Sunday, September 15, 2013

Enterprise Concept Clarification: Capability vs. Means

At the core, ‘means’ as an implementation and capability as an abstraction.

Business Capabilities are the “abilities to produce specific goods and provide specific service for the market and are essentially the learning processes that are embodied in the knowledge capital of a business organization”. Further, business capabilities are clearly different than the mere sum of individual abilities and skills of its members. And 'means' is an actual implementation, the resources or the tools.

"Means" = "transportation"; "Capability" = drivers + busses + routes + agency
A business capability is a USEFUL COMPOSITE concept that is fairly specific in its bounds and can be used as an analysis tool. If the business is a journey, ‘means’ is transportation tool, and then capability is the characteristics such as speed, capacity, view, route, safety, to gain your competitive necessities and advantage. Does that mean the ‘means’ is at the transactional level, whereas capability needs to be considered at more strategic or transformational level? Typically, "means" includes a superset of the elements that form a capability, but in an undifferentiated manner with no subtypes or constraints. These terms are not equivalent.

At the core, ‘means’ as an implementation and capability as an abstraction. In many cases, the business does not care much about the implementation, and in other cases, it cares very much. Also, since the implementation drives the cost, and the business always cares about the cost, the business always has a derived interest in the ‘means’. The implementation of a capability can be referred to as the 'means by which the capability is delivered.' So, a capability, as an abstract term representing a means, one could confuse the two. The difference is that a capability could possibly be delivered by multiple means, It is also possible that a specific 'means' could support more than one capability. That analysis, however, depends on upon which level of 'means' one is looking at.

Means are the resources; capability is the ability to get something done. In architecture terms: Means = Resources = People + Technology; Capability = Resources + Process + Drivers

Just having resources (including people & technology) doesn't give you the ability to get it done. So ‘Means’ is a general term which is a subset of Capability which is much more specific. There are economic and financial reasons for this. Create capabilities without the right competencies, and the company starts to fracture. If capabilities are not altering your company to be more competitive this leads to large losses


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