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The Future of the Future: Building the enterprise of the future: a framework for transformation

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This article appears in the issue October 2006, [Vol 15, Issue 9]
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Over the past several months, we have given you a glimpse into the Enterprise of the Future (EOF), a major initiative at the George Washington University Institute for Knowledge and Innovation. We created this program in response to the urgent need for organizations to transform themselves to compete in a flat world. That means being able to learn, adapt, innovate and execute at a speed equal to or greater than the rate of change in the marketplace.

To compete in a flat world, an enterprise must be able to:

  • Quickly learn and adapt to changes in the environment.
  • Make timely, proper and enlightened business decisions.
  • Quickly and effectively execute those decisions.
  • Measure the outcomes and make rapid adjustments.
  • Continuously innovate--driving the changes in the market, rather than vice versa.
  • Find value where others cannot.

Those attributes are the hallmark of the Enterprise of the Future, which we define as: a self-organizing, adaptive, learning network of knowledge workers, aimed at mutually achieving individual and organizational goals. We have built our model for the EOF on the same four foundational principals (or pillars) we have used in our graduate KM program: leadership, organization, learning and technology.

Fundamentally, those four pillars have been present in every viable enterprise throughout recorded history and will continue to be, well into the future. But how they are applied can change dramatically as we move from one era to another. Getting the transition right is critical. At this point in time, as we move from the industrial age through the information age and into the knowledge era, we must change the very way we live, work and learn, as individuals, organizations and societies.

Grade Yourself

The obvious question is: Change to what? What does this Enterprise of the Future look like? To answer those questions, we have developed a short diagnostic to help you get moving in the right direction (see the table on page 18). Please note that this is only a quick check of where you are on each of the four pillars. We have simplified the process so you can: 1.) get an overview of the key elements involved in making the transition, and 2.) make a quick determination of which elements you need to focus on.

We will be going much deeper into the methodology during our pre-conference workshops Monday, Oct. 30, in conjunction with KMWorld & Intranets 2006 (Oct. 31 to Nov. 2) in San Jose, Calif. If you want to learn more about how to become an Enterprise of the Future, be sure to sign up at kmworld.com/kmw06 for the pre-conference workshops entitled "Building the Enterprise of the Future" and "Learning Fast to Stay Relevant."

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