are similar to postmen who pass along information in accordance with the principles of hierarchy. Most of the data does not reach the top. Responsibility is blurred, and the role of the lower links is underestimated.
The new technology can speed up the decision-making process significantly, ensuring at the implementation stage the creation of a single database in the areas of responsibility and the performance of each unit/employee at the country/corporation level. This can save huge amounts of financial resources simply by optimizing human resources, and can reveal the personal effectiveness of each link.
Therefore, the highest-level leader will be able to see everything in one place, spacing out all of the links and all departments, divisions, or each employee of his organization in their actual interconnectedness throughout the organization. The leader can also reach out to any of them in seconds, “knocking” with questions about who they are, what they should do, for what purpose they were hired, and what they see as the results of their work.
No more need to knock through dozens of doors. Just imagine the idea that the President can call an expert in possession of real data and ask directly about any relevant information in order to solve a problem. The authors argue that the introduction of new technology can significantly reduce the overall workflow— by 90% according to their estimates—and help to identify “dusty areas,” which are often excellent environments for making opaque, corrupt decisions. Imagine that 9 out of 10 documents that pass through the system will no longer be needed.
Higher-ups know better
See what other problems arise as you strive for speed of decision-making, and managers create mini-teams around themselves in which each employee assumes functions with various agency—for example, an adviser on national security, education, or transport. Formally, the manager oversees the activities of the relevant specialized organizations. However, he does not have time to knock every time within large and clumsy departments. As a result, his decisions are made only based on his own understanding. Subordinate departments become some kind of analytical centers providing the substantiation of necessary political decisions. Often, such a team surrounding the first head of a company or country goes into a completely autonomous existence, regularly issuing instructions, orders, and decisions. Agencies and ministries live their own lives, trying not to annoy the higher authorities with their creative and philosophical impulses.
Philosophers in power
Here is also another very interesting point. You noticed the degree of concreteness and detail of the instructions of the primary leaders. But look carefully at the content and topics of speeches from these high tribunes, which often offer no specifics, having only a generally consolidated understanding of the processes of the head of state, and thus they begin to proclaim common truths.
Here are some familiar phrases: the solution to the main problem, improving the standard of living of the population, depends on the quality implementation of strategic programs; it is necessary to develop a set of measures to preserve the country’s macroeconomic, financial, and social stability under various scenarios within the development of the broader situation in the world at large; when making government decisions, the analytical component should be radically strengthened; emphasis should be placed on the growth of labor productivity; for the economic modernization of the country, raising investment is also an extremely important issue; the identified priorities and decisions made with the proper approach will increase the pace and quality of economic growth, as well as lead to an increase in the standard of living of the population; we need new thinking and new approaches to economic development; and so on.
Do you understand what the head of state is talking about, as well as to whom, and what specifically needs to be done? Frankly, we are not.
As we stated above, the highest-level leaders are in an information vacuum. They often know exactly what they allow downstream units to know. And to be precise, this is not just the lower-level units, but rather a narrow circle of people through whom the entire data stream flows. This cohort of people, the super- elite of a country or a corporation, forms the vision of the first leader. Not a single extra document, nor a single uncomfortable question, will slip by.
As a result, leaders of entire countries become hostages of their environment, which in turn manipulates the boss’s mood, and also directs his thoughts in the “right” direction.
Preoccupied with themselves
Actually, in theory and by design, the state apparatus exists as a system that serves the interests of the people. The only source of power is the people. Well, this turns out an amazing picture. With all the good intentions, there is simply not enough time to engage in the direct interests of specific representatives of the people as civil servants. The most difficult internal bureaucratic load leads to an overwhelming amount of time spent on the coordination of internal procedures, rather than the actual provision of services to the people. It seems that they think day and night about the interests of the people, but the officials do not burn with a special desire to actually see and interact with the representatives of the people. It is worth bringing up here a quote by Kazakhstan’s famous analyst, Mr. Olzhas Khudaibergenov, the example of which can be applicable to the government of any country.
“In conversations, officials admit that the bureaucracy has practically ‘killed’ the chain of command—every small issue becomes political, requiring a solution at the top, and at the very least collegial, requiring the approval of at least 50, or even 100 people at different levels. And surely someone will ‘put their two cents worth,’ having no authority for that, but just to be safe from imaginary risks. And that’s all, the assignment has died—the idea embodied in the instructions has no administrative power to change circumstances for itself. On the contrary, the idea is to adjust to existing circumstances, guaranteeing its emasculation.”
In accordance with the Bastau methodology, developers see one part of solution to the problem being reducing paper workflow, primarily by reducing the levels of the passage of each document along the entire chain from the head to the final executor, and vice versa, as well as an increased responsibility for the decision-making of each unit that is involved.
