Sunday, January 3, 2021

Inflexibility

In contemporary society, the policies get updated to reflect the new age, adapt to the new speed, and fit for the new perspectives to shape an progressive ultramodern world.


Digital era is volatile, complex, uncertain and ambiguous, with increasing rate of changes and fast growing information, organizations across the vertical sectors need to be informative enough to make effective decisions and resilient enough to overcome continuous disruptions. However, many companies which get stuck at the low level of business maturity are too slow to catch the change tide timely and not flexible enough to solve complex problems in an alternative way. To dig into the root causes, inflexibility is often caused by complicated processes or procedures, legacy IT systems, bureaucratic management practices, outdated rules or policies, etc.

Complicated processes, structures, or procedures: Running a business today is complex because of interdependence, hyperconnectivity, process dynamic, information overloading, structure incohesiveness, not mentioning the human factor - you will find the attitude of complicating things in processes, procedures or systems in a corporate world. The overly rigid hierarchy hinders flexibility and silo mentality enlarges gaps between different functions. As speed is a key imperative these days, to streamline business flow and improve strategy management effectiveness, the organizational design should be fine tuned to enforce flexibility, business processes and procedures should be optimized to improve productivity and innovation. Delayering becomes a lens through which it is possible to examine and fix many other issues including bureaucracy.

The trend toward a softer and flatter organization structure is clear. And surely it is the right direction, the mix of virtual team setting and the physical structure will overtake hierarchical control, and culture will become a more fundamental organizational asset. Limited hierarchy works best in a creative environment in which the free flow of ideas and their prompt implementation is a key element of success. The goal of process management or procedure optimization is to eliminate unnecessary complications, improve operations to reduce the burden on the company. Be cautiously optimistic though, there is no doubt that complicated business systems have multiple layers of complexity, but if managing it effectively, it can be simplified by reducing the number of components or changing the way they interact, improving business system flexibility.

Bureaucratic management style: Organizational bureaucracy is inherited from the traditional management discipline based on reductionist philosophy in the Industrial Age with scarcity of information and rigid hierarchy. It is correlated with a mechanistic view of the organization. Technically, Bureaucracy = Process Inefficiency + Command control management style. Bureaucracy is criticized by its inflexibility, inefficiency, silo, stagnation, unresponsiveness, lack of creativity, etc. In reality, nothing impedes progress more than protective silos which are simply a form of bureaucratic management hierarchy designed to preserve the status quo. With hyperconnectivity and increasing speed of changes, it becomes the barrier to digital transformation.

Technically, flexibility is about figuring out alternative ways to solve problems; psychologically, being flexible is simply an ability to learn and adapt to changes, to explore new possibilities, to take further responsibilities but also and above all, in the effectiveness of its initiatives. Thus, to improve organizational flexibility, debureaucratization is a management practice. The more effortlessly you can align, integrate, and optimize the important business factors inside an organization, the closer you can accelerate performance and lead changes. Flexible organizations tend to have managers with the right mix of personal attributes and a variety of skills, be comfortable with ambiguity, and respectful of the process. Methodologically, take the flexible approach with the adaptability to solve existing or emerging business problems, leverage tailored management disciplines to fit specific circumstances to accelerate business speed and build resilience of the organization.

Outdated rules: Rules are necessary to run a modern business or society. There are good rules and bad rules, visible rules and hidden rules, local rules or global rules; some rules or laws we have to follow to be a good citizen in the nation or the fine resident on the earth. Other rules are more situational and changeable. The “rule of rule” is about progress. The multiset of rules are based on the multitude of values: corporate values, religious values, societal values, to name a few. Some rules are more universal because there is common value across the culture and across the geographical boundaries. Other rules need to be updated more often to drive progressive change and lift humanity. You don’t need to be a restricted religious person to have values, just like you don’t have to have a certificate to prove you have certain talent or skills with unprecedented transparency and omnipresent digital footprint in digital society.

From a business innovation management perspective, the larger the organization and inputs are, the larger the amount of 'rules' necessary for its functions, to keep dependent variables and output delivery stable. There is a paradox: When the organization only rewards the rule followers, not innovators, the old rule breakers, more often, they only focus on short term results, not long term vision. In fact, too many rigid procedures or hidden rules will stifle creativity and free thinking. Broadly speaking, rules are often domain specific and time relevant, so perhaps there’s no rule which can “rule” the world all the time. And rules need to be updated continually because often the outdated rules become the roadblocks to stifle innovation and business or societal progress.

The organization needs to be adapted in a digital way that it can respond effectively to the dynamic changes and to the variety of the environment. Ideally, digital organizations should be a complex but flexible ecological system starting to appreciate business attributes such as readiness, autonomy, open communication, people centricity, and multifaceted partnerships. In contemporary society, the policies get updated to reflect the new age, adapt to the new speed, and fit for the new perspectives to shape an progressive ultramodern world.





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