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The old ways of setting and implementing strategy are failing us, writes the author of Leading Change, in part because we can no longer keep up with the pace of change. The solution Kotter offers is a second system—an agile, networklike structure—that operates in concert with the first to create a dual operating system. In such a system the hierarchy can hand off the pursuit of big strategic initiatives to the strategy network, freeing itself to focus on incremental changes to improve efficiency.
The network is populated by employees from all levels of the organization, giving it organizational knowledge, relationships, credibility, and influence. It can liberate information from silos with ease.
It has a dynamic structure free of bureaucratic layers, permitting a level of individualism, creativity, and innovation beyond the reach of any hierarchy. Kotter has helped eight organizations, public and private, build dual operating systems over the past three years. He predicts that such systems will lead to long-term success in the 21st century—for shareholders, customers, employees, and companies themselves.
Perhaps the greatest challenge business leaders face today is how to stay competitive amid constant turbulence and disruption. Any company that has made it past the start-up stage is optimized for efficiency rather than for strategic agility—the ability to capitalize on opportunities and dodge threats with speed and assurance. But the old ways of setting and implementing strategy are failing us. At the same time, the stakes—financial, social, environmental, political—are rising. The hierarchical structures and organizational processes we have used for decades to run and improve our enterprises are no longer up to the task of winning in this faster-moving world.
In fact, they can actually thwart attempts to compete in a marketplace where discontinuities are more frequent and innovators must always be ready to face new problems.c2.3callistos.com/12132-quedadas-singles-madrid.php
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Companies used to reconsider their strategies only rarely. We cannot ignore the daily demands of running a company, which traditional hierarchies and managerial processes can still do very well. What they do not do well is identify the most important hazards and opportunities early enough, formulate creative strategic initiatives nimbly enough, and implement them fast enough.
The solution is a second operating system, devoted to the design and implementation of strategy, that uses an agile, networklike structure and a very different set of processes. The new operating system continually assesses the business, the industry, and the organization, and reacts with greater agility, speed, and creativity than the existing one. It actually makes enterprises easier to run and accelerates strategic change.
The strategy system has its roots in familiar structures, practices, and thinking. Many start-ups, for example, are organized more as networks than as hierarchies, because they need to be nimble and creative in order to grab opportunities. Even in mature organizations, informal networks of change agents frequently operate under the hierarchical radar. The new strategy system also expands on the eight-step method I first documented 15 years ago in Leading Change , while studying successful large-scale change: establishing a sense of urgency, creating a guiding coalition, developing a change vision, communicating the vision for buy-in, empowering broad-based action, generating short-term wins, never letting up, and incorporating changes into the culture.
For a long time companies could invest all their energy and resources in doing one new thing very well: They might spend two years setting up a large IT project that required many changes and then, after a long pause, spend five years developing a propensity for risk-taking in the product development function. They could put the eight-step process to work and then pack it away until it was needed again. But that methodology has a hard time producing excellent results in a faster-changing world.
Today companies must constantly seek competitive advantage without disrupting daily operations. Strategy should be viewed as a dynamic force that constantly seeks opportunities, identifies initiatives that will capitalize on them, and completes those initiatives swiftly and efficiently. The network and the accelerators can serve as a continuous and holistic strategic change function—one that accelerates momentum and agility because it never stops. The network and the hierarchy, functioning as a dual operating system, can produce more wealth, better products and services, and a more exciting place to work in an era of exponential change.
Hierarchies are useful. They let us sort work into departments, product divisions, regions, and the like with expertise, time-tested procedures, and clear reporting relationships and accountability so that we can do what we know how to do with efficiency, predictability, and effectiveness. Hierarchies are directed by familiar managerial processes for planning, budgeting, defining jobs, hiring and firing, and measuring results.
We have learned how to improve our hierarchy-based businesses. We launch initiatives to take on new tasks and improve performance on old ones. We have learned how to identify new problems, find and analyze data in a dynamic marketplace, build business cases for change, and gain approval. We have learned to execute by adding task forces, tiger teams, project-management and change-management departments, executive sponsors for new initiatives, and associated measurement and incentive schemes. We can do this while taking care of the day-to-day work of the organization because this change methodology is easily accommodated by the hierarchical structure and basic managerial processes.
