Look over the following questions and activities. In this chapter, they are designed to give you a snapshot of your current business environment and organizational model. If you are part of a leadership team, do this together as a team. You might consider and discuss each factor that contributes to environmental turbulence separately (e.g., competitors, global markets, changing customer tastes, relevant technology, etc.) before making conclusions about your current business environment and how you expect it to change over the next decade.
Use surveys or interviews or focus groups or social media to learn more from people who are in a position to see things you might miss or undervalue. Do so with an open mind…you may hear many things that you will not believe (and some that should not be given great consideration), but you may also learn about so much more than you have understood just because you’re located in the midst of the fray, busily working to accomplish your full agenda.
Application Activity 2.1: Your Business Environment
business environment in which you currently compete —your competitors, global and national/local customer markets, changes in customer tastes/demands, changes in relevant technologies, expected regulation changes in your industry, and the economy.
Consider two extremes:
Calm Water: Stable, Calm, Predictable, Safe
White Water: Dynamic, Turbulent, Unpredictable, Dangerous 1.
How would you rate your current business environment? Place a
check mark on the continuum below that captures your beliefs about the stability of your current business environment.
In your own words, summarize
your understanding of your current business environment.
Do you believe your business environment will become more or less stable over the next decade? What factors in your environment will lead to this outcome?
Application Activity 2.2: Your Organizational Model
Consider your current
organizational model on a continuum ranging from Very Mechanistic (Non-Adaptive) to Very Organic (Adaptive). Mechanistic design means that the organization is designed to follow a machine model. Like a machine, the parts are carefully chosen to work together (in theory) to deliver an efficient, predictable result. Thus, this design is characterized by carefully defined jobs and roles, clear reporting relationships and lines of authority, lots of rules and policies (i.e., red tape) to help create order and predictability, and, finally, little latitude for employees to solve new problems directly without first going to their boss. Hierarchy rules, metrics abound, important decisions are made at or near the top of the organization, and communication tends to be downward. Mechanistic design is often accompanied by organizing the business by function (thus creating turf battles), and by close supervision to ensure all the “parts work together.” Organic design
means that the organization is designed to adapt and grow to meet the challenges and opportunities it encounters. This design is characterized by more loosely defined roles aimed at serving and satisfying internal and external customers, where employees have the discretion needed to address issues as they arise, where trying something new is not only accepted but expected, where teams bring together unique capabilities and perspectives to address new issues, and where individual growth in capability is expected to better serve those teams and, therefore, customers. Change is a way of life at the individual, team, and organizational levels, resulting in a business that is always prepared to meet its next challenge with people who are ready, willing, and able to play their part in turning a new direction into a new result.
How would you rate your current organization on a continuum from Very Mechanistic (Non-Adaptable) to Very Organic (Adaptable)? Place a
on the continuum below that captures your beliefs about how your organization reflects a mechanistic–organic structure and management system.
In your own words, summarize your understanding of your current
Application Activity 2.3: Organization–Environment Fit
Let’s pull this together.
On the rating continuum below,
your ratings of the current transfer business environment (Activity 1.1) to the of the rating continuum (using an top for current business environment) and then transfer your E organizational model rating (Activity 1.2) to the of the rating continuum (using an bottom for organizational model). M
Compare the rating of your organizational model to the environment ratings. Does your current organizational model support your ability to compete successfully in your current business environment? In other words, is your business currently organized, managed, and led in ways that will help or hinder your future success? Explain the issues you see.
If you cannot count on how you are currently organized, managed, and led to ensure a prosperous future over the next decade, what,
specifically, would have to change? (Consider your mental model in addition to any organizational and management style changes.)
What is the
biggest business risk you see— be specific. What could happen to your business if you chose to ignore this risk? How much time do you have before you would feel the impact of this risk, if it were to become a reality?
Application Activity 2.4: Is My Mindset the Problem or the Solution? 1.
journal over the next two to three weeks.
reactions, judgments, and feelings when anyone suggests something new and different. Provide some detail about the idea and your reaction . when you first heard it
Put a note in your calendar to review your journal two to three weeks from now.
At the end of this time frame, look back over your journal. Do you see a
pattern in your entries? Do you tend to have issues/problems/concerns with most of the new ideas…or do you see some merit in many of them and think that they might be worth exploring?
This activity is about …and your way of thinking about your business. you If you regularly see new ideas critically, you may be seeing your world through old lenses that make it hard to see or agree with new ways of thinking. This is an important insight (if true). Our ability to lead to new, better futures requires us to let go of old ways of thinking. Said another way, we can’t let what we know all too well get in the way of our ability to see new possibilities.
Now, to anticipate your thoughts here, not all new ideas should be embraced and not all new possibilities should be followed.
Even still, we cannot lead toward a prosperous new future in a white water world if we reject all new thinking as a knee-jerk reaction. So, are you letting what you know get in the way of what you can imagine? Do you see yourself as an obstacle or a solution?