VIAGGIO NEL DNA DELLE ORGANIZZAZIONI
Una visione sistemica(r)
Information Resources Management Association - international conference
New Orleans louisiana usa 23 -26 may 2004
Business Process Modelling: a new
Corporate DNA Based Approach
Roberto Paiano, Andrea
Pandurino, Dipartimento Ingegneria
dell’Innovazione Università di Lecce
Via per Arnesano, 73100 Lecce, Italy
Via Cristoforo Colombo 112, 00147 Roma, Italy
Track: Business Process Management Tools and Technologies - Business
process modelling, analysis and design.
A strategic factor
for any company is its
capacity to adapt rapidly to
changing market conditions.
Although the current approach of Organizational Change Management represents a
step forward with respect
to Business Process Reengineering   and
Knowledge Management ,
it does however
suffer from the same problems as its predecessors. This study
illustrates work on a new way of looking
at companies which makes it possible to manage the process of re-engineering in an innovative fashion. All the classic methods are based on the idea that the company
and its behaviours may be compared
to a machine whose evolution and functioning need to be followed;
our studies by contrast see companies as being more similar to adaptive
organisms of a complex type which,
in order to survive, must modify themselves and their behaviour in response to the promptings of the environment or market.
On the basis of this new
approach an industrial research project has been launched whose aim is to define a new business model in company consultancy to capitalize on the experience gained
in other projects; indeed,
utilizing the similarities with living organisms, it is possible to identify the Key elements which make it possible to describe the company - in other words to define its Corporate DNA. The project sets up an infrastructure which allows the
consultation and use of models
DNA), expressed in terms of Key Elements. In such a
system, the consultant is able to make use of a repository of models which constitute his or her company
knowledge. He or she will be able to ”clone” this
knowledge in new but similar
contexts, improving the quality of
the re-engineering since this is based on consolidated models already in use in similar
Process Reengineering, Corporate DNA
INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND
With the advent and the affirmation of new Information and Communication technologies, companies must adapt their working processes to the changing requirements of an increasingly competitive market. Both companies and public bodies are obliged to continuously modify and reinvent their organization via expensive BPR projects. Furthermore, they must be able to design, implement and manage organizational change in terms of time to market.
In order to face up to these new demands it is necessary to identify and adopt technological, methodological and organizational solutions able to cope with all the variables at stake.
Business Process Reengineering (BPR) is being eclipsed by new methodological approaches to the requirements of continuous change in whatever type of organization. A need is clearly emerging for approaches such as Knowledge Management, Knowledge Exchange (which uses Knowledge Management as a basis) and Organization Change Management  to be included in a single methodology, a new way of operating that is indispensable for the planning and management of change and to which Knowledge Exchange leads.
Currently the consultancy firms which operate in the field of company reorganization carry out interviews and produce, in most cases, reports or models of an organizational nature in paper form. Only in a few cases, considered as pilot cases, are graphic systems or design support tools used which prove to be useful for the management of design activities. These are not able however to capitalize on the knowledge generated by the project and to distribute it to all the personnel who will have to work with the new organizational model.
The current preference is for an approach able to integrate all aspects; in this sense, Business Process Reengineering and Knowledge Management represent the evolution of the classic approach, while Organization Change Management can be considered a more truly innovative approach. It enables companies to design their own organization in response to the market or more generally to the context where they operate, according to a continuous cycle which has the aim of designing evolutionary organizational models while managing the organizational model currently in use.
Although all these approaches introduce innovations, they are based on the idea that the company and its behaviours are comparable to those of a machine whose evolution and functioning need to be followed.
In contrast, the new approach described in this paper views companies as being more similar to adaptive organisms of a complex type which, in order to survive, must modify themselves and their behaviour in response to the promptings of the environment or market. This vision is reinforced by the fact that all organizations are composed not only of people, tools, hardware, software, but also of emotions, intuitions, ideas, and design, managerial and productive skills. If companies are like living organisms then we may suppose that they can be described with reference to fundamental elements (Corporate DNA) which characterize their behaviour and unambiguously identify their characteristics.
Two definitions of Corporate DNA are available in the literature: in the view of Ken Baskin  Corporate DNA is a database of information on procedures and structures necessary for people in an organization in order to work in a self- organizing way that is also compatible with their organizational identity. In this definition Corporate DNA is none other that a container in which all the information necessary for the management and evolution of the organization is memorized. Another point of view is supplied by Gary F. Bargatze  according to whom organizations are, to all intents and purposes, living things which follow their own biological cycle. For Bargatze Corporate DNA contains all the variables responsible for the evolution of the state of health of the organization. Positing a similarity between the human and organizational genome, the fundamental unit of company DNA is the structural and functional component which must contain one or more persons who form an organization. Bargatze puts the emphasis on human resources and consequently, it is these that must be monitored in order to check the health of the organization, revealing any “trouble” and what caused it.
