Business agility: upward spiral movement begins at ground zero

Ooievaarsnest op Havezathe Het EverlooCan a large bank, insurer or other corporation become as swift and agile as a lean start-up? Is it efficient to copy-and-paste the Spotify way of working? Should you impose it or let it happen? How to grow initial successes with agile teams you saw on a small scale? Experience teaches me that competent people, grounded in the required agile processes, behaviors, and techniques as well as change facilitation, can help businesses’ desired transformation towards agility lifted.

We don’t have time or room to change (again), although we should.

Vuurwerk op camping Camping Du bois de reveugeThe power of creative destruction in order to survive as organization requires a willingness to change, reorganize, and challenge the current state time and again. Competitive advantages are no certainty for life. Technologies, legislation, customer journeys, the usage of resources, whether it is capital, raw materials, data or people, are constantly moving. Viable business models change. Only if you stay fit to tomorrow’s requirements, you’ll have a chance to stay in business. Siblicide, the phenomenon of offspring killing their siblings, is common among many larger birds

If you can’t speed up, borrow resources (money, people, machines) to enable you to do so. The promise of IT and business process outsourcing was and is to free up the organization’s capacity to focus on core competences or new development. For changes you will need inspiration, competences, coaching, good practices, and a lot of entrepreneurship. What a decade ago was coined as adaptive enterprise still is mandatory. Inspect and adapt. Dare to move. Learn to fly. Apply the relevant techniques, process and behavior.

Let’s change everything now

Change.Creative destruction comes with a deliberate choice to kill your darlings. You should not and cannot effectively keep both the ‘old world’ and ‘new world’ alive. There’s only one world. A bird bird carrying a heavy burden (legacy IT environment, obsolete products and stocks, way to many employees compared to what’s needed in this new way of working) cannot fly high.

Some birds got the opportunity to play a little. Others are roughly kicked out the nest by their parents. Similar things can be seen in organizations as well. Sometimes a sandbox for innovations, such as a internal lab, joint venture, small scale initiatives are stimulated or allowed for a while. At other moments more radical measures are taken. Large-scale lay-offs aren’t executed in small waves. Is your aim to do the same with less people? I sincerely hope you found out better ways to move forward, practice the lessons learned to fly higher, and become more agile.

No thermic without friction

022 opblazen ballonHot air moves upward, because of the friction with cooler air. Your vision may not be shared by every employee, team manager or fellow in the C-suite. Only in hindsight you can conclude on who was right or wrong. There’s no second chance for decisions made today. Boldness to take decisions is what you are paid for as manager. You cannot delegate that to others. And, so friction with employees, labor unions, suppliers and customers will be yours to deal with.

A different perspective on scale

089 vechtdalEverything looks different from up above. Organizational problems, market circumstances, the actual needs of customers, bottlenecks in the process, look smaller or finally become visible when you zoom out or in, depending on your aim flying up in the air. You recognize what others are doing, see fellow bird chase for food, enjoy the silence, or group into flight formation to save energy.

Some questions to let you your brain work on:

  • Who will open your eyes to the changes ahead?
  • What’s your vision? Who, and what is needed to accomplish goals or intermediate states towards that dot on the horizon?
  • Who do you trust to kick you out of your nest (comfort zone, burning platform)?
  • Are you willing to kill your darlings?