What is Enterprise Design?
An enterprise, being a human construct, is designed by definition: it is structured and brought to life by people with a shared ambition. The creation of enterprises involves many design decisions of specialised experts that combine and balance many different aspects of the enterprise and its many elements.
Enterprise Design facilitates the holistic design of enterprises through three coherent facets: identity, experience and architecture.
By overcoming the biases and limited horizons of isolated perspectives and looking at their intersections, we can co-design the enterprise in a disciplined, structured and holistic way to deliver on its underlying purpose.
Enterprise Design starts with understanding the enterprise as a whole, as the material to design with and the environment to be addressed. There are many separate design discipline silos that focus on certain elements only: brand, product, organisation, process, information or technology. For a holistic understanding, however, we need to consistently interconnect those existing disciplines and the enterprise elements they deal with. Enterprises work significantly better when their comprising elements are aligned and designed to work together as a whole, so we need to make sense of those elements' connections and interplay. Only such a holistic approach lets us look at the enterprise from all relevant perspectives, recognise and explore relevant dependencies, and find the biggest leverage points for change. For that reason, Enterprise Design brings together many different disciplines. Experience designers, service designers, organisation designers, process managers, enterprise architects, software architects, managers, executives, and many more, must work in close collaboration to constantly adapt to an ever-changing ecosystem.
We must not forget that designing enterprises is a process of human co-creation and collaboration. Enterprise Design requires more than analytical, business, technical, conceptual or creative skills. Enterprise Design is also about listening, talking to co-creators, and facilitating discussions and decision-making processes. It will be, at times, about mediating between parties with seemingly conflicting perspectives and interests. To support this collaborative co-design process of many disciplines, Enterprise Design makes use of visualisations that are indispensable for helping co-creators explore, understand, communicate and co-design across the entire breadth and depth of their enterprise.
Finally, to have real impact and influence, Enterprise Design needs to support entrepreneurship and strategic management. Our practitioners need to be able to partner with the most influential people, deal with political issues and inspire, inform and advise these people when important strategic decisions are made.
Learn more about getting started with Enterprise Design.
What is an enterprise?
An enterprise is an endeavour of people with a shared ambition.
An enterprise's most important characteristic is that it brings together people and enables them to realise ambitions that go beyond fulfilling their day-to-day needs and can be (much) bigger than they can achieve alone. Enterprises have a purpose spanning commercial, not-for-profit, government and ideological motivations. They consist of people performing tasks, using capabilities that make it possible to achieve the desired outcomes.
This definition of "enterprise" moves beyond the prevalent legal and financial view on companies towards a holistic, people-centered view.
There are many ways people can get together to achieve ambitions. People can self-organise or even interact spontaneously without any clearly recognisable form of organisation behind their interactions. When enterprises scale up, we usually see more formal, often legal, entities arise, such as companies, associations, groups of companies, departments or institutes. Those organisations are not the enterprise, but serve the enterprise by providing structures, tools and processes that support people's collaboration and enhancing the predictability and (legal) compliance of that collaboration.
The words "enterprise" and "organisation" are often used interchangeably, as if they refer to the same entity. For enterprise design purposes, however, it is important to remember that an "organisation" seldom, if ever, covers the entire enterprise it serves. In most cases, there will be parts of the enterprise that exist outside the boundaries of the organisation, which means outside its control, yet within its sphere of (mutual) influence.
The EDGY specification uses the word "we" or "us" to refer to the enterprise in focus and subject to enterprise design efforts.