Another innocent question with far reaching consequences.
As I pointed out in the previous article, a capability depends on an underlying concept. Untangling: What comes first, economical concept or capability? But are there more to consider when looking at the world through capability lenses?
Yes, there are plentiful more to be aware of. The capability literature and methods are full of additional aspects. One may wonder if capability has become a wish list for missing strategical and operational talking points? The presence of these embedded aspects may, to a degree, explain why there are many variants of capability based analysis’s and planning methods. Some aspects are explicitly described, but many are tacit or implicit.
In this article Im taking at look at how capabilities also reflect different Units.
An example: a capability can and is often thought of as also being a Unit-of-Responsibility. The logics of responsibility, organisational design, and program management is intermixed with the logics of the underlying concept (operational concept, function, or…) and capability management. Mixing aspects give raise to complications.
At the end, one can reasonably ask if the net result is a set of capabilities or a group of responsibilities? Which logics are most important? What does a capability map add to someone in their work, in addition to interweaved aspects?
The untangling series starts here: The wonderfully convoluted worlds of Capabilities, Processes and Services and continues with Untangling: What comes first, economical concept or capability?
Let’s start by defining Unit:
“An individual thing or person regarded as single and complete but which can also form an individual component of a larger or more complex whole.” [Oxford Dictionary]
In the first example, the Unit-of-Responsibility is defined by the nature and logic of a responsibility. An organisation (the whole) is divided into spaces of responsibilities that are assigned to someone or a group. Unit-of-Responsibilities are preferable non-overlapping and can be further divided into smaller responsibilities by delegation.
What kind of Units are commonly found interweaved with Capability?
The following list is not exhaustive but enough to provide a sense of intermixing complications and possibilities.
All in all, a system of Capabilities can simultaneously carry with them the logics of many Units (discussion, planning, function, measuring, specification, responsible, monitoring, performance, change,…).
At the end, one can reasonable ask …
/Anders W. Tell
Anders is a Strategic Interweaver and Architect with international experiences on all levels, United Nation, EU, global, regional and national (standardisation) organisations, as well as national state agencies.