Mlearn is an Organizational Innovation methodology that gives guidance for improving and innovating the governance model, the organizational architecture and the business strategy clarification and deployment.
The approach is based on the modelling of the organization in terms of self-directed and organized teams, adopting a systemic and services oriented perspective. It guides the building of the unique and shared reference model for the whole organization fostering, effective consensus.
The methodology guides the clarification of the business strategy and its deployment through the organizational architecture, providing a method for control the execution of the business strategy and not just for management control.
The strategy is clarified in two levels: structuring objectives (medium term strategic objectives) and tactical objectives related to stakeholders (short term).
Two integrated control systems:
- Strategy control system (explains where the execution of the strategy failed)
- Management control systems (explains the deviations of the indicators)
The strategic objectives are defined following four improvement motivations: finance, clients/markets, people and society.
The tactical objectives result from the discussion of the interaction of the institution with the stakeholders, to identify the conditions that impact the strategic objectives
The methodology provides techniques to define the objectives and indicators and validate its consistency and alignment. These techniques are based on matrixes and relationships validation.
The strategic and tactical objectives are then decomposed to the operational ones, related to the 1st level organizational competences. It corresponds to the first layer of the organizational architecture.
This strategic triangle composed by the strategic, tactical and 1st level operational objectives enable the generation of guidelines to define the business plan and budget. The project portfolio is generated in a top down approach.
All this strategy clarification is done in the context of workshops involving the board and the senior directors, incurring in about 3 equivalent days. As there is no interviews and everything is shared by projection of the working screen, a strong commitment and consensus is achieved.
During the workshops is forbidden to talk about Who does the things and how they are performed. People only should discuss what the organization should be able to do to implement the strategy in the relationship with the strategic stakeholders.
The decomposing of the 1st level operational objectives to the Task level is supported by the organizational architecture based on Organizational Competences.
The organizational service level agreements amongst the organizational competences ensure the conditions for the implementation of the business strategy, without shared objectives but collaborative ones.
The deployment of the strategy by self-directed teams, empowered by the adjustment of the chart so that there are no shared-objectives and each one manages a system (a cost center) with a budget and a plan assures agility and effectiveness. The chart is converted into organizational units that provide services, instead of performing a part of something or competing.
The continuous improvement and innovation system based on a systemic model ensures permanent and fast adaptation to the strategy adjustments.
Designing a unique guiding framework for the consistent and coherent definition of objectives and indicators assures an effective and fair performance assessment system.
The methodology Mlearn fosters a culture of innovation in the whole organization providing an appropriate governance system and management model.
The governance system is based on self-directed teams with enough autonomy, empowering people and motivating them, to foster creativity and innovation.
Adapting the chart of the organization, the organizational units are transformed into collaborative teams that want to deliver and receive the best services.
As the reference model of the organization is designed independently from the chart, system oriented, all discussions about the innovation of the organization take place out of the box, as the traditional thinking no more helps. No more the silo thinking issue giving freedom to innovation.
There is an organizational competence (a self-directed team) in charge of ensuring innovation culture and managing the innovation system. This team is not in charge of delivering innovative ideas or projects, but to foster and coach all the other teams to do it. Every team should innovate the services they deliver. Of course, this team should innovate the way they have to create conditions for the other teams be successful innovating.
Workshops is the suggested way to discuss the organization, what fosters a collaborative work and exchange of ideas.
Keeping people motivated and committed is fundamental to ensure the best conditions to make the innovation culture successful. The innovative governance model based on self-directed teams, the empowerment of teams and people, an effective strategic alignment that assures a fair assessment and variable compensations balanced with the contribution to make the strategy happen are good ingredients to accomplish that objective. Additionally, an environment fault tolerant complete the puzzle.
The methodology guides the design of a new governance system based on self-directed teams.
These teams oversee organizational competences identified through a systemic approach.
The adjustment of the chart, ensuring that each organizational competence belongs only to an organizational unit, transforms the several departments into collaborative teams that deliver services amongst them.
