How To Use Stress Testing To Deliver Business Value

Do you know what stress testing is? No, it’s not the testing of how much stress you are suffering. Stress Testing is a common term used by risk analysts or those who analyse business performance and product development to assess how tolerant to failure a person, people, product or service is. It is one of the successful methods of analysis I have used and still continue to use to grow my business.

For you to understand Stress Testing, reality TV shows such as ‘The Apprentice’, ‘Fear Factor’ or ‘Survivor’ is an example of being tested to the limits of what’s possible to ascertain the most resilient person.

The Art Of Breaking Things Purposely

What is Stress Testing

Stress testing is not about controlling the outcome of an event as some have mistaken it to be. There is a different method for that known as scenario analysis or simply put, role playing that can help you manage event outcomes when they unexpectedly happen.

Stress testing is the process of introducing interference, disruption, pain or extreme pressure or force to a person, entity, entity meaning a business or organisation, big or small, products or services to their most possible breaking point to ascertain what the result will be in relation to how they withstand the stress applied. This enables you to know the true quality of a person, people, product, service, organisation or business.

It is like taking the new iPhone 14 and drop it from the top of a 17-storey building to the ground to test how much damage it can withstand. This is often done by manufacturers so they can learn about what they can do to make a product better and make it as sturdy as possible after which they can state a claim to when marketing that product.

Using a mobile phone as an example, you may have heard some brands say theirs phone brand is, scratch resistant, waterproof, heat resistant and so on. To be able to state that claim, the product would have undergone stress testing to test that the product can withstand the level of resistance to damage they claim it to have, basically that is does what is says it can do. With this, the company can command a good price for the product and likely attract more buyers.

Stress testing is an experimental and continuous analysis used by risk analysts to support strategic decision making in many organisations, especially within Financial Services businesses.

When did you last stress test yourself, your business, your products or services? Could the problems you a facing now be the result of not carrying out stress testing?

What you need to know is that Stress testing creates or leads to high levels of resilience. And with resilience comes longevity when compared to that which has not been stress tested.

When you stress test, you identify weak points, strengthen them and then you build resilience for the future. This helps get you or your business through tough times, usually tough times such as economic downturns or when you are disappointed by someone you trust, a supplier or other business partner. The pandemic is an extreme example of things that can happen that are beyond your control which could test your strength and resilience or in effect your existence.

The interesting thing about stress testing is that you can carry it out on people too (whether they are friends, family, or employees) to find out their true quality as you do with products. What is revealed enables you to know if they are aligned with your purpose.

Examples of Stress Testing

Your phone underwent stress testing before it got to market, your watch, your car, the aeroplane you fly in, nearly all the products you use underwent stress testing.

Let us use the example of aeroplanes to demonstrate the practice of stress testing.

  • Manufacturers of aeroplanes mechanically bend the wings to the maximum point possible, about 90 degrees to test it for extreme flight conditions. The wings are also snapped to make sure that its breaking point is beyond that which is expected in real flight situations.
  • Also, frozen dead chickens are shot into the engine and windshield of the planes at high speeds using aviation chicken gun to simulate real life situations of birds striking the planes in mid air
  • Flooded runway water tests are carried out to test the planes tires and brakes for take-off and landing during heavy rain.
  • Many more tests are carried out before aeroplanes are cleared for commercial operation.

These are the reasons why flying in an aeroplane is still the world’s safest and most successful means of transportation.

Why you should carry out Stress Testing

  • It builds trust in the minds of people who know you and those you want to know you, buy your products or services,
  • You become much more reliable as your track record of success speaks for itself,
  • You can withstand extreme and unexpected economic or geo-political events.
  • You can confidently state your claim to a product or service you offer after you have stress tested it for everything possible,
  • You attract more and better opportunities.

Watch the Space X documentary.

What to Stress Test

  • Your Health
  • Your Mindset
  • Your Purpose
  • Your Products or Services
  • Your Company
  • People (family, friends, employees, co-workers) This is being done in our society today.

How to do it

In order to ST you have to first start, build or create something, that which is to be stress tested. Your purpose as a person or a business needs to be clear in your mind and written down explicitly so that there is no doubt about what it is. This purpose is what you are seeking to protect and achieve by using stress testing to prepare for your success.

It is basically building to destroy in order to rebuild again because what comes after the rebuilding process is stronger, more resilient and harder to break. You basically become a better version of YOURSELF, person or organisation. When you do this to yourself or business, you become more tolerant to the adverse unforeseen changes the world throws at you. Imagine if you knew about this and Stress Testing yourself before covid 19?

A lot of businesses use a combination of ST and SA to prepare for unknown events. Who knows, many may be privy to information we don’t have which leaves many dropping off when crisis happen and a few standing.

Yes, we had covid, what will be the next BIG crisis to hit us next? It will happen for sure, it’s just a matter of WHEN. How do you prepare yourself? Stress Test to prepare your resilience towards adverse events and ultimately your success. To get the best results out of your Stress Testing, you should combine it with Scenario Analysis. Briefly Scenario Analysis is simply the conscious activity of carrying out a role play of any potential event to determine possible outcomes that may occur in reality if the event was to materialise. What are the multiple scenarios of threats that could affect your purpose? What are the multiple scenarios of opportunities that could arise as result of your purpose? Scenario Analysis is done on specific events that you simulate to the best of your ability and you develop your response towards those events. Whereas Stress Testing is done on tangible items, people, organisations, products or services and so on.

There are several categories you can perform Stress Testing on but let’s focus on two, People and ‘Products & Services’.

First on a people, either a person or group of people (this is a longer process because it is a journey)

  • Identify the subject and their presence in relation to your overall purpose
  • Be clear of the purpose of your stress test
  • Set clear goals and milestone
  • Be involved in the process
  • Identify what can be improved
  • Review the outcome and share review outcome, if necessary, with the subject depending on the situation
  • Lastly, you need to know when and what to Improve, terminate and or replace, as brutal as it may sound.

The Next category under which you can perform Stress Testing is products & services:

  • Depending on whether it’s a product, service or whole business, there are specific steps to follow for each. Here is a rough guide:
  • Categorise your products or services, business according to its kind and industry area and target audience
  • Be clear about the purpose of your stress test
  • Develop your testing criteria for each category by detailing what you want to test for
  • Carry out the stress test according to the key requirements defined in the product, service or business lifecycle
  • Record your findings
  • Improve, terminate or replace accordingly based on fitness towards the overall purpose of the product, service or business entity.

If you would like to learn how to use Stress Testing to build resilience and growth in your business, please contact me directly or use the contact options here to get in touch with my team.

Thank you for taking the time to read this article.

Please check out our other articles for vital resources.