Saturday, July 17, 2021


Flexibility and freedom are based on well-defined principles.

Although the word flexibility in general meaning more refers to physical movement capable of being bent, without breaking; psychologically, flexibility is a mental process which results in a resilient attitude to think of alternatives and an action that tests a possible solution. 

One of the biggest challenges in the “VUCA” digital world is the fact that we need different perspectives, different knowledge, and different ways to solve a problem. Thus, flexibility is a professional competency and organizational strength to drive transformative changes.

Structural flexibility: Individually, flexibility means open-mindedness, goal-driven attitude, to achieve even if you need to break down a certain habit or routine sometimes. In a business setting, flexibility means less overly rigid structures or processes, redundant procedures, or outdated rules to present business adaptability and agility. Nowadays, the organizational boundaries are not restrictively straight-line, an organization can approach the flow zone when information can flow across silos and the positions in its hierarchy have clear and accountable tasks. An optimized business with structural flexibility helps to empower people, the goal of improving flexibility is to enforce mutual trust, enhance cross-functional collaboration, to respond to change fast and get things done smoothly.

In management practice, forward-thinking companies can ride above the learning curve, build up their agility for both creating changes and adapt to changes ahead of the masses. For many companies that get stuck at the lower level of organizational maturity, if one was to believe that the environment is imposed on the organization, then you would probably say that the organization must evolve in order to stay compatible. On the other hand, based on the law of action-reaction mutual reinforcement, the organization is one of the drivers for the environment to change because the organization by its behavior changes the environment. Thus, to operate appropriately and change smoothly, it is almost impossible for anyone to function well in an organizational structure that does not have flexibility in its hierarchy and trust as its core foundation. Technically, companies leverage collaborative platforms and tools to wrap around both official and unofficial structures into a hybrid organizational structure to improve flexibility and deliver better business performance at higher speed.

System flexibility: Organizations are systems that have specific purposes to create customers and fulfill their visions. Some complex systems produce behavior that is hard to fathom and sometimes impossible to understand. Most system outcomes can be achieved with only some or a few parts. Complex organizations are inflexible due to friction between the parts, or incoherent integration between parts and whole. The degree of inflexibility in constraints perhaps causes additional complexity. The key point is to make sure the “system-of-interest” is defined to establish the flexible business boundary and the properties that interact with the environment dynamically.

The degree of business responsiveness depends on how business systems and subsystems interact with each other, and those interactions can be structural, technical, informational, or human. The strategic flexibility can be achieved by breaking down internal processes into modular service components and integrate them into loosely coupled business capabilities; by break down silos to enhance a holistic knowledge management practice; by fine-tuning the organizational structure to harness interconnected business relationships; or by understanding talent at the deep level and put the right talent in the right position to solve problems in a flexible manner. So overall speaking, the organization with flexibility is a complex system that demonstrates the system attributes such as “readiness,” “ownership,” “integration,” ``customization,” etc.

Culture flexibility: Flexibility and freedom are based on well-defined principles. A flexible mind loves choices, explores alternative ways to solve problems and enjoys making differences. Collectively, a culture of flexibility is about balancing process and creativity; rules and change; cultivate the trust necessary for people to feel comfortable being who they are and taking the risks necessary to get the work done in their ways. Managers with flexibility have the right mix of skills, they are comfortable with ambiguity and respectful of processes, do not focus on hierarchy but on ideas, information, creativity, openness, and curiosity. They can manage the flexible teams, with extensive experience, they are resolute, responsive, flexible, able to speed up to adapt to changes and figure out new ways to do things, and they can handle ups and downs, bumps and curves skillfully.

Flexibility is manifested in the ability of managers to change their style of decision-making in response to a wide range of parameters such as urgency, level of risk, time constraints. Not all decision-making styles can be applied everywhere or constantly. A flexible style means how to strike the right balance of analysis & intuition; openness & standardization; engagement & unification. Embedded with a culture of flexibility, organizations can incorporate both means and ends, harmonize the environment in which the business can grow organically and people can unleash their potential completely.

Change happens all the time; the reality is that organizations that do not respond to external environmental changes with speed will lag behind and turn out to be irrelevant. A flexible digital workplace is able to “navigate” change and deal with the complexity of an expanded business ecosystem with which the organization is able to correct itself through flexible cultures, such as entrepreneurial attitude, the lens of diversity, and tolerance of ambiguity.


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