Asymmetric Design

by Richard Veryard
Philip’s post on Asymmetric Demand described a situation in which the forms of demand are increasingly specific to the context in which they arise.

In a situation where Asymmetric Demand prevails, the business design response may be either Symmetric or Asymmetric. Symmetric Design acts as if the Demand were Symmetric (or near-enough Symmetric). Symmetric Design will often produce results that appear acceptable within a static view of demand (as demand becomes more dynamic, this view has to become narrower and more short-term); but show their inadequacy if demand is assumed to be dynamic (requiring real-time business models).

In contrast to this, Asymmetric Design presumes that the aim of the business design process is not to render the demand symmetric, but to manage the asymmetry through a continuous and continuing process.

To maintain an Asymmetric focus, we must address three things:

1. Establishing a collaborative relationship between supply-side and demand-side – this typically takes the form of a joint venture between user and provider, with appropriate mechanisms for managing and sharing the risks and rewards.

2. Joint appreciation of what is driving the asymmetry – this requires the production of a demand-side model that is independent of the supply-side model, so that they can be juxtaposed and assembled.

3. Collaborative composition – the user must be able to compose the service that best approximates to his or her need close to the time of use, and then orchestrate the available supply-side services to support that composition. Depending on the dynamic nature of the demand, this may be a one-off process or has to be supported by a demand-side composition platform (operating in the manner of a ‘wizard’).

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