the Morphix company: inspired transformation

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Morphix a philosophy of holistic change

Mark Newman, founder of The Morphix Company is interviewed by Greg Mason about his unique philosophy

G: Can you tell me how you started life in business?

M:  I studied Electrical and Electronic Engineering in London South Bank University in the late 1970’s. The first part of my career was in high technology working for international companies such as Unisys, Racal, AT&T, Bell Labs and Nokia. I then became interested in management approaches while establishing a new international R&D facility for Nokia. I enrolled myself onto some courses at IMD and INSEAD and that propelled me out of technology management into more general organisational performance management in other industry sectors.

G: So have you left technology behind?

M: No, I still enjoy technology a lot and remain very interested in it. I think once it's in your blood, it never leaves you. But I wanted to branch out and test my abilities in a more general business environment, and at that time my reputation for somewhat successful technology delivery kept drawing me back into technology oriented roles.

G: Where did you go after Nokia?

M: I was introduced to a CEO of a building society in Bradford. He wanted to reengineer his organisation around business processes which is what I had done for Nokia, and so he invited to come on board. He said that with my background I must know something about systems and so appointed me as the Society’s System Architect! That was my first foray into commercial database transaction systems, and more importantly learning how necessary it was to be able to manage holistic change in an organisation.

G: What do you mean by ‘holistic change’?

M: After a while I began to realise that an organisation’s performance is a multi-dimensional challenge. I guess that this in itself was not such a new idea because consulting firms traditionally had different practice areas for strategy, culture, process, technology, HR, etc. The problem was that these practices were not integrated with each other, so often you find technology being introduced without proper consideration of the processes it was required to support, or how people might use it. In fact there seemed to me to be serious disconnects between the way strategy was developed, the underlying organisational implementation, and the ongoing dynamics of change.

G: So in practice how does holistic change occur?

M: Well there was very little on this idea of holistic change. I realised that new methods would needed that would seamlessly relate strategic requirements to process, culture, people and technology. So I developed methods by borrowing and adapting techniques from system engineering, psychology, performance management and other disciplines. Basically in the world of human endeavour, you usually find some sort of explicit or implicit need, and some method or plan to develop a solution to address that need. That very general and abstract concept of requirement, method, and solution can be found in many different disciplines and contexts. So it was through that three stage lense I found it possible to combine, borrow and invent techniques that could be applied to the problem of achieving organisational performance improvement.

G: You set up Morphix in 1994. What is the Company about?

M: The name Morphix echoes the idea of metamorphosis. I wanted to capture the idea of transformational change and deliver solutions around this. There are two distinct business lines in Morphix. The first is business transformation consulting. Here we focus on advising on methods, tools and approaches for achieving better business performance. We seem to get called in when the problem is particularly fuzzy and not well understood. We have developed some systematic approaches to facilitate groups in clarifying and prioritising areas they should be focusing on, and then assisting taking them through to implementation.

G: That’s unusual isn’t it? Management Consultants normally come up with the strategy and then leave the Company to get on and implement it!

M: I think some consultants do that. Other’s of us believe that that value is not really delivered until the Company is experiencing a new way of working with new technologies, organisation, culture etc, So for me it is important work in longer term partnerships with our clients to make sure that we can provide support all the way through to a successful and measurable conclusion. Some of the programmes we are involved in are multi-year global implementation projects where we are helping to codify know-how and best practice for reuse in multiple locations. In large global clients this takes time, discipline and patience to achieve but the rewards are high - some of our recent projects have had an NPV of $500M.

G: You said that business transformation was the first area for Morphix. What’s the other area?

M: About 10 years ago we wanted to create a scalable solution which would enable large, globally distributed organisations make better use of internal knowledge and relationship capital. We set ourselves the challenge of producing something which could be easily introduced into a large organisation without requiring significant changes in behaviour and working practices. The result was MetaSight®, an enterprise software solution which automatically maps knowledge and relationships from the analysis of routine email. The analysis is used to locate internal expertise, build on existing relationships, and notify breaking news events. Of course, the idea of social networking is now well established, but MetaSight remains unique in the way it uses corporate email for automatic enterprise discovery.

G: One last question: where is Morphix going next?

M: On the consulting side we have recently developed a business process portal. We are using the portal to help deliver online business process reference and implementation models for our clients. The portal is being developed to contain integrated document management and together with our method support, provides a repository of process knowledge. With MetaSight® we are continuously developing the software. Some of our clients are now asking for some simple components and data services which can be integrated with their intranets or SharePoint infrastructures. So we are working with them on delivering MetaSight as part of their overall solution architecture.

management consultancy from morphix

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Mark Newman

Mark Newman is married with two adult children. He lives in a 16th Century cottage in Eversley, Hampshire, UK but as he hates DIY has developed a reliable network of artisans to help maintain it. He enjoys playing tennis (although less and less as he is forced to run around the court by opponents in their 20’s), amateur cheffing and fine wines.

One day he will pass the reins on to his more than ready management team, in which case sailing around the Mediterranean would be very desirable when he is too old and decrepit to windsurf. This may never happen in which case he will never retire and be found in his office one day by the cleaner. In the meantime he is alive and well, open for new business, and can be contacted directly at the Morphix offices.

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