Zero Based Design Methodology

A technique that makes you identify only the very essential controls in process design. 

Get back on course to managing a business and not managing regulation

What is Zero-Based Design 

A zero-based design means taking an in-depth look at what your company is now and reviewing it with your north star (strategic goal) in mind. Instead of forecasting and looking at where incremental changes may take you in the future, the approach works on a system of back-casting. Back-casting is identifying minimum viable proposition at each step. In terms of regulatory controls it concentrates the focus on controlling the risks rather than creating a perceived threat biased control environment. It is a simple methodology that applies two terms:

North star - This is the clearly defined, visible, and understood the aim of your company. It's your compass in every future move you make, and it's visionary.  It is key to your strategy document and target operating model to deliver that strategy, there is only one North Star, a fixed point from which you navigate.

Zero point - More than just a blank slate, the zero point is where your business is stripped down to its core. Only essentials should remain. What could your company not function without? If you were to start over, look at the processes, systems, and products you'd keep even when scrapping everything else.

Zero-based design means taking an in-depth look and actually implementing the often asked question, "if I built this company again today from scratch what would I do differently?". 

Incremental changes create operational complexity, often by regulatory changes or risk awareness. Typically the reason for the incremental change is then lost in further increments, from here on the risk of control failure starts to increase. It is the driver behind the expression, "we have always done it this way" which clearly indicates a control that has lost its connection to the risks that are being managed. With that loss of visibility,  comes the loss of oversight, then hopefully it gets captured when it fails without an impact. This has now become a control based on hope.

How the zero-based approach can help your regulatory and digital transformation

A north star for your regulatory or digital transformation can reveal the ideal state of your business, with little preconceived notions or biases limiting you. Additionally, with the zero point identified you can choose to direct time and effort from the non-essential elements into your controls and risk management.

Your zero-based approach should cover five areas:

  • Transparency.

  • Process.

  • Governance, Risk and Compliance

  • Mind-set.

  • Incentives.

Each of these ties well into creating a transformation that's successful. Making plans and changes visible and accessible to all employees helps bring them on board. A zero-based approach should have strong top-down targets that are regularly reviewed and monitored. This ownership by management of your transformation, along with monitoring and testing, helps ensure that it progresses smoothly.

Governance, Risk and Compliance should include deadlines and tension to help push the transformation along, create achievable goals and accountability .

Developing the right mind-set is also vital, it switches views from focusing on the negative to seeing how things are changing for the better. 

Ask yourself, one question: 'How might we better utilise our employees by engaging them fully in tasks that foster their talents and bring innovative perspectives to the table, create a safe environment for challenges, rather than have their time consumed with repetitive, unfocused work?'.

Incentives that are intrinsically linked with the steps needed to achieve your transformations north star, and encourage individuals to work towards the aims.

The zero-based approach, when fully invested in and implemented correctly, is a great change agent. It can help your business move into the digital age. Additionally, the methodology fits well with an agile structure.

If you'd like to learn more about how to successfully manage regulatory and digital transformation within your company,

We can help you achieve your regulatory North Star