One of the more sobering aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic is that patients with underlying health issues like hypertension, diabetes, and compromised lung function commonly develop much more severe symptoms. Looked at another way, it emphasizes the importance of maintaining optimal health to help protect ourselves from unforeseen calamities. This applies as much to business as it does our individual well-being. Addressing organizational weaknesses can protect and preserve our organization’s overall health and ensure our business’s well-being.
One way to maintain organizational health is through good fiscal management of the business’s finances. Keeping the balance sheet healthy and carefully managing cash flows can ensure the business can handle unexpected blips in the economy, a sudden customer defection, or even more serious, unforeseen circumstances like the COVID-19 economic shut-down. Nothing is foolproof, but having processes to manage expenses and keeping sufficient liquid cash available to the business will prevent unfortunate disruptions from derailing managers’ focus from meeting customer needs, delivering on market expectations, and reinforcing the business’s points of differentiation.
Another way to ensure the health of your organization is to regularly look at the alignment of the organization’s choices to ensure they are well aligned and fit to the purpose and strategy of the business. That’s where our organizational Cube Model provides an intuitive and easy-to-use framework to help leaders easily identify if there is any misalignment, duplication, or inefficiency in how the organization is designed that will prevent your company organization from achieving optimal performance. Because all elements of an organization are connected to the others, systematically reviewing the six sides of the cube will ensure that the work, structure, metrics, people/rewards, and culture/leadership of the organization are aligned and supportive of effective organizational performance.
The third way to monitor organizational health is to help members of your organization learn to be resilient and have change readiness skills, so they can adapt quickly when conditions change and the organization is stressed to perform as designed. Many organizations are even going further than building a change-ready workforce; they are designing Agile principles and ways of working into their organizations, so they can move fast, operate productively, and adapt when customer or market conditions change.
Originally intended for software development, Agile methods promote collaboration, flexibility, and adaptability by improving productivity and the speed of decision making, tapping into the creative energy of an organization’s talent, and reducing the time needed to achieve strategic results. Agile ways of working allow organizations to fail fast so as not to waste time and resources on directions or efforts that won’t yield positive results for the organization. Being able to pivot as we all have to virtual meetings during the COVID-19 situation is a great example of adapting and operating in an agile way to help our businesses continue to operate in an unprecedented time of change.
Consequently, even if your organization isn’t as healthy as it could be, if you have managed the business’s finances responsibly, if you’ve made sure all the sides of the organizational cube are aligned, and if you have resilient personnel who understand agile ways of working, then your organization should be able to weather uncertain times. You may not be immune from bad market conditions caused by an economic downturn, extreme weather events, or even a global pandemic, but by eliminating organizational health risk factors you will be in a better place to not only survive but possibly even thrive.