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How do you define your organisation?


Yesterday I looked at the differing ways in which social business can benefit you, depending upon the kind of organisation you are.  Broadly speaking, I believe organisations fit somewhere along an axis that has make and sell at one end, and sense and respond at the other.  As this distinction is pretty important, I thought it would be worthwhile spending some time helping to clarify the differences between the two so that you can gauge where you fit on the axis.

The following are a few key issues, and the distinction between the two organisation types for each issue.

Strategic mindset

Make and sell organisations typically try and be as efficient as possible in serving well defined markets
Sense and respond organisations typically respond to unanticipated requests in unpredictable environments


Make and sell organisations typically utilise mass production, therefore have repeatable processes and clearly defined job descriptions
Sense and respond organisations typically utilise modular processes to produce customisable products and services

Strategic imperative

Make and sell organisations often favour efficiency above all else, with this also tending to make business predictable
Sense and respond organisations by contrast favour speed of response, and therefore invest in the capabilities to understand and then react very rapidly

Where profit comes from

Make and sell organisations usually earn their money by having large economies of scale, coupled with low costs from a standardised manufacture
Sense and respond
organisations keep costs manageable by developing re-usable modules for their processes, but can charge higher prices for custom solutions

Information management

In make and sell organisations, information tends to revolve around functional silos, with each then having specific processes unique to them
Sense and respond organisations by contrast support more decentralized decision making, with information flowing across and throughout the enterprise in order for the best decision to be made

There are no doubt other differences that define and identify the two types of organisations, but these should enable you to have a reasonable idea of the kind of organisation you belong to.

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