Using this new vision of the company, an industrial research project is currently in progress in collaboration with the
QUality Innovation Management SpA company
in Rome and the Department
of Innovation Engineering of the
University of Lecce, whose objective is to set up a range of products and services
via the adoption and
creation of systems and methodologies for managing a small to medium-sized
company, treating this as
a living organism, enabling the evolution,
specialization and reproduction of its “genetic heritage”, called
1.1 Net Consulting
called “QUality Innovation Management NET” seeks
to design a Net Consulting
Enterprise Business and Organization Model.
That is, it aims to define a new model
of business in company consultancy which makes it
possible to capitalize on the experience gained in other similar projects. Currently the activities
of consultants and consultancy firms in general
are closely correlated with the
experience gained and with the company knowledge available; using the new
approach, which makes it possible
to define via the concept of Corporate DNA a company model
as a composition of Key elements, it is possible to set up an
infrastructure which enables the consultation and the use of models already
being applied in similar organizations. In other words, it will be possible to ”clone the Corporate DNA”
new company situations. In such a
system of services, the consultant will use the available models, choose the one which best suits
his or her requirements, adapt it
to the new context, evaluate its effectiveness and place the
new improved system at the disposal of other consultants. The consultant will thus
operate in a virtual on-line company
laboratory in which he or she will utilize the fundamental elements and combine them
to obtain new composites/organizations.
is subdivided into four phases:
Identify a new approach for “process and
knowledge modelling” via a model for the representation, in a number of inter-correlated contexts, of the
relations between the elements that
make up the strategies and the company’s operational features. The
“stratified vision” makes it
possible to define and identify the fundamental components of the company (“genetic heritage”), enabling these to evolve
and to be manipulated and re-engineered in subsequent re-
use in contexts of different
origin or contexts modified due to changing market conditions. In
this phase it is necessary to identify not only the fundamental elements but also the rules and the limits which characterize them, as well as the relations between them in various contexts such as Business,
Structures, Processes and Knowledge.
to provide an adequate
representation of the concepts and the modelling being applied. Such a language will enable the formalization
of company models, at the same time
ensuring comprehension on the part
of all the players involved.
tool in support of the new approach; thanks to the formalism
identified in the preceding phase,
this will make it possible to support the designer in all the phases of the
process of re-engineering. Such a tool must
enable not only the design
of the project but must
also be able to capitalize
on the knowledge produced and the various organizational models, via
an appropriate repository. In
this way the models produced will
be reutilised and re- combined in order
to model similar or more complex processes, improving them and
subsequently reinserting them in the
repository. Thanks to this
process of continuous improvement it will be possible to bring about
the evolution of the processes contained in the repository; indeed each
process will be used in different environments and will change so as to better
adapt itself to the new context.
“Distribution Model” which enables the sharing of the models produced and which provides support
to the organization. Such a model
will be used to share and evaluate the knowledge present in the repository to provide
on-line organizational consultancy
and manage change inside the company,
rapidly disseminating the organizational
On completion of the project a system of process modelling and re-engineering will be available which make it possible to re-use the models, described via a UML-like language and available in a shared
AND KNOWLEDGE MODELLING
Currently the project, of two years' duration, is in the first phase; thus the foundations are being laid for the development of a new approach with the aim of improving and facilitating the evolution of organizations.
Going back to Bargatze’s characterization of Corporate DNA, if this is combined with the informational elements of Baskin’s definition, it is possible to obtain a definition which takes account not only of the fundamental elements - be these organic (human resources) or inorganic (technologies and instruments) - which make up the DNA, but also of the methodology (procedures) adopted for the management of the organization itself.
Therefore, Corporate DNA can be seen as the combination of the fundamental elements with a software for the memorization and management of the data, information and instructions necessary for the construction of organizations considered as complex systems of an adaptive type.
On the basis
of the definition given, and in accordance with the objectives
of the first phase, it is possible
to proceed with the identification of the elements and the relations which will make
up the Corporate DNA. Properly combined, these will make it possible to describe the entire
organization. Keeping in mind the
possible analogies between the organizations seen as complex systems
of an adaptive type and
these elements correspond to
the role of chromosomes.
In order to identify these elements, which must be generic and valid for all levels of the organization, it is necessary to obtain the best possible representation of all aspects of the organizational situation, from the strategy to the processes needed to achieve the organizational objectives that have been set and from which the common elements are derived.
