Leaping And Looking

Who Says Agility and Stability Are Opposites?

14 August, 2019 // In her Gartner blog, “Agility vs Stability: The ‘and’ and ‘or’ Problem, analyst Deborah Wilson addresses enterprises’ Fear of Transformation.

The Silicon Valley mindset, which Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg famously summarized as “move fast and break things,” has always been unafraid of disruption. In other words, Netflix, Slack, Twitter and the rest can be agile because they ARE the disruptors.

For other organizations, the idea of changing quickly and on a large scale can be terrifying. That’s because they see agility and stability as opposites. Business leaders who like consistency and profitability can find themselves resisting even necessary long-term transformation.

Wilson points out the fallacy in this reasoning: “Many organizations believe that go be agile, they must be agile everywhere,” she writes. “This is a false assumption—that being agile means you cannot be stable.” 

Instead, Wilson argues that consistent core business elements can provide a foundation for the flexibility that transformation requires. She recommends a partial and incremental approach: “Don’t think you can do or plan everything at once. Bite off smaller pieces.”

Business process pioneer and author Dr. Michael Hammer once described this as the “Yellow Brick Road Model” for process change. Instead of placing all your bets on big initiatives with huge consequences, take a single small step towards a system improvement. Then a second step towards better process. By linking these steps together, an enterprise can make incremental progress down the road of transformation. 

Dr. Hammer referred to it as a yellow brick road because it’s certainly not the fastest, cheapest or most direct route to a strategic destination. Unlike a straight line, though, it’s a path that has lowest risk and highest potential for success. That’s because each step forward creates the little victories that reinforce an agility mindset—without sacrificing stability.

At Morgan, that makes sense to us. We think big. But along the way, our commitment to data and analytics keep us focused on the incremental wins that come from redesigning client transportation networks and inventory processes.  

Agility and stability. As Wilson reminds us, there’s an ‘and’ in the middle of that phrase, not an ‘or.’ 

Heck, even Zuck agrees now. He changed his motto a few years back to “move fast with stable infrastructure.” It’s not quite as cool a meme, but it’s one we can endorse. 

Wanna move faster with your supply chain? Contact us for a free analysis and we’ll see how Morgan might be able to help.

 


 

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