The Live Enterprise Model


Authors Jeff Kavanaugh’s and Rafee Tarafdar’s new book, The Live Enterprise, is all about how to create a continuously evolving and learning organization. 

They explain that the very nature of organizations has come under pressure. The way we think about experience has changed. Value chains have changed. Decisions are the triggers of the digital economy, the actions that initiate response and provide its shape and direction. Talent has progressed from a cost to be minimized to source of competitive advantage. IT systems are evolving from static processing engines to agents of change. And even change management is changing as well. 

In their book, the authors use eight themes to offer guidance on how to change perspective and view the enterprise as a living organization, enabled by technology. Those eight themes are: 

  1. Quantum organization
  2. Perceptive experience
  3. Responsive value chain
  4. Intuitive decisions
  5. Hybrid talent
  6. Design to evolve
  7. Digital runway
  8. Micro is the new mega 

As they explore each theme, you’ll learn where to focus and what to do differently within your organization. Throughout the book, Kavanaugh and Tarafdar share a rich mix of examples from companies that get it right, as well as cautionary tales. 

  • “The Live Enterprise is a journey, not an event,” they explain. “The model enables the organization to rapidly experiment, learn and scale.” 

Today, the authors answered these questions:

How has the coronavirus pandemic challenged businesses’ operating principles? 

The coronavirus pandemic accelerated a lot of existing trends and it also revealed perhaps one of the greatest challenges of all, how to be resilient in the face of disruption. 

What differentiates the Live Enterprise from other operating models? 

The Live Enterprise model is different because it allows good agile principles to be practiced at scale in a large company, not sacrificing the structure and scale needed to be successful while still being flexible and adaptable.                            

Why is employee experience the next frontier of corporate performance? 

For too long customer centricity was put forward as the focus, while employees got second shrift. It's exciting now to see all this focus on employees and on the employee experience, because if they truly are the company's greatest asset, let's treat them that way and equip them so they can serve customers and society more effectively. 

How does responsive design make products more valuable to their customers? 

Responsive design and computational design are exciting because beyond demographics and even simply personas, tailored individual experiences can be brought out. And so even if it's the same content, the way it's shown to someone is based upon the way they process and their desires and motivations. It could be a numerical, quantitative approach or someone who really looks to references and recommendations. Same content, but presented in a way that makes sense to them. 

What is the real value of automating routines? 

The real value of automating routines is that the many things that must happen that are rules-based can be done with maximum human intuition and minimum human intervention. This allows people to focus on what's most important, while not losing sight of all the detail and scale that's needed to operate in a large complex enterprise. Again, maximum human intuition, minimum human intervention. 

How can companies capitalize on the shift from full-time employees to employees + machines + gig economy? 

The modern organization has gone through a profound shift from full-time employees to also having part-time employees, or the gig economy and extreme automation. And the combination of these three groups, full-time employees, gig workers and automation is much like in nature where you have an ecosystem that's evolving and is symbiotic. The key is the work and the job to be done, and then the resources can be fluid to support that. 

What important lessons has the COVID-19 pandemic imparted on business? 

Although there are many things the pandemic has shown us, three lessons stand out in particular.

  • First, that resilience is important, not just efficiency.
  • Second, that it shouldn't take a pandemic for bold, good decisions to happen. Businesses should be able to make those bold decisions, even in the absence of a crisis.
  • And third, that employees really are your best asset, and it shouldn't take a pandemic to realize this. 

What’s the first step anyone could take to start applying your advice tomorrow?

Anyone can adopt Live Enterprise model principles.

  • First, get connected. Connect what you're doing, your devices, everything.
  • Second, observe. Get information from all these connections.
  • Third, make decisions based upon what you observe and do it boldly. Connect, observe, decide.

Kavanaugh is the Vice President and Global Head of the Infosys Knowledge Institute, the research and thought leadership arm of Infosys. 

Tarafdar is Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer of the Strategic Technology Group at Infosys. 

Thank you to the book’s publisher for sending me an advance copy of the book.  


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