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Book: Response Ability - The Language, Structure and Culture of the Agile Enterprise
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Response Ability

The Language, Structure, and Culture
of the Agile Enterprise

Jacket Words | Preface | Table of Contents | Reviews

A Chapter  Synopsis

This book illustrates what it is that makes a business and any of its systems easy to change, and then demonstrates how to apply these principles to any system in a company, at any level. It shows how to analyze opportunities and problems for their operational dynamics, and ways to use these tools to establish a solution strategy. It also demonstrates how to measure change proficiency, and then how to use this tool to profile a company and establish improvement strategies. Finally, It focused on the role played by culture, and how to establish and insert these new values and competencies compatibly into an established corporate culture, no matter what it may be.

Part 1 – Agility, Response Ability, and Culture

Part One lays in a foundation of concepts and leverage. Definitions clear up the slipperiness that the word agility when applied to business and enterprise. The roles of culture and knowledge management are discussed. A common set of structural patterns is shown as the enabler for highly adaptable enterprise systems.

Putting Agility in its Place - Agility is a very seductive word. One that finds immediate and personal definition for almost everyone touched by it. It can capture cycle-time reduction, with everything happening faster. It can encompass mass customization, with customer responsive product variation. It can embrace virtual enterprise, with streamlined supplier networks and opportunistic partnerships. It can echo reengineering, with a process and transformation focus. It can demand a learning organization, with systemic training and education. It can build on lean production - with high resource productivity. As a descriptive word agility can embrace almost any competitiveness interest with considerable intuitive appeal.

Change Enabling Structure and Culture - Tangible examples of adaptable enterprise environments of four kinds are provided: product, process, practice, and people. The fundamental common pattern shared by these examples – reusable components reconfigurable in a scalable framework – is offered as a structural template for guiding improvement strategies.

Part 2 - Change Proficiency: The Language of Agile Enterprise

Part Two and Part Three of this book each deal with two fundamental aspects of response ability: change proficiency and structural issues. In Part Two the focus is on change proficiency, as a language and as a competency. We deal with words, concepts and metrics that allow us to communicate, categorize, measure, compare, and prioritize business strategies and issues concerned with adaptability in practices and processes, social and organizational structures, and even product and service configurations. We explore a common language for discussing adaptability in all aspects of business, and develop an appreciation for competency. Part Two offers tools as well as concepts to analyze and compare change proficiency, so that a map of possibilities and actualities can be drawn and goals and objectives can be established.

Frameworks for Change Proficiency - Two key aspects of change proficiency are explored: the nature of change and the nature of proficiency. A metric framework for proficiency at change is established, and then the notion that change comes in various types is introduced. A company's proficiency may exist in one or a few of these types and not in others, and these change domains, can form a structural framework for understanding current abilities and setting improvement and strategic priorities.

Response Situation Analysis – Methods for applying the tools of change proficiency are shown, specifically to develop profiles of situations and problems in need of understanding and solution. A language of change proficiency has been introduced, and is exercised here to show how it is employed.

Part 3 – Adaptable Structure – The Enabler of Agile Enterprise

Part Three reveals the core concepts of how to build enterprise systems so that they can be changed when they should be changed. Adaptable enterprise systems are shown to be collections of components whose interactions are constrained and enabled by a common framework. We examine the nature of acceptable frameworks, ten design principles for enabling high adaptability, real examples of these principles at work, and methodologies for creating response-able systems.

Enabling Response Ability – Response-able competency is accentuated or inhibited by the design of key enterprise systems. Ten common system design principles have been identified which enable an enterprise to reconfigure its product designs, production processes, business practices, and organizational structures. Examples show how the framework/component structure produces systems of reusable components reconfigurable in a scalable framework. Two basic forms of adaptable enterprise systems are discussed: directed and self-organizing. Directed dynamics are generally used in cases where the components of the system are themselves inanimate - such as the workstations in an automated assembly process. Self-organizing dynamics are possible when the principal resource components are goal seeking and empowered - such as the people in a company.

Response-Able Enterprise Systems – Real system examples are depicted in a repetitive graphic format, creating a visual pattern of Reusable-Reconfigurable-Scalable (RRS) principles at work – a pattern that later becomes an important element of knowledge transfer activities. The important concept of systems integrity management is introduced; providing a means to continuously managed response ability as the environment changes. Also, a methodology for designing enterprise systems according to the ten RRS design principles is outlined.

Intuitive Design of Response-Able Systems – The design methodology previously outlined is useful as both an initial means to develop experience and mastery, and as a longer term design discipline. Experienced designers rarely follow such a methodology, however. For them the concepts and principles become embedded in their thought processes, and conformal designs emerge with little conscious effort. An adaptable ERP architectural design and its subsequent implementation process, drawn from real life, are used to illustrate this intuitive design approach.

Part 4 – Knowledge and Culture – The Way of the Agile Enterprise

Part Four offers techniques for altering a current corporate culture and mobilizing it down the path toward enterprise agility. These are powerful knowledge management techniques that very much manage the creation of knowledge – knowledge which embeds itself in the culture during the process. Though these techniques manage the creation of knowledge, they do not dictate what that knowledge will be, only what it will be about. Thus, the knowledge forms compatibly with the existing culture, complimenting as it transforms.

The first of the two techniques develops motivation, ownership, and objectives as it attempts to characterize the competitive maturity of an organization’s response ability. The second develops skills and insights for reaching these objectives. Both are problem solving techniques, not turn-the-crank transformation recipes. Thinking is required. Notably, each can be used to reach real, valued, and immediate objectives, teaching new concepts as a byproduct rather than as an abstract or righteous exercise that must be pursued on faith.

Waking Up the Enterprise - Methods for gauging the maturity of an organization at change proficiency are introduced. In themselves these are powerful tools for developing as-is and to-be models – and provide a foundation and direction for both strategic programs and improvement projects. More important, however, is the by-product of cultural transformation that the use of these tools leaves behind. They infect corporate thought with new values and insights that take root because they make sense, and because they yield actionable and valuable results.

Becoming and Managing the Response-Able Enterprise - Another problem solving technique and a management practice are introduced, which together offer a way to form and embed the knowledge of response ability in the culture. Changing the culture means people having to learn something. The heady subjects of collaborative learning, communities of practice, organizational learning, and knowledge management are shown as necessary ingredients of the response-able and agile enterprise. They have specific roles to play in the building and managing of the response-able enterprise, and are explored in this context.

Jacket Words | Preface | Table of Contents | Reviews

Monthly Features: What's New? | Guest Speaker | Real-Time Chronicles
Other Features: Home | Library | Links | Services | Corp Info | Press
Major Concepts: Realsearch ||| Enterprise Model ||| Maturity Model
                        Knowledge & Agility ||| Agile System Principles
Book: Response Ability - The Language, Structure and Culture of the Agile Enterprise
Book: Value Propositioning - Perception and Misperception in Decision Making

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Last modified: February 25, 2005