The method to decompose the strategic objectives through the systemic organizational competences ensures that there are no shared objectives, eliminating the silo thinking problem.
The approach guides to a flatter organization where the support organizational competences ensure the guidance and the resources that the core ones need to identify, negotiate and deliver products and services.
There is only one management system that complies with all quality norms further then the management control, human resources, risk and others to support the whole organization. Traditionally the institutions develop several management systems and try to integrate them, generating significant redundancy and entropy.
The approach guides the business plan through a top down generation of the business project portfolio, diminishing the intangibility of the return of each project.
The accountability of teams and individuals is very accurate with the negotiation of service level agreements defined based on clear organizational boundaries.
The approach contributes to many improvements and innovations in the human resources and managing people subject.
The governance system (see Mlearn and Governance section) and the way the approach models the organization, strongly fosters the culture of innovation (see Mlearn and Innovation section) that is always a good contribution for people motivation and satisfaction.
The modeling of the organization following a systemic and system oriented architecture, independently of the chart, assures an effective definition of the organizational boundaries, that determines roles very well defined, no shared objectives and fair assessments. The objectives and indicators are not defined for people or for organizational units. They are defined for organizational competences and only then associated to people and departments, negotiating the respective goals.
The assessment of each team and each person is based on the effectiveness of the delivered services and not based on the performance of the tasks directly.
The organizational architecture supports the decomposition of objectives, defining objectives in all directions, including horizontally, according to service level agreements. This is a good framework to define a 360º assessment system, as the objectives and indicators are already defined for all the elements of the organizational architecture (organizational competences, activities and tasks).
The methodology suggests a change process based on workshops, involving everybody assuring individual ownership by the reference model of the organization.
The training needs for improvement of the performance needed to achieve the individual objectives are aligned with the objectives of the self-directed teams, that come from the business strategy.
It is easy to defined the individual competences after have been defined the organizational ones. A competences management system for people becomes more effective and aligned with business strategy.
The organizational architecture guides the definition of more homogeneous roles, improving the fit with the people skills.
Everybody has the conditions to understand clearly the hat, that is the decisional scope and the contribution for strategy, when performing each task. No more isolated and not aligned individual views of the organization.
Everything comes from the workshops around the integrated and aligned discussion of the organization. There are no interviews neither paper, being all the interactions supported by the screen in the computers or projected, to assure consensus.
Everyone knows exactly his objectives and controls the resources and service level agreements to achieve them.
The modeling of the organization into organizational competences gives a comprehensive framework to adjust the chart of the organization.
As the organizational competences are systems, they define in an effective way the boundaries of the organization, ensuring a clear definition of responsibilities through service level agreements.
Crossing the chart with the organizational competences, one can understand the virtual teams that ensure the services provided by each organizational competence. This result gives evidence to the sharing of responsibilities amongst the organizational units.
Considering the people and their skills, the organizational strategy and the management of people it is possible to adjust the association of the people to the organizational units in order to assure that only one organizational unit is in charge of one organizational competence. This team should be managed as a self-directed team.
Sometimes certain organizational units need to contract services or resources to others to optimize the human resources.
The virtual teams are thus transformed into self-directed teams, that then are decomposed into self-directed or self-organized ones, according to the guidance given by the organizational architecture.
This technique transforms the organizational units into self-directed teams that deliver services to each other, ensuring that each one has all the resources it needs to deliver the services.
As all of them want to deliver and to receive the best services, the silo think problem is solved. In each meeting, there is always a unique director in charge. The systemic approach ensures that there are no shared objectives.
The innovative approach to the BSC, assures the definition of the objectives by organizational competences, through the organizational architecture. Then the objectives of the organizational units and of people result from their association to the organizational competences, activities or tasks. The objectives are not defined directly neither to the organizational units nor to the people.
This approach gives an organizational reference model that provides a sustainable development of the organization, assuring a good stability to the business.
