In his book “Size Doesn’t Matter: Why Small Business is Big Business”, author and entrepreneur Jeff Shavitz reveals that one of the reasons small businesses today are more likely to sustain their success than large corporations is their ability to be agile. What does being agile mean? Simply put, being agile means being adaptable to different conditions and being prepared to face difficult challenges. That’s according to Forbes Magazine. In the software industry, being agile would mean replacing high-level design with frequent re-design. It’s about following an iterative process, in which you continuously re-design in small phases, rather than building continuously as a whole. If you put both definitions together, it makes sense why agility for a company is so important: it’s the only way to survive the tidal wave of technological changes.
It’s been proven that, in the age of the Internet of Things, agility spells success. Be that as it may, economies around the globe are more and more dependent on small, agile companies which, for the past decade, have grown both in numbers and value. But what about large companies? How are they surviving the tidal wave?
Adapting to Change
Tech giant Hewlett Packard Enterprises (HPE) has wisely, albeit belatedly, put its best foot forward in the race to innovation. It didn’t stop from edge computing and development of big data analysis in real-time, it is now in forefront of cutting-edge technology in IoT. It’s main concern today, according to Senior Vice President and General Manager Keerti Melkote, is “cost-prohibitive economics and lack of a holistic solution” which it considers key barriers for mass adoption of IoT. Ten years ago, HPE had been lagging behind in the tech race; today it has transformed itself as a major leader in the operationalization of IoT for mass consumption.
What HPE has proven is that even old, large companies can adapt to rapid changes and become as agile as any other young enterprise. But it’s certainly not a walk in the park to do all that. Transformation was key for HPE, and, it had to be holistic, comprehensive, deep transformation; otherwise, the entire organization would have collapsed from the sheer weight of the task of revising, redesigning, transforming, changing. During its big event in London last December, HPE revealed that it’s coming out as a leaner, more streamlined organization, and that it was ready to make “inroads into hybrid IT, IoT and..memory-based computer architecture.”
This is the kind of adaptation large corporations need to do. Still – and, of course — there is no blueprint for innovation. Every entrepreneur knows that. But here are some fundamental guidelines that innovation experts would like large corporations to follow to achieve agility and succeed in today’s world:
First, determine your purpose in the world.
Why are you relevant to people? What is your mission? The clarity of purpose will guide you and your employees to transform in a way that will transcend hollow economics and urge for profit. In today’s world, people go for benefits and solutions, not fashion and trends. The digital world is all about authenticity, and anybody who is not will be ignored, or worse, rejected. The range and scope of IoT make it impossible to not be transparent. If people see you are genuinely concerned about their welfare, not just their wallet, then they will reward you with loyalty. Your relevance will tide you through the wave of competition and ever-changing consumer preferences.
Second, remove the silos, spread your wings and embrace diversity.
Iterative design is what defines agility. The better you are at understanding the importance of adapting to different conditions, the wider the doors of opportunities to improve. This can only happen when you go out of your comfort zone and go beyond the borders. Developing your niche and cultivating your expertise are all good, but you cannot be forever confined to this silo. Try going from within to without and vice versa until you become like a gel-o in a world of wooden cubes. While there are real challenges to diversity, such as when creating an environment by which a marketer, a sales officer and a software engineer. But once you perfect that structure, the next step is batting for excellence.
Third, streamline. Small is good, lean is wonderful.
In today’s world, hierarchy, and all those strings and links don’t just make life cumbersome, it could ruin innovativeness as well. When an organization is too big, and the system is too complicated, in all likelihood, it will swallow initiative and creativity, and the dynamism of your employees could be gone after one big gulp. There are awesome IoT-based performance monitoring infrastructure that can be built within the company that, rather than infringe on individual creativity and initiative, will harness them. Within your reach are project management technologies that IoT has made a lot more efficient and user-friendly. Why not make use of those.
Fourth, and in relation to the third guideline, empower more, lead less.
In today’s world, you don’t have to be on top to lead, you just have to be within and among your people. The advancement of technology and social media have made it possible to lead from the bottom. Today, anyone can be a thought leader. Instead of building structures and hierarchies, use IoT to build your leadership.
Finally, keep your lines open both ways.
Lead not by imposing and controlling, but by communicating and being authentic. Decisions that are made behind closed doors by a few people might work a few times, but this will not be the case all the time. No, not in today’s world where collaboration, diversity, authenticity and openness make organizations thrive and succeed. Twenty years ago, secrecy and confidentiality might have been the norm for top executives. But do you think that kind of environment will win you advocates among thought leaders and influencers within the ranks of your employee base? Today, the mindset is: “Shouldn’t decisions that affect the organization be made as an organization?” Because IoT and social media allow everyone in the organization, from top to bottom, to participate in decision-making, the logical answer is: “Yes, decisions in the organization should be a collective decision.”