InsightsExpert Article

Understanding interrelationships and keeping an eye on the bigger picture: The Exploded View in use in three sectors

2022-12-23 Christian Wymann ・ Kevin Krifter
The Exploded View model shown in different illustrations.

Three graduates of the blended learning training report how they use the Exploded View model from foryouandyourcustomers for their work — for organisational consulting, internal IT projects of a professional association, or the digitalisation of an industrial company.

Creating clarity more quickly

“I hope to be able to make this famous picture comparison much faster and clearer,” says Markus Müller. With Involved GmbH, the organisational consultant and coach supports companies in transformation topics, among other things. Shortly after completing the Exploded View training, the consultant had the opportunity to try out the method with two clients.

By image comparison, Müller means that he helps an SME to clarify what the current and target state looks like for the different people involved in the topic of sustainability. The comparison for the specific topic is intended to highlight difficulties and ultimately contribute to the CEO and the department heads concerned gaining a common understanding. Working out different points of view with the help of the Exploded View opens up new possibilities for him in consulting. “For clarifying the assignment, I used to resort to solution-oriented questions and systemic methods based on text,” Müller explains and adds, “but models and visualisations usually came later in the process.” With the Exploded View, he now has a visual method that he can use from the beginning. “The method allows me to represent and simplify the relationships early in the process,” says Müller, describing the potential he sees for his work.

“The method allows me to present and simplify the circumstances early in the process.”

Markus Müller, organisational consultant and coach at Involved GmbH

However, supporting his other client with the Exploded View presents Markus Müller with his first challenges. In the key project with three organisational units that have not yet been able to agree on an organisational model, the Exploded View is supposed to clarify the problem situation and lead to an initial agreement. “For this initial situation, I have to find out at what flight altitude I should prepare the model for the first workshop,” says Müller. There are a number of use cases and entanglements that make the preparatory work challenging because he could basically depict everything with the model. Müller is looking forward to the experiences he will have with this customer and the method. He is curious to see how the discussion and finding a solution will turn out. In the long run, Müller sees an advantage for himself if the Exploded View enables him to create clarity as quickly as possible.

IT is more than just IT

“Personally, I need the Exploded View to better understand interrelationships”. Julia Bachofner is an IT project manager at a trade association. In internal projects, Bachofner works with different stakeholder groups that need to be taken into account in the planning process and involved from a technical point of view. She hopes that the use of the Exploded View Model will lead to better cooperation between subject matter experts and departments involved. The six layers of the model give her a clearer picture of the circumstances.

Bachofner likes to work with visual methods like the Exploded View “because it allows me to show non-trivial processes and connections and I don’t lose sight of the bigger picture”. The bigger picture plays a role when the project manager wants to explain to the management, for example, that IT means more than just IT. Bachofner will continue to work with other methods in the future, but finds the Exploded View more suitable for depicting complicated issues.

“Even if I use the model just for myself, fewer mistakes will happen in projects.” 

Julia Bachofner, IT project manager of a professional association

Even though it will probably take some time before more people in her organisation know and use the Exploded View model, her new methodological knowledge supports her in her work. “Even if I only use the model for myself, fewer mistakes will happen in projects,” says Bachofner. Representing her own ideas about a project in a model will help her to better identify challenges and benefits and to keep track during implementation.

Sharpening the affinity for data

As Digital Transformation Director, Mischa Hollenstein takes care of the digital transformation at Geobrugg AG, which develops and produces specific protection systems. The globally active industrial company is not an IT service provider, Hollenstein emphasises. Although the SME mainly deals with tangible things such as safety nets against rockfall and avalanches or protective measures in mountain and tunnel construction, digitalisation still plays a role for the company. Hollenstein’s responsibility is to drive the digitalisation of the business and, as he says, “sharpen the affinity for data”.

“The Exploded View allows me to focus more on both customer needs and data, which is central for a manufacturing company in the course of digitalisation.”

Mischa Hollenstein, Digital Transformation Director, Geobrugg AG

In the future, Hollenstein wants to draw on the Exploded View to show precisely this connection to data and all other aspects of a project or product. For him, the strength of the method also lies in showing the bigger picture. Especially for manufacturing companies like Geobrugg AG, both the customer orientation and the dependencies on data need to become clearer. Hollenstein will consult the model in its generic form to communicate rough correlations and dependencies in an understandable way across several departments. As a conceptual tool, he can imagine a role- and project-specific use.

Even though Mischa Hollenstein is only just beginning to use his new methodological skills, he sees the potential of the Exploded View to drive digitalisation forward in the company. For him, there is no doubt that other industrial companies could benefit from it.

We empower people in different roles and industries to use the Exploded View. You can sign up for a training on our Exploded View Platform. In a blended learning format, you will learn about and apply the Exploded View model with the help of videos, quizzes, live sessions with a trainer, and practically oriented assignments.