The design of a unique business reference model and a single knowledge repository, supporting a unique management system, instead of having several management systems, allows a significant reduction of costs inherent to the construction and maintenance of various representations of the organization:
The designed reference model is the same for quality management system (and other ISO ones), information systems, activity based costing system, risk management system, knowledge management system and people management.
The objectives and goals are the same for performance assessment, management control and quality.
Cost control is based on organizational competences and its service level agreements. The organizational competences are the Activities in the Activity Based Costing approach. Effective accountability of the self-directed teams is an important output of the approach.
The processes are effectively aligned with business strategy.
The project portfolio results from a top down technique, discussing the strategic and tactical objectives and the relationship with strategic stakeholders. In advance, the board knows the need for a project, where the project should impact (one or more organizational competences) and its contribution for the business strategy. The senior directors just have to define the project.
The organizational architecture and the deployment of the strategic objectives through it, completed with the service level agreements, ensure an effective framework to guide the follow up of deviations of the goals.
Each organizational competence, or self-directed team, has a sub team in charge of its management control, reporting to the corporate management control team.
The strategy is expressed in terms of strategic and tactical objectives. The former are defined according the improvement motivations of the business: finance, clients and markets, people and society. The last ones are deployed from the strategic ones discussing the interaction with strategic stakeholders.
Then both are deployed through the organizational competences of the 1st layer of the organizational architecture.
The rational is the following: if the institution wants to implement successfully the strategic objectives then it has to create the adequate conditions in the relationship with the strategic stakeholders and ensure a good performance of the organizational competences.
Then the objectives are decomposed through the architecture of each organizational competence until the task level. Horizontal relationships are controlled through service level agreements.
The operational business processes cross the organizational architecture, enabling to identify the alignment with the strategy using the interceptions with the organizational competences.
The information systems are specified from the tasks (last level of the business architecture) or from the operational business processes, being effectively aligned in both situations.
A great deal of research points to the fact that the key drivers of digital business transformation are not the digital technologies themselves.
The key drivers have been found to be around leadership, strategy, digital business models, culture, rapid transformation and capabilities involving innovation, digital transformation management.
Thus, the organizations should improve their ability to accelerate the adaption, what determines appropriate governance systems.
Leaders need to consider the big picture and not limit their focus to only some of the key enablers of transformation. Holistic approaches based on collaborative culture and innovation are the strategic response, which transcend technology upgrades and simply doing the same things faster, better or cheaper.
Mlearn gives guidance to contribute to the implementation of these capabilities.
The whole approach is deployed through workshops, beginning to involve the board and following a top down deployment, what ensures a good environment to influence mindsets. The CIO is involved from the beginning to assure that the IT power is fully addressed.
The strategic objectives are decomposed independently from the chart, through the organizational architecture following a systemic perspective.
The systemic modelling of the organization guides the identification of self-directed teams that fosters and ensure agility of the whole organization.
The modelling of the organizational architecture is done independently of the chart, forcing a thinking out of the box.
The self-directed teams are empowered with a budget, the appropriate resources, a clear definition of their organizational boundaries and an internal governance system creating good conditions to motivate and get the commitment of the people.
The innovation system creates an environment where all the teams should play the role of innovation teams fostering everybody to innovate in the workplace.
The clarification of the business strategy is based on a discussion of strategic and tactical objectives, involving the stakeholders’ analysis, that are deployed through the organizational competences. A weighting technique enables to prioritize all the objectives.
The rational is that the institutions should improve or innovate the organizational competences to successfully impact the stakeholders in order to make the strategic objectives happen and achieve their goals.
The role of the projects is to contribute for the creation, improvement or innovation of the organizational competences.
This means that the board is able to identify the new organizational competences and the ones that need to be improved or innovated to create the adequate conditions to achieve the tactical and strategic objectives, in particular their goals.
Thus, this approach gives the opportunity to the board identify in advance the need of projects, with a certain impact and priority on the strategy. This reduces the intangibility of the projects.
To prepare the project portfolio, the senior directors only need to define the projects to fit the needs identified in advance.
This approach gives a good contribution for some important issues of operational risk management.
