Saturday, January 10, 2009

Organisational Inertia; Public Enemy Number One

Organisational inertia; arguably public enemy number one for the development of organisational efficiency. As we move into 2009, many organisations are continuing to ignore the obvious benefits of regularly evaluating their practices. As business becomes increasingly competitive on a daily basis, practices that were cutting edge today become complete obsolete by tomorrow. Essentially, what provides your organisation with a distinct competitive advantage may quickly have been replicated or even improved upon by the competition. Organisational inertia causes such practices to become 'set' within the organisation, often causing processes to become utterly stagnant. This is completely inadequate.

Organisational inertia occurs when the company becomes inappropriately 'comfortable'. Practices often selected for the operational benefits which they bring to the organisation, can become restrictive if not monitored and adapted on an ongoing basis. More often than not, as organisational practices become established norms, the efficiency thereof drops significantly. This is most glaringly obvious in the 'mechanistic' type organisations, which are characterised by hierarchical structures, strict rules and stiffling processes. Despite the obvious negative repercussions associated with failing to tailor the organisational practices to the competitive environment, the number of companies falling into this trap is continues to rise.

As regular readers will know, I am a huge fan of the potential for organisational application of the social media. Despite the obvious benefits of engaging the customer directly through the social platforms, inertia preventing the implementation thereof is particularly prevalent within this area. What I find particularly frustrating is the frequency with which organisations overlook the importance of conversing with the customer through social media, rather than shouting at them through the more traditional channels; a fact reiterated by Valeria Maltoni earlier this week. Reliance upon archaic communications channels remains high, yet despite falling efficiency and rising costs, many a company continue to invest their time and effort solely therein. Arguably, it is the degree of 'risk' incurred through the implementation of such innovative solutions as these that often acts as a deterrent for the more bureaucratic organisation. How absurd.

Organisational inertia must be addressed in order to ensure that efficiency remains high. It is completely inappropriate to retain a single set of practices. Whilst one strategy may provide an appropriate solution for today's issues, it is probable that these will have become obselete by tomorrow. This is particularly relevant as we move further in an era of inter connectivity. Don't allow your organisation to become stuck in its ways, for whilst these may constitute today's competitive advantage, tomorrow they may hold you back.

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