The Enterprise Canvas, Part 3: Owners and Managers

In Part 1 of this series, we explored the ‘vertical’ axis of the Canvas: the vision and values that define the overall shared-enterprise, and the value-proposition that defines the reason-to-be for each organisation and service and sub-service:

In Part 2, we linked this with the ‘horizontal’ axis, the way in which the supply-chain of added-value intersects with the value-proposition of each service. This also gave us a means to identify the flows that happen before, during and after the main transactions on the supply-chain, and what the service needs to do to handle each of these flows:

We need to explore how way in which this pattern recurs at various layers of abstraction. Before we do that, though, there are another couple of sets of flows that we will often need to include in our assessment. The first is the links with any external ‘owners’ – the external investors and beneficiaries:

  • investors provide value (initial funds, etc) to start up and, if required, make up any shortfall in the value-outlay – in other words, to start up the outgoing backchannel and keep it going
  • beneficiaries receive ‘excess-value’ (dividends, etc) from the value-return side of the backchannel – typically the ‘net profit’ after value-outlay and internal operating ‘costs’ have been subtracted

Although technically part of Value-Management, it’s simplest to show these flows as linked to Value-Outlay and Value-Return respectively. (In the absence of appropriate icons, I’ve again used symbols from the character-set:  left double-guillemet for investment, and right double-guillemet for dividend.)

From a simple monetary perspective, especially in a commercial context, the investors and beneficiaries will often be the same – the stockholders or shareholders, for example, or the members of a cooperative. In a not-for-profit or government context, though, they can often be different, at least in a money-only calculation: for example, donors or taxpayers as ‘investors’, and welfare-recipients as ‘beneficiaries’. In that type of case, the imbalance is (mostly) intentional, but all such imbalances can lead to stress on the overall operating-model, especially if the flows are not balanced elsewhere in the system. Once we remember to include other types of value beyond money, sometimes it’s clear that the overall flow is balanced: charity-donors provide money, for example, but receive the satisfaction (i.e. as ‘beneficiaries’ of a non-monetary measure of value) that their money has gone to achieve the aims of the charity (i.e. aligned with the vision of the shared-enterprise).

But sometimes the imbalance can be unintentional, unresolved, and severe in impact: for example, where many people pour effort and ideas in a project, but only a single person or sub-group gain the benefit – “take the credit” and so on. This type of parasitic investor/beneficiary model is invariably destructive to the enterprise, especially in the longer-term – and detailed value-analysis, especially when non-monetary value is taken into account, will show that it is disturbingly common within many organisations and enterprises, especially in the commercial context. The VPEC-T frame of Values, Policies, Events, Content and Trust is again particularly useful for this analysis of the flows between the organisation and its ‘owners’. These are major architectural concerns that the Enterprise Canvas can help to surface.

The other key type of flow here is the conventional information-flow that passes up and down through the management hierarchy: instructions and performance-criteria going ‘down’ the hierarchy-tree, and performance-information returning back ‘up’. As indicated in the first diagram above, the Value-management cell provides part of the guidance (‘direction’) and, in effect, the ‘vision’ for the next layer down, and also provides bridge between the layers. Although the layering – as we’ll see in the next article in this series – is actually about layers of abstraction, from overall architecture to detailed-implementation, that layering is reflected in part by the management-hierarchy, in which each layer of management moves steadily closer to the actual point of contact where value meets the supply-chain. We can indicate this on the Canvas by kind of extending Value-management outward as a connector to the next layer:

In practice, though, this needs to be indicated by its own distinct flow, again typically assessed via the VPEC-T frame. As usual, there isn’t an easily-available icon that seems appropriate for this, so I’ve used another key-character symbol, a vertical double-headed arrow:

Everything in the enterprise is like this: a service with its own value-proposition and means of creating value for the enterprise, its own customers and suppliers, its own ‘owners’ and ‘managers’, and all of the flows of things and information and relationships and trust that go with each of those. So it’s clear that we are getting closer now to that single ‘map to rule them all’, a model that can be used as common base-map for all other types of models in the enterprise.

Yet there’s one key theme we still haven’t addressed: the layering of this structure as it applies in different ways throughout the enterprise. That’s what we’ll look at in the next article.

2 Comments on “The Enterprise Canvas, Part 3: Owners and Managers

  1. This probably should have gone on the previous post yet, your picture and description of investors make me think of this story. A great story I heard was from Simon Sinek. He mentioned the partnership between the visionary (Walt Disney) with the person who executes the vision/the how (Roy Disney).

    Your layers help define the organizational hierarchy.

  2. Pat – Walt Disney and Roy Disney, visionary versus execution – yeah, nice example.

    “Your layers help define the organizational hierarchy” – yes, sort-of: the layers of middle-management in most large organisations would probably parallel these layers of abstraction-to-implementation. The important point, though, is that it’s at most a parallel, developed for similar pragmatic reasons, but they’re not actually the same. Treating them as if they are the same can lead to some fairly horrible messes…

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