Capability Thinking® 

Create, accelerate, and evolve industry-leading business capabilities.

Business capabilities are vital enablers of enterprise and business segment value chains. A capability provides an ability to do something. That something is usually linked to business strategy.

Examples of capabilities include the following:

  • Sales management
  • Brand management
  • Advertising
  • Promotion

Three Questions Every Business Leader Should Ask:

Why Capability Thinking®?

Organizations face challenges to:

Increase Project Success Rates

Organizations must get the bang for the buck from their business change initiatives, including technology projects.

  • Technology projects continue to fail, become troubled or fiascos, or miss business expectations: a decades-old trend that has yet to improve materially.

Avoid "Bad" Failure

Some failure is good. Taking risks and betting big breeds innovation and competitive advantage. The challenge is failing fast, systemizing learning, and saving scarce organizational resources before loss aversion creeps in.

Unfortunately, there aren't any easy fixes or silver bullets to fix the project failure dilemma.

Educate Business Teams

Orient and educate business team members on technology project processes, opportunities, and risks to reduce project failure risks.

Think Different

Stop Following the Herd

Many organizations repeatedly use the same conventional thinking, organization, behavior, and actions conducive to project failure.

Capability Thinking® is a Paradigm Shift

Capability Thinking is an unconventional approach to consistently achieving compelling business outcomes and increased performance and value from business change and technology initiatives.

It delivers differentiating mind, thought, and consciousness to:

  • Avoid project fiascos.
  • Accelerate business decisions, projects, and outcomes.
  • Increase project-capability value realization.

Embrace Opportunities that Come with Change

Workforce demographics and technologies are changing, creating new opportunities for thinking, organization, behavior, and action to simplify, accelerate, and optimize business outcomes.

Capability Thinking® proposes fundamental changes in how organizations prepare, organize, and execute business change and technology project initiatives.

Avoid Major Transformations

Over time, gaps gradually widen between organization capabilities and market competitive realities. Eventually, significant transformations are spawned to bring capabilities in line with market and customer expectations.

Capability Thinking® helps organizations avoid these major transformations with business capability teams and disciplines that proactively and continuously extend capabilities to stay in front of changing market and customer needs.

Unfortunately, many organizations and teams consistently succumb to conventional thinking and everyday circumstances that trigger project trouble and failure.

"We know why projects fail, we know how to prevent their failure -- so why do they still fail?"
Martin Cobb, Former Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat
Solve Resource Constraints

Private and public-sector organizations face increasing challenges in building capabilities with fewer staff, less time, and reduced budgets.

Streamline the Muddled Intersection of IS and Business

Teams at the intersection of Information Systems (IS) and business may wear multiple hats -- continually jumping from one role to another as priorities change, new projects are approved, and additional work is assigned.

  • Often, roles overlap, or they're not understood, further exasperating the situation.
  • IS teams often need to "learn" the business, and the business needs to "learn" IS. These knowledge transition activities consume time and dollars and marginalize quality.

The dilution of focus, confusion, resource variability, and continual misunderstandings described above often result in staff frustration, schedule slippage, budget overruns, and outcomes that fail to meet customer expectations.

Crucial Enablers of Capability Thinking® Include:

More on Capability Thinking®

The linchpins of Capability Thinking® organizations are Business Capability Teams and TOBA -- a framework of principles and masteries -- to optimize technology ROI.

 ​Create a Culture of Leadership and Operational Excellence.

Start with People

People are the starting point for achieving organizational leadership and operational excellence.

Critical tenets include:

  • Recruit agile thinkers -- those professionals who can agilely traverse strategic to tactical thinking and action.
  • Shift to a hire-for-character and train-for-competence model.
  • Retain, rotate, recognize, and reward them continuously. Drop archaic HR practices such as annual reviews and promotion cycles and shift to an "as earned" model.
  • Simultaneously nurture their know-how while excelling at their roles by creating a honeycomb of knowledge, blending transformative, experiential, and self-directed learning principles with rapid development tools and environments. Avoid unproductive one-and-done learning and classware that becomes shelfware.
  • Empower them and their teams as they earn trust. In other words, they should be freed from organizational policies designed to catch the very few bad apples and enabled to take on versatile roles.
  • Provide them with creative license to deliver new thinking and differentiating outcomes.
  • Eliminate the many shadow organizations and roles in project thinking that contribute to obfuscated communications, time delays, and CAPEX/OPEX waste.
  • Leverage business governance structures to instill ownership, accountability, and agility.
  • Challenge your HR leadership! Do they practice human resource leadership or human risk management? Have they created a bureaucracy bloated with excess job position classifications and administrative processes? Are they too rigid and narrow in job classification compensation structures, levels, and roles, incenting top performers to look elsewhere?

An organization of 4,200 employees I recently consulted with had more than 700 job position classifications they were managing. Achieving any timely outcome from their HR organization was nearly impossible.

How lean, effective, and responsive is your HR organization?

Unleash the Talent and Creativity of Business Teams to Increase Technology ROI

Unlock the potential of your people and teams. Nurture their creativity based on trust and leverage emerging workforce demographics, technology, and learning trends.

  • Trust is a valuable currency that must be earned, but it can significantly reduce non-value-added activities and time consumption when it is present.
  • Business teams are genuinely empowered to manage their missions and achieve impactful outcomes.
  • This is achieved through the organizational mission, guiding principles, team member roles, and policy versatility, which allows actions to be completed with minimal administrative intervention, friction, and review.

