Following on from the introduction, my next question is “why do we need a ‘new enterprise’ at all; what’s wrong with the corporate forms and work structures we already have?” Try these for starters:

Ambition
As Umair suggests, most of our current corporations suffer from a lack of ambition. They just want to be better then someone else, not the best they can be. They want to extend their products incrementally, rather than disrupt their own product line completely. They don’t believe in *possibility* – they are timid. This means they have to focus on efficiency over effectiveness, so that they end up making things of diminishing value to us more cheaply and quickly than ever before.

Economy
It is tempting to look at the GFC as another recession, which will inevitably be followed by a “return to normal”, with economic growth and prosperity following like night after day. But there are some indications that this wasn’t just another recession, but a foundational shift in the way our economy works. When you hear of global youth unemployment rates ranging between 20% and 50%, or most new jobs being created being part-time/casual work or in hospitality and domestic services (“McJobs”), and the phrase “two-speed economy” no longer needs much explanation, you start to suspect that there has been some permanent change.

Technology Approach
Not just technology itself (as it relates to business), but the way we implement it. Viewing technology through an architectural prism (e.g. enterprise architecture), and taking a service-based approach to improving business capabilities opens up a raft of potential benefits – not just on the cost side, but in revenue enhancement as well. But most organisations persist with incremental changes to application silos that require little organisational change … when in fact the larger opportunity is in using technology as a lever to make organisational and behavioural shifts.

People
Perhaps the major catalyst for New Enterprise is us … those still trapped in 20th Century businesses with a narrow focus on profitability, usually by eliminating or outsourcing the jobs we do today; and those of us who have decided that the benefits of working for an enterprise no longer outweigh the costs to our intelligence, principles and sanity and have already left for self-employment. This process started decades ago – the first time large enterprises en masse decided that labour shedding was a growth strategy (sounds pretty dumb when you say it like that) despite evidence that even in recession, headcount reductions rarely paid off, and made the recovery more difficult because of the knowledge loss and erosion of trust.

Future posts will dig a bit deeper in these topics and others, while I gather thoughts from my own weedbed of a mind, and from your input …