CORE COMPETENCE and SPECIALIZATION

Post 595 by Gautam Shah

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Design organizations are initiated, by an individual who has some expertise or keen interest in a specific field, or by group of people who share similar or parallel interests. This founding expertise or keen interest must form the formal goal of the design organization. The formality must occur as a declared policy. Design Organizations must work intensively in areas that are analogous to their goals.

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Wikipedia image by Injeongwon

Design organizations have a noble desire to cultivate an acute or very exclusive knowledge system over years of professional practice. This is often not attended to adequately in design organizations, but when the need arises, they hire specific expertise through new employees or by retaining consultants. Organization, however, cannot have core competence just by intent, facilities or expertise. Core competence results from expertise with hands-on experience on real projects.

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Acute Specialization > Wikipedia image by tainted blue

Organizations need opportunities to build up the core competence. Such opportunities arrive by selection. An organization with well-defined goals would procure projects by approaching appropriate clients, being in contact with relevant consultants, by offering additional services for making the fees attractive, by participating in such competitions. An executed project generates better competence in a field, then handling of several diverse projects.

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Wikipedia image by Grant Crabtree

Core competence leads the design organization into specific jobs, by way of excelling in results, efficiency of work procedure or job handling, efficiencies of input-benefit ratio, and client satisfaction. The repetition of opportunities leads to learning, experimentation and satisfaction. Core competence is perceived as an innovative pursuit that can cause enough synergies, to make the organization behave like self correcting, or continuously adjusting biological entities.

Ingenieure mit Konstruktionsplan

Wikipedia image > Attrbn: Bundesarchiv , Bild 183-23805-1665/ CC-BY-SA 3.0

Core competence is also seen as a debate for Generalization versus Specialization. Some organizers believe that generalization, as a capacity to handle all types of projects and under whatever circumstances, is very essential for continuance (survival or professional relevance). And, (they believe) “if the need arises, experts can be hired to meet the exigency”. The generalization allows to handle projects of routine nature, in an efficient, economic and time bound manner. Such ‘generalist’ organizations handle projects that are very large in scale, requiring little innovation, and of repetitive nature. Their service or fee’s are highly competitive.

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Wikipedia image by Marcrocs

Specialization cannot be achieved by intent alone. One must grab projects that reinforce the skills, even by discounting the fees or profits. And, if opportunities in the desired field are few, one must strive for excellence in the relevant sections of the routine work. Specialization is often equated with a single person in charge of the organization, rather than group based practices. An Autocratic leader stimulates an organization towards an acute specialization, whereas a Bohemian leader dissipates the energy and de-focuses and strives for generalization. A Democratic leader will continuously review and revise, the aims of the organization, and plan the resources, to make the organization creative.

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Temple Singapore > Flickr image by Steve Jurvetson

Creativity is not in specialization (capacity to excel in limited fields) nor in generalization (capacity to handle many different situations) in any field. Design creativity is seen in radical solutions, proficiency in sustaining the technical superiority and learning. Design efficiency is perceived for being productive, cost efficacy and organizational ranking or superordination.

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