Agility is Inefficient
OK, I lured you into reading more about this topic with a provocative title, but it is not far from the truth. Agility is much more about effectiveness than it is about efficiency. While most corporations these days are striving to become agile, they often do it for the wrong reasons, namely to become more efficient.
Jeff's book titled "The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time", while brilliant from a marketing perspective, hints that efficiency is most important because that is what the title promises.
But focusing on efficiency is extremely dangerous and questionable at best!
Big companies that were praised for their extreme efficiency have gone bust or at least lost a lot of market share in the not so distant past. Certain management consultancies continue to sell their customers the same good old formula and advise them to become more efficient by optimizing their cost structures, for instance. These organizations, therefore, continue to build the same products, just cheaper. But people don't want those products anymore. Blockbuster, Nokia, Blackberry, text messaging, the taxi industry, local coffee shops, newspapers, MySpace, and many more are known examples. I will add a few stories from my own experience.
Focusing on efficiency usually builds on the assumption that one is navigating in a complicated context. This leads to organizations that are divided into highly functional departments. But those organizations are rarely agile in the sense that they can react quickly to change. Change like we see it all the time. Ukrain, Bitcoin, COVID-19, Donald Trump, Brexit ... and those are just a few of the big ones which affect virtually everybody. Then there are all the small changes in each of the companies own and very specific contexts. Things like new compliance requirements, competition, changes in the workforce, etc. The world is getting more and more complex and companies therefore need to focus more and more on effectiveness firstly and efficiency only secondly.
Attendees will learn the difference between efficiency and effectiveness. They will also learn why this is important in the context of agility and how it relates to complicated and complex problems. Furthermore, attendees will learn how we ended up with the highly functional organizational structure we see with most companies today and what an organization that is more focused on effectiveness will look like instead. Last but not least, they will learn to identify "fake" agility - agility that is imposed on organizations for the purpose of becoming more efficient. When this happens, and it, unfortunately, happens very often, all kinds of difficulties are bound to happen. Issues that many will recognize from their own experience. After this session, the participants will understand why they see these issues in their own organizations (functional separation, push, focus on utilization, working overtime, stress, etc.) as a result of wanting to become more efficient. This understanding is a prerequisite to start moving towards "real" agility.
Agile consultant with 20+ years experience who's helped companies like LEGO, BP, Nestlé, and Jägermeister become more agile