Organizational blindness is holding us all back

Boards and Executives who don’t know their exact, enterprise-wide business State-of-Play are flying blind.

There’s so much power and influence held by Board members and Executives that suggesting that anything might be wrong and that things could be made a lot better is very unpopular. Even worse, is when you can produce clear evidence of the need to dramatically improve things. That’s very much a no-no. I’ve deliberately stayed out of the Board of Directors world so I can be part of building a management solution that isn’t influenced by positions I might hold. I talk with some exceptional Executives and Board Directors who express great frustration that their focus on innovation pails into insignificance against the bulk of managers and directors setting a woeful standard. So today I speak on their behalf.

I can recollect a number of occasions when we’ve produced a ‘Living Plan‘ for the senior team of an organization and which identified major flaws in their strategic plans, and proposed a clear way forward based on improved, connected-up delivery. Worryingly, on every single occasion the teams torpedoed what they were seeing. This turned out to be for a number of reasons including the fact that the teams didn’t want to be exposed for their less than sterling performance. None of the thinking came down to a collective desire to do better for the business and the stakeholders. Faced with evidence of major problems, the teams were prepared to ignore that evidence and continue down the meandering path they were on. I’d say it’s inexplicable, but it’s not. We’ve all seen it, and we continue to see it, even when Covid-19 is bringing these inadequacies to the surface.

None of the thinking came down to a collective desire to do better for the business and the stakeholders.

Organizations are made up of many thousands of data-elements and relationships, constantly evolving. Connecting them up laboriously ‘by hand’ eliminates time for higher value knowledge-work and is no longer sustainable. ‘By hand’ means cobbling together different tool-sets that require data to be stored in different ways and in different places and requires people to be constantly hunting it down and then massaging it into some form of hard copy report, or a static Dashboard Infographic. In 2020 this is a seriously dumb way to be working. In fact, its more than just dumb. It’s dishonest.

Because Boards, Executives and their teams struggle to connect-up all the moving parts of strategy and delivery they seldom understand their actual organizational State-of-Play. This means they cannot respond, or intervene, appropriately, in real-time, and in a way that makes sense to the rest of the business.   

…they seldom understand their actual organizational State-of-Play.

To understand the State-of-Play means everyone has to be comfortable with enterprise transparency and the truth that come with it. Board Directors and Executives seem to fall into the categories of those willing to give it a go; those resistant to anything new, and those who play such a cunning game no-one is quite sure where they sit.

Here’s some simple ways to throw off the management baggage of the past and give yourselves some space to think differently.

Balance the Business
High-performing organizations find ways to balance the old and the new; the experimental and the embedded; the fast and the slow and leverage the positive tensions across supposedly competing dimensions.  Smart teams recognize there’s never just one answer, one approach, or one plan.   

Smart teams recognize there’s never just one answer, one approach, or one plan.

Lighten-up the Business
The principles of lean and agile thinking are timely especially if they help lighten up your business in a post-Covid world. Strip down data and processes to the minimum required to deliver high-performance. It’s very definitely about less-is-more. 

Connect-up the Business
Many organizations have held onto some semblance of command-and-control; working in silos; and traditional reporting mechanisms even though all the research demonstrates how out-of-touch these approaches are.  Eliminate these traditional approaches, and replace them with dynamic data-streaming to, and from, all points of the business, in real-time.

Tell the Stories of the Business
Purpose-driven, stripped-down organizations have already moved on from static Dashboard Infographics and are embracing the power of dynamic Storytelling, and Storytellers from all over the business.  Well-designed Storyboards used in combination with Conversations and #tagging allow rapid and continuous building and reuse of knowledge and IP.   It’s very light-touch and almost without constraints in terms of generating, reusable IP and ‘Living Assets.’

For me this isn’t just theory or hot air. I’ve invested half of my working life, as a practitioner, exploring and building a solution that works. And…this isn’t a sales pitch. But if you want to talk I’d be happy to listen. Who knows what we could come up with together. Talk soon.

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