Tackling the Greatest Inhibitors to Business Agility


Business Agility is all the rage! Look at all the books and articles on how wonderful life will be when your business becomes agile. Yet how easy is it to become more agile when you even just focusing on the four most prominent inhibitors lurking in your organization pushing you maintain your own brand of business as usual.

According to McKinsey and others, there are four primary inhibitors that can destroy your plans for and implementations of a more agile way of doing business:

  • Underlying IT systems
  • Corporate Culture
  • Organizational Structure
  • Business Process

Underlying IT Systems

Your underlying IT systems can constrain your agility without you even being aware of them. Creativity suffers in a digital world of ones and zeros. Once set up, everyone and everything must conform to their standards rather than vice versa. Add to this the leveraging effect of GIGO or Garbage In, Garbage Out, and one internal mail to everyone, based upon a false fact or figure and you can literally sabotage even the most well thought out strategy. It is now more important than ever to locate that balance point between acting and reporting.

Corporate Culture

How aware are you of the written and unwritten rules that influence and often rule how your organization interacts, both internally and externally? Like the proverbial fish out of water, culture is something so transparent when you’re in it that you it is almost impossible to notice until you are thrown out of it. As David Gerber wrote in his book “The E Myth”, you can either work “in your business” or look upon it from outside and work “on your business”. Can you guess which is harder to do? To take a detached view of what you do takes training, but without even attempting to look on your business you will never see how your own cultural behavior is slowly suffocating your company.

Organizational Structure

The older and bigger your organization gets, the more rules and guidelines for doing business the “(Enter your company name here) way” becomes. Add to this the extra press of your IT Systems and reporting structures and pretty soon it takes days to negotiate the paperwork and sign-offs necessary to take a day’s training or upgrade your PC. Look no further than how many laws are passed DAILY in every country on the planet and soon even law-abiding citizens are breaking some kind of law or statute without even knowing it.

Business process

There are a number of very successful processes out there such as 6 Sigma, Lean Production, etc. They are designed to cater to the greatest common factors regarding your average employee. Yet this means that all outliers, entrepreneurs and anyone on the cutting edge will be marginalized. If you are looking for a great way to stifle creativity and courage, look no further. If you are looking to encourage these over achievers, then you need to relax those critical bottlenecks where they feel constrained. Look no further than the former telecoms giant Motorola and what happened when 6 Sigma took over the company. Designed by Bill white in 1966, this business process permeated the company to such a degree that many of the creative people who were responsible for Motorola’s success were driven out to more creative pastures. Combined with a major financial storm or two, these factors were enough to cause the company to die first a slow, then a faster death.

Each one of these inhibitors can kill any attempts to create a sense of agility in your organization. Combine them and your chances to extract your company from the clutches of business as usual, drop to virtually zero. Why?

… because we are creatures of habit. As much as most of us love to talk about change we are only really for it when requires someone else to change. We love certainty and we build systems, cultures and behavior to create that certainty, yet we constantly get fooled into a false sense of security that our complex models provide. Look no further than Long Term Capital Management and the two Nobel Laureates that almost crashed the financial system in 1996 because their investment model was not broad or robust enough to handle the larger than expected event of Russia defaulting on its bonds.

The key to meeting the challenges of these common inhibitors is to become agile. Yet your agility must be an effective blend of strategic, operational as well as relational tools and practices. Focusing only upon one of these areas is like sitting on a one or two-legged stool, neither stable nor comfortable and it will leave you vulnerable for shocks for which you are not prepared.

The biggest step you can take to begin the process of handling these inhibitors is to balance the application of agility tools from these three areas and focus your energy upon the horizon rather than all of your past achievements. No matter how good you once were, if your systems and culture are focused on Key Performance Indicators that are based upon history, you may miss the next big trend or the approaching financial storm. The market will not forgive you no matter how wonderful you think your culture is. Just ask Nokia, Motorola, DEC and many other late, great companies. Think forward, think Agility!

Article Source: https://EzineArticles.com/expert/Kurt_Larsson/1844469