Who is my neighbor?
There is another problem in the form of the low awareness of some links about what exactly their colleagues in other units are doing. In fact, large modern companies and governments can be called single systems. Rather, they are a collection of closed communities that live under the roof of one brand, more often competing with each other, and less often complementing each other. However, it should be exactly the opposite. By the way, there is often no time and desire/opportunity to find out who these kind people/colleagues are on the floor below, not to mention units in other cities and countries. Modern management specialists recommend holding frequent team buildings, conventions, conferences, and meetings. All of this is good, but it still does not solve the problem of universal segregation. What do the Bastau developers offer in this case?
In the platform, everyone can literally see everyone. You can see your place in the general system, and you can reach any unit and see who it is, how many of these people there are, what they are doing there, what are the initial tasks are, and what is the result of their work. Maybe there is something to advise them about, or there is a question to be asked of them. All of this is available in seconds, openly and transparently. The technique implements one of the fundamental principles of working with big data: access on behalf of any part of the system to any necessary data.
By the way, yes, a curious opportunity was made for the highest-level leader to look at his own universe from above, which he fully controls. This function alone would be enough to calibrate the perceptions of any top manager.
Imagine that in order to move your leg, you need to take one hand with your other hand, so that in turn, it grabs the leg and moves it. This is obviously highly illogical, and it is this situation that describes the current control system, in which the “brain” is unable to “send a signal” to the desired link in the system. And if there are those who simply do not agree with the command that comes from above existing somewhere in the middle of the chain? Not sabotage—just a different vision. Then it turns out that the state of large teams, be it the government or an individual company, can be assessed as a system that does not have stable connections with those who think from above.
Where are the bosses now going to?
The creators of Bastau argue that the implementation of the technology will be revolutionary for any system. The technology is able to carry out its goal of modernization. The restructuring of the hierarchy and mutual subordination will occur. The number of “management levels” will decrease many times as well. One leader will be able to coordinate the work of a larger number of employees, and the positions of a number of the previously mentioned “postmen” in the system will cease to exist. The role and responsibility of local implementers will be strengthened. The speed of reporting data will increase many times. All duplicate links will be corrected.
There is another methodological aspect to all of this. Each unit, each employee in the system, has an initially formulated task — “job descriptions” are easier to say. Each role and position is usually predefined. The Bastau software allows you to attach a current report to each unit, and as a result, all types of reporting information for each employee should be incorporated into the system. This means that numerous discontinued plans, network schedules, and other repeated and regular reports demanded from above will no longer be needed. The fact of a request or clarification will thus become an exception to the rule.
What are the possible resource savings?
How much money and human resources, for example, can be saved at the government level? We have a strong belief that the amount is really huge. When any of the governments dares to propose a new approach, it will be clear how much exactly. Why “dare”? Well, we will return to this question later.
Meanwhile, the results of our simple calculations are as follows. Methodologically, between 50 and 80 percent of working time in government structures is spent documenting the workflow – technical description and recording of the progress of functional tasks, forwarding up and down requests from higher levels and responses to them, technical consolidation of data, and participation in various types of meetings aimed at clarifying the issues of who is doing what (by the way, in many positions, the processes described above take up to 100 percent of the time). The average country in terms of population has about 100,000 employees engaged in such work. Different countries have different levels of wages and, accordingly, different aggregate annual salary budgets for civil servants. We compared different countries. The smallest amount of ineffectively spent (frankly, wasted) funds was US $ 1 billion annually. And that’s just the salary. The multiplicative effect of delaying the development of the economy real sector and the resolution of vital issues for the population (lost profit in terms of the market) is ten times higher, in our opinion.
We would like to speak about the first leaders once again. This category of managers has one thing in common – the desire to find such universal indicators and parameters that would show the current state of industries and spheres of management.
Modern statistics have progressed so far in trying to describe everything with numbers that there are hundreds of indicators at the country level. It all seems to be clear – the unemployment rate, inflation, simple GDP, budget deficit / surplus, and then: material footprint, material footprint per capita, and material footprint per GDP; domestic material consumption, domestic material consumption per capita, and domestic material consumption per GDP; proportion of medium and high-tech industry value added in total value added; proportion of informal employment by industries and by gender; money or interbank market rates and range of deposit and lending rates, etc.
And more: proportion of cities with a direct participation structure of civil society in urban planning and management that operate regularly and democratically. Or: total expenditure per capita for the conservation and protection of the entire cultural and natural population, by source of funding (private, public), type of heritage (cultural, natural) and level of government jurisdiction (national, regional and local / municipal).
Here we have touched the very tip of the iceberg. Without undertaking to criticize modern statistics as an industry, we would like to draw your attention to the fact that a lot of economic theories and models of economic management of countries are based on juggling hundreds of intricately intertwined indicators.
