Enterprise awareness

This article extends the thinking outlined in Enterprise Development which encompasses those capabilities required by an enterprise to support its adaptation, development, or transformation towards its intended future state. It explores enterprise awareness as a key capability within the enterprise development domain, and considers enterprise awareness in terms similar to those of individual self-awareness.

This is the first real expression and articulation of the thinking around enterprise awareness. I expect that further discussion and exploration will lead to progressive refinement and expansion of the thinking around this concept and its application to enterprises and their development. I would like to acknowledge Doug McDavid who prompted this thinking through his long-standing advocacy for the value of establishing and maintaining a repository of the architecture of enterprises.

Concept

When we are more self-aware as an individual, we are able to act in more effective ways in challenging situations. In this regard, I am suggesting that when enterprises are more self-aware, they are more able to recognise and respond appropriately to situations they encounter, whether these be threats or opportunities. In effect, an enterprise is more able to sense, respond, adapt, transform or develop:

  • than it would with lesser awareness
  • then other enterprises in the environment in which it is operating.

Application

What is required to be more enterprise-self-aware? In its most simplest form, it is to be aware of its existing and potential capability.

How often do we encounter:

  • The left hand does not know what the right hand is doing.
  • The divisions are silos with no collaboration between them.
  • Duplicated capabilities in different parts of the organisation

These and other similar situations are symptoms of an insufficiently self-aware enterprise.

What does it take to redress this situation?

  • Some minimal diligence in maintaining models and views which reflect the way in which the enterprise is organised and operates
  • A place where these models are visible across the enterprise and able to be explained and shared as part of the enterprise narrative
  • An assurance mechanism which monitors the maintenance of the models and views and the quality, integrity and usability of their representation
  • Appropriate skills and experience to provide support for this activity to occur in a sustained manner

Implementation

If this makes sense to you, you might be asking how you might explore and apply this concept to your enterprise? There are a number of minimum essential elements to consider and pursue:

  • Leadership
  • Learning and development
  • Scalability

Leadership

Developing enterprise awareness requires leadership to effect a cultural change which creates an environment in which enterprise awareness can develop and thrive.

An effective starting point is simply for the Executive team to test their own shared awareness and consistency in understanding and expressing:

  • the business model(s) underpinning their enterprise
  • the operating model for their enterprise
  • the desired culture and values for their enterprise
  • the means by which the performance of the enterprise should be assessed

Failure to be able to do this in a consistent and coherent fashion prompts serious questions as to how well others in the enterprise understand these fundamentals about the enterprise.

Exploration of the differences and development of a consistent expression with a shared narrative will then enable the Executive team to undertake this process with their direct reports. There will need to be, in conjunction with this activity, an organised way of recording the shared expression of the business model, operating model, values and principles, which can be used in common by all who engage in the progressive development of greater enterprise awareness.

Learning and Development

As the enterprise leadership engages in establishing greater enterprise awareness and greater enterprise alignment, the recognition of differences in understanding and practice are part of learning about the reality of the enterprise, and about deficiencies in its current organisation to achieve its desired goals and aspirations.

This is part of a self-discovery and learning journey. It should be treated as an open enquiry process where no participant is “wrong” and where no “blame” is attached to the existence of differences. These value arises in appreciating the differences and being able to attend to them, as they are, in part, one of the fundamental reasons that the enterprise is unable to realise its aspirations and its full potential.

Deficiencies in the current business model(s) and operating model will prompt revisiting of business strategy, which in turn will require the development and transformation of the enterprise to realise revised business strategies, business model(s) and the associated operating model.

Scalability

The approach which have been outlined can be applied to any “enterprise”. This means that it can be applied to:

  • an entire organisation
  • a division within an organisation
  • a team
  • a cross divisional function (eg. people management system)
  • a cross organisational system (eg. criminal justice system)

For each, it is entirely appropriate to consider:

  • business model (customers, services, channels, value proposition, capabilities)
  • operating model (operations, development, resources and governance)
  • culture, value and principles

For enterprises that are part of an organisation, there will be a need to determine the manner in which the enterprise integrates with other parts of the organisation. This may prompt a broader approach being taken, having determined that value has been derived in considering a smaller part of the organisation.

Facilitation

How might you facilitate the exploration of your enterprise and its self-awareness?

There are often a range of people within enterprises who are well placed to support such an activity. These include staff in the following functions:

  • Business strategy
  • Organisation development
  • Quality management
  • Business architecture

If your enterprise is not of sufficient size to have these positions, then a consultant with appropriate understanding of the architecture of enterprises could facilitate such an activity.

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