New buzzwords get invented every year within the consulting business. I see two reasons for that. Consulting companies need to sell more so they invent new words. And the other reason is that people need to feel important. They want to throw fancy words around since it boosts their ego. I cannot count how many times I have been to conferences where the speaker thinks he is the shit. He throws these big words, big data, agile, customer experience etc. and all of these things are simple things that have been around for ages.
Buzz words are not new, they are new name of old things
Take for example digitalization. What does that mean? Digitalization and is actually the same thing as customer centricity. Customer centricity in 2017 means that as a company you need to deliver what the customer wants on the platforms the customer uses, hence mobile and computers.
Another word that is thrown around a lot is agile organisations. Agile organisations have always been in demand – those organisations that can react fast enough to customer demand. The main difference between todays market and say 30 years ago is that digital platforms offer new ways to do things. Today content is king and just in time is more important than ever. Your content builds relevancy, which in turn grows your business.
So everyone stop obsessing about fashion words. Do not throw them around like pennies. Most people have heard them but don’t understand the true meaning of them. Instead talk in simple terms such as what do customers want, how can we produce quickly, how do we generate value etc.
There is a lot of talk about agile organisations but what no body talks about are that your management layers will hinder your agile organisation. There are countless examples from people that I know that tell the same story. Top management need to do something to react to todays challenges so they jump on the agile-organisation train. They take in a consultant make a lot of workshops, change the organisation but keep the top management levels intact. What happens? Basically nothing. Things work as before but now with an agile twist. To be true agile decisions need to be taken by the most suitable people on the floor and not a manager. Old organisations are unfortunately not built for agility but rather like a pyramid leading to several implications:
1. One of the most important implication is that top managements is to far away from your customers = death in the long run. Family businesses that grow large survive as long as the owners are active since the owners have built the company from the floor and up. As soon as the owners are removed bureaucrats and career minded people take over and suck the life out of a company.
2. Pyramid organisations get into autopilot. Auto pilot mode is dangerous since you will not see what will hit you until it is too late. For example Netflix has caught many broadcasting companies by surprise and they are now in a downward trend. You also spend more time on processes than on innovation.
3. Too many management layers lead to politics. Politics consumes your organisations energy. Your energy should be focused to solve customer problems and innovate the next thing.
4. Management layers are the kryptonite for agility. Agile means that you react to your customers. How fast you can react depends on your organisational setup.
The organisation that I think have the best setup is actually Google/Alphabet. The setup is so smart that the output can be seen in the number of innovations that comes steadily each year. It seems that Alphabet can do anything they set out to do.