Welcome to possibly the World’s first business flexibility-specific website, for those interested in exploring the use of business flexibility in the workplace.
Managers & entrepreneurs working in environments that are highly dynamic, or increasingly uncertain need; piece of mind and simplicity. And with external change including emerging threats, they also need innovative thinking, to stay one step ahead.
Business founders and chief executives can hire ever more specialists. But accumulating a bunch of deep, narrow specialists won’t necessarily build options. Or make for creative thinking outside the box.
Meanwhile organisations such as; companies, professional partnerships, government agencies, reseach institutes, membership bodies or charitable bodies regularly change their scale & scope – growing from local to international to global. Changing their impact. Or perhaps downsizing to a leaner, more agile entity.
Business Flexibility is the common feature and vital solution for managers with those needs. And for organisations changing their scale & scope. In its many forms, business flexibility is also a potent counterforce to insolvency, sandbagging from competitors, creeping complexity or groupthink. A long time ago, Darwin made an interesting insight:
‘It is not the most intellectual of the species that survives; it is not the strongest that survives; but the species that survives is the one that is able to adapt to and to adjust best to the changing environment in which it finds itself.’ Charles Darwin
Paying business homage to Darwin & innovators like him, this website explores the concept and practicalities of business flexibility. As with most innovations, early adopters of business flexibility will reap the largest benefits – using flexibility as a tool to solve real business problems, for significant organisational benefit.
Since I’m passionate about advancing the use & usefulness of flexibility, there are some blogs relating to Personal Flexibility (PFL) and Business Flexibility (BFL). These are separate, but related subjects. Regarding the linkage betwen them, one interesting question is how people’s personality traits, thinking style, intelligence and like experiences, relate to the business qualities needed in a professional organisation. And how people’s capacity for personal flexibility makes achieving greater business flexibility more likely.
My approach is grounded in finance & business experience to executive and non excutive director level. I’ve worked in a number of sectors, including organisations ranging from 25 staff to 20,000 employees and been the FInance Director/Deputy CFO of a £100M income charity. Some organisations I’ve worked in operated in highly competitive, well established industries. Others included a government-mandated monopoly. Or operated in a unique space between established sectors. What I have found is that regardless of sector, organisations struggle with; realistic business plans, bureaucracy, systems that aren’t joined up, office politics and strategy in name only. As well as insufficient leadership at multiple levels.
Regarding business frameworks generally, it’s clear that entrepreneurs don’t wait for perfect academic frameworks. Any more than they wait for perfect market information. Instead, they take calculated business risks and seek first-mover advantage, using courage, tools, trial, reasoning and market prediction.
My business flexibility frameworks are original. And offer fresh thinking to stale problems. Like any good consultant or advisor, I’m constantly researching new approaches and bespoke refinements. Over a number of years, I’ve also developed a Business Flexibility reference handbook – version 10 is now in excess of 85,000 words, complete with survey results and 76 diagrams or tables.
It’s an understatement to say that business flexibility is entering a golden age of usefulness. With the explosive growth in technology (exponential curve changes in information tech, biotech, construction/engineering, process automation, machine learning & robotics), investing in business flexibility is needed like never before. Simply to cope with such a rapidly changing environment.
But isn’t business flexibility just another name for business agility? Not really. Business agility is about developing expertise in pivoting – in jumping paths quickly, as the need arises. Meanwhile, business flexibility is about;
- creating more ‘doors to open’,
- travelling from a ‘one-door environment’ to a ‘many door environment’,
- developing different ways to open those doors,
- realising business value once the doors are opened.
Perhaps think of agility as necessary and flexibility as sufficient. Take a moment to consider the rise of machine automation in business. Agility will be of limited