The use of buzz words, trends and styles are part of our social experience. For example, children, in most developed countries, would be familiar with Fortnite (as would their parents). In this context I would propose it is a reasonable to assume that our professional lives are equally affected by buzz words, trends and styles.
Currently terms like ‘innovation’, ‘agile’, ‘ecosystem’ are now complementing previous propositions such as ‘pivot’, ‘synergy’ and ‘deep dive’. It is reasonable to assume that some of the language has advanced as a result of further research on organisational science which has refined our understanding. However, there are questions for me as to whether these concepts and terms are being used in the correct fashion and whether organisations are focussing on the right things. It is the focussing on the right things that I would like to hone in on.
There are some activities in all organisations that may not be new and may not be exciting but provide the structure to allow for new opportunities to be explored. Those things are generally defined as ‘management activities’. In my view, while not exciting (to some), discipline around these activities provide a greater opportunity for ongoing success than most other activities.
Structuring your work for success, I believe is a key component to longevity. In the book ‘Traction’ by Gino Wickman. He proposes that organisations need to focus on six aspects of their work:
Vision – what are we trying to do?
Process – how do we achieve it?
Data – what are the signs we are achieving it?
Issues – what stops us from achieving it and how do we fix it?
People – do we have the right people to achieve it?
Traction – how do we regularly set goals to achieve it?
While there is always a need for a visionary, I would suggest Gino’s practice points to the concept that the majority of the work conducted in an organisation should be to focus on managing activities. For example, organisations should be disciplined in the management of their targets, execute on accountability and address people issues.
None of these activities are particularly trendy, new or buzz words yet if organisations continue to focus on the bright new shiny things rather than these management activities, it is very likely they will be limiting their ability to survive.