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BRM Connect: Grab@Pizza Business & IT Alignment Simulation

The  Simulation was played by 12-14 BRMs over 2 rounds on the final day of the BRM Connect conference. After 2 days of inspirational BRM sessions, they took up the challenge to translate their theory into practice in an experiential learning workshop

The delegates took their seats, not knowing what to expect. They were suddenly immersed into the fictive Grab@Pizza organization. Their competitors being global giants such as Domino’s Pizza, New York Pizza and Papa John’s. The delegates would play both the business & IT roles within the Grab@Pizza company, challenged with helping to turn the company round by exploiting the power and potential of IT. Paul Wilkinson Peter Lijnse Suresh GP and Leif Andersson Global BRM champions facilitated the session.

At the start of the simulation, the CEO  Paul Wilkinson is not happy! Revenue and profit targets in the first fictional 6 months were poor. Franchise outlets and customers are not happy with the IT capabilities and performance – this is damaging growth, profitability, reputation and losing customers. (Value Leakage).

The business has an ambitious strategic intention and a number of IT enabled business initiatives it wants to start.

During the first round, your CEO was not happy, the business just sat there waiting, IT ran around in confusion and developers discussed random projects with change. How is this going to end – will Grab@pizza lose the battle of customers?

Reflections from Round 1
  1. Complete Chaos. No defined Business Process
  2. Not effective communication among teams
  3. Shared Vision and Goals were missing
  4. IT teams did not have idea about the Big Picture
  5. It was assumed by the business that IT would know all the information by themselves.
  6. There was no clarity on the business impact of doing the project for the IT teams
  7. Roles and Responsibilities were not clear e.g) Service Manager and BRM
  8. Teams worked in Silos. Disconnect between  different internal groups [ e.g, IT Support and Change Management]
  9. Team was reactive as opposed to proactive in handling business demand.
  10. Business did not have a clue of what projects were completed.

The Game Leader and Observers listened to the conversations and asked the team, how can they improve the situation.

The Team decided to take definite actions on the following:

  1. How can Service Manager Complement BRM when meeting the business?
  2. Deciding on Value Optimization team [ BRM, SM, and business]
  3. How to improve the relationship between BRM and Service Manager?
  4. How to talk Business Language?

Hence in terms of competency, the team decided to prioritise Business IQ,  Strategic Partnering and Powerful Communications for improvement in round two.

While it was frustrating for the team to have been let down, the resolve to take charge and make it work was clearly evident with the team`s focus and determination. In the second round the team also focused on understanding and prioritizing changes, and a CAB meeting with discussions in “business terms” should end the second round.

What did the teams learn at the end of the 2 Rounds?

  1. Make IT less complex and easy to function for business
  2. Articulating business value is important to get buy-in from all stakeholders
  3. Speak the language of business and not in terms of Router, upgrade, bottlenecks [Business IQ]
  4. Move away from service focus to value Focus [Strategic Partnering]
  5. Identify possible value leakage in the whole value chain.
  6. Don`t assume that this information is not valuable for someone [Powerful Communications]
  7. Shared vision and goals are critical to get everyone on the same page [Strategic Partnering]
  8. Don`t forget First Line Support and Service Desk [Provider Domain]
  9. Convince to business the value of BRM Capability [Business IQ]
  10. Business Partner must understand the value of IT [ Powerful Communications]
  11. Use same language and terminology even within IT groups [ Powerful Communications]

Overall there was significant learning from all who attended the session and here are few quotes from the team.  Our special thanks to all the observers for their valuable insights.

Reflections from observers 

Observations from the “assisting” Change manager… It is always great to be an observer of a game. With three dynamic game leaders all sharing and helping with reflections, it creates great learning. I sat in on the corner as “assisting” Change manager. As we had a shortfall of staff showing up and enabling Grab@pizza to fulfill our CEO’s vision I stepped in and supported Melissa in the role. I didn’t have to do much as Melissa rapidly stepped up and started acting Change manager, and I could observe more in the game. I found it hilarious that more or less ALL participants started talking “ITSM” language and fell in to a “failure” language. That happens a lot in these simulations, but this time everybody in the game are BRM:s and does know the business language. We see this in the simulations all the time, although we know what to do, when the heat goes on, we forget and fall back to old behaviour. In the first round there was chaos as usual and the communication was not there. There where silos and small groups talking, there was no real exchange of business goals, priorities or clear communications paths. IT support had no clue what was important or not! In the second round there where improvements and we started to see more structure, and everybody was really in to the game, enabling the business was focus – “We must make this happen, Superbowl is our main goal, what can we do to enable it?”– Leif Andersson

Quotes from observers 

 “The Grab@pizza simulation was a great eye opener. It was definitely a challenge to jump in and asses, organize and act on such a short timeline with a brand new team. You as gamemasters did an excellent job in helping us understand and move forward both during and between rounds. I believe my biggest a-ha moment came during the second round where I realized and witnessed many of the roadblocks of my organization having a successful BRM program (and IT service delivery) were not uncommon and relate to fundamental issues and thinking within our organization that needed to change. This simulation is planned and executed very well and I am working to bring it in for a day session for our leadership team”

– Brian Brenhoch – BTS Infrastructure Manager, BTS Business Relationship Manager – Pinellas County, Florida USA

What a fun and interactive way to bring to life the great opportunities for BRM, but also overall highlight how IT really needs to show more overall value within the larger organization.  It was quite amazing to see how much things improved from just one round.  Thanks to the great facilitation, which is so critical, everyone was able to learn and experience some key insights every step of the way.  Oh, and what a fun way to meet others and share some laughs.  We know you learn from doing, so this is truly a great exercise for any IT Leadership team to help everyone appreciate the different roles and how to improve the way in which they support and work together to drive more value.  Great experience…thanks!”  

– Kip Fanta – Principal Consultant at the Kip Fanta Group


The simulation results reinforced the survey results published earlier.

It is still clear that many organizations are still struggling to create a strategic BRM capability, and still there is too little alignment between BRM and ITSM. ITSM needs to be a strategic capability that helps devlop the trust and credibility required to make the shift from a Service Provider to strategic partner… that we can no longer afford to fail to realize.