It works especially well if we make the structure less bureaucratic, with fewer layers and fewer questionable rules, and give more discretion to people who sit lower in the hierarchy. This methodology can deal with both tactical and strategic issues in a changing world—but only up to a point. Hierarchies and standard managerial processes, even when minimally bureaucratic, are inherently risk-averse and resistant to change.
Part of the problem is political: Managers are loath to take chances without permission from superiors.
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Part of the problem is cultural: People cling to their habits and fear loss of power and stature—two essential elements of hierarchies. And part of the problem is that all hierarchies, with their specialized units, rules, and optimized processes, crave stability and default to doing what they already know how to do. These characteristics are even more pronounced when you pile one hierarchy on top of another to create a matrixed organization.
Moreover, strategy implementation methodologies, hung on the hierarchical spine, are not up to the challenge of managing speedy transformation. Change management typically relies on tools—such as diagnostic assessments and analyses, communications techniques, and training modules—that can be invaluable in helping with episodic problems for which there are relatively straightforward solutions, such as implementing a well-tested financial reporting system.
These approaches are effective when it is clear that you need to move from point A to a well-defined point B; the distance between the two is not galactic; and pushback from employees will not prove to be herculean. Change-management processes supplement the system we know. They can slide easily into a project-management organization. They can be made stronger or faster by adding more resources, more-sophisticated versions of the same old methods, or smarter people to drive the process—but again, only up to a point.
After that point, using this approach to launch strategic initiatives that ask an organization to absorb more change faster can create confusion, resistance, fatigue, and higher costs. To move faster and further, you need to pull more people than ever before into the strategic change game, but in a way that is economically realistic. That means not large numbers of full-time or even part-time appointments but volunteers.
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You cannot mobilize voluntary energy and brainpower unless people want to be change agents and feel they have permission to do so. The spirit of volunteerism—the desire to work with others for a shared purpose—energizes the network. You must appeal to their emotions, too. You must speak to their genuine desire to contribute to positive change and to take an enterprise in strategically smart ways into a better future, giving greater meaning and purpose to their work.
At the core of a successful hierarchy is competent management. A strategy network, by contrast, needs lots of leadership, which means it operates with different processes and language and expectations. The game is all about vision, opportunity, agility, inspired action, and celebration—not project management, budget reviews, reporting relationships, compensation, and accountability to a plan.
The network and the hierarchy must be inseparable, with a constant flow of information and activity between them—an approach that works in part because the volunteers in the network all work within the hierarchy. The most agile, innovative companies add a second operating system, built on a fluid, networklike structure, to continually formulate and implement strategy. Governed by these principles, the strategy network can be incredibly flexible and adaptable; the accelerators can drive problem solving, collaboration, and creativity; and the people doing this work—the volunteer army—will be focused, committed, and passionate.
The network is like a solar system, with a guiding coalition as the sun, strategic initiatives as planets, and subinitiatives as moons or even satellites.
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This structure is dynamic: Initiatives and subinitiatives coalesce and disband as needed. Although a typical hierarchy tends not to change from year to year, the network can morph with ease. In the absence of bureaucratic layers, command-and-control prohibitions, and Six Sigma processes, this type of network permits a level of individualism, creativity, and innovation that not even the least bureaucratic hierarchy can provide. Populated with employees from all across the organization and up and down its ranks, the network liberates information from silos and hierarchical layers and enables it to flow with far greater freedom and accelerated speed.
The hierarchy differs from almost every other hierarchy today in one very important way: All the junk ordinarily pasted on it for tackling big strategic initiatives—work streams, tiger teams, strategy departments—has been shifted over to the network. The strategy network meshes with the hierarchy as an equal. It is not a super task force that reports to some level in the hierarchy.
Since the Fed is promising to raise rates several times in the current year, you may want to go with shorter terms, like 6 months or less, so you can take advantage of higher rates. Just be careful with this, since higher interest rates could be negative for stocks. Holding some cash outside a retirement plan going into retirement is never a bad idea. If so, how?
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