The Conscious Enterprise
The ideas of the new era may be radical, revolutionary or progressive, and these ideas will stick around if they are attuned to the demands of our future. The idea of the Conscious Enterprise is a construct that by design, enterprises will be better positioned to meet the spectrum of these demands of the society.
Crisis situations should be a time to reflect on shortcomings, ways to let go of practices that do not work and focus on our collective future. This recalibration is needed now more than ever before, with the rate of change in technology, economy, societies and environment that the world is seeing today. With every change, there has been a new paradigm, and businesses have been challenged to stay continuously relevant. This struggle is very telling of most of the enterprises of today and begs the question — what is the ideal construct of the enterprise of tomorrow?
For the consulting minds at Tech Mahindra, it has been a continuing endeavour to carve out a more evolved view of the enterprise of tomorrow — an enterprise that is not just reactional, but one that combines learnings from the past, completely understands the present, appreciates the future and its varied possibilities, and can combine all these learnings into a Conscious Enterprise.
A key consideration was that while planning the future, it was important to look at historical contexts and learnings from the past. Consider these three enterprises — Japanese construction company Kongo Gumi, established in 578 AD; the University of Oxford that has been around since the 1200s; Sean’s Bar, said to have been established in 900 AD that continues to delight patrons with ale and conversations!
The word that probably comes to mind is “Impossible!” What worked for them when thousands of enterprise have come and gone in this time?
Imagine the number of events these Enterprises have witnessed — wars, famines, disease, economic upheavals, governments, changes in regulations, innovations, revolutions and modernity. Given all that, what were the reason for longevity and continued success, and what can we learn from them?
There are three critical dimensions of thought and action (which are also relevant to the Conscious Enterprise of tomorrow). For all these enterprises, learning is constant and consistent. Moving is the other constant; because they learn and change, to adapt to things that were beyond their control. Perhaps most importantly, these enterprises, however diverse, have a sense of purpose at their core. That purpose is not just concentrated on revenue and profit but beyond — a shift in focus from shareholder interests to stakeholder’s interests is ingrained in the core. These fundamental principles have stood the test of time and continue to be relevant in the future.
This may work as an overarching vision, but the fact is that there is intense competition, and everyone seems to be running the same race. If all enterprises are chasing the same goals — increase market share, enter new markets, serve new customers, adopt new technologies, attract the best talent — would a conscious enterprise have different characteristics to get ahead and stay ahead?
The understanding and practice of flexibility and adaptability as concepts must undergo changes as well. The solution to harder problems of the future would require methodologies that bring in agility and a nuanced understanding to respond deftly, with fluid and adaptable processes that factor in micro trends, and defy restrictions of functions, structures, or hierarchies. The linear models of systems and ecosystems would then need to evolve to one of “mashed-up” sensibilities in the future, forming the new construct of an enterprise in the new paradigm — “the conscious enterprise”
There is never going to be a one-size-fits-all formula to the ideal conscious enterprise. The fundamental principles of consistent learning, constantly adapting, and sense of purpose would need to leverage the ever-expanding evolution of technology as an enabler and mashed up capabilities as a philosophy.
During the current pandemic, while technology-enabled solutions ensured that what was essential was made possible, it also brought to light the inadequacies of current ecosystems, whether with supply chains, training, change management or delivery and everything in between. It is no longer enough to “patch” existing business environments with technology. Therefore, the attempt at understanding what makes for tomorrow’s conscious enterprise is especially important.
So, what makes a Conscious Enterprise?
At Tech Mahindra, we believe a set of unique characteristics and behaviours will define such enterprises.
Higher-order learning enterprise: Focused on instruments of learning that will be more cognitive intensive with more generalized benefits.
Culture of Adaptive Collaboration: Greater ‘flow’ within the enterprise and with different stakeholders, be it customers, regulatory bodies, activists, freelancers etc.
Flexibility and Adaptability: Flexible in the short run and adaptable in the long. For instance, being adept in withstanding natural or manmade shocks by instantly switching over the value creation to a new site that is not affected by the shock.
Integrator of capabilities: Focus on learning by doing with experimental laboratories wherein it will test the capabilities of its expanding ecosystem to generate value for customers.
Machine and human capability: Optimally combine human and intelligent machine capability.
Purpose-driven technology enterprise: A knowledge-based enterprise with digital technology being omnipresent, further accelerating adoption of tech-focused capabilities.
All these learnings and insights point to one inescapable fact — the line of inquiry and search for more value-based enterprises must continue. The enterprise of tomorrow must be a “Conscious Enterprise” that embraces speed and agility along with mashed-up capabilities that allow intuitive, inclusive, and multiplicative ecosystems to thrive. Much like us humans, where a combination of our characteristics and capabilities allows us to think, imagine and do infinite things, the “Conscious Enterprise” will emulate the human mind. It will be highly aware, able to learn extremely fast and be highly responsive to its surroundings.
Much deliberation will be needed to understand, plan and implement all these ideas to create the right kind of Conscious Enterprise of the Future. For Tech Mahindra, the journey has already begun by adopting DigitALL — a philosophy that believes any successful response to change needs to be holistic, from identifying the next wave, building fluid and agile processes, forming new mashed up capabilities, and creating a learning organization for resilience. These capabilities help us to solve harder problems perplexing our clients by being conscious and practising Digital i.e. using tools, processes and technology solutions as enablers. For the company’s consulting minds, the idea of constantly redefining[RM1] a purpose-driven Conscious Enterprise, which will be the enterprise of tomorrow, is a serious journey into the future.
- Habeeb Mahaboob (Managing Consultant & Business Head - Business Excellence, Tech Mahindra)
- Nishanth Perathara (Principal Consultant - Business Excellence, Tech Mahindra)
Acknowledgements: The authors would like to acknowledge the inputs and guidance received from Padma Parthasarathy, Sachin Suresh Kulkarni, Subham Sarkar, Madhu Kurian and Suhas Nagaraj and the deep minds in the consulting unit at Tech Mahindra.
References (selective list)
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INSTITUTE: SMALL BUSINESS DATA DASHBOARD. (n.d.). Retrieved from: https://www.jpmorganchase.com/corporate/institute/small-business-longevity.htm
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Saracco, R. (2019). Augmented Machines and Augmented Humans. IEEE.
 Kongo Gumi was acquired by the Takamatsu Construction Group in January 2006.
[RM1]could this be interpreted as something we are still figuring out — what is the viable path — and hence this is implying WIP?