Measurement & Control
Speed & Agility

By - Rick Kennett - 02/08/96

There is a sense of confusion and frustration in regard to the apparently conflicting objectives of metric's and control versus the growing need for speed and agility. We don't claim to have an answer but we have changed our thinking.

We do live in an age of increasing speed and accelerating variety. It is the course we are on, a course that demands rapid innovation as a strategy for survival. The question becomes how do we innovate rapidly, our products, our processes, our services, our organizations. The science of chaos, more appropriately the science of complexity seems to be pointing toward different metaphors for business organizations. It suggests those metaphors are best found in ecology, biology, science where *adaptation* supersedes *planning* as a means to survival.

This is not to suggest that planning (and associated metrics) are no longer appropriate in business organizations, but in terms of organizational speed, the key to adaptation does not lie so much in the in planing, it lies in the *lessons learned*, the difference between ‘the plan’ , our expectations, and reality, what actually happened. Metrics providing an illustration of the difference

This thinking leads us to the remaining hierarchical structures of even ‘flattened’ organizations, where ‘higher level’ review persists as part of the process of planning and the creation of deliverables.

In a pure customer - process partner relationship, the potential exists that the negotiation of plans and analysis of actuals become essentially a two party activity. Internally, the strength of ‘customer / supplier’ relationship, in a compatibly structured organization, can avoid the interference of management. Management, in the hierarchical structure, often does not fully understand the skill sets, the competencies brokered between internal supplier and customer. Nor do they actively participate in the creation of ‘the deliverable’. i.e. management oversight may often interfere with satisfying the customer.

It is interesting that we are able to work wonders with a web like structure of customers and suppliers externally. The process of negotiation and contract for procured items occurs with somewhat less scrutiny then the internal plans and processes that result in deliverables to our own customers. We are able to build *trust* externally, with customers and suppliers, with greater success then we can internally, within our own processes.

We believe that by developing a customer / supplier network internally, through defined deliverables, it may be possible to replace management planning and oversight with common purpose, trust, learning leading ultimately to process adaptation. *Speed* and survival will depend more upon leadership communicating purpose, facilitating trust (and learning), in a network of customers and process partners as opposed to management oversight and control of organizational activities. Essentially the value of the deliverable (The Noun) is determined by the customer. The process of creation (the Verbs) are the domain of the supplier. There is a natural affinity between customer and supplier that suggests that the customer and supplier share a common purpose (generically, participation in a larger process), and will continually work to add value to the deliverable.

All of this may be expressed simply :

Integrity + Knowledge = Competency
Competency + Trust = Speed
Speed + Learning = Adaptation
Adaptation + Purpose = Survival

We are inclined to explore a reengineering methodology that will result in an organization that be will better equipped to assimilate knowledge and create trust. These two elements have not fit all that well in business processes past and represent great hope for the future.

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