The systemic modeling provides clear organizational boundaries where the probability of being associated to risk points is very big.
In these control points service level agreements are defined, what minimizes the risk.
The organizational architecture guides the decomposition of the objectives that are related to the ones associated to service level agreements. This is the technique that assures the alignment of the risk points with the business strategy.
This alignment is important to understand how much should be invested to mitigate the risks.
The independence of this organizational architecture from the chart, avoids the existence of hidden risks.
The effective definition of responsibilities and the guarantee of no existence of shared objectives assures the best conditions to control the operational risks.
The external context should be considered to understand the impact on the organization and the governance system must be prepared to ensure an adequate response, playing the strategic alignment an important role to support leadership.
Mlearn guides an organizational development that full fills all those requirements.
Designing a top down organizational architecture, following a perspective of systemic organizational competences, enables the alignment of processes with the business strategy.
Designing a unique management system that meets all relevant standards ISO or others, instead of integrating multiple systems, contributes to a consistent and no redundant management system with high levels of performance.
The reference model represents the “ought to be” view of the organization that will guide the annual improvement planning based on the progress of the “as-is” to the “to-be” status.
The unique management system supports either the Quality Management System and all the others like management control and people assessment systems. This fact and the systemic modeling defining effectively the organizational boundaries, avoiding shared objectives assures motivation and accountability.
The design of an organizational knowledge repository ensures continuous improvement and the basis for a learning organization, as all the information resources are kept in an integrated way and made available to everyone. The transference of knowledge from the people to the organization is thus accomplished.
The creation of a unique and shared view of the organization based on the organizational architecture is fundamental to assure the strategic alignment of the whole organization. The organizational competences constitute a strategic perspective of a process, following the value chain concepts. It is the basis of the governance system. The operational processes are considered as improvement tools and not as governance tools. This is an innovative paradigm.
The independency of the management system from the chart of the organization provides the conditions to ensure a sustainable stability, even when there are changes in the chart or people move.
The quality management system is embedded in the management system, being effectively followed by the people in a daily basis.
Nowadays the organizations need to manage the IT and the Business as a unique dimension to prepare their capabilities for the digital transformation.
Many issues faced by the CIOs cannot be solved by them alone as their origin is situated in the business areas responsibility. If the board take decisions without considering the potential contribution of IT, later it will be very difficult for the CIO to provide an adequate and effective response taking advantage of the power of IT. The workshops organized to clarify the business strategy create the adequate conditions to involve every senior director, including the CIO, in the business strategy discussion ensuring that the recent IT technologies are considered.
Demand management is another big issue for the IT departments. Many, diverse and no prioritized requests coming from the business areas are very difficult to manage ensuring the desired service. Organizing the institutions around organizational competences, systemically defined and strategically aligned, assures that all the requests to the IT department are previously prioritized according the business strategy, avoiding major conflicts.
Another issue is related to the specification of the information requirements that typically are identified by interviewing the users. The short vision of each user and the functional view of the organization determine that the quality of the information systems specification is typically somehow different from what the organization needs. Mlearn guides the definition of the information system requirements through the organizational competences, ensuring a consistent, complete and aligned specification. There are no user interviews directly for this subject. The users are involved previously in the design of the organizational competences with their activities and tasks. These are composed of operations, instructions and business rules.
Finally, we should address the return and payback of the IT projects. Typically, this is a very intangible issue. The need for an IT projects, as well as for all the others, is identified from a discussion of strategic and tactical objectives, considering the impact on the stakeholders and the contribution of the organizational competences. The techniques, using matrixes, enable the prioritization of the need for projects. So, one knows in advance the impact in the strategic objectives and the organizational competences that should be improved or innovated by the projects. The last thing to do is identify the project and detail its activities. It is a top down generation of the projects. The return and the payback come much more tangible.
The clarification of the business strategy and the first layers of the organizational architecture guide a quick, complete and aligned strategic information system planning.
