The English language is a funny thing. Nearly every word has both a positive and a negative connotation. Take the word flexible for instance. As an adjective it can mean capable of being bent or susceptible to modification or adaptation. As an adjective there is a whiff of the sinister. I can take something that is flexible and adapt it, bend it at will. I can manipulate that which is flexible in to whatever purpose I intend.
Yet as a noun the material already possesses these properties. A flexible substance does not need my intervention to become another shape, to take on another form. Its ability is inherent and innate. Just as in Camilleri’s book water can take the shape of any container. It is truly flexible. As a noun there is the welcoming breeze of benevolence.
If water can take any shape then this is the structure of the organisation that I would like to work in. One that flows and fills every nook and crevice. One that shifts as the environment changes yet settles with stability. Water needs only one force to move. Gravity provides the nudge. It knows what to do. Find the lowest spot and do so in as easy a way as possible.
Demand should be our gravity. A small change in demand should be the nudge that changes our organisation. As our environment changes then so should we. Our abilities should flow to meet the demand and do so in as easy a way as possible. All interruptions should be torn down. All rocks should be removed from the stream. Anything that disrupts the flow should be eradicated. Sedulously.
We need to understand demand. What is it? What causes it? What will change it?
The second thing that I want to achieve this year is to become a truly flexible organisation. That is in the positive context. Not one that I can manipulate. Not one that is susceptible to my sinister intent. Not a graven image. No, an organisation that is innately flexible, one that flows without instruction, one that instinctively knows what to do, that changes when required and settles into each new paradigm.
I see ICT people wherever I go. I see them with the technology and I see them with the people. We have made a good start. We are flexible and agile. We have adopted many of the new and modern ways of working, whatever they are. We look and feel different to our colleagues but there is much further to go. Freedom from the constraints of buildings and hierarchies. Freedom form command and control. Freedom to gather and hunt. Freedom to create. Freedom to be free.
The eighth thing that I want to achieve this year is to become a self-organized learning service. Water is self-organised but it does not learn. We can use demand to self-organise and we can learn from the experiences to improve the processes and increase the flow.
Self-organized learning and being truly flexible go together. One leads to the other. They can be symbiotic.
We have made a good start.