Making your organization faster

In a slower world, weeks, months and even years were enough time to fix an organizational problem. It took enormous amounts of time for a company to grow or to go away and there was always a sense that a new leader, product or a change in the economy could turn things around.

Those days are coming to a close. Globalization of supply chains and markets, disruptive innovation and and the Web are increasing the speed of business ups and downs.

Take RIM, the manufacturer of the Blackberry device. From enormous profits to “falling into the abyss” in one year. That kind of change didn’t seem possible a decade ago. So what can an organization do?

They can learn to sense earlier and change faster.

Spidey sense

Spider-Man’s greatest asset, other than incredibly strong filament shooting out of his wrists, was his ability to sense danger…his ‘Spidey Sense’ would tingle. Spider-Man was able to know what was happening before it became disaster. If businesses were able to sense opportunity or danger earlier, they would have more time to make the changes to their business that matter.

Willingness to change

Supposing an organization developed its Spidey Sense, it would still need to do what many struggle to do…effect change. Employees just want to come to work every day and know what to expect, management wants things to work out and not be responsible for making anything worse, and IT spends most of its time and budget trying to maintain the status quo. In that environment, what can be done? Plenty.

Step 1- Create a high-level model

Too many organizations operate without a model for their business or operate with many disjoint ones. Lacking a model, you can invent one or (better) use one of the many frameworks available. The model represents your biases and experience. It provides a set of assumptions to be continuously validated or broken down. A model is your success formula and incorporates the variables that allow you to calculate and set expectations.

Don’t think this model is static, either. It will need ownership and care and feeding to keep it up to date and trustworthy.

Step 2 – Listen to your ecosystem

Your suppliers, systems, employees and customers are telling you things, you just may not be listening. Pay attention to the pattern of events that affect your business so that you can then feed those events back into your model. Many top enterprises today either already have or are implementing ways to find, analyze and then watch for patterns.

This becomes your Spidey Sense and can save your bacon.

Step 3 – Listen, analyze, look, decide, respond. Repeat.

With a model in place, you have the powerful ability to find opportunities in the pattern of information that your model depicts. You have the chance to create better responses to events as they occur and to automate things that make sense to streamline. You have the chance to improve upon the model and tweak its accuracy and ability to calculate outcomes.

This isn’t as complicated as it may seem and it certainly changes the speed of an organization and its ability to adapt quickly to change.


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Categories: Data Analytics / Big Data, Information Technology, Real-time, SOA / B2B

Author:Chris Taylor

Reimagining the way work is done through big data, analytics, and event processing. There's no end to what we can change and improve. I wear myself out...

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5 Comments on “Making your organization faster”

  1. July 11, 2012 at 4:46 am #

    Chris, everything you say makes perfect sense, but even when companies sense that the wind is blowing in a different direction, they often don’t know what to do about it. Innovators in their market space will disrupt them forcing them to respond. This is essentially a defensive posture, but as we all know, the best defense is a good offense.

    The problem is, it’s hard to disrupt yourself, especially when things are going well. Why would Blackberry come out with a touchscreen device when all evidence suggested everyone wanted a keyboard based device? Only after someone proved their thinking wrong did they attempt to respond with too little, too late.

    Had they innovated right in the middle of their own great success, they could have sustained their tremendous lead. But alas, buggy whip makers rarely see the horseless carriage coming until…well, they find themselves on the defensive.

    Maybe the real lesson here is that when things are going really well for your company, you should start to worry about what will replace you. Success is intoxicating, so leaders need to learn to handle its effects accordingly.

  2. July 11, 2012 at 9:36 am #

    @Tom, thanks for the great reply. It is so true that companies, even when they suspect the winds of change are blowing, can’t change. There is too much inertia in the direction they’re already headed and too many careers built on a specific expectation of the market and roles.

    You’ve hit on the hardest part…how to innovate in the middle of success. Few companies can do it, but maybe Apple can (time will tell).


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