Yes, the Structural Capabilities Architecture gives a great method to slot your capabilities and competencies; but at the same time, capabilities are useless if not managed well. But then, you can’t just stand up in a board meeting and scream at your Presidents to, uh, manage the competencies better; and not at all so in transnational organisations employing thousands. Then what structure exactly should one follow to organise the people to manage structural capabilities of any organisation? For that, I present the Consequent Capabilities Architecture. There’s a statutory warning though: this stuff is not for kids, and not the least for glam-struck management students – it’s meant purely for CEOs, and that too of very large organisations.
CONSEQUENT CAPABILITIES ARCHITECTURE
Consequent Capabilities are named such because the nature of their existence is consequent to the nature of the main structural capabilities. But the most important aspect of them all, as has been mentioned above, is the fact that Structural Capabilities exist and improve or get discraded only because of Consequent Capabilities. Structural Capabilities are the display & end result of the power and efforts of Consequent Capabilities. Different types of Consequent Capabilities identify the need for Structural Capabilities, refine their efficiencies and effectiveness, remodel their alignments with overall corporate structures and processes, and finally ensure that the organization becomes the most intelligent corporate animal that responds demandingly & profitably to all that the environment has to offer.
The existence of Consequent Capabilities runs parallel to the main operational line of structural capabilities. That is, while the continuum from Doorway capabilities to Power Leadership Capabilities focuses on competitive requirements (developing, improving, sustaining, or discarding competitive leadership), Consequent Capabilities focus on development perspectives (developing, improving, sustaining or discarding Structural Capabilities leadership). Consequent Capability Units (comprising of respective managers and team members) are of four types:
LEARNING CAPABILITY UNITS (LC UNITS)
These Units are made up of teams that are associated with all the Consequent Capability Units (Transformation, Fortification and Exnovation) at all levels and have two prime responsibilities:
1. Documenting processes, structures, organizational initiatives, goals, objectives at various discernible levels of the transnational organisation.
2. Developing a sharing network that enables all levels in the organization to learn best practices, structures and initiatives of various Capability Units by initiating Consequent Capability Architecture intervention programmes aimed at educating, teaching, disseminating knowledge, information and data throughout the organisation.
LC Units play the role of historians and professors. The LC Units are repositories of information. LC Units involve themselves in organizational intervention exercises (including, but not restricted to training & development workshops, conferences, seminars, sales sessions etc) at every level to make sure that Units all across the organization share in the learning experiences from across the organization.
EXNOVATION CAPABILITY UNITS (EC UNITS)
Exnovation is literally defined as the opposite of Innovation (I wrote about Exnovation in one of my previous editorials; it’s also there in the book that I mentioned a few paragraphs above, CULT: The ultimate CEO guide to calling the shots without getting shot). Exnovation Capability Units are meant to monitor anomalies in organizational functioning and rectify them. EC Units are dedicated capability units that ensure Exnovation of aberrations to the strategic architecture and initiatives being undertaken by the organization. The primary responsibility of EC Units is to ensure that best practices and benchmarked processes are followed throughout the organisation to the tee; and those employees/structures not adhering to the predecided processes, be either reassigned/retrainedor even retrenched in case retraining does not give progress.
Recent lessons in Corporate Non- Governance (Reliant, Dynergy, Enron, Andersen, Tyco...) have ensured the rising importance of EC Units in the corporate governance functions of organizations. Internal audit teams, for example, are EC Units attempting to ensure that standard financial processes (for example, SEC guidelines, Sarbanes Oxley Act etc) are not tampered with. Presence of Exnovation Capability Units is akin to presence of anti-bodies in human bodies in more ways than one. EC Units are dynamic in nature, both in size and their project requirements.
Corporate governance Exnovation responsibility Of the top management
The compelling need for Exnovation Capability Units does not arise only from the fact that they assist in maintaining normal operations, but more so from the fact that they fall in line with urgently required corporate governance norms. It’s the responsibility of the top management to ensure that EC Units are created at every critical level or process or department, staffed with competent ‘general specialists’, allocated resources for successful functioning, provided independent authority and responsibility to undertake transparent actions, provided with access directly to top level management, and ensured transparency with Prime Stake Controllers like Shareholders, employees, regulatory bodies like SEBI, Federal Trade Commission, European Commission etc.
