Assessing Capability

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All businesses, whether they be small, one person operations, large multinationals or government agencies will benefit from understanding their delivery capabilities.

Whilst relatively easy to say that a business must engage in a particular set of activities in order to realise its goals and objectives significant obstacles may arise when attempting to implement them.

I am reminded of the adage ‘Don’t bite off more than you can chew

When defining a business mission and its supporting goals and objectives, it must be realistic. What point is there in setting the business sights on something that is not attainable from where the business currently sits? The business vision sets out the long term, the business mission has shorter time horizons.

Goals and objectives will always require that some type of business activity be undertaken. The outcome of these activities will ultimately define success or failure. Understanding the activity outcomes will assist in redefining and improving subsequent actions.

Having a real understanding of the maturity level of the different dimensions of a business is key to making better business decisions. The following, loosely based on the Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI) framework, defines very briefly the characteristics of each maturity level.

  • Awareness – Reactive, Poorly controlled, Unpredictable
  • Repeatable – Islands of excellence, Reactive
  • Defined – Reusable, Proactive
  • Managed – Measured and Controlled
  • Optimising – Improving, includes feedback

As a business matures each of its dimensions then so does its capability to deliver.

Assessing the business maturity level against defined criteria can indicate what needs to be addressed in order to realise ongoing and sustainable business success. Understanding business maturity can also provide the impetus to set additional goals and objectives that will increase the maturity levels over a planned timeframe.

Maturity-Business_Dimensions

Example Business Dimensions Maturity Model

It is not enough however just to understand how mature the dimensions expressed above it is also important to understand the level of maturity in the capability of the business to make good business decisions.

Knowing the capabilities of the business in what it can do does not necessarily translate to actually doing.

*Decisions still need to be made. *

With good processes, good knowledge, the capability to deliver and the willingness to decide good decisions can be made.

Often however, where there is a lack in any of these, either no decision is made which, of course, is a decision to maintain the ‘status quo’ regardless of the consequences or a poor decision is made (possibly after much procrastination).

Maturity-Decision_Dimensions

Example Decision Making Dimensions Maturity Model

The decision making capability can itself be matured over time. Understanding the consequences of each decision made and learning lessons from what worked and what didn’t is key to that maturation. Asking questions such as:

  • What percentage of decisions were correct?
  • How quickly were decisions reached?
  • What percentage of decisions were implemented as planned?
  • Were the resources identified to carry out the decision effective?
  • Was the outcome of the decision as expected?

are important to improving the capability.

As the decision making capability improves so does the overall capability of the business improve. Making better decisions and understanding why they are better can only increase the confidence that when any particular activity is defined in support of business goals and objectives it it will provide the expected business benefit.

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