Is Your Enterprise Out of Control?

Registration is free. Login or register to view/download this content.


Enterprise Business Architect, Independent Consultant
Ralph Whittle is co-author of a book titled, Enterprise Business Architecture: The Formal Link between Strategy and Results, CRC Press 2004. He is a Strategic Business/IT Consultant and subject matter expert in Enterprise Business Architecture development and implementation. He has built Enterprise Business Architectures in various industries, such as manufacturing, healthcare, financial, and technology. He has worked in the IT industry for over 26 years, conducting engagements in enterprise business process modeling, strategic/tactical business planning, enterprise business requirements analysis, enterprise business architecture and IT architecture integration, strategic frameworks integration with systems development methodologies and IT service offering enhancement. He is a co-inventor of a patented Strategic Business/IT Planning framework.

Before answering this question, consider for a moment: What does “out of control” mean? Someone responding with a broad, long winded answer might refer to Kevin Kelly’s most excellent and timeless book titled Out of Control (1). In a simpler context, please consider the building of a high rise office building or the addition of a large family room, sunroom, patio and pool to an existing house without the benefit of a “blueprint” developed by an architect? Does “out of control” come to mind? No matter how well you organize the building materials and the construction teams, nor how talented the construction personnel are, chaos will develop without the blueprint and the architect! And Kelly talked about this type of “out of control” in his book!

Sometimes employees struggle in an “out of control” environment assuming it is the enterprise norm! Many also assume that the definition of “out of control” means chaos, things have just gone crazy or that a state of corporate turmoil is the status quo. In today’s business world we operate in an environment more technically complex than at any other time and it is getting more complicated every day. This causes some employees to feel “out of control,” awash in the daily chaos of quick fixes to convoluted problems that eventually degrade process efficiency, cloud initiative effectiveness, affect product quality, render poor customer service and ultimately wipe out profit. There are no quick fixes for these faltering enterprises. If there were, these enterprises would have already implemented solutions. So, how can any C-level executive lead their company without the corporate blueprint; a Business Architecture built by a Business Architect?

Consider this! Enterprises are consistently built and rebuilt with inherent architectural design flaws, which create enormous inefficiencies, missed opportunities, and cause havoc within the enterprise. The proof of this is found in the frequent corporate reorganizations, layoffs, failed corporate initiatives, project cost overruns, and numerous business unit failures. In almost every case the current enterprise linkages and relationships are not formally documented, well articulated, sufficiently detailed, well engineered, tightly integrated, nor adaptive enough to respond to ever changing market forces and opportunities. There is another alternative to this “dark side” existence!

Many overlook another characterization of “out of control” discussed in Kelly’s book. To get “in control”, Business Architects must design control into the enterprise and not let it suffer the consequences of misaligned functional management. Ironically, the enterprise is “out of control,” in this context too, since control is designed into the enterprise, but this is a good thing! As just implied in the construction analogy, another corporate reorganization is not required, nor is another round of layoffs of talented experienced people who are “too expensive” to keep around! What is needed is a corporate blueprint, a Business Architecture built, designed and maintained by Business Architects guided by the strategy. Either the enterprise is controlled by its vision and strategy, executed through the Business Architecture or the enterprise is engulfed in unpredictable chaotic events.

Most enterprises are viewed in functional terms rather than through its integrated cross-functional business processes that focus on the customer. Think about it for a moment; the functional view which has dominated corporate behavior for decades looks at the enterprise from a perspective of “inside-out;” describing the enterprise and measuring its success in functional terms. However, an “outside-in” view measures success in customer terms. Sarah Jane Gilbert in a Harvard Business School article states that companies with an “outside-in” perspective aim to provide solutions for customers. Those with an “inside-out” orientation, on the other hand, just focus on products, sales, and the organization (2).

An enterprise that is “out of control,” most likely has an “inside-out” perspective, and this is a bad thing! To get “in control,” an enterprise has to focus on customer solutions, taking an “outside-in” approach. Maybe some are not sure about taking the customer’s view, questioning if it is the right strategic objective to pursue. A review of almost any corporate annual report will find many references to the importance of customers and the intent of the enterprise to delight their customers. However, the purported corporate blueprint seldom formally aligns with the customer! Perhaps in some cases, the C-level leaders talk from an “outside-in” perspective, but they continue to operate from an “inside-out” perspective. Is this conflicting behavior confusing the employees and customers, perhaps leading to an “out of control” enterprise? That is why a customer centric strategic initiative is the right one and so very necessary! This new and evolving corporate blueprint requires a different organizing principle or schema; a purposeful reason for integrating and for the Business Architecture that is a focus on the customers of the enterprise. And of course, the focus on a client, consumer, guest, passenger, patron, citizen, end user, stakeholder and other similar terms are just as valid as customer. We need the long-term view, a permanent fix and an adaptive design that is fully integrated throughout the enterprise and its external domain.

There are no guarantees of success here or hyped-up promises of glory. Only a choice between staying put in an unstructured, chaotic, inherently flawed system, or engineering the enterprise out of this kind of mess with the Business Architecture. It is a tough decision, one made only by visionary leaders with a commitment to creating their view of the future and understanding the opportunities for success from a customer centric Business Architecture perspective.


1. Kevin Kelly, Out of Control: The Rise of Neo-Biological Civilization (Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, Inc. 1994). 2. Harvard Business School, “The Outside-In Approach to Customer Service”

Similar Resources

Featured Certificate: BPM Specialist

Everyone starts here.

You're looking for a way to improve your process improvement skills, but you're not sure where to start.

Earning your Business Process Management Specialist (BPMS) Certificate will give you the competitive advantage you need in today's world. Our courses help you deliver faster and makes projects easier.

Your skills will include building hierarchical process models, using tools to analyze and assess process performance, defining critical process metrics, using best practice principles to redesign processes, developing process improvement project plans, building a center of excellence, and establishing process governance.

The BPMS Certificate is the perfect way to show employers that you are serious about business process management. With in-depth knowledge of process improvement and management, you'll be able to take your business career to the next level.

Learn more about the BPM Specialist Certificate





  • Business Process Management Specialist
  • Earning your Business Process Management Specialist (BPMS) Certificate will provide you with a distinct competitive advantage in today’s rapidly evolving business landscape. With in-depth knowledge of process improvement and management, you’ll be able to take your business career to the next level.
  • BPM Professional Certificate
    Business Process Management Professional
  • Earning your Business Process Management Professional (BPMP) Certificate will elevate your expertise and professional standing in the field of business process management. Our BPMP Certificate is a tangible symbol of your achievement, demonstrating your in-depth knowledge of process improvement and management.


BPM Certification

  • Make the most of your hard-earned skills. Earn the respect of your peers and superiors with Business Process Management Certification from the industry's top BPM educational organization.




  • Operational Excellence Specialist
  • Earning your Operational Excellence Specialist Certificate will provide you with a distinct advantage in driving organizational excellence and achieving sustainable improvements in performance.


OpEx Professional Certificate

  • Operational Excellence Professional
  • Earn your Operational Excellence Professional Certificate and gain a competitive edge in driving organizational excellence and achieving sustainable improvements in performance.



  • Agile BPM Specialist
  • Earn your Agile BPM Specialist Certificate and gain a competitive edge in driving business process management (BPM) with agile methodologies. You’ll gain a strong understanding of how to apply agile principles and concepts to business process management initiatives.  

Business Architecture



  • Business Architecture Specialist
  • The Business Architecture Specialist (BAIS) Certificate is proof that you’ve begun your business architecture journey by committing to the industry’s most meaningful and credible business architecture training program.

  • Business Architecture Professional
  • When you earn your Business Architecture Professional (BAIP) Certificate, you will be able to design and implement a governance structure for your organization, develop and optimize business processes, and manage business information effectively.

BA CertificationCertification

  • Make the most of your hard-earned skills. Earn the respect of your peers and superiors with Business Architecture Certification from the industry's top BPM educational organization.




  • Digital Transformation Specialist
  • Earning your Digital Transformation Specialist Certificate will provide you with a distinct advantage in today’s rapidly evolving business landscape. 


  • Digital Transformation Professional
  • The Digital Transformation Professional Certificate is the first program in the industry to cover all the key pillars of Digital Transformation holistically with practical recommendations and exercises.



  • Agile Business Analysis Specialist
  • Earning your Agile Business Analysis Specialist Certificate will provide you with a distinct advantage in the world of agile software development.


  • DAS Certificate
  • Decision Automation Specialist
  • Earning your Decision Automation Certificate will empower you to excel in the dynamic field of automated decision-making, where data-driven insights are pivotal to driving business innovation and efficiency.