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A2S International helps organizations gain Competitive Advantage through:

Strategic Design

Creating Strategic Understanding and Competitive Advantage

We help organizations and senior executives:

  • Make sense of complex, ill-structured, messy problems

  • Understand geopolitical & socioeconomic systems, regional conditions and trends

  • Understand alternative perspectives

  • Consider future potential situations and trending

  • Develop innovative solutions leading to strategic advantage

Our multi-disciplinary problem solving approach effectively blends:

  1. Systems thinking - Systems thinking provides a conceptual framework to think about and make sense of very complex systems.  Systems thinking enables investigation of a system more deeply by:

    • Recognizing dynamically complex and subtle structures

    • Seeing patterns where others only see events or forces to react to

    • Appreciating relationships, tensions, and trends in the system

    • Understanding how this information might be used to change the system

  2. Design methodologies - Design methods in the engineering disciplines tend to be "left brain-focused”, using analytic approaches. However, design methods in architectural, graphic, and environmental design tend to be "right brain-focused", leveraging conceptualization, synthesis, and intuition.  Our methodology effectively blends both approaches.

  3. Visual thinking - Seeing something drawn helps us think through tough problems.

  4. Group discourse / collaborative inquiry - By building multidisciplinary teams and bringing many different views to the table, we leverage your organization’s collective wisdom, experience, and expertise.

  5. Critical and creative thinking -  Critical thinking is deeply contemplating a subject, reflecting, giving careful consideration.  Creative thinking is, of course, thinking in new ways or directions.

What are your most complex problems?  How are you thinking about them? 

How should you be thinking about them?  How are you positioning for strategic advantage?

 

We can help!  Options we offer:

  1. Design Thinking Workshops (as many as necessary) with subject matter experts that build to a One-Day Executive Thinking Seminar

  2. Senior Executive Strategic Thinking Workshops and Retreats

  3. Three-day Design Thinking Workshops with your experts and best thinkers

Strategic Design experience:

  • Development and execution of more than 50 executive-level Senior Leader Strategic Thinking Seminars at both the US Special Operations Command and the Defense Intelligence Agency.

    • Various events attended by the US Attorney General, Secretary of Homeland Security, Director of the FBI, White House staff, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, and the Combatant Commanders.

    • Example events:

      • 2014:  Countering Trans-National Organized Crime

      • 2015:  Counter-ISIL Strategy Review; Korea Senior Seminar; DIA Futures: The Middle East 2020;

      • 2016:  International Hostage Rescue; DIA Futures:  Russia 2020, Asia 2025; Department of State Messaging;   Korea Senior Seminar II

      • 2017:  DIA Futures:  Africa 2025, Iran 2022

  • Facilitation of more than 150 design workshops composed of multiple US government departments, multiple US government agencies, and international partners. 

  • Transformation of content generated from design workshops into executive level multi-media presentations that immerse senior leaders in a complex problem enabling strategic discussion, critical thinking & solution development.

 

Studies

A Structured Analytic Approach to Investigate Study Issues in pursuit of a Study Objective

A2S has significant experience conducting organized analytic assessments and evaluations in support of policy development, decision-making, management, and administration.

These studies often focus on:

  • Concept, capability, or requirement development (e.g., Capabilities-based Assessments)

  • Acquisition activity (e.g., an Analysis of Alternatives)

  • Resource allocation strategy and programming (e.g., The Department of Defense's Planning, Programming, Budgeting, and Execution [PPBE] process)

A2S can provide a wide variety of study products ranging from short-term simplistic single-variable studies to complex studies requiring an advisory group, a robust team of analysts, and relevant analytic tools (e.g, simulation, mathematical modeling, or experimentation) to underpin study issues, objectives, and results.

 
 

Leveraging Mathematical Techniques to Gain Efficiencies

Analysis

A2S has experience implementing a wide-range of analytic approaches in support of decision-analysis and decision-support for leaders primarily in the Department of Defense.

Core competencies:

 

  • Resource allocation:

    • Decisions about the allocation of resources are often the most contentious problems an organization faces.  The best resourcing decisions are made when leaders receive quality information that provides them sound alternatives with trade-off and risk analysis.

