Micro & Macro Agility: Surviving Through Whole-System Organizational Transformation

Your organization and its health can be directly compared to your body and its health. Just like when a small health concern turns into a life-threatening emergency, you must change to survive if your business is struggling.

Micro-Medicine vs. Macro-Medicine

You’re enjoying life and you’ve gotten comfortable. Other than normal bumps like a typical cold or bout of flu, you have no health concerns. You’re less active than you were, becoming slower and quickly winded, but you attribute this to the normal effects of aging.

Then, in one of your rare visits to your doctor, he lays down the law. Your cholesterol and blood pressure are at troubling levels. Your doctor prescribes you a statin and an ACE inhibitor. He tells you to start eating responsibly and exercising. As you follow his recommendations, you’re soon back to normal.

Macro-Medicine: Whole-Life Personal Transformation

Then, it happens. You suffer a heart attack. You’re lucky to be alive. The doctors find severe arteriosclerosis with blockages in multiple arteries that require surgery. Still, that’s not all.

Through further diagnosis, your triglycerides are now too high, you show insulin resistance and your A1C is pre-diabetic. You have metabolic syndrome. Left unaddressed, it will lead to full-on diabetes, and further heart disease or stroke. Your doctor will prescribe new medications, but you’ll need to go through a systemic change in your nutrition, exercise and sleep: a whole-life personal transformation.


Micro-Agility vs. Macro-Agility

You’re leading an organization that’s operating well. Other than the normal bumps of the occasional personnel problem or production delay, you have no operational problems. You’re not delivering as quickly or as frequently as some customers demand, but you attribute this to those customers being finicky.

Then, you miss not one, not two, but three delivery commitments for major customers. You convene a special task force, maybe even bring in outside consultants. The task force finds that product development is not as responsive to change, resulting in slow delivery in ever-changing market conditions.

The task force recommends that you adopt an Agile framework like Scrum. You conduct some training, employ some coaching and your team starts to deliver. Problem solved! Or so you think.

Macro-Agility: Whole-System Organizational Transformation

Then, it happens. Customers start flocking to other organizations and you can’t move in time to stop the hemorrhaging. You begin losing cash rapidly. Your best employees start taking phone calls from recruiters. This time, your boss convenes a special level task force, led by a higher-level team of consultants. They find that your whole value chain requires redesign to withstand today’s world of volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity (VUCA).

That’s not all. In addition to your value chain being designed for a slower static world, your budgeting and capital approval processes are excruciating and risk-averse, communications only flow vertically, your hierarchical structure is rigid and you’re carrying too much fat in the form of managerial control.

Administrative efficiency has become more important than customer service.

Productivity has become more important than quality.

Efficiency has become more important than effectiveness.

Sticking to a plan has become more important than responding to change.

You have organizational metabolic syndrome. Left unaddressed, it will lead to diminishing value, increased costs and effort, increased friction, a blow to your pride and increased measures of nonsense. At this point, you must expect changes to how your organization does its work, but also systemic change at the cultural level.

You Need a Whole-System Organizational Transformation

Does this sound familiar? If so, you must endure a whole-system organizational transformation if you want your organization to survive. To learn more about transforming your organization, send us a message.