It’s not a guarded secret that more and more organizations are disappearing at a faster rate than ever before. The average lifespan of companies remaining on the S&P has dwindled from 65 years to about 15 years according to recent studies. And, yet companies like IBM, Bols and Grolsch, Colgate and Jim Beam have been around for over a century and are bucking the recent trends of disruption by adapting to the evolution of their markets. What sets these companies apart from the rest of the disappearing herd is their capacity to adapt faster than the changes taking place around them. These companies understand the need to become intelligent in the face of rising competition and shifting customer expectations.
The difference today is that every company must become intelligent if it wishes to compete in a rapidly evolving market. This adaptation regardless of size or sector, will become the norm as the global economy takes shape in the next several years. The hallmark of intelligent organizations is a clear break from what used to be the norm in running organizations in the past. The move away from rigid and structured hierarchies to organic and self- managed teams; the evolution of agile practices from the Boardroom to the frontlines; and the use of data-driven decisions are all distinctive behaviors of highly intelligent organizations. As the volatility of markets and the convergence of emerging technologies continue to grow, the imperative for this level of intelligence will become more acute. What companies and organizations will no longer have at their disposal will be the over abundance of time they depended on before the competition could overtake their sector. The velocity of the market is quickly pushing companies toward adaptability at breakneck speed. And, just like all other turbulent changes, it is those who adapt the fastest who will survive the oncoming tsunami.
Companies must become intelligent organizations, and this requires getting the basic foundations right. Here are five foundational steps to becoming an intelligent organization:
1. Data and insights are the lifeblood of IO’s
Intelligent companies live and die by their data. Long gone are the days when organizations made decisions based on the CEO’s gut instincts. That may have been fine when the market was a slow-moving target, but the competition is getting faster and smarter, and so should you. However, more than just having data, you must also make sense of it. This is where the collective intelligence of the group helps organizations make better decisions. By allowing the data to flow through the organization to gain better insights, you learn how it truly affects every aspect of the business and your customers.
2. IO’s make hierarchies permeable
The truth is that most companies and organizations have the answer to some of their most intractable challenges inside their own walls. However, traditional hierarchies and silos often prevent some of the best ideas to make it to the decision-makers. Individuals with titles often don’t allow some of the best ideas from employees to make it to executives who are seeking to understand their customers in real time. Effective IO’s find ways to allow ideas to permeate the company and create a process for feedback from every member of the organization. Not all ideas will be the best ones, but by allowing everyone a voice, the odds are you will notice a higher level of good ideas flowing on a consistent basis. Create feedback loops at all costs.
3. IO’s make customers their highest priority-no compromises
In the world of IO’s customers are not merely a means to an end nor are they relegated to the end of their business process or products. Highly efficient IO’s know that customer input and feedback are the most critical elements to getting it right every time. They open themselves to customer input, both negative and positive, to ensure that they are delivering not only on their brand promise but to provide the customer with the right tool for the job they are seeking to get done. Just like you wouldn’t jump out of an airplane without a parachute, IO’s do not go to market with products or services without the input of their core customers.
4. IO’s embrace an Agile a way of life
As the world awakens to the process of agile, high performing IO’s are already embracing it as a critical aspect of operational efficiency and the path toward world class delivery. An agile structure and approach allow organizations to learn, develop and deliver at scale throughout the life cycle and empowers them to make changes quickly to adapt to new demands. Agile leadership and teams are standard in high performing IO’s and unleashing their creativity and boldness around a core mission is the secret ingredient for many companies leading the way in the new economy.
5. IO’s shoot bullets not cannonballs
Leaders of IO’s know that failure is inevitable in any environment where creativity and speed collide. They provide room for teams to fail intelligently by turning these into opportunities for learning. For IO’s there really isn’t any failure. There is only winning and constant learning. IO’s continuously learn by designing prototypes at manageable scales and, learn from the data before launching at broader levels. In that environment, learning can be done safely and at costs that are manageable for the business.
Becoming an Intelligent organization will be an imperative for organizations in the 21st century. This wave will most likely continue for the next decade as companies continuously adapt or go out of business. Every organization can develop the skills and behavior to become intelligent, but the process must be well understood and laid out for everyone to gain from its benefits. As in previous evolutionary leaps, intelligence continues to be the only distinguishing point for survivability.
Curious about how your organization can become intelligent?
Intelligent organizations perform better across the board. They secure more profits, have more satisfied customers, manage their workforce better, and are more successful with innovation. Contact us to learn how one of our associates can help you develop a strategy to becoming an intelligent organization.