Organisations' reason for existence

The Contextual Delivery Imperative

Pieter Marais

August 2021


When reduced to the core, organisations exist to deliver some form of value. In fact, all formats of organising have some kind of delivery as its intent or purpose. This is not only true of formalised organisations. All organisations, institutions, formal and informal, state-owned, private, for profit and non-profit, societies, clubs, name it, all exist to deliver some kind of value. This also holds true for political parties, political dispensations, economies and more.


This leads to a logical extrapolation that all jobs in all forms of organising exist to deliver some kind of value.


This leads to another fundamental extrapolation that any form of organising, or any form of job, or position, that does not deliver any value in essence has no reason for being.



The current non-delivery world


The reality of history is that in most organisations, since the industrial revolution and the advent of the modern economy, the focus has progressively shifted towards activity and what you do rather than focusing on what you deliver.


While there may be a tacit understanding of delivery, very few organisations have an explicit and clearly defined focus on delivery. This tacit understanding is very often not contextually appropriate. For this reason real value delivery significantly misses the ballpark of that which the organisation is required to deliver. People may be very busy performing activities, but without the appropriate context and definition of required value delivery, even these activities may be futile resulting in below par performance and a significant waste of resources.


In addition current organisational practices and how work is divided further drove this move towards activity as the basis for job design, job differentiation and organisation design. Strategy development processes, structural design processes, job design processes as well as job evaluation processes are all currently biased towards activity differentiation – what you do, not what you deliver. In most instances these activities are also de-contextualised with a focus on who does what (activities) and not what needs to be delivered by whom (end-state delivery). This gives rise to multiple organisational ills, e.g. weak strategy design, weak and unjustifiably steep vertical structures, role confusion, role overlaps, unclear boundaries, organisations that suffer from mediocre or even unacceptably poor delivery, or organisations that just manage to keep afloat and never excels, etc.




Output is not delivery

Delivery should not be confused with output. Delivery refers to:

  • End-state – what is the value delivered when the person achieved and walks away from the job? Having a strategic plan in place is not an end-state value delivery but merely a process (activity) towards the end-state delivery. The end-state can even be achieved without necessarily having a traditional strategic plan. The end-state can be achieved by merely understanding the contextual imperatives and dynamics of e.g. market leadership and the relevance thereof to your company’s future.

  • Contextually relevant – is this delivery the appropriate delivery to address the requirements? It is of no relevance that you reduce cost, that is purely an operations focus, if you should have delivered a sustained x% profit margin, which is a business focus. The former purely focus on cost measures while the latter may have to increase cost to secure opportunities that increase the likelihood of delivering the percentage profit margin.

  • Measurable – what value can objectively be “seen” and measured. This is not just merely value delivered. The focus is on contextually appropriate value delivered. This contextually appropriate value delivery can objectively be measured.


Output is a very generic term that applies to any form of outcome or activity completion. A large percentage of defined outputs in organisations are mere step achievements (activities) towards an actual delivery. E.g. a business manager can have a developed strategy, planned budget, developed business plan, etc., as outcomes. The Theory of Contextual Delivery will constantly interrogate these to get to the actual required end-state and also ensure that the end-state is contextually appropriate, relevant and of a required strength.


Activity/output designed jobs undermine and erode real delivery and value creation

In describing activities rather than end-state delivery the focus of the incumbent is very often deflected. Performing the activity becomes more important that the actual required delivery. In the process the activities becoming decontextualized and disconnected from the actual delivery requirements and context. In that way these decontextualized activities very often destroy value or deliver substandard, inappropriate and poor value. In organisations today these de-contextualised activities are more often the norm rather than the exception as most companies are still activity/output based in their design and support systems. This outdated approach clearly leads to misplaced, sub-standard, mediocre performance and subsequent lack of delivery achievement of the organisation’s core imperatives. Even the core imperatives are often misplaced (“mis”-positioned) as a result of traditional, activity/output based and de-contextualised scenario and strategic planning approaches. This result in performance not only being substandard and mediocre, it actually results in organisations missing the context of the strategic plot (due to the decontextualized activity focus) and therefore running the risk of becoming “plodders” and/or becoming irrelevant. This again goes for organisations of all kinds - private and public companies, for profit or non-profit, political movements and more.



Delivery in context

Being able to identify and define delivery clearly is not enough to ensure appropriate, optimal and value-added delivery. The context of delivery is in fact even more critical as delivery needs to be contextually appropriate. Clarity about the context again assists in shaping, refining and identifying the absent deliverables that are crucial for optimal value generation.


Context does not refer to the traditional clusters of strategic work, operational strategic work, operational work, etc. These are again just mere activity based clusters and very outdated principles for design. Context refers to the actual delivery context, i.e. what needs to be delivered in final end-state, e.g. profitable business, competitively positioned business, etc. This framework of value delivery has been addressed in previous posts on our website. For more information you can also contact us directly.


Contextually relevant and contextually appropriate delivery forms the core basis and platform for the appropriate and optimal design and alignment of Strategy, Structure and Job design, systems alignment, etc.


Mathematical modelling of contextual delivery

Kontextit’s mathematical modelling has become very powerful technology to assist in appropriate and optimal understanding and shaping of context and delivery in context. The mathematical modelling also assist in a better understanding, optimal shaping and alignment of strategy, structure, roles as well as support systems.


Organisational strategy, structure and job design should focus on the three core elements:

  • Actual delivery;

  • Appropriate delivery in context;

  • Mathematical (measureable) validation and alignment of delivery in relation to:

  • Strategy;

  • Structure;

  • Job design.


Some impacts of not being contextually delivery-based

Any organisation that does not have the above in place opens itself up to the following risks:

  • Inappropriate strategy – a strategy that is contextually misaligned and has the potential of making the organisation’s future problematic and even irrelevant. Irrespective of the approach followed in design, be it scenario based, objective based, SWOT based – if it is not contextually clearly aligned, all the effort in strategy development may have been futile.

  • Inappropriate structure. We have seen many times that strategy may be appropriate, but structure is critically inappropriate and often contextually misaligned to strategy. This results in inappropriate strength in design and as a result inappropriate and/or weak focus and weak value delivery;

  • Inappropriate job design. Job designs based on activity that may also be contextually inappropriate results in inappropriate and/or weak focus and weak value delivery.


With that comes the continuation of:

  • Inappropriate and sub-optimal value delivery;

  • Potential destruction of value as a result of inappropriate, non-aligned and weak designs, development and performance.

  • Outdated and inappropriate support technologies that actively continue to destroy value in organisations, e.g. current activity based job evaluation, performance management and people development systems.


There is a clear way around this. The Theory of Contextual Delivery and its supportive models, systems, practices and technologies provide clear, objective and measurable answers to these dilemmas. It clarifies actual value delivery in context and uses this as platform and basis for designing delivery-based, optimally performing, delivery-value-driven organisations.

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For more information contact us directly at: kontextit@kontextit.com or

pieter.marais@kontextit.com


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Our services include:

  • Direct consulting services;

  • Mixed model approach of direct consulting as well as in-house enabling through skills development in the delivery based framework;

  • In-house skills development in the delivery based framework and associated technologies.


In-house skills development in the delivery-based model can effectively be done online.