Is your company’s “operating system” keeping you from change?

I always have a stack of books I am currently reading. My current favourite is the story of the founder of Patagonia, Yvon Chouinard (Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman). Telling his fascinating story he recalls how they were constantly coming up with new and improved products and how this impeded their yearly results.

There is a tension between dealing with change in a fierce competitive environment and your next quarter (or year) results. John Kotter talks about how your existing structures and processes form your organisation’s operating system. This operating system ensures your current – hopefully top – performance.

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However, to make sure you are able to deal with change you need a second operating system which deals with the design and implementation of strategy. This is not a second hierarchical system but it should use an agile, network-like structure staffed by volunteers throughout the company.

Here are some principles for this second operating system:

  • Many volunteer change agents (not just a few) from all over your organisation;
  • A want-to and get-to (rather than a have-to) mindset;
  • Head and Heart (not just head);
  • Emphasis on leadership; and
  • Two systems, one organisation.

A focus and passion of Maxilliant is to democratize strategy throughout your organisation.

Part of developing this second operating system is to develop a strategy mindset in your company. In our company-wide strategy workout – typically following an executive strategy workout – all people involved will:

  • Understand and experience the value of in-depth strategic understanding in mixed table teams;
  • Understand your company’s resource base and learn how to this is changing;
  • Understand and experience how to understand the core business;
  • Understand and experience the interaction between organizational structure, strategy, and behavior; and
  • Understand how this new strategy understanding is going to change what you do and how you do it.

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