Sunday, December 14, 2008

We need a new definition of what “business maturity” is

Dean Kamen recently commented on the topics of industrial competitiveness and agility

“I think what Darwin really was saying was: It’s not the fittest, not the smartest, not the strongest; it’s the ones that can adapt to change. And big industries that have long histories, particularly successful long histories, and a lot of ingrained infrastructure become the least adaptable to change.

“And when a disruptive opportunity comes along, they are the last that are capable of dealing with it.”

It’s the ones that can adapt to change.

Interesting: if true, this calls into question the significant placed on organizational “maturity”, which focuses on complete definition of business processes and their optimization. What about agility?

Proponents of the maturity scale claim that by defining processes, one is in a better position to change those processes. However, that is not necessarily true, and I claim that in a complex organization, having extensive process definitions actually impedes change. It is similar to the situation in which one takes unit testing of software to its logical extreme: one gets to a point where one doesn’t want to change anything, because the cost of updating all the tests is so high.

Balance is necessary, and in Value-Driven IT, I make the argument that we need to re-define the very term “business maturity” to mean that the organization is capable of change, while staying in control: that it has the ability to retain strategic alignment of what matters, while making a substantial course change - and can accomplish this quickly. Because that is what is needed in a dynamic industry, and so many industries are becoming dynamic.

It has been a little while since I have updated this blog, and that is because I have been very busy working on improving the Expressway tool (described in the frame to the left). The version that is currently available is very crude from a usability standpoint, and the new version will be much improved. You will see!

Happy Holidays!

- Cliff

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