Operational and dynamic capabilities defined


I have developed these concepts and definitions for use within my design research and consultancy work (mostly concerning academic technologies and academic practice):

Your operational capabilities are the means that you can readily call upon to reliably and repeatedly achieve desired results in your work or studies. For example, I can find relevant articles on journal web sites, download PDF files to my filestore, and annotate them using my iPad. This capability is an important part of my “resource capabilities”.

Your dynamic capabilities are the means through which you improve your operational capabilities, addressing deficiencies, or adapting to changing circumstances and new opportunities. For example, I can identify a need, search for, find, evaluate and adopt new software to help me with my work.

My interviews and observations start with an exploration of seven operational capabilities, as they are implemented in the practices of individuals and groups. The capabilities overlap. The relationships between capabilities are important. We consider how and why these capabilities are constrained, and the effects of those constraints. We look to identify what aspects are essential (considering the context in which they are used) or especially effective (in terms of fit, stick, spread and grow). This then provides a starting point for exploring the dynamic capabilities employed to develop those operational capabilities:

Resource capabilities provide you with an ability to find, process, store, use, share and create physical and informational resources.

Project capabilities provide you with an ability to coordinate activities over time to achieve a desired goal, working coherently on different aspects of a project.

Evaluative capabilities provide you with an ability to make and communicate accurate and appropriate qualitative and quantitative evaluations of work, people, systems etc.

Theoretical capabilities provide you with an ability to find/create and evaluate theories that can help you to understand your work, people, events etc.

Social capabilities provide you with an ability to benefit from the help of others, and in turn to benefit others.

Physical capabilities provide you with an ability to get the most out of and look after your own body and mind.

Ethical capabilities provide you with an ability to create, evaluate and apply values, concerns, virtues, principles, priorities etc – to know what is right and good.

Motivational capabilities provide you with an ability to keep yourself and others engaged and productive.

Dr Robert O'Toole NTF

Senior Teaching Fellow, Arts Faculty, University of Warwick. Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, National Teaching Fellow, Warwick Award for Teaching Excellence.

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