A number of years ago at a gym where I worked out I was introduced to the concept of “The Three Pillars Of Fitness” – Strength, Endurance, and Flexibility. Personal reflection on these so-called pillars yielded an appreciation for their identification as a synergistic triad – each important but insufficient alone. Some more recent reflection on the constructs of resilience and adaptability in organizations brought these pillars to mind again in seeking to understand what enables some individuals and organizations to thrive in challenging times while others falter or fail altogether.
If we translate these pillars into the language of organizational or business competencies, we might consider Strength to be what the organization is uniquely good at – their specialty if you will. Endurance would be the capacity of the organization to remain relevant and to steward its resources for the long haul. And Flexibility would be the organization’s capacity to adapt to changing markets, demands, and technologies, and to scale its operations for continued growth.
Of these three pillars, the one challenging most organizations today is Flexibility, and its related attributes of adaptation and innovation. In a business environment where adaptation and innovation can make the difference between thriving and dying. It is not sufficient just to just hire bright, creative, and energetic people. It is critical to create and maintain a culture in which innovation is intentionally cultivated and supported, in which change and adaptation are embraced, and in which collaboration across departmental boundaries and strategic priorities is effectively fostered. It requires a culture in which it is safe to fail and in which critical feedback and innovative thinking are welcomed as the lifeblood of increasing excellence and marketplace relevance.
Innovation is not simply a matter of incorporating technology into your processes and systems. Innovation needs to solve a specific problem, create increased value for the company, connect meaningfully with your consumer base, and ultimately create a competitive advantage for your organization in the marketplace. Scott Wassmer at Appnovation asserts that innovation has to be an ingrained organizational process for it to happen over and over. He suggests that, for that to happen, 3 things are critical:
- Start with identifying a need and the value of meeting that need
- Utilize a process that is incremental, repeatable, and measurable
- Create a culture of innovation that embraces and learns from failure
So, is it time for you and your organization to do some stretching and commit to a strategy to increase your flexibility? If so, we would love to talk with you about how to get from here to there.