A lot of learning can come from reverse-engineering many things. In business it can be a creative process on how to bring about new change, and innovation.
Tech Backstage interviewed Jason Jepson to learn more about reverse engineering. We talk about reverse-engineering outcomes into strategy, building and positioning for technology, and the ins and outs of storytelling.
The Tech Backstage Podcast is a live streamed video podcast that goes behind the scenes with today’s leaders of industry to learn what technologies are solving business problems, and how Design Thinking applied to the future of technology is impacting the world.
Reverse-engineering means dismantling an item to check its functioning system. This method is applied to examine and thoroughly understand it, particularly to enhance the item. We can reverse-engineer various things such as machines, software, different types of devices, and so on.
The reverse-engineering process is generally applied to software and hardware from older companies. It depends on the technology and what knowledge can be gained during reverse engineering.
The information or the knowledge can be used to do security analysis or to remodel unused items. In other terms, reverse engineering is gaining knowledge from a finished product.
So, be it an engineer or a business owner, everyone can reverse-engineer a business process by starting with the end goal while looking at the business.
Reverse-engineering can let us focus on the important aspect as an outcome instead of just focusing on easily measured things. Therefore, every organization can drive innovation from a blend of data, process, output, and outcomes.
With reverse engineering, outcome, output, process, and data are bound to walk backwards. It might be challenging, but it is a rebooting approach where the focus on the outcomes can be a win-win for all.
To get reverse engineering turned into a strategy, looking at a business is crucial. When we view it, it gives insight into its functions, data, the process of functions, estimation of its outcome, and input.
Jepson states that with an example by providing a difference between a 5000-dollar client and a 1000-dollar client. They have the same desires and wants. The difference is that one understands and knows what they are building for their company. They have insight into their goal. But the other client, without knowing the business, has a system that will not serve its company in the long run.
Without a proper strategy or reverse-engineering of the business as a whole, “pulling information or calling that insight is very difficult.”
It might take business owners “constantly wagging different battles,” but it is crucial to figure out how to remove them. Finding those pieces of information while viewing the business is crucial.
You need to have a strategy to move forward, but before you build the strategy, you must understand what you want to do. Then you can find out where the problems lie. Then, you need to sit down and think about the outcome and then work backwards.
For instance, Amazon uses reverse engineering. First, they target a result, then, they proceed to go ahead.
The Reverse-Engineering Process
Irrespective of the context, some fixed steps are common regarding reverse-engineering efforts. They are:
Extraction of Information: The business or any object to be reverse engineered is analyzed. The information about its process, functions or design is extracted to determine how all the pieces fit together. For example, in the case of software reverse engineering, engineers need to gather the source code or the design documents to examine. While for a business, the steps might be to check its outcome first, then determine the input, functions, and process.
Modeling: In this step, the information that has been collected is transformed into a conceptual model with all the pieces explaining its function to predict the outcome. This step aims to take data from the original to form a general model. This model can guide the designing of newer models or processes.
Review: In this step, the team can review the model and test using various circumstances to make sure it is a realistic abstraction. When the process is tested, the process or the model is ready to be implemented to reengineer the original item.
Reverse-engineering means trying to purposefully break things so that we can fix them before they break on their own. This is done so we can bring the best positive change and experience to people.
Jepson says we want to embrace technology in a way to create a healthy relationship with tech where people can feel good when make use of it. There is always a need to create something that complements people. These are the little things that make a big difference.