adaptation I subscribe to Cap Gemini’s Perspectives on Business Innovation magazine. The theme for the latest edition is The Adaptive Imperative, the need for enterprises to be agile and alert to environmental changes, almost like living creatures. While I think the analogy is a bit forced, the model presented by the magazine’s editors is an intriguing one. It prescribes six ways to make your organization more adaptive:

  1. Sense & Respond, Learn & Adapt: Install sensors and feedback capabilities in your business processes and your markets; Use feedback loops in your products; Develop institutional learning mechanisms
  2. Self-Organize: Establish rules for employees that enable flexible processes, and manage the rules, not the employees; Encourage boundary-less communities of interest to form spontaneously and to organize themselves, and use their collective intelligence
  3. Recombine: Improve the cross-connections between ideas, processes and people from across the organization; Increase diversity; Encourage sabbaticals, secondments and exchanges
  4. Seed, Select & Amplify: Use simulations and experiments to try out and test more solutions; Use scenarios
  5. Destabilize: Develop culling processes and exit strategies for everything; Make everything upgradable and customizable by the customer; Reward high-quality failures
  6. Monetize & Liberate Physical Assets: Free your people from fixed offices and your product from fixed plants and production processes; Miniaturize, Mobilize and Transplant; Shrink your inventories to near-zero; Use nano-technologies

The mantra for the adaptive enterprise is Experiment, Don’t Plan . I’ve been reading about, and trying to implement, business strategies and ideas for almost thirty years. I didn’t think there was anything new and useful to learn. But thinking about these principles, and how they can apply in good times and bad, perhaps there still is.
My comprehensive paper on this topic can be found here.

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