Generative Enterprise

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A generative enterprise is a business or nonprofit organization that seeks to generate maximum value for customers or users, other stakeholders, wider society—and, as a natural consequence, the enterprise itself.

What does ‘generative’ mean?

Generative according to Erik Erikson

Generativity versus Stagnation is the seventh stage of the theory of psychosocial development originated by Erik Erickson, an eminent psychologist and psychoanalyst (not to be confused with Milton Erickson, a psychiatrist and medical hypnotherapist).

Erik Erikson's stages of psychosocial development

Source: The Psychology Notes Headquarters.
Here, generativity refers to making your mark on the world through caring for others, as well as creating and accomplishing things that make the world a better place.

Generative according to Ken Gergen

Kenneth J. Gergen is an American psychologist, a professor at Swarthmore College, a leading figure in the field of social constructionism, and the originator of generative theory: theory that unsettles common assumptions, and opens up possibilities or new forms of action.

View the Wikipedia entry for Kenneth J. Gergen

Generative according to Jack Martin Leith

In the realm of Generative Enterprise, generative refers to the power (both latent and deployed) of an individual, a workgroup or the entire enterprise to imagine and realise value-generating possibilities.

In a generative enterprise, everyone from the CEO to the most junior employee is focused on accomplishing the enterprise’s mission, thereby manifesting its intent and generating maximum value for the entire ecosystem of which the enterprise is but one interdependent part.

The dual aspects of intent are a world-enriching purpose and a vision of realised potential

Intent is the creative impulse. Mission is the method.

Intent is the creative impulse experienced as a heartfelt desire to enrich the world in a particular way. The dual aspects of intent are purpose and vision of realised potential.

Purpose is a declaration of why the enterprise exists, beyond profit.

I consider purpose to be a commitment to achieve some kind of significant impact in the world around you.

Source: The Connection Between Narrative and Purpose, by John Hagel, co-chairman, Deloitte LLP’s Center for the Edge.

Vision of realised potential is a depiction (an actual picture accompanied by vivid explanatory text) of how the world will be when the value generation potential of the enterprise is being realised and the enterprise is animating its purpose to the full.

Read more about intent

Mission is an enterprise-wide programme of work aimed at manifesting intent within a given timeframe.

Each mission has the aim of increasing the manifestation of the enterprise’s intent
Intent is the creative impulse. Mission is the method.
Read more about mission

The main distinguishing features of a generative enterprise

It has an ethos of world enrichment and unconditional service.

The enterprise seeks to generate maximum value for all constituents of the enterprise ecosystem and not just favoured stakeholders.

It relentlessly pursues its intent—a heartfelt desire to enrich the world in a particular way.

All work contributes to an enterprise-wide mission aimed at manifesting intent within a given timeframe.

Rich Creation is the principal means by which the enterprise accomplishes its mission.

Read about Rich Co-creation

It is widely understood that value is not ‘delivered’, as if by FedEx. It is generated through the interaction between the value beneficiary (e.g. customer, user) and the value generator (product, service, facility, establishment or event).

By means of a parallel structure called the creative learning organisation, the enterprise develops a strong generative capability and the workforce becomes a creative powerhouse.

Read about cultivating the creative learning organisation

Every employee is a coach and fully committed to helping colleagues unlock their creative potential.

Legacy enterprises and generative enterprises compared

Use the buttons to move between the two slides.

Why transform your organization into a generative enterprise?

Generative Enterprise is a new proposition and hard evidence of its effectiveness is not yet available. However, the benefits listed below are predicted.

By enriching the entire ecosystem of which the enterprise is but one interdependent part, more value is created for the enterprise as a natural consequence.

The viability of the enterprise is strengthened and its long-term future is more secure.

The best talent is attracted and retained.

The reputation of the enterprise is enhanced.

A distinctive and respected corporate brand arises.

Competitive advantage is boosted.

Sustainability and corporate social responsibility activities are no longer handled by specialist functions. They are an intrinsic part of everyone’s day to day work.

The enterprise becomes a learning organization.

A generative culture emerges. This embraces all other forms of organizational culture sought by senior managers: innovation culture, learning culture, collaborative culture, coaching culture, agile culture, responsive culture, Teal culture, and so on.

Shareholder value increases.

See also The business case for Rich Co-creation

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