The ESO Glossary

As with any knowlege set, undertanding the terminology is central to understanding the concepts. While ESO is based on simple logic, using mostly common terms, the following have ESO-specific meaning:


A combination of people, tools and procedures designed to perform a specific class of tasks. Capabilities are emergent systems. Examples: procurement, channel sales, mechanical assembly, material handling, etc. Capability may describe a a complete organization or a function within an organization.


Continuous System Performance Improvement. Applying ESO over time to lead an organization to peak performance.


A measure of how well a process uses resources (materials, time, funding, labor) in producing value. Numerically, it is the ratio of total resources used less waste to total resources used. (R-W)/R.


A measure of how well the outcome of a process fulfills its purpose. Numerically, it is the ratio of the value produced by a process to the value desired. Often qualitative rather than quantitative.

Emergent System

A combination of people, capabilities, tools and other resources bound by process to form a new entity performing business or operational functions. The emergent entity may be a new capability or an entire organization.


Emergent System Optimization. ESO treats the organization or capability as an emergent system to identify the function and contribution of constituent parts and processes, then seeks to modify or arrange those parts as required to optimize the emergent system. In this way the focus remains on system-level optimization.

Maturity Model

Set of five defined levels of maturity a capability or process may achieve in terms of end product quality, repeatability, reliability, capacity, plannability and cost optimization.

Maturity Requirements Matrix

A matrix containing the assigned maturity goals and current maturity status for capabilities and processes within an organization.


The process of modifying or arranging people, tools and methods to improve net performance.

Organizational Performance

The amount of value produced by an organization relative to the cost of value production. Value may be measured in various terms of interest to express various performance categories; e.g., quality performance or revenue performance.

Peak Organizational Performance

The level of organizational performance at which the cost of further improvement equals its benefit within the organization’s planning horizon, making further improvement unfruitful. Benefit may include cost, functional, and schedule elements, the intangibles of which are subject to management judgment.


Workflow instructions and decision guidance for effort involving multiple capabilities and business-level decision in pursuit of a goal. May implement business strategy or involve external entities (e.g., customers).

  • Project management process
  • Order fulfillment process
  • Contract review process
  • Budgeting process

When used collectively, "process" may include procedures and work instructions.


Workflow instruction and decision template for effort involving one or more capabilities in the accomplishment of a defined task with a defined set of specific outcomes.

  • Engineering change request
  • Product design verification
  • Service dispatch

Work Instruction

Linear (step-by-step) instructions for the accomplishment of a specific task within a single capability to achieve a defined outcome.

  • Tool Operation
  • Inventory counting and reconciliation
  • Document control

Process Map

A workflow and information flow diagram depicting movement between capabilities in the performance of a process. The map may also be in tabular form.