In the wilds of these numbers and coefficients, the leaders of the countries are trying to find some understanding of the real processes. Often, the numbers seem to be all right, but society fundamentally disagrees with the fact that the country is developing in the right direction.
New technologies are also being put at the service of the utopian desire of the first leaders of countries to understand everything from the numbers. As a result, the model of an ideal manager’s monitoring center is a kind of digital board with a bunch of diagrams and coefficients, the deviation of which will be highlighted in red even at the very moment when something goes wrong. And at that very moment, his attention and energy will be directed to finding a solution and correcting the situation.
One of the fundamental approaches of the Bastau developers is to return to the roots. The leader must lead people, understanding the responsibilities and the result of the personal work of each department and employee. The leader also needs reliable and lively feedback from those responsible for the implementation of tasks on the ground, and not a set of impersonal and, by the way, not always honest data.
There is another area of application of the Bastau technology – the creation of digital interactive polygons for managing individual sectors of the economy. This direction can be illustrated by the excellent work of Singaporean logistics experts. As you know, the Singapore transport hub is one of the largest and most modern in the world.
A slide is presented in the thematic publication of the Singapore Cooperation Enterprise Agency entitled “Singapore’s Journey in Integrated Logistics Hub Development”, which reflects all the ministries and departments involved in the country’s logistics sector, their subordinate organizations, indicating their roles and areas of responsibility.
49 organizations, 34 different areas – finance; personnel issues, attracting foreign labor; environmental and industrial codes and standards; safety; development of new technologies; attraction of investments; aviation, sea transport; warehouses, re-export, etc.
Managing such a huge machine with tens of thousands of employees is a very complex and costly task. Due to its high degree of organization, discipline and huge financial investments, Singapore has been able to achieve significant success in the functioning of its logistics sector. The management system is permeated with dozens of information systems. We believe that spatial data visualization technologies could become the next evolutionary step for creating a new generation information system, reducing costs and efforts for managing the country’s logistics sector. Not only in Singapore, and not only in the logistics sector.
The described example can be transferred to any industry, e.g., education – the management of thousands of schools, colleges and universities at the national level; economy – a unified network of industrial enterprises in the context of industries; or innovation – polygon datasets with the location of all scientific groups and teams working on the creation of new technologies throughout the country.
Government program management
In the process of creating the methodology, we unexpectedly discovered a completely unique and very interesting feature of Bastau – the possibility of creating global neural networks based on new principles, the depth and scale of which have yet to be assessed. Let’s open another case.
Governments traditionally develop government programs. As a rule, these are plans for the development of sectors of the economy for a certain period. For example, these include the so-called “five-year plans”.
In the official terminology, the following definition has been adopted: a state program is a strategic planning document containing a set of planned measures, interrelated in terms of objectives, implementation timelines, executors and resources, and state policy instruments that ensure, within the framework of the implementation of key state functions, the achievement of priorities and goals of the sphere of socio-economic development and ensuring national security.
Complex definition in deed. In fact, we are talking about the development of plans for the modernization and development of large sectors – industrial, innovation, healthcare, education, defense, agriculture, etc. nationwide. There are at least 30-40 such large documents in each country. The cost of implementing each is tens or even hundreds of billions of dollars.
So, in science, each such document should include an exhaustive list of legislative and organizational measures, include subprograms, regional target programs, a list of implemented activities, executors, funding sources, regulatory agencies, etc.
These are huge amounts of data. Such large documents are developed for months, and are coordinated by dozens of departments.
The problem of modern methods of creating and ensuring the implementation of such documents is that it is extremely difficult to consolidate projects, especially if the task is to include private initiatives, and it is difficult to control – huge teams at the very top of the management hierarchy spend titanic efforts, compile reports for the country’s leadership based on disparate sources of information.
In attempts to aggregate the data, understanding of individual responsibility, as well as specific problems in each case, disappears. Successful metrics are mixed with failures, averaging the big picture. The documents are extremely clumsy, and a sharp change in market conditions can even make the document unviable.
The head of government, as the main signatory of the document, is technologically incapable of exercising control over its implementation. The manner of management over time acquires a grotesque character, when the first leader senses that everything is wrong inside, but behind the vague wording of reports and averaged figures, he cannot figure out what exactly has failed. A completely non-collegial line on the use of subordinate ministers as whipping boys, the search for the guilty from among those who do not know how to report correctly, and demonstrative lynching of individual cabinet representatives are becoming the norm.
As we mentioned earlier, one of the fundamental approaches of the creators of “Bastau” is to “return to the roots.” The manager must understand the result of the personal work of each department and employee. Even if it is tens of thousands of people. Reliable feedback is needed with those responsible for the implementation of tasks on the ground, and not a set of impersonal and, by the way, not always honest data.
