If you are working within a large organization there is a risk that you are not as flexible as needed. We know that there are several challenges that arise in our prospective business, and those challenges are coming faster and are more changeable than ever before. Therefore we all need to be flexible within our organizations. When a prerequisite changes we need to be able to easily adapt to the new situation.
Take the technology challenge as an example. I am sure that you have heard about 3D printers and the fascinating possibilities they provide. There are 3D printers for plastic materials that are now a consumer product. There are also 3D printers for metal materials and even for biological materials. New constructions in metal can be printed out instead of being first cast and welded together. The biological 3D printers are capable of printing human body-parts, such as ears. If we stay with the consumer product for now, we can look at the Lego Company. Traditionally their business has been to sell plastic parts that can be joined together to form particular figures, by following a blueprint. If it is now possible for everyone with a 3D plastic printer to print those plastic parts, and to download 3D descriptions in what is known as a ‘wrlm-format’. Why should you then spend a lot of money buying them in a box?
In order for Lego to be able to change and improve their business model and make sure that they still are in the business of selling something that the customers want, they need to be flexible. If they are flexible they can discover new ways to attract customers. If however, they are not, they will start to become defensive, fighting the new technology and screaming for legislation and other means to halt it. Remember the record companies? They will then do whatever it takes on the outside, instead of looking at the inside and adapting it. Lego has been in a troublesome situation before and managed to solve it, hopefully they will do so again. Lego is not the only company that is under pressure, there are many examples, such as Nokia, Barnes & Nobles, Procter & Gamble, and Kodak. The same goes for everyone else, you need to see the challenges in your business and you need to be flexible about your improvement.
A larger organization which has grown a lot, and according to Parkinson’s first law starts to grow because of interests other than satisfying the customer, will have a harder time keeping up. Smaller organizations have an advantage, as they are more flexible. Small organizations that are new, and think in a new way, have an even bigger advantage as they have less need for hierarchical structures.
I must emphasize that the challenges are not only for companies, the challenges and the need for flexibility also applies to public organizations. If you cannot handle the future requirements, someone else will be appointed to do it.
Until the next time, I urge you to take a moment or two to understand the challenges and also to think about your own flexibility. Will you be able to keep up with challenges ahead? Also, find out more (to the right) about the Challenge Online Workshop that I will give at the end of the summer.
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To you and your organizations excellence.