Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Leadership: Balancing Change and Stability

Leaders in dynamic environments must be equipped to cope with chaotic change. This requires leadership capabilities focused on leading and managing projects in constant flux, facing new challenges that require new solutions virtually every day. Dynamic project managers must be fast and flexible problem solvers, able to mobilize resources to diagnose problems, identify options, make decisions, and implement solutions quickly. They should be adept at translating change every day into effective action, while maintaining appropriate amounts of stability and order. Dynamic projects should shift, and adapt in a way that matches the degree of turmoil in the external environment, without compromising quality unnecessarily. So stability and order must be combined with the right amount of experimentation, discovery, and flexibility.

Dyer and Shafer (1999) say agile companies like HP, Nike, and 3M balance stability and flexibility well by striving to develop the following capabilities:
  • Reading the market: Continuous scans of the project and external environment, to identify change which is quickly translated into options and solutions;
  • Mobilising rapid response: Rapid decision making capability, and rapid resource redeployment ability;
  • Embedding organisational learning: The ability to use change developments to improve current operations, and challenge current ways of thinking and operating.

Simon Collyer

Dyer, Lee, and Richard Shafer. 1999. "From human resource strategy to organizational effectiveness: Lessons from research on organizational agility." In Strategic human resources management research in the 21st century, research in personnel and human resource management, edited by P. Wright, L. Dyer, J. B. Boudreau and G. Milkovich, 145–174. Stamford, CT: JAI Press.