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The Art of Enterprise Thinking

Oct. 22, 2013
Adam McClellan

teamapplicantjobBPL127Enterprise thinking, simply put, is the practice of considering the entire enterprise in decision-making, not just a given group or department. This style of thinking makes the organization both leaner and more agile—lean by reducing the waste and inefficiencies that come from blinkered and siloed thinking and agile by increasing everyone’s understanding of enterprise goals, vision, and functions.

Enterprise thinking is the corporate version of apple pie. Everybody’s for it! And, without a doubt, there’s a tremendous amount of value to be gained from pushing for an enterprise mindset.

But Not Really…
However, the fact is that an enterprise mindset is difficult to maintain in most operational and tactical roles. The immediacy of problems combined with the complexity of the enterprise drive people to solutions that they know, understand, and can implement quickly, and those solutions are most often the ones in the small areas under their immediate control.

Not only that, but corporate incentive structures rarely are purely enterprise driven. Most have at least a partial component that ties to departmental or divisional goals being met. To state the obvious: people will do what they are incented to do. The upshot is that enterprise thinking is widely praised in theory but inconsistently rewarded in practice.

Putting Architects and Analysts in the Lead
So what can you do to bolster enterprise thinking? Increase, empower, and embolden the people whose jobs require it. That means building a corps of business architects and business analysts who can embody the benefits of enterprise thinking.

To make enterprise thinking real and beneficial for the larger organization, this community needs to:

  1. Be knowledgeable about the business and how it functions so that their perspective and guidance has credibility
  2. Respond to issues and questions quickly and in practical terms to demonstrate that enterprise thinking has concrete, positive consequences and isn’t an “academic” exercise
  3. Share their knowledge broadly, so that the organization as a whole can benefit and draw its own insights and so the group doesn’t become its own silo
  4. Have access to resources throughout the company, from individual contributor to C-level employees

Failure on any one of these points will marginalize the group and hamper its effectiveness.

This is an excerpt from the Global Knowledge white paper Getting the Most out of Your Business Analysts and Business Architects.

Related Courses
Business Analysis Essentials
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About the Author
Adam McClellan has over a decade of experience as a project professional, including multiple stints as a business architect as well as business analyst experience. As a Project Management Professional, Certified ScrumMaster, and Six Sigma Greenbelt, he brings a combined focus on high-quality solutions and timely delivery to his work and has experienced first-hand the valuable knowledge and enlightening conversations to be had at all levels of an organization.