Can your organization adapt faster than it can be disrupted?

December 7, 20202 min read

Disruption is inevitable 

Even the most laggardly and pollyannaish leaders of large traditional enterprises are finally convinced that their business models are vulnerable to disruption, all thanks to the global pandemic. Many leading firms protected by regulation, like medical insurance, or firms that historically dominated stable markets, like many financial services, only dabbled superficially in becoming more agile businesses.

In spite of labeling their initiatives “transformations” (for boardroom consumption), they only tactically and locally adopted some agile processes. Crucially they failed to achieve breakthrough business outcomes and anchor lasting change. This happened because they failed to address essential foundational elements of enterprise business agility like:

– Streamlining processes and flow in business functions outside of IT (where delay and waste may be even worse…)

– Addressing organizational design (flatten and decentralize)

– Reconsidering Industrial Era performance management and incentive programs

– Promulgating agile culture and mindset (empower and enable)

– Adopting new leadership styles (remove obstacles and develop capability)

If Covid-19 has taught us anything, it is that there is no realm of human endeavor immune to disruption. Every manner of enterprise and organization must master the critical capabilities required to:

sense the threat of disruption, 

adapt its strategy to exploit or at least survive the change and 

realign the entire organization quickly to execute on new plans .

Adaptive strategy execution 

This is the essence of adaptive strategy execution – the most important business competency for organizations to become resilient and exploit disruption for competitive advantage.

Developing a great strategy is important, but if the enterprise can’t execute on strategy the quality of the strategy is irrelevant. Good or bad, your strategy is just an unrealizable dream that will never materialize, because your organization lacks the discipline, the muscle and sinew to deploy that strategy and execute upon it in a measurable and efficient manner.

You’ve probably noticed the massive uptake in the business press regarding Objectives and Key Results. OKRs are a proven framework for effective strategy execution that is becoming almost ubiquitous among digital-native and agile enterprises of all sizes. Why are OKRs ideal for strategy execution in this modern, digital, constantly changing economic climate?

Because OKRs tremendously encourage and support the sense, adapt, and realign capabilities described above effectively. OKRs provide laser focus and clarity on delivering measurable business outcomes. They provide the transparency and accountability required to ensure we’re measuring progress and staying aligned. OKRs are more flexible, engaging, and empowering than the old top-down goal setting models and they foster adaptability and flexibility by encouraging employees to take initiative on tactics. And in times of disruption they enable organizations to quickly promulgate changes to strategic objectives and measures widely throughout the enterprise.

If you find the topic of adaptive strategy execution as a key to enterprise business agility  compelling, please download my newly published whitepaper: “Leading the Adaptable Organization: Lessons from Darwin, Beck, and Taylor to Win in the Knowledge Economy with Adaptive Strategy Execution” .