In this sense, the first step taken has produced a stratified vision (in levels) of the organization which distinguishes objectives, tasks, resources and structures into levels and makes it possible to obtain schemata which highlight, for each level, the entities present and the relations between them.
present in figure 1 are:
the strategic level, which makes it possible to identify the operational objectives of the company, that is to say the aims that the organization will pursue via its organizational procedures, and how these will be achieved. We are typically concerned here with primary tasks which must be performed inside an organization, and specific objectives which set the strategy for day-to-day decisions and activities within the organizational units or departments. The objectives are correlated with the processes, which are activated by events since these are the means by which they are reached. Reaching the objectives may involve various areas of business and to achieve an objective in one area, a number of processes in sequence may be necessary. The processes directly triggered by the events are called “entry processes”. On the strategic level we also find a list of Co-makers which describes the relations, that is the existing links between the organization in question and the players with which it interacts.
the operational level, which is closely linked to the strategic; it is enough for an event to happen to switch to operational mode. On this level the operational side of the organization is described: the sub-processes, whose activities are composites, the organizational positions (who does what) involved in the activities and the skills that these must possess to be able to carry out their tasks correctly.
the management level, which makes it possible to represent the organizational structure by modelling the business. The model obtained contains the organizational units or departments needed to achieve the organizational objectives. The organizational units, which play specific roles, identify who is in charge in the organization and are responsible for the processes. The difference between role and organizational position is that the former represents the role assigned within the company, the latter is the sum of the tasks carried out within the processes (the organizational positions are, in fact, connected to the processes).
Starting with the
“functional” schema of the
organization described in figure 1,
it is possible to construct a representation, organized into levels, of the
key entities identified and which also shows the relations between them.
2.1 Corporate DNA
The general schema of the Corporate DNA can be subdivided into three sections which identify the types of entity which will “generate” the entire organization.
types of entity are:
Knowledge entity: the “super-entity” from which it is possible to derive all the other entities. It is possible to characterize it by assigning it given attributes. The knowledge entity contains the properties and rules which define the functions and the roles of the other entities derived from it which are called conceptual entities.
Conceptual entity: the result of the characterization of the knowledge entity type. The conceptual entity, which inherits properties and rules from its parent entity, is defined within a certain context which identifies an area containing other entities and behaviours and inside which specific attributes are activated.
entity: this inherits all the
properties of conceptual entity from
which it derives. The physical
entity is none other than an
instance of the conceptual entity and is used to hold the real values. The
presence of the conceptual entity is justified by the fact that the same conceptual entity can be used a number of times and in different
contexts. Taking as an example the process of opening a bank
account, the number of times that
this is replicated is equal to the
In this paper it is not possible to describe the schema of the Corporate DNA in detail, given that this is composed of 170 elements including entities and relations between them. As an example, figure 3 shows part of the detailed schema of the knowledge entity type, its specializations and the attributes which may characterize it once the context in which it must operate has been defined. Given that the second phase of the project includes the choice of a graphic language to represent the Corporate DNA, the formalism used has not been studied in detail, and should thus be understood as provisional.
The Knowledge entity type is a parametric object, that is, it will be necessary to select those attributes that are needed to describe the specific entity in the context being considered; thus the Knowledge Entity type can be specialized in various categories of entity (scenario, goal, pattern, object base, event type, connector, organizational context, document, etc..).
After defining the Corporate DNA, it is necessary to proceed with the next phases of the project. The second phase is currently being planned and an ontological approach  is being considered to obtain a thorough description of the objects of the Corporate DNA.
The conceptual schema obtained constitutes an excellent starting point for the formulation of an ontology. After the description of the concepts via the modelling of the entity selected, these need to be codified in formal language via the semantic networks. Specifically, the KL ONE  networks have been chosen. These make it possible to use an effective graphic formalism, and to organize the concepts in a hierarchical structure. Using these properties it has been possible to translate the conceptual schema into a semantic network; from the semantic network it will be possible to obtain a description in an ontological formalism.
ontologies means formalizing knowledge - in our case the knowledge present in the
organizational context, facilitating its
transfer and ensuring its permanence over time, keeping in mind
that it is subject to continuous
revisions. Furthermore, it can be translated into a
machine-readable format made
available via the distribution system.
All these motivations lead us to argue that the semantic
choice is the most valid for the
creation of a common and easily maintained language.
phases of the project are not yet the
object of detailed study, but we
believe that the description provided of the
Corporate DNA makes it possible to develop them appropriately.
Based on the concept that the behaviour of organizations is comparable to that of an organism which must adapt to the environment, we have introduced a new approach which has made it possible to identify the fundamental elements which characterize it: the “Corporate DNA”.
To construct the Corporate DNA we have used a vision of the organization on levels, from which it has been possible to obtain an initial approach to the definition of the fundamental elements of the organizational DNA. Observing the presence of similar elements on different levels, it has been possible to draw up a single conceptual schema, which is the representation of the Corporate DNA.
It should be observed that although the fundamental elements have been identified, a much broader vision is required. The Corporate DNA also defines the methodology via which companies can be created utilizing the elements found. When thought of from a parametric point of view, these elements can assume different attributes depending on the context to be characterized.
the Corporate DNA the possibilities for its formalization were examined briefly and the guidelines were set out for completing the remaining phases of the research project.
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