AGILITY = SIMPLICITY

WHAT IS YOUR 2017 NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION?  

I bet many of you have some version of “simplifying your life” somewhere in your 2017 resolutions list … I know  I do.  Complexity continues to grow exponentially in all walks of life and has been a mega-trend for some time.  Combined with the rampant acceleration in the pace of everything, this complexity leads to a daunting sense of anxiety and occasional panic for many.  As we start this new year, it is a good time to stop, reflect and attempt to rebalance your scales.

At the start of every year,  I love looking back over the legendary singer and songwriter Woody Guthrie’s New Year Resolutions from back in 1943.   I shared them in one of my blogs a couple years ago … but think they are worth repeating.  I love how Woody gets down to the real basics in life … like “stay glad” or “learn people better” as he attempts to rebalance his scales.

As I travel about, I see many organizations who have gotten all wrapped up in their own complexity – often losing sight of the most basic tenets that helped them grow and be successful in the first place.  The start of any year is a good time for all of us to rebalance our scales and “reboot” our teams … much the same way and why you might reboot your computer.  Our computer devices get so bogged down with overloaded cache from downloads, cookies (not the edible type) we haven’t cleared out and temporary “short-cuts” in our operating systems causing them to act and respond very slow while using a great amount of resources.

The same thing happens in our organizations as, during the course of the year, we pile on information overload, launch a multitude of over cooked (and sometimes conflicting) initiatives and allow constant “by-passing” of standard operating procedures with “temporary short-cuts” designed to “fast track” things. Many of these practices leave totally dazed and confused organizations that act and respond very slow using a great amount of resources.  And as leaders, we often wonder how did that happen and  why?  

In our 2015 book, Focused, Fast & Flexible: Creating Agility Advantage in a VUCA World, we outline seven operating principles for supporting and sustaining agility that include: simplicity, speed, synchronicity, fluidity, modularity, and scalability.  Simplicity is a good place to start as you look to REBOOTING yourself and your team to face the challenges of 2017.  You might consider getting your team re-grounded and energized by engaging them in discussion about … why are we here (our central purpose), how will we be successful this year (our core enablers) and what will be the outcomes we aim to achieve for our journey this year (vision for our success).

What obstacles or complexity (or drag) can we eliminate to make our success and team more aerodynamic?  You might use those seven operating principles as a framework for exploring your aerodynamics … probing into discussion about where and how much more speed of play do we  need to build?  How can we become more synchronous across our functions?  Where do we find fits and starts and lack fluidity in how we do business?  How can we create more plug and place modularity in our business model … maybe exploring The Gig Economy concepts?  Which parts of our business growth require greater and faster scalability?  All very rich and potentially powerful conversation flow.   

Yves Morieux from BCG shared a good TED talk a couple years ago where he spoke about his Six Rules to Simplicity … this is worthwhile to watch and explore how his six rules might be opportunity areas for you and your team to rethink and re-engineer for simplicity.  Many of us are discovering the joy and elegance to be found through simplification. 

How can you make this a positive year for you and your team?  Every step you take to help ratchet yourself and your organization to become more agile – helps you come closer to making your agility a real competitive advantage.  I would love to hear about the outcomes of your discussions as well as your 2017 Resolutions and thoughts.