How Versatile is Capability – Really?

Updated: Nov 3, 2020

Is the concept of capability truly versatile? That is, is it applicable to multiple functions and activities in organisations? Or is it restricted to, say, production or performance?

In previous blogs we considered whether capability comprises a generic set of features that apply to all organisations, regardless of their industry, size and product range. Our answer was yes – see Capability, Is There a Generic Core?. Then, in a subsequent blog entitled The Six Core Elements of Capability, we discussed what these core elements were. The illustration below shows these six elements. Naturally, each core element contains sub-elements, thus enabling a fine-grained description of capability. The next natural question we need to address relates to the versatility of capability inside and between organisations.

IS CAPABILITY APPLICABLE TO MULTIPLE FUNCTIONS AND ACTIVITIES IN ORGANISATIONS? We hope it is. Because if it isn’t then we’ll need to have a different concept, methodology and tool for each function and activity taking place in organisations. You could argue that is what the situation is right now. Each department has its set of models and methodologies, and in each, there are different models depending on whether the activity focus is on performance or risk management for example.

So you see the significance of the answer. If we can answer yes – that is capability is truly versatile – then there is the potential for having a single concept, methodology and set of tools that could be used across functions and for multiple activities. It would operate like a common language that facilitates communication across and up-down the organisation. It could also apply to communication between organisations, in partnerships and in outsourcing contracts for example.

Of course we are not saying that some capability tool would replace or supersede all these other tools we mentioned above. No, what we are saying is that capability could operate as a type of lingua franca in organisations: a framework anchored in sound management practice that managers and employees could refer to when discussing, planning or executing strategies, objectives, projects, initiatives or KPIs.

SO WHAT IS OUR ANSWER? Our answer is a very clear yes.

Capability is indeed truly versatile; it applies to all functions, activities and levels in organisations and between organisations. It can be used very profitably by all employees, whatever their levels, and by teams, departments and divisions.

We have used capability successfully in mining, not for profit, civil engineering and education. With senior managers and employees at all levels, from tradesperson people to COOs to white collar workers to cleaners. And for performance, risk management, and safety, both within organisations and in outsourcing.

We shall discuss all these different aspects of capability in future blogs. It promises to be a fascinating journey and we hope you’ll join us.

I’d love to hear your comments. Paul

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