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The enterprise of the future

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This article appears in the issue March 2006 (100 Companies) [Volume 15, Issue 3]


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For any business seeking to remain competitive in a flat world, the speed of innovation must match or exceed the rate of change in the marketplace. That presents both a formidable challenge and a unique opportunity.

That is why we formed the Enterprise of the Future Program, a research initiative within the George Washington University Institute for Knowledge and Innovation. The centerpiece is the Enterprise of the Future Laboratory, located just outside Washington, D.C. The lab will soon be linked to similar facilities in France, China and Russia, creating a truly global virtual enterprise test bed. The lab is staffed by faculty and researchers from several schools within the university, augmented by a group of visiting executives-in-residence and internationally recognized knowledge management thought leaders, authors and consultants.

Research focus

With the goal of achieving sustained performance in a flat world, we are focusing our research efforts in the following four areas:

  • Business renewal--By business renewal we mean completely rethinking strategy, even co-creating entirely new business ecosystems, as a means of leading innovation, rather than trying to manage it. One way we are doing this is by examining unique ways of predicting major trends in the marketplace, and aligning business strategy in order to move out ahead of those trends.
  • New organizational designs--Traditional organizational structures need to be replaced by fluid, agile, social networks and communities. In the compressed time cycles of today's world, the right decisions need to be made quickly, and consistently, at points dispersed from central authority. Our intent is to build the next generation of dynamic process models that bring timely, relevant knowledge and experience to the key stage gates in an organization's business processes.
  • Enterprise infrastructure nexus--Despite advancements in IT, the level of integration needed for high-speed, anticipatory planning and response in complex, rapidly changing environments has not been reached. By viewing the enterprise from a total systems perspective, we seek to "stitch" together the various organizational elements, processes and technologies. That will enable the seamless flow of knowledge across the entire enterprise, resulting in continuous learning and sustainable increases in organizational performance.
  • High performance transformation--Learning, innovating and transforming at the speed of change requires rethinking the whole notion of enterprise. That includes developing new systems to attract, retain and grow the world's best knowledge workers, within an environment that supports personal performance, growth and achievement.

Call for participation

It will take a global community of the best researchers and thought leaders to meet those challenges. But we need to start building and testing now--the world won't wait. If the idea of co-creating the future appeals to you, we invite you to join us. Organizations looking to hire, retain and grow a diverse knowledge work force, while striving to remain competitive in the global marketplace, will particularly want to be involved. We solicit your ideas and hope that you will join us on our journey into the flat world that awaits us.


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