I spent three years in Austin Texas in the early 2000s. I was there with a startup I had co-founded in Sydney in the late 1990s. What struck me while in the United States at the time was a definite buzz that seemed to make successful entrepreneurs out of migrants from all sort of countries, even from countries we do not normally associate with strong innovation, education or economic achievement.
This buzz or dynamism, I thought, was an expression of the American way of going about business, innovation and entrepreneurship. What if we could somehow distil these elements that create the buzz and apply them inside organisations. We could have then have, I reasoned, a similar buzz inside these organisations. Wouldn’t this be great! This is not a very original thought of course. Bonuses, a translation of the profit motive into organisations, have existed for a long time. However, what I was interested in was not identifying a few isolated examples but a comprehensive, compact and practical set of factors or parameters that we could use to assess the ‘buzz level’ in organisations. After some research of past and current management theory and practice, and some reading of economics, I identified six major factors, each with some sub-factors. I called this set of factors ‘capability’ as it seemed to reflect the (internal) capability of an organisation to succeed in the market. So I had a capability model. But it still needed to be validated.