Adaptive business capability to secure your future relevance

Adaptive business capabilityBuilding an adaptive business capability is a critical success factor that will help secure your organisation’s future relevance in the face of increasing competition and change

The democratisation of technology is one of the key elements driving fundamental changes at every level,  due to the simultaneous impacts of the speed of change and the unpredictability of the origins of a range of disruptions.

Organisations whose existing business models are predicated on the assumption that a fine tuning of their current strategies, structures and business processes will guarantee future viability may be ill prepared for the disruption, when it occurs.

Well known examples of the power of this technology initiated transformation  include the higher education sector, law firms, media and music, and even of late, the Australian Taxi industry, where the market dominance of the Taxis Combined network is being threatened as individuals can bid for a taxis directly using one of a range of SmartPhone apps. No longer can organisations ignore the threat to existing markets and industries from the powerful influence of, ultimately, individuals armed with a Smartphone App!

Adaptive business capabilityConceptually, you and your organisation form part of the layer cake of coexistence. These layers include:

  • You,
  • Your team (or department / business unit),
  • Your organisation as a whole,
  • The industry group or sector in which your organisation operates, and
  • The  society in which your organisation operates, and which influences your ultimate success.

The key challenge facing organisations is: How can your organisation continue to stay relevant in this volatile environment?

Adaptive business capability has little to do with technology

The foundations on which in  true enterprise-wide resilience and adaptability capabilities are based, has little to do with technology.  While technology can be an enabler for an adaptive business capability, it may be a prerequisite. It does not guarantee results.

All organisations, whether public, private, for-profit, not-for-profit or Government, intrinsically face the same challenges, these being financial viability and remaining relevant to their stakeholders.

Consider the following thought-starters:

  1. What’s your  ‘over the horizon’ radar?
    • What processes and organisational culture exists to read and interpret the noisy signals out there in the environment?  Do you run multi-disciplinary scenario’s to test how your organisation would respond to possible disruptions? Your next disruptive change could come from anywhere.
  2. Implement a culture of governable adaptability
    • Implementing ‘proven’ governance frameworks can be helpful in ensuring repeatable, auditable processes, but they can also contribute to inherent organisational inflexibility. Review how, where and under which situations your existing governance structures are an inhibitor to your adaptability and adjust accordingly.
  3. Incentives building barriers
    • Heavily incentivizing managers and staff for achieving single shot, short term targets, is one way of making sure that no effort is wasted in better understanding the systemic threats to the business as a whole.  If not well structured, incentives can be counter-productive in the long term.
  4. What’s your listening strategy for tell-tale changes in your customer’s environment?
    • Truly understanding the subtleties and undercurrents of change in your existing client and customer ecosystems may require a multi-disciplinary approach in order to be able to see the trends from different perspectives.  This could involve more than just your Sales or client facing teams.
  5. Bring in your IT department from the cold
    • If your IT department is seen primarily as a cost to the organisation that is to be minimised, and one that is constrained within a services division, that maybe appropriate in an earlier time.  Problem is when your competitors recognise (and are exploiting) the transformational capabilities in their existing and new technologies, and are outstripping you in the marketplace, you have to play catch-up. Value trumps cost. Transform your IT department to a high value, strategic enabler for your organisation.

At the end of the day, the challenges that enterprises face are increasingly varied and complex, and whilst technology is precipitating substantial, pervasive change at every level of society, your organisation’s ability to survive and thrive may not hinge solely on a technological solution.