The Enterprise Control System

Most very early stage companies spend much of their time just trying to survive. That means trying to start and then having to put out fires all the time. They start the fires because they need something to sell, someone to sell it to, and some way to execute on it. So anything they can do to generate heat they will do. But the heat is uneven and often out of control, and they go from one emergency to the next, trying to solve the next problem created by their need to succeed.

But as companies mature, develop a plan, and start to try to execute on it, this firefighting approach can burn them out. Companies make pivots, changing from one thing to another to seek a product market fit and generate sales with different approaches. People get tired of the years it usually takes to get from here to there, and while the excitement is great for a while, getting paid is usually better, and effort levels normalize.

From viability to sustainability

The key question soon becomes one of sustainability rather than viability. Even the must successful startups which ramp up very quickly end up in this situation, and over time, it effects even the largest enterprises. And ultimately they end up in some sort of a normalized enterprise control system.

The sustainable enterprise is one that ultimately operates as a system of its own, dependent on but not driven moment to moment by the individuals that run it. That's all the people involved, not just the boss(es). As a system, it adapts to changing outside conditions and it reacts to urgent matters in a standard way.

Maturity is the model The "Capability Maturity Model", as a concept, is the way we often think about this process of maturing a company or other activity or entity.

And the control system?

The enterprise control system, as an example, looks something like the following diagram. At each of different levels of control, internal and external information sources supply information used to make decisions. This particular structure is associated with an operational technology environment surrounding a facility, but with different parameters, it is suited to almost any enterprise. Also note that there may be multiple instances at lower levels, which tend to expand with the hierarchy of the enterprise, so that companies with many subsidiaries and diversified business operations will tend to have many more lower levels of control feeding and being fed by a common top-level management structure.

The enterprise control system

Sensors, actuators, communications, and control (decision-making) form the cybernetic system. As such, in order to work well, the decision-making at each level must:

Calculations based on time frames determined by the overall system that forms the context of the cybernetic control system are then made to determine whether which approaches can work, and governance acts to control the approach to this system and adapt it over time.

How do I actually do this?

The example above is only an example, and not fully filled out, or universal in its applicability. In practice, such systems are developed and evolved over time. As such they require more and more sophistication as companies grow and mature. And of course, to have a mature company, you need mature people who know how to build and operate these types of systems. These sorts of developments are typically carried out by advisory boards for early stage companies until they reach the established level, after which consulting groups sometimes take over this role.

A call to action

If you want to start to understand how to control your company, you should start to engage with experts. And of course, we write about this in various aspects as part of our articles, such as this one.

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In summary

The enterprise control system is as complex as the enterprise, or at least proportional to it. As you mature your company, you should, and likely are, building an enterprise control system. Whether you know and plan it or not... We think it's better to plan it...

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