What can be done with the help of “Bastau”? One of the secrets in implementation technology.
We’ll have to go into a bit of detail here. Those interested can explore the project website to understand the general principles even more deeply.
The information platform consists of two modules.
The first module is a communicator. Through it, the initial key data is entered for each structural link of the organization, employee, or project / initiative in the case of government programs.
A light-sized file (several hundred kilobytes) is simultaneously sent by e-mail to representatives of all structural divisions or to local performers responsible for the implementation of the working area. In this small program, the corresponding sections have already been formed, in which you need to enter data.
As a rule, the proposed initial questionnaire includes about 15 standard sections related to data on the head, mission and mission of the unit, the number of employees, the annual budget, the size of fixed assets, income and expenses, profit or loss, the presence of its own subordinate units, the name of the parent organization etc. It is also possible to attach a report for a certain period in a file format to the table. The process of entering data should take no more than one hour if the department’s management maintains adequate records of the above-described basic parameters of the managed department’s work.
The communicator has a built-in function for sending information to a single base server with Bastau software.
Next comes the stage of drawing neural networks. This process is also a technological know-how, thanks to which the software “places” in space the real structure of the organization or the relationship of projects and initiatives with each other.
The working time for implementation is one day for sending the communicator and entering data, one day for drawing the spatial structure. So within 48 hours it is possible to get a unique tool for managing an organization or national program in 3D visualization mode throughout the country.
It is worth noting that the larger the organization itself, the higher the efficiency of using the platform. It does not matter how many subdivisions and how they are geographically located. Both five and ten thousand branches or projects are quite the base load for the platform.
By the way, this ability is very useful for another sector – the area of audit of large companies. It usually takes months of hard work to develop an understanding of what a company is that is assessed by highly paid auditors. The new technology will totally save human and time resources.
Moreover, this functionality will be of interest to only appointed top managers of holdings, corporations and government agencies. We are talking about new people in the system.
In a matter of hours, it is possible to assess the scale of the organization you are interested in, the specialization of work and the purpose of each link, see the key leaders, budgets and available resources, understand the area of your responsibility – the world that needs to be managed or assessed.
The functionality of “Bastau” as an aggregator of consolidated documents is also unique. Thousands of documents can be collated into single, standardized reports within seconds.
The developers of the system believe that this functionality will be very useful for collecting corporate reports, as well as for such specific areas of work as, for example, monitoring the activities of press services. This area is especially familiar to the Bastau team of authors from previously implemented projects. Each state organization, each ministry and department, national company, or development institute has its own press service or press secretary. There is also a single center in which the work of these disparate PR units is coordinated and controlled, and in which a single ideological line is formed, as well as relevant topics and socially important issues that need to be addressed.
There are countries in which copies of such articles and publications flock to a special department in the government. Monthly reports, digests, and media plans are sent.
The Bastau technology is an excellent tool for quickly collecting such digests and reporting data. On request, or on a regular basis, the software will provide a single file of the entire data array. In order to estimate the savings of time and human resources, just imagine what you need in traditional methods, by e-mail and often through official accounting and document management systems, to collect several hundred reports, each of which is a separate file, and then to put them into one complete document. Typically, such work takes up to two weeks by one responsible executor.
It is important to note here that there is a way in which modules can be created in advance to the central information system through which the data is collected. The most advanced areas are accounting or financial accounting.
Another thing is when the reporting form is not foreseen in advance. It’s like asking all of a sudden the whole team, “How is the mood this morning?” Try to collect this data by email from 10,000 people. How long do you think it will take you?
The new role of society in public administration
See what developers are writing for journalists. I quote verbatim:
“We absolutely understand the essence of journalism—you are the voice of the people and an avenue for opinions and ideas. While representing the interests of people, you have a right to ask for and request transparency from the government and social institutions.
We are creating software which will ensure transparency of your governments. The technology will provide an understanding of the usefulness of every agency within the government. If you want to have access to information and find out who is spending public funds, and for what purposes, find out about programs and experience and background of leaders and officials, as well what are the support tools for a certain group of citizens, businesses, scientific institutions and cultural organizations—then you can support the project through disseminating relevant information. We are ready for public appearances and interviews, and will send out press releases about our achievements, as well as photos and video reports. You may consider this letter as our manifesto and publish it in full.”
All from scratch
In general, we have come to the conclusion that management technologies must be understood and built from scratch. Bastau is the beginning of the development of a new global information environment that will save thousands and thousands of hours of mechanical labor, freeing up resources for the implementation of more creative and responsible tasks. This is the idea behind our development team’s mission. Governments and companies that will be the first to adopt spatial management technologists will make breakthroughs in their development.
The only question is: who will be the first?