    • Our team has years of experience building analytic tools that provide a sound collaborative methodology so decision makers know the impact and risks involved with their decisions.   A2S developed the Suite of Resource Models (STORM) for the United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) to help them make resource allocation decisions for their ~$40 BIL program.

    • STORM is the primary analytic tool set that USSOCOM relies on to build their annual Program Objective Memorandum (POM) for submission to the Secretary of Defense for the President’s Budget.

    • In 2011, USSOCOM presented our team with the award for “Outstanding Contribution in Automation and Technology” for our analytic efforts in building the tools needed to help the command solve resource allocation problems.

  • Optimization:

    • Optimization involves determining the best possible solution under a given set of conditions or constraints.  

    • The analysts at A2S are experts at developing customized optimization models for our customers.  We developed the ‘Jackhammer’ optimization model used by USSOCOM which recommends which Military Construction (MILCON) Projects the command programs for funding each year.  Project requests from each of USSOCOM’s components (USASOC, AFSOC, NAVSPECWARCOM, JSOC, and MARSOC) are entered into the model.  It recommends the best portfolio of projects to meet the command’s mission while remaining under budget constraints.

  • Prioritization (Value-Focused Thinking, VFT):

    • VFT is a problem solving methodology that leads to better strategic decisions about resource allocation, capability-based planning, evaluation of alternatives, and system design.  VFT begins with the identification of your organization’s objectives and then quantifies the attributes of these objectives using value models.   This analytic technique often leads to new and better alternatives for the decision-maker.   

    • As mentioned above, the A2S team developed the Suite of Resource Models (STORM) for USSOCOM.  Within STORM, VFT models are critical tools for prioritizing USSOCOM’s programs that allow the organization to accomplish its mission.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Lean Six Sigma:  A methodology that relies on a collaborative team effort to improve performance by systematically removing waste, combining lean manufacturing/lean enterprise and Six Sigma to eliminate the eight kinds of waste (muda): Transportation, Inventory, Motion, Waiting, Over production, Over processing, Defects, and Skills (abbreviated as 'TIMWOODS').

    • Lean:  a systematic method for the elimination of waste within a system. Lean also takes into account waste created through overburden and waste created through unevenness in workloads. Working from the perspective of the client who consumes a product or service, "value" is any action or process that a customer would be willing to pay for.

    • Six Sigma: a set of techniques and tools for process improvement. It seeks to improve the quality of the output of a process by identifying and removing the causes of defects and minimizing variability in manufacturing and business processes. It uses a set of quality management methods, mainly empirical, statistical methods, and creates a special infrastructure of people within the organization, who are experts in these methods.

    • Process Improvement: the proactive task of identifying, analyzing and improving upon existing business processes within an organization for optimization and to meet new quotas or standards of quality. It often involves a systematic approach which follows a specific methodology but there are different approaches to be considered.

    • Value Stream Analysis: Value stream mapping is a lean-management method for analyzing the current state and designing a future state for the series of events that take a product or service from its beginning through to the customer. Although value stream mapping is often associated with manufacturing, it is also used in logistics, supply chain, service related industries, healthcare, software development, product development, and administrative and office processes.

  • Simulation:

    • Effective simulation tests a given method, structure or alternative hundreds or thousands of times in a cost effective manner and provides probabilistic confidence intervals to decision makers.

    • The A2S team has experience using simulation programs such as Arena and STELLA.  Additionally, the team has developed discrete event simulations to orchestrate resource allocation over time given mission demands and resource limitations providing risk trade-offs for senior leaders at USSOCOM. 

  • Wargaming:

    • The A2S team has its most recent experience conducting Wargames at both USSOCOM and USCENTCOM.  

    • A2S has the capability to conduct classic role play wargaming with Blue, Red, Green and White cells responding to a Master Scenario Events List (MESL) and its foundational scenario.

    • Additionally, A2S is well-versed in executing Senior Leader Seminars (SLS) supported by a series of subject matter expert driven design workshops that substitute for the typical wargame cells.  In the SLS, executives grapple with critical questions, key insights, challenges and opportunities that surfaced throughout the preparatory design workshops.

© 2017 by A2S