The organizational architecture is also a goof reference model to support the customization, the validation for acceptance of an information system application like a ERP. Afterwards it is very helpful to coach and follow up the users.
Mlearn offers a governance model for IT completely integrated in the governance model of the whole organization, following the new IT-CMF orientations and supporting the guidelines issued in their recommendations in the improvement program.
The best practices of knowledge management recommend that they should be embedded in practical KM strategies, processes, methods, systems, tools, technologies and techniques. This will bring about a natural knowledge based, and knowledge driven culture and capability across the organization.
Knowledge management principles need to be embedded in the organization and embodied in the people.
People will focus and work more effectively through a shared vision and values, and the knowledge management strategy must be aligned to this.
Team Knowledge Management is concerned with creating, sharing and applying knowledge as a team, by working more effectively together as one.
Designing an organizational architecture, one gets a unique and shared view of the organization, playing the role of a reference framework for the organization of business knowledge. Each organizational competence represents a decisional context and thus a cell or a cluster of knowledge.
The governance model is based on interactive workshops and collaborative working, fostering the transformation of implicit/tacit knowledge into explicit one.
The knowledge is tied to Business Objects and Tasks and organized according to the organizational competences. It is independent of the chart of the organization and of the operational business processes. This fact assures sustainability of the knowledge management.
There is one organizational competence that is in charge of managing the knowledge management.
ISO 44001 represents a new generation of International standard with a focus on behaviours, organisational culture and management processes providing a common platform to underpin sustainable business relationships and harness the benefits of collaborative working.
In a collaborative relationship, effective operation relies on specific mutually agreed joint interfaces, processes, roles and responsibilities and may require specific variations to in house processes. The context of the organisation seeks to set the overarching rationale for the adoption of a collaborative business relationship approach.
Following that norm, Leadership outlines the key requirements for the executive level and leadership to identify the objectives for collaboration, develop and implement policies and processes, allocation of resources, ensure effective communication, assign a Senior Executive Responsible (SER) for overseeing the collaborative working and establishing a robust internal governance structure to ensure effective operations.
Planning focuses on ensuring that effective risk and opportunity management is in place aligned to the its operational objectives and identify where these may be supported or enhanced through the adoption of collaborative working approaches, or where additional external partners may be required in order to achieve targeted outcomes.
Mlearn provides a governance approach that fulfills those requirements recommend by ISO44001.
Certain factors are necessary to help ABC succeed no matter what company is involved. Some of these factors are commonly referred:
Interdependent environment – the environment should have a preexisting process-oriented improvement program. A disposition towards internal change will help move the implementation along.
Coordination and integration – involving various departments in decision-making will ease the implementation process.
Strategic alignment of the activities and performance measures.
Technical expertise in the identification and analysis of activities.
The organizational architecture provided by Mlearn defines the organizational competences, and its sub layers, as systems ensured by self-directed teams. This structure should be adopted to guide the definition of the ABC Activities.
As the strategic objectives are deployed through that organizational architecture, complemented by the service level agreements, this approach assures the strategic alignment of ABC system.
The modelling of the organization into collaborative teams assures the commitment of the people and their involvement in the design and implementation of the ABM system.
The approach is based on a three-dimensional view of the organization: organizational architecture, operational business processes and the chart of the organization. These dimensions are independent. Thus, an operational business process does not result from a decomposition of an element of the organizational architecture. It is transversal to it.
The organizational architecture is service and system-oriented. Its structure is composed of a 1st level organizational competencies that can be decomposed into 2nd level ones and so forth, until the Activity level, which can be decomposed into Tasks. Each Task is decomposed into Operations, Rules and Instructions.
The methodology created a technique that guides the decomposition of the organizational architecture into layers, based on the number and kind of Business Objects and their life cycle. The status of them correspond to control points of an organizational architecture that determines the definition of Activities and of KPIs.
This means that the subjectivity designing the organizational architecture is minimized. The number of layers of each 1st level organizational competence is defined according to that technique, being different for each one, according to its complexity.
