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Conferences, General

Blue Ocean Strategy tip: Transform how you transform the organization

In the next few days the conference Building Business Capabilities is being held in Florida bringing together more than 1000 attendees. I’m told it’s the best event of its kind because it brings all the experts and thought leaders in this field together.

Yesterday I attended a session on Enterprise Business Analysis held by Jason Questor. One of the questions asked was “what is the highest title a business analyst can have?” and the answer was “CEO”. A good business analyst understands that an organization is a cohesive whole brought together to deliver value for its stakeholders. Strategy, people, know-how, processes and technology brought together in the right way is what delivers the value. To change the value generated the business analyst has to consider the wholeness in order to understand where to change to deliver the value. This is the job of any good CEO and it would seem likely that he or she would need a lot of people working top-down to deliver the right changes. The current goal would be defined in the business strategy (which is the relatively easy part to do) and then it’s only a question of changing the capabilities of the organization to deliver on the strategy. That’s the hard part. In the session a reference was made to a study done a few years back on what the biggest challenges a CEO faced was. On the top of the list was managing change.

In this light I’ve made a few worrying observations.

  • Everybody at conferences like this on business architecture (and on IT conferences as well) complains that senior management doesn’t appreciate the value of thinking in wholes. “If only they would listen to me” is a common statement heard.
  • Many “enterprise oriented” departments (like data modeling, data warehousing, enterprise architecture and business analysis), have to fight to justify their own existence.
  • The farther of Enterprise Architecture (different term for the art of thinking the enterprise as a whole) John Zachmann told me yesterday that especially in North America, senior management won’t hold still long enough for him to tell them just how important Enterprise Architecture is.
  • Given that steering the change of an organization towards a common goal is a huge challenge to everyone, it’s surprising not to see this reflected in the organizational diagrams that I come across. I have yet to meet a CCO, Chief Change Officer or an Enterprise Architecture function that’s not in IT.
  • Seeing how inefficient most companies operate, how siloed they are in their approach to change (or allow it to be), and how little link there is between company strategy and the changes happening, it’s amazing that these companies are able to make money at all.
  • The most common challenges we as consultants face in organizations are the challenges that shouldn’t even exist (see my previous blog on this).

If you read management books you may be familiar with the concept of Blue Ocean Strategy. In short it’s about finding the market position that no one else has, in other words it’s about competing on factors that no one else compete on, so rather than seeking to win in the competition you seek to eliminate it. Looking at how organizations generally handle the art of transforming themselves, it stands to reason that if you truly manage your organization as a whole and manage change in this understanding you should be able to create an organization that continuously change the game, constantly finding new blue oceans (because competition catches up) at a pace few, if any at all will be able to follow. Now that’s a sustainable competitive differentiator worth aiming for, and one I as shareholder would be more than willing to invest in.

To do this, clearly most organizations will need to transform how the organization transforms itself.

 Will you be the one changing the game?


About Kjell Wittmaack

Kjell Wittmaack is an industry expert and thought leader within the field of Information Management. As Partner Mr. Wittmaack heads up the advisory practice globally for Platon – the leading independent Information Management consulting company. Mr. Wittmaack advises clients across industries on Information Management issues, linking challenges, business strategy and practical execution. He is a frequent acknowledged speaker and panelist at conferences around the world.



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