Door: Roel Wagter
In mijn rol als copromotor en gastdocent aan de Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen begeleid ik via de Faculteit der Natuurwetenschappen, Wiskunde en Informatica jaarlijks een aantal studenten. Na mijn college over ‘sturen op samenhang’ ontvangen de betreffende studenten de opdracht om naar keuze een jaarverslag van een onderneming te downloaden en de samenhang op zingevingsniveau van deze onderneming te onderzoeken en te waarderen. Voor alle duidelijkheid, het betreft hier tussentijdse studieresultaten in de vorm van een op te leveren paper. De komende tijd zal ik, overigens met toestemming van de betreffende studenten en de universiteit, een aantal van deze papers publiceren. Dit doe ik in de hoop opdat velen deze exercitie zullen navolgen. Immers een goed niveau van samenhang is randvoorwaardelijk voor een hoog reactievermogen, hoge aanpasbaarheid en het bereiken van de beoogde performance. En het sturen op samenhang begint met het sturen op samenhang op zingevingsniveau. Te weten de samenhang tussen de missie, visie, kernwaarden, doelen en strategie. Voor een ieder die meer wil weten over ‘sturen op samenhang’ zie ons laatstelijk gepubliceerde boek.
De onderzoeksopdracht zoals omschreven in de inleiding heeft bij student Sharon Eckringa er toe geleid de samenhang op zingevingsniveau van the Sweco Group te onderzoeken. In deze blog geef ik onderstaand alleen het abstract en de intro van haar paper weer en verwijs graag naar de versie van het volledige paper.
Intro van: Revealing strengths and weaknesses in the enterprise architecture of the Sweco Group. subtitle: Using the Enterprise Coherence Framework and a novel grading assessment, Sharon Eckringa (2020)
A strategic plan is key to design and maintain viable organizations. The Sweco Group is a successful engineering and consulting firm in Europe, with years of experience and continuous growth. The aim of this study was to evaluate the enterprise architecture of the Sweco Group, using the Enterprise Coherence Framework (ECF) on the level of purpose. Because of Sweco’s years of experience and current success, it was predicted to find a reflection of a strong strategic plan in their annual report, with a strong cohesion between the strategy elements. It was also predicted that Sweco’s strategies would be known and carried by her employees and that in a grade-based assessment of the coherence, Sweco would score between a 7 and 9 on a scale of one to ten. A qualitative analysis with the ECF revealed a strong strategic plan, with many explicit strategy elements and a strong coherence between those. The results from an interview showed that there has been communication of Sweco’s strategies towards the employees, but that the core values and goals might not have been very explicated. At last, a grade-based assessment has been designed, and after appliance Sweco was satisfactorily graded with an 8,5. All three methods support two main points for improvement: better explicating the core values and goals.
Doing business is hard, and running a business is even harder. We live in a world where the competition is fierce and the environment ever changing. Doing great today does not mean doing great tomorrow, and that is why we need to keep evolving. Every company is different in so many ways, and yet what they all have in common is that they need a proper strategy to succeed. Naturally, all business owners want their company to thrive, but of all surviving companies, only a few are really thriving while most others are doing just okay.
One of Europe’s most successful engineering & consulting firms is the Sweco Group. Since their founding in 1998 in Sweden, they are nowadays active in 13 European countries and striving to be a market leader in at least 8 of them (Sweco, 2019). Just as every other company, the founders of Sweco started with a business plan and had to formulate a vision and core values.
‘Vision’ and ‘core values’ are two important building blocks, and placing them in the proper places will leave you with a strong strategic architecture. However, designing and maintaining a proper architecture can be very complicated because no strict rules guide the building process. On top of that, the environment of the business world is turbulent and asks for constant improvement. An unstable architectural design can lead to the falling apart of the organization, so the quality of an enterprise’s architecture is a relevant measure for the success of that organization (Fisher and Winter, 2006).
Based on years of field work and the ideas of important thinkers in the field of business administration, the Enterprise Coherence Framework (ECF) has been designed. This method is a proven tool to make the enterprise coherence clear and explicit. This framework helps to gain insight in the coherence between the strategy elements of an organization on level of purpose, the coherence on level of design and the coherence between those two (Wagter, 2013). Intuitively, a thriving company like Sweco should score high in such an assessment. Evaluating an organization with ECF, is a qualitative assessment. However, being able to quantify the coherence could help the organization better understand the qualitative analysis. Quantifying could be done by assigning a holistic number or score to a skill or quality (Elbow, 1993). Because it’s custom in the Netherlands to evaluate with a grade-based system with a one to ten scale, quantifying with something similar would probably experienced.
This study aims to evaluate Sweco’s enterprise architecture and to identify points for improvement. Because of Sweco’s success, it is predicted to find a reflection of a strong strategic plan in the annual report. It is also predicted that their strategies will be well known and carried by their employees and that on a scale of one to ten, Sweco would score between 7,0 and 9,0 in a grade-based assessment. To evaluate the enterprise coherece on level of purpose, an ECF assessment will be performed with their annual report to make the enterprise coherence explicit. An interview will be taken with to assess how well Sweco’s strategies are known and carried with their employees. To substantiate these findings, a quantification method shall be proposed and applied to the findings of the ECF results.