There is another interesting standpoint that develops once an organization has implemented the EC Units structure through all the critical levels of the organization. By the very definition, fault lines, anomalies, aberrations or deviation occurrences need to be corrected. In this case, after judicious analysis has been done to confirm the findings, the faults should be prioritized according to the damage they might continue to cause to the existence and operations of the organization. Such impending irreparable faults and their consequent damage should be immediately communicated to relevant Prime Stake Controllers
FORTIFICATION CAPABILITY UNITS (FC UNITS)
Fortification Capability Units are meant to continuously identify better processes and structures to achieve the predefined results. FC Units are capability units that ensure continuous improvements to the strategic architecture and processes being undertaken by EC Units at various levels. FC Units do not question the results to be achieved. They rather find out better methodologies of achieving the results. In traditional terms, FC Units attempt to be effective (doing the right things), while EC Units attempt to be efficient (doing things right). At each critical level of the organization, FC Units in organizations should be structurally above EC Units because FC Units dictate what optimal processes and structures should be present. EC Units ensure that the processes and strategic architecture laid out by FC Units is followed to the book.
Fortification responsibility of the top management What is the need for Fortification Capability Units in organizations when managers & executives probably know what the right processes and structures
to be followed are? The needs are a screaming many because of the following reasons:
• Managers’ vision to identify effective processes and structures is strangulated because of their stressed out focus on achieving regular targets and meeting key performance measures. They basically
do not have time to develop orientations towards designing newer and better processes and structures.
• Even if they get the time to develop more effective processes & structures, managers are myopically focused on their scope of operations without worrying about cross-structural and cross-process
• Further, operational managers generally lack knowledge of using quantitative and qualitative analytical tools to calculate relative strengths and value worth of processes and structures.
Efforts of Fortification Capability Units ensure continuous focus on effectiveness of processes and structures throughout the organization. Fortification Capability Units (and to a large extent Exnovation Capability Units) also ensure that the organization retains ground level implementation sense of strategies, irrespective of how high its vision might become. The top level management retains control over practical issues of how profitable & worthwhile individual processes and businesses are through extremely well researched methods of value chain efficiency analysis (or rather, of Exnovation Capability Units) and effectiveness analysis (of Fortification Capability Units).
TRANSFORMATION CAPABILITY UNITS (TC UNITS)
In the order of hierarchy, Transformation Capability Units at each level of the organization are above the Fortification Capability Units (who in turn are above the Exnovation Units). Transformation Capability Units are meant to continuously question and re-question not only the objective orientations of various levels of the organization, but also the need for the levels themselves. For example, a Transformation Capability Unit in the manufacturing plant of an organization not only would decide what should be the manufacturing benchmarks & objectives with respect to various parameters, but also would decide whether the manufacturing plant should be allowed to continue or not. Once the TC Unit decides on the worth of continuing the complete manufacturing plant, and once the TC Unit decides on the objectives that are worthwhile for the manufacturing plant to undertake, the Fortification Capability Unit takes over to design processes by which the plant would undertake the various objectives; and the Exnovation Capability Unit takes over later to ensure that the processes so designed by the Fortification Capability Unit are adhered to perfectly.
What Lou Gerstner was to IBM, Jack Welch was to GE; Transformational catalysts beyond comparison. The early transformational initiatives of Jack and his team focused on the following strategies:
• Being in only those markets where GE could be number one or two (most importantly to counter infl ationary pressures)
• Delayering’ the organizational structures (To transfer the strategic planning function over from senior managers to direct business leaders)
• Going for quantum leaps rather than small steps (Vision orientation of dramatic improvements in financials through practicable mergers, acquisitions & divestments) The later transformational initiatives of Jack and his team focused on the following strategies:
• Improving service orientation (In 1980, 85% of GE’s revenues came from manufacturing. In 2000, 75% of $125 billion revenues came from service, entailing better profitability) •Going global (In 1987, $31.7 billion revenues came from domestic US sales, and $8.7 billion came from global markets. In 1998, $57.7 billion came from domestic US sales, while $42.8 billion came from global sales).
• Using the information technology tools to again competitive advantage (taking GE online on the net to create a boundary-less world to seamlessly connect all stakeholders)
At this time, there might be a presumption that while Exnovation Capability Units operate only at lower levels of the organisation, Transformational Capability Units operate only at the higher levels of the organisation. Not so. True, TC Units have more importance at higher levels, and EC Units have more at lower levels, but every level requires its own EC, FC, TC and LC units.
What I’ve attempted in this massively self-aggrandizing and theoretical editorial is to tell you – the CEO – that the first step to becoming a world class organisation is documenting a plan to know, maintain, develop and even destroy your capabilities and competencies. And if you had no idea how to prepare that document, like I said once before, just blindly implement what I’ve presented here – and keep sending me the royalty.