february 2010|vol. 53|no. 2|
communications o the acm
student MIS enrollments and degreeproduction in the business school. Wethen explore the extent to which Haeck-el’s model o the sense-and-respondorganization could be used to denea new way o operating or academicunits. We also discuss the major dier-ences between the two models appliedto CIS academic units and conclude with a discussion o the implicationso this new operating model as univer-sities seek to respond to the markets o the uture.
t apv og
Complexity theory describes adaptivesystems as those having the ability tosense and interpret what may seemlike noise into a meaningul course o action. The sense-and-respond modelconsists o:
“First, by organizing inorma-tion in a specifc way to represent and support systematic adaptive-ness by key roles in the frm (theadaptive loop); second, by organiz-ing assets and capabilities as a sys-tem o modules that can be dynami-cally dispatched into one-o valuechains (modular organization); and third, by replacing command and control with a commitment-centric governance system that propagatesthe purpose, bounds, and essential structure o the business through-out the organization.”
Sense-and-respond reers thento organizational behavior that isdesigned to rst sense and identiy changing customer needs as they hap-pen, rather than attempting to predictuture customer demand. Changing customer needs require the organiza-tion to be able to adapt their productoerings with the required fexibility,agility, and responsiveness. Adaptiveorganizations come to accept chang-ing customer needs and unpredictablechange as the norm, rather than theexception. The old make-and-sell busi-ness model made popular in stable or-ganizational environments is not ableto cope with the rapid and discontinu-ous change o pace that is character-istic o many technology-intensive en- vironments. In technology-intensiveenvironments adaptiveness takes pre-cedence over eciency, and organiza-tions must translate apparent noiseinto meaning aster than it arrives.
Businesses that have a structurethat supports modular capabilities canachieve low-cost customization with-out incurring the costs associated withdeveloping customized product oer-ings. Much like modular products canbe recongured into new oerings by connecting components in new ways,modular organizations can meet new customer needs by combining theirexisting modular capabilities in inno- vative ways.Finally, sense-and-respond organi-zations dene leadership as being ac-countable or three outcomes:“Creation and continuous adaptation
o a viable organizational contextEstablishment o a commitment
management system to coordinate thebehavior o people in accountable
rolesPopulation o roles with the right
Creation o a viable organizationalcontext reers to dening the purpose,boundaries, and structure o the adap-tive system they are creating, including the organizational purpose, the gov-erning principles or boundaries o theenterprise, and the high-level businessdesign or the relationships among parts o the system.
Once leaders haveestablished a context, they must en-orce it via governance. One way to es-tablish the necessary governance is viaa system that manages commitments.The goal is to manage the interactionso empowered and accountable mem-bers o the organization. Winograd and Flores
dene man-agement as “taking care o the articula-tion and activation o a network o com-mitments, produced primarily throughpromises and requests,” and commit-ment as an agreement with someone todo something in the uture. The gover-nance in sense-and-respond organiza-tions is modeled much like the com-mitment process o collaborative supply chains “while managers conducting transactions within the corporate bound-ary can pretty much tell their employees what to do (except perhaps in academiccircles) … interorganizational transac-tions are usually managed through re-quests that, upon mutual agreement,orm the basis o commitments.”
In their work, Winograd and Flores
describe a theoretical basis or interac-tion between negotiating parties, in which commitment is dened as anagreement between a customer and aperormer, based on a set o conditionso satisaction within a predened cy-cle time. In this business interactionmodel (see Figure 2) the person mak-ing the requests takes on the role o thecustomer, while the person doing the work takes the role o the perormer.The model is a “closed-loop” becausethe customer starts the loop o busi-
g 2 - mgg v
(Source: Welty and Becerra-Fernandez, 2001)