An organizational competence is a system, including the resources, that is able to respond to a stimulus. It relates to the value chain of the business.
An operational business process corresponds to the typical concept of end-to-end process. It is a set of Operations and Rules, of several organizational competences, to respond to a stimulus.
The next picture illustrates the Mlearn organizational architecture, the operational business process and the chart together.
The organizational architecture is a governance model that expresses the organizational strategy. The operational business process is an improvement model and it is not suitable for governance purposes like to define a manager.
The next picture helps to understand the contribution of this organizational architecture to align the operational business processes, the objectives, the people assessment system, the information systems, the cost system, the operational risks and the training needs, for instance.
In this example, we have the three dimensions: logistic department (chart), the operational process Receiving materials at the warehouse; and the organizational competences Buying, Managing Materials and Managing warehouse (Organizational architecture).
Consider that the Buying manager negotiates with the supplier a discount for paying immediately. If in the warehouse the clerk delays, for some days, the validation of the material, the buying manager will lose the discount, due to this sharing of responsibility. So, the objective of this clerk for this task should be decomposed from the objectives of the buying manager and not from the ones of the logistic manager. Any delay on the Task Updating stock does not impact the buying objectives. It impacts the Managing Materials as nobody knows that new materials have been received. At last, the Task ranging material does not impact neither the buying nor the managing materials organizational competences. It impacts the warehouse in terms of damage of the materials and time to take them out.
At the boundaries of the organizational competences we can identify Operational Risk points. Each organizational competence is a cost centre and helps to identify the cost centre to register the cost of each task. The information requirements of each task should belong to the specification of the information system that supports each organizational competence, instead of the one that supports the logistic department. If so, the logistic software will support, for example, the task of validating material that should be integrated with the buying software. This is the reason why most softwares are not well specified, as typically the operational business process is the reference for interviewing the users. The training needs and the assessment of the clerk related to the task Validating material should be determined by the buying manager and not by the logistics manager.
The methodology associates a hat to the organizational competences and a jumper to the organizational units. Each employee typically has only one hat and several jumpers. The issue is that the employees are not aware neither of how many hats they have nor of their colour. The hat gives the decision scope.
This approach enables the identification of the virtual teams that ensure the delivery of services to respond to the stimuli. These are the effective teams of the organization, although they are not known. When someone changes the hat, performing a different task, that person is changing the team to which the person belongs and that is in charge of that task. So, everybody should know the hat one has when performing a task.
The next picture illustrates theses self-directed teams, as they correspond to a cost centre and should have enough autonomy to deliver their services.
It is easy to understand now that a design of an operational business process crosses the organizational architecture, as the next picture shows.
We can conclude that while the operational approach is able to give results related to time and cost reduction as well as to compliance, the strategic modeling contributes strongly to an effective coordination, responsiveness and strategic alignment.
The organizational architecture enables an effective decomposition of objectives, which is impossible by following the chart of the organization, as ilustrated in the next picture
This technique of decomposition enables the design of trees of issues, objectives and indicators, as in the following example.
This is a good aproach to define a score card or a BI system, avoiding the difficulty to understand the deviations and to identify the actions to do.
The three-dimension view of the organization helps to define the governance system and to define and decompose the objectives and indicators independently of the chart of the organization. In a second stage the responsibilities are defined and the goals negotiated. The operational business processes are only useful if you need to improve efficiency, efectiveness, flexibility, and compliance, including automatization.
One of the most relevant frameworks for BPM is the one of ABPMP. It defines 9 ore areas: Business Process Management Introduction, Process Modeling, Process Analysis, Process Design, Process Performance Management, Process Transformation, Process Organization, Enterprise Process Management and BPM Technologies.
Mlearn gives an innovative approach to Enterprise Process Management, Process Performance Management and Process Organization providing an effective alignment of the operational business processes, building an organizational architecture, based on organizational competences.
An operational business process is considered an improvement technique, being transversal to the concept of the organizational architecture, considered a governance tool.
All the other areas benefit from this approach, particularly the Process Design.