Systematic Innovation @ IIBA

International Institute of Business Analysis – 7/8/2021

Improving Problem-Solving with Matrix Analysis

What is the problem?

What is the problem with problem definition?

Let’s consider a few of the problems. Sometimes we are encouraged to compress this step and proceed with development of a solution before adequately defining the problem. Sometimes we do not know when we are done — when we’ve arrived at an objective and unambiguous definition. The format of our definition is often not optimal for collaboration either internally among team members or externally with other groups/stakeholders; integration with design activity can be especially problematic. The format may not illuminate the most significant aspect of the problem, or guide the solution in the most valuable direction. The format is typically not suitable for evaluating a particular initiative across a portfolio of opportunities.

Can we improve our approach to problem definition?

We will explore an approach to problem definition that amplifies product/service value and accelerates the development cycle.

Learning Objectives

  • Reinforce the rationale of a “problem-first” culture and mindset
  • Understand the nature of a contradiction — a particular type of problem that represents opposing forces
  • Understand how to use matrix analysis for framing business problems as contradictions
  • Understand how solving a contradiction relates to customer value and competitive advantage
  • Understand how to use this format as a common language for conducting portfolio analysis of multiple initiatives across various domains
  • Understand how to extend this method from problem definition to opportunity identification


A good day for Minnesota in this battle with the beast.

Together, we can slow the spread of COVID-19.

When a proximity event occurs, the devices exchange randomized proximity identifiers. When a device owner is diagnosed, the owner receives a diagnosis key from the public health agency. If the device owner chooses to activate the diagnosis key, the device transmits the randomized proximity identifiers to the server. The devices that match those randomized proximity identifiers are alerted. No PII is transmitted to the server. No PII is associated with the randomized proximity identifiers.

Apple and Google are building a coronavirus tracking system into iOS and Android (4/10/2020)

Overview of COVID-19 Contact Tracing Using BLE

Apple / Google Contact Tracing Bluetooth Specification

Pathcheck Foundation

Which U.S. states are using Apple’s Exposure Notification API for COVID-19 contact tracing?

Approaching a Fork in the COVID Road

COVID-19 Community Engagement in Minnesota: Current Understanding and Proposed Direction (a manifesto with bibliography)

Systematic Innovation in the Age of COVID @ INCOSE / Health Care

International Council on Systems Engineering – 11/13/2020

Systems Engineering in Health Care

Combining systems engineering and quantitative analysis to inform COVID-19 social intervention

is the coronavirus an attack on the species?

are some cultures / systems better adapted to surviving an attack on the species than other cultures / systems?

we have a choice of airlines…

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Systematic Innovation in the Age of COVID @ INCOSE / North Star

International Council on Systems Engineering – 10/8/2020

How we used systematic innovation and quantitative analysis to anticipate the Apple / Google initiative for a non-intrusive approach to contact tracing

A collaboration with Livio Mariano @ Altair Engineering in Italy

We used systematic innovation to formulate a simulation that compared social interventions and corresponding biological outcomes in Italy and South Korea. Our analysis was ultimately published at ORMS Today — the journal of operations research / management science. We will consider the broader context of systematic innovation and its potential for driving product value in a conventional industrial context; we will also illustrate the opportunity for systems engineering to promote a more inter-disciplinary approach to problem-solving in an increasingly complex world.

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COVID-19 / Systematic Innovation @ ORMS Today #2

Quantifying COVID-19 Asymptomatic Transmission with Graph Analysis (a socio-technical analysis of COVID-19 in South Korea — with Akash Kaul @ Futurist Academy)

published as the lead article @ ORMS Today — the journal of operations research and management science

INFORMS (Institute for Operations Research and Management Science — the publisher of ORMS Today) counts 29 recipients of the Nobel Prize in Economics as authors

This OR / MS perspective combines a comprehensive problem-solving approach with rigorous quantitative analysis.

A sustainable approach to contact tracing is becoming a central factor in economic recovery. COVID-19 is a “graph-shaped” problem; we responded with a “graph-shaped” solution. We conducted a graph analysis of asymptomatic transmission in South Korea — with potential implications for social intervention / “exposure notification” worldwide.

I am so grateful to my colleagues Akash Kaul and Jon Herke for this collaboration; also TigerGraph (COVID-19 starter kit) and Futurist Academy for their visionary support of this important investigation.

This article was also published in print format @ ORMS Today in the October 2020 issue.