Business Capability Modelling and Total Place

One of the current areas of work i am looking at is thinking about Business Capability Modelling for the council. It is very early days and is seen as part of the development of our Enterprise Business Architecture effort.

However the first question I asked myself was can we in the public sector really do Business Capability Modelling and if we could what value would it actually offer the wider organisation and more importantly the residents of Devon.

So i started to think about what we mean by capability in this context and what difference would it make on the ground.  I then started to think about the wider context that this makes you think about. So in a local context, to meet outcomes we can’t deliver all our the citizen outcomes on our own and therefore we would need to consider the capabilities of our Partners and key stakeholders in the County. This lead me straight to “Total Place”.

Total Place is a new initiative that looks at how a ‘whole area’ approach to public services can lead to better services at less cost. It seeks to identify and avoid overlap and duplication between organisations – delivering a step change in both service improvement and efficiency at the local level
You can find our more about Total Place here

Gartner analyst Mark McDonald posted on the Gartner blog: Capability is more powerful than Process and gives a nice explanation of capability thinking which i feel provides an example of how we in the public sector could think about and apply Business Capability Modelling to support “Total Place”.

iTunes illustrates capability thinking.  First off, iTunes is build from a collection or resources: the Internet, digital rights management software, the store, the delivery vehicle (iPod) and a set of relationships with artists and record companies.  Sure there is a process in there, but the process of how you sell digital media is not the focus, the outcome is the focus that lead to assembling a range of resources – most of which Apple did not own or exclusively control.

Process advocates and devotees will say that I am mincing my words, but look at the relative value of the physical supply chain the music industry invested so much in and the business value flowing through the alternative capability.  There is an advantage in thinking broader and beyond processes.

The good news is that process thinking is an integral part of thinking about capabilities.  It is just that capability thinking opens the door to new combinations required to create outcomes, rather than to support process steps.

The interesting connection for me is that in the above scenario we could see ourselves as “Apple” as we require the capability of other stakeholders to drive forward a strategic set of outcomes that come from our Community Strategy. We have the Community Leadership Role, the question is are we really prepared to use it in this way to deliver the right outcomes for people.

What we need to understand better first is what capabilities we have and those of our Partners and stakeholders. We also need to truly understand what outcomes we are trying to deliver and the value they create.

As i said at the start, this is early days and my thinking still needs to develop.