Aligning Ferret: Concepts and themes woven in the novel

As Sunny shares six months of his efforts to align his company Ferret, you will see him and his colleagues struggle to grasp new concepts and apply them at work, while balancing other responsibilities. Live through the ‘interesting times’ with him, and sit back occasionally with your favorite beverage to mull over their options and actions, and whether you, too, face similar situations.

Here are the main conceptual themes woven through this business novel and experienced by the reader as Sunny and others act to align Ferret to the expectations of its new owners.

  • Using models and frameworks for organizational effectiveness: An organization can choose between several models and frameworks while defining its strategic directions and aligning itself for effectiveness. Explore alongside as Ferret evaluates frameworks like strategy maps, Balanced Scorecard (BSC), Malcolm Baldrige (MBNQA) and People CMM® (P CMM®) to define and implement its strategy.

  • Establishing owner/ customer expectations: Organizations exist to provide value to owners and customers. Busy with normal operations, management often forgets this underlying purpose, and the result is a crisis of survival, such as Ferret faces. Watch Ferret align its financial perspective and customer perspective to the expectations of its new owners.

  • Defining internal initiatives to meet owner customer expectations: How can an organization achieve its strategic goals? Sunny and colleagues identify required internal initiatives and implement (or forget to implement) them. Areas include internal processes, people, competencies, innovation and continuous improvement.

  • Ensuring commitment and involvement across the organization: To achieve the goals, all employees must know the big picture and be involved in the initiatives. See Ferret experience the consequences of poor communications. Read about the steps it considers to increase the involvement of people in important initiatives.

  • Implementing measurement systems for monitoring progress: So, an organization decides what it must accomplish, and it begins working towards it. But things may go off-track. What measurement systems and metrics can warn of such problems? What should be the lead measures and lag measures? Share Ferret’s journey as it sets up the measurement systems, encounters glitches, and refines the systems.

  • Establishing an effective performance management system: Ultimately, targets are reached because people work towards them. Individual and team performance must be directed towards desired targets. People also need to get feedback so that they can improve. Observe how Ferret sets objectives, manages performance, provides feedback, and appraises people.

  • Building/ acquiring/ retaining competencies: Skilled people are critical to success in just about every industry today. Organizations must identify necessary competencies, and then acquire, build, and nurture them. Ferret, occupied with project execution, initially misses out this aspect. Consider how they build the components of a competency framework and extend your observations to your own context.

  • Establishing a suitable organization structure: Clarity of organizational hierarchy, roles, and responsibilities impacts how people communicate and coordinate, and how effectively they perform. Ferret management changes its structure, at times creating confusion; use the story to consider other options they could have used.

  • Absorbing continuous change: Change is a part of today’s dynamic business environment. An organization that persists with old (previously successful) approaches may collapse when the external environment changes. Ferret is threatened with closure because it is not alert and agile. Watch Ferret re-orient itself, and examine what it needs to do further to protect itself from future shock.

The book offers concepts as seen by the characters. People at Ferret study and apply models and frameworks in their context, sometimes successfully, sometimes not so successfully. The intent of this business novel is that you observe Sunny and colleagues and learn from their experience, then move on to study the concepts mentioned to understand and apply them as appropriate to you. Check out our Resources page for books, papers, and websites that can help you learn more.

Disclaimer: The book is completely a work of fiction, and any resemblance to real persons, organizations, or events is purely coincidental.

® CMMI and CMM are registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office by Carnegie Mellon University.