Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Innovatingorganizationviainquiries

Consider the iterative continuum of strategy, structure, and implementation.

The strategy is not just one of the things a leader does, it is the most important thing to reach business vision. A well designed structure is the wind behind the strategy wing. In reality though, organizations are structured by departments and it hinders a company’s ability to create holistic value and ensure the business as a whole is superior to the sum of its parts. 

To improve strategy management effectiveness and accelerate business performance, organizations need to break down silos in a certain way, keep information and ideas flow frictionlessly. Business leaders need to guide their organizations in the right directions by asking strategic questions such as:

"Given this structure, what strategy can we support?": In today's volatile economy, nothing impedes progress more than protective silos which are simply a form of bureaucratic management hierarchy designed to preserve the status quo. The majority of organizations at the industrial age are manipulated by silo thinking, hierarchical structure, and bureaucratic management styles. It often leads to misalignment of people and processes, causes unhealthy internal competitions for limited resources, and decelerates the speed of strategy management.

Given the silo-based structure, the traditional management approach is based on linear thinking - thinking of the business as a mechanical system, so their strategy is perhaps more short term driven, to keep the lights on for ensuring the business stability, without doing enough for driving transformative change. Thus, many organizations will lose their collaborative advantage as a whole and distract the organization from building their long term business competency.

Traditional management is inside out with linear processes to achieve certain efficiency and drive incremental improvement. It does not encourage cross-functional collaboration and thus, it’s not effective from a systematic strategy management perspective. In addition, the organization has limited budget and finite resources to apply to get the best yield possible to meet stakeholders’ expectations. It’s important to set the right strategic priority depending on which of the business areas are most in need of improvement in the organization. Thus, it’s always a journey to keep tuning the organizational design and structure to improve the strategy management effectiveness and efficiency.

"If we change our strategy, what structures do we need to change?" Given the complexity and uncertainty of the digital business world and given the challenges of hyper-connected and interdependent dynamic ecosystems, business strategies today are usually dynamic and have a lot of moving parts. Unclear strategy perhaps misleads the business in the wrong direction and overly static strategy is not effective to adapt to the change dynamic. In fact, digital business strategy is dynamic, and needs to be appropriately adjusted when the circumstances have changed. If you change the strategy, it’s important to break down silos, keep information and ideas flowing frictionlessly to ensure people can make effective decisions for driving change timely.

When the ecosystem changes such as the emerging technology trend, new customer sessions, or the blurred industry boundary, etc, you need to change your strategy, when strategy changes, you need to develop changeability of the organization. In fact, changeability is a dynamic competency that enables the business to reconfigure the organizational structure and change their own behaviors, for adaptation to environmental changes and business dynamics. An organization can make a smooth alignment and approach a flow zone when people are ready to move to a fluid structure, and digital leaders are eager to set stages for change acceleration. The right mixed structure allows the growth mindset and digital culture to bloom so that the business can stretch out in every business dimension for driving a seamless digital transformation.

"What new options exist in structures that could support new strategies?" Many organizations today are running in between - the mix of old and new; the different departments or divisions within an organization have different focus or speeds, often there are fricions existing between underlying functions, structures, or overall strategy management practices. The reality in most organizations though is the performance which is forcibly jammed within an existing organizational structure with silo functions and overly rigid hierarchy, and very few companies are truly leveraging organizational development resources wisely to keep supporting dynamic strategies and unleash business potential. There are also occasions where a structure can be first put in place, which will enable new strategies to be conceived. Such changes are normally required in all three dimensions- structure, behavioral processes and culture.

With strategies becoming more dynamic nowadays, business management, forward-looking organizations experiment with different types of organizational structures to enforce business alignment, enablement, communication and collaboration. Digital management is responsible for enabling a collaborative, innovative, and productive working environment and needs to ponder different options in structure tuning that could support new strategies. New generations of digital technologies such as collaboration tools are highly powerful but lightweight, enabling not only the structured processes of the past but also the unstructured processes of the hyperconnected digital enterprise. High mature organizations have a healthy business cycle continuum: Develop dynamic strategy, keep tuning organizational structure, strike the right balance between centralized efforts and decentralized efforts, build up clear milestones with short, medium and long term performance goals.

"Does the strategy align with the enterprise purpose? Can the structure gain the consciousness of the business purpose" Every business is a system that has a purpose. A system is only a system in relation to a purpose and that purpose is not inherent in the objects and processes you build and create. Digital organization is a dynamic purpose-driven system which needs to continue evolving and adapting, bringing greater awareness of intricacies and generating systemic value to accelerate business performance and unlock its full potential. A good strategy is aligned with its purpose to create customers and achieve business values. Organizations will be able to let themselves think not only of what exists, and how they exist in the business world, being in the business world (conscious), reach the state of subconscious via autonomy and becoming superconscious - how to change the business for fulfilling the bigger purposes. 

We need to shape a unique and highly valuable viewpoint about organizational function and structure tuning, to enforce business alignment, enablement, integration, collaboration, and harmony, and gain the super consciousness of business purpose. The collaboratively interdependent organizations can reach a higher state of business maturity because limited hierarchy works best in a creative environment where the free flow of information and their prompt strategy implementation is a key element of business success. Digital organizations are people centric, understand the people and the organization through a common lens, and then, make it possible to turn the organization into “superconscious mode” with informativeness, creativity, collaboration and harmony.

Consider the iterative continuum of strategy, structure, and implementation. Imagine yourself rising above that continuum, and look down upon the balance between the two. Digital management approach is about leveraging nonlinear processes and interconnectivity between problems in a managerial context to fine tune structures, master strategy management, and improve the overall organizational maturity.

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