Healthy Organisations and Business Doctors

One definition that the Merriam-Webster dictionary uses for “doctor” is “a person who restores, repairs, or fine-tunes things”. I like this definition because it assumes that for any object there is a perfect state and someone has the job to get it there.

For a human body, it obviously is the job of a doctor, although there is a whole plethora of therapists, nurses and other specialists who play a role.

But who is it for an organisation? Generally an owner, chief executive or director will have the responsibility in their role as caretaker of the organisation, but in a large business, non-profit organisation or government department, it is a complicated task which needs specialist staff. Although all employees contribute to making and maintaining a healthy organisation, I would argue that it is the role of a Business Analyst or Architect – or maybe we should call them Business Doctors! – to guide the restoration, repair or fine-tuning of their organisation.

My definition of business analysis is consistent with this. To me, business analysis is “the practice of ensuring an organisation achieves its business goals in an efficient, cost effective and appropriate way”. Because isn’t a healthy organisation one which consistently achieves that which it aims to do, within budget and within a reasonable timeframe?

That takes us to the question of what is required to make an organisation healthy.Red Cross

For a human body, this has been comprehensively researched over centuries – although our understanding of it continues to grow. We know what organs a human body needs to be healthy (heart, lungs, liver…), what they should look like (colour, function, size…) and how they should be connected (nerves, muscles, blood vessels…). And it is a no brainer that we have to be at least relatively healthy to achieve our goals.

But for an organisation, there is less consensus about what organs an organisation requires (plans, business rules, processes…), what they look like (content and format) and certainly not about how they should be connected.

It is tempting for me to think that it is this lack of definition and direction about what constitutes the ‘healthy state’ or ‘all better now’ for an organisation which has created such ambiguity about the role of a business analyst. By defining the conceptual model for a healthy organisation I partly hope to provide a basis for converting haphazard, unaligned business analysis practices into a superior business analysis discipline.

However, for the purpose of this blog, we will leave behind the debate about what a business analyst is and explore what makes a healthy organisation.  The model I am using as the basis for this adventure is what I call the Superior Business Analysis Organisational Model, but I believe it is a model that can be applied by anyone with a desire to improve even a small part of their organisation. (After all, business analysis is a way of thinking about an organisation’s operations, rather than being a secretive set of practices undertaken by people with a special title.)

To summarise…

The aim of this blog: To create a best-practice framework so that organisations everywhere can achieve their business goals in an appropriate, efficient, cost effective and measurable way.

The content of this blog: Defining what makes an organisation ‘healthy’ by exploring the components that together articulate the aims of an organisation and enable them to be implemented, as well as (but not primarily) the practices underpinning them.

What do you think?

  • How would you define a healthy organisation?
  • And who has responsibility for making an organisation ‘all better now’? 

What do you think?