Business Flexibility (BFL)

‘The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.’ Albert Einstein

‘Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change.’ Jim Rohn

Business Flexibility and Mass Customisation

With a growing AI influence, we can expect greater personalisation of products & services to occur.  No doubt this will also create a revolution in marketing – in marketing channels, market research, segment analysis and promotion.

Greater personalisation has at least three strands to it:

  • an expansion of the basic menu of options (a range increase for each customer),
  • more personalised pricing (real-time credit assessment, personalised payment plans & dynamic pricing),
  • more automated provision and delivery.

One way that mass customisation can be enabled is where customers self-select their preferences, perhaps with the help of the organisation’s chatbot.  However, having more choice of options isn’t what gives the customers significantly more freedom. Instead, preserving their personal flexibility (while customising their products and services) gives customers the real freedom. What are some examples? Warranties, free trials, flexible financing, free basic versions, and control of personal data.

And for the companies? Preserving business flexibility gives them real freedom to operate too. For example, investment in intellectual property, maintaining high cash reserves, managing large datasets and using agile techniques in new product development.

From both sides, this brings business flexibility to the front of the stage.

Business Flexibility Generally

A few extracts from my handbook on business flexibility, are as follows:

Variation in business inputs (demand volume, customer need, demand timing, client complaints, user support, supplier provisioning) can be handled well by improving business flexibility. That flexibility leads to resilience and relevance outcomes.

14 flexitypes (types of buiness flexibility) that an organisation can systematically look at improving are as follows:

  • Communications flexibility
  • Design flexibility
  • Resource flexibility
  • Process flexibility
  • Systems flexibility
  • Service flexibility
  • Product flexibility
  • Channel flexibility
  • Project flexibility
  • Supplier flexibility
  • Contract flexibility
  • Management flexibility
  • Business model flexibility
  • Stakeholder flexibility

Options flexibility (a Plan ‘A’ with several tactical options) is different from Plan flexibility (multiple high level plans) or Pace flexibility (a plan achievable at multiple speeds).

Consider styflex (style flexibility) separately from subsflex (substance flexibility).

Flexiscribes are the things in an organisation that  code for business flexibility. Wise organisations develop and manage some flexiscribes, in order to manage business risk and improve business impact.

Flexiscribes when triggered, may operate continuously or periodically. They can work alone, or in combination. Flexiscribes are owned or controlled by the organisation. The biological equivalent of flexiscribes are biological genes & epigenes that enable physical characteristics to vary between organisms of the same species.

Flexiscribes can be grouped into three categories; business hygiene ones, business generated ones and business culture ones. At last count, I’ve identified 10 hygiene ones, 14 business-generated ones and 5 business culture ones.

If your organisation has a relatively weak business vision, it’s worth examining three influences on that vision; the organisation’s comfort zone, the ‘vocal minority’ and the infrastructure. It’s then possible to use flexiscribes to:

  • improve the organisation’s comfort zone (in setting the vision),
  • act on the ‘vocal minority’ (those voices having a disproportionate impact on the decision-makers) and
  • improve the organisation’s infrastructure (rsources, systems & structures). 

How do flexiscribes link to business risk & reward? See Flexiscribes-and-Business-Risk