An organization and value chain is only as fast as its least agile link.

 ​Organize Using a Capability Thinking® Framework

The diagram below provides an organizational landscape of Capability Thinking.

Establish Capability Teams that are Owned by Your Business, Not IT

  • Create business-owned capability teams that reside in the business. Source these teams with business people, not IT, and train and nurture them to become tech-competent.
  • Shift functional application roles, activities, and ownership from IT to business capability teams.
  • Nurture business capability teams to be agile thinkers and embrace the twenty disciplines and principles of Capability Thinking®.
  • Shift from specialists to agile thinkers who can engage in general and specialized roles, avoiding costly and time-consuming role and knowledge transitions.
  • Recruit, reward, recognize, rotate, refresh, and retain high-integrity agile thinkers to staff your business capability teams -- Agile thinkers who possess business acumen and effectively bridge strategic and tactical thinking and actions.
  • Cast the right people in the right roles: The most critical success factor of Capability Thinking®. Capability Thinking requires agile thinkers to navigate the spectrum between strategic and tactical thinking and comfortably execute by successfully working the "gray space."

Enable Greater Business Focus, Knowledge Creation, and Acceleration with Capability Teams

Capability team constructs establish more focused team structures and roles to own and manage the IS-business intersection.

In addition to maximizing value from application systems and liaising with partners, Capability teams engage in business process improvement and organizational change management, such as people enablement activities, training design and delivery, cross-team cooperation, communication, and information sharing.

Capability teams are owned and staffed by the business. They consist of people with an in-depth business understanding, agile thinking skills to conceptualize and act on opportunities, and technical literacy.

What Does This Mean for You?

  • Business Operations: Deliver more frequent, tangible outcomes by agilely extending capabilities with new, differentiating functions and features.
  • Projects: Wrap your project software development life cycle (SDLC) with business capability life cycle management (BCLCM) to instill more rational thinking, versatile organization, positive behavior, and agile actions to optimize decisions and achieve constant, successful business outcomes.

Operate Using a Core Set of Principles

Foundational capability team principles include the 7 “Cs”:

  • Constancy of Purpose: Sustained focus on outcomes, differentiation, simplicity, and reducing variability
  • Creation: Leverage existing solutions, invent new and differentiation solutions, and create business value
  • Constituency: Nurture relationships; Aggressive collaboration
  • Conversation: Dialogue continuously
  • Curve: Jump business cycle curves rather than riding them
  • Conduct: No excuses; High integrity
  • Courage: Do the next right thing

An agile project is only as fast as its slowest dependent process.

Consider your experience dealing with other departments, such as IT, HR, and Procurement, and the time it takes to complete something.

The benefits of an agile project diminish when procuring people, technology, and vendor partner talent and tools take unnecessarily long cycles. 

Think | Organize | Behave | Act Differently to Achieve ™

 ​Practice Capability Thinking® Principles and Masteries



  • Principled Thinking
  • "O" Thinking¹
  • Resource Thinking²
  • Transition Thinking


  • Openness
  • Versatile
  • Acceleration
  • Leverage


  • Organize Agilely
  • Realize Reality
  • Influence Opportunities
  • Execute Purposely
  • Nurture Relationships
  • Think Outcomes


  • Engage
  • Prepare
  • Abridge
  • Zip
  • Create
  • Extend


Engage System™
Develop Insight™
Embrace Mission™
Optimize Decisions™
Think Capability™

  1. "O" Thinking: Outlook, opportunity, operation, option, outcome, outside-in, obligation, obliterate
  2. Resource Thinking: People, time, CAPEX/OPEX

Embrace a Business Capability Life Cycle

ePazce™ is a dynamic BCLC that operationalizes Capability Thinking®. It blends with business rhythm and promotes six actions that deliver differentiated and industry-leading business capabilities:

  • Engage: Interact with your System. Problems and opportunities are thoroughly understood and optimally solved only by engaging in business execution.
  • Prepare: Breed excellence. Expertise is created by preparation and practice.
  • Abridge: Practice brevity. Viable opportunities, options, and outcomes are derived from concise and diligent external and internal assessments that are reduced to a vital few actions.
  • Zip: Leverage existing assets. Unnecessarily reinventing solutions for problems already solved by others is not a wise use of scarce organizational resources.
  • Create: Design usability and code simplicity are critical enablers of differentiation.
  • Extend: Deploy continually. Business environments are dynamic. Solutions and outcomes require ongoing nurturing, improvisation, and pivoting to capitalize on market opportunities.

A BCLC turbocharges your SDLC.

"Think big; think disruptive. Execute with full passion."

Masayoshi Son

Shift from Project To Capability Thinking®

Capability Thinking® requires bold organizational change and a shift in thinking.

The change requires:

  • Engaging senior leadership, often C-level.
  • Changing roles between business and IT.
  • Restructuring and creating new job positions, roles, and compensation packages.
  • Rethinking how you recruit, reward, recognize, rotate, refresh, and retain people.
  • Repositioning vendor relationships to partnering initiatives.
  • Retooling capability and project finance and accounting practices.
  • Emphasizing organization networks, relationships, influence, and trust.

The future belongs to those who think different.

Increase the Performance and Value of Your Technology Investments