Modern Times = Modern Complexities
In these days of modern business, we face more disruptive technologies, more regulations, and more competition than ever! No one person can keep on top of all that. People are by nature anxious, curious, easily distracted and more often than not overconfident. Given the speed of change and the complexity of our environment, there are more ideas, possibilities, initiatives, and challenges coming at us all the time.
Some people are better than others at keeping focus. So, now more than ever we need to open up our thinking to a broader awareness. But we need to do so in a simple, disciplined way so that the focus is on the substance and not the process.
Flexibility (or “Flex” for short) is the key. Flex is our label for a deep-performance way of thinking and a framework for action. Its DNA stems from the disciplines and mindsets of special military teams: U.S. Navy SEALs, Australian SAS, U.S. Army Rangers and, of course, jet fighter pilots in the army, navy, marine, and air force squadrons. These teams are geared to act as tight, effective units in hostile, complex, and dynamic environments. All of these teams would recognise and use the principles of Flex, though they may have their own terms for them. Any fighter pilot on the planet would recognise these principles, and be able to work together using them. It’s how fighter pilots think and act.
The Same Principles, in the Modern Business World
What just happened? What are we aiming for? How can we get there? Can we do it better? If any of these questions are on your mind, you’ve come to the right place. Let’s take stock of your situation.
So, you know what you’re trying to achieve, but things aren’t quite going to plan. There may be any number of reasons for that, but mostly it's because of one of these organisational issues:
- Fundamental (repairable) issues within the organisation
- The plan wasn’t so good (assuming there was one)
- People didn’t know their plan well enough, or they didn’t execute it as planned.
If you met with your team and talked about it honestly, you’d be able to work out what fell short. It can’t really be anything else. You can point the finger at something else, but was that something you could have foreseen? And, if so, could you have dealt with it as part of your plan?
Critical Conversations —‘What just happened? or How are we doing?’—is Where We Usually Start
These conversations are a review of an action or a check-in on your progress. Someone somewhere wants to have that conversation. We can’t call it a debrief because, as we’ll see, a debrief assumes there are a few things in place, to begin with. But having that conversation will help make sure that next time you do something, you’ll plan it better, brief it better, and execute it better.
Getting things done in modern business is rarely easy. Sure, we have more opportunities, but with them come greater expectations, responsibilities, and risks. We have more people to keep happy—all those ‘stakeholders’—with more demands. We face more uncertainty, because the changes we face are more frequent, and bring with them things we’ve never encountered before. We need to build for the future, at the same time as delivering today! So it’s harder to do the things that really matter to us, personally and professionally, and do them well.
Let’s imagine you’re a medical products unit or an investment team that’s been operating for a decade, and you’re pretty good at it. You’re a good team, a few quirks and quirky personalities, but you know each other and how to work together. You’ve made a decent return and your bosses and investors have stuck by you. You have a good pipeline of opportunities, you know how to assess them, you know how to execute transactions to protect your interests, and you know how to manage assets and people for the long term. It’s what you do.
So you just need to keep doing it, right?
Maybe. Maybe you’ve just lost your best researcher or lead-maker. Maybe tax policies have changed, or you need a greater gross return to generate the same income. Or your investors are now tempted by better returns elsewhere and want higher returns from your own unit. Maybe someone else has turned up in your neck of the woods, snapping up the last three opportunities you had your eyes on. Your world has changed in some way, just enough for you to have to perform better—or it’s a little more urgent than that.
Flex will help you! The Flex framework for action is deliberately simple. But as you work with it, you’ll find it sharpens your team’s awareness, its bias to action, and its accountabilities. Each part of the Flex process instils a belief that the mission is on track, that each person has a clear and critical role, and that they will fulfil it.
We use the term Flex because it is true to what it is! It is a way of working with the flexibility to handle the speed, complexity, and uncertainty of modern business, and still deliver what you need to. It helps us quickly assess our situation, make a decision, get things done. And then keep doing them better! Do you have the flexibility to keep you ahead of your game, at that deep-performance level?
Christian “Boo” Boucousis works with individuals, teams and organizations to achieve their business objectives through the use of a deep-performance framework.
He is a former Air Force Fighter Pilot and the founder of one of the world’s largest humanitarian support companies. He is currently the CEO of Afterburner Australia and Mode Modular Developments, which recently developed Australia's tallest prefabricated modular hotel – Peppers King Square in the Perth CBD.
Boo is a leadership and high-performance expert and the co-author of “On Time, On Target: How Teams and Companies Can Cut Through Complexity and Get Things Done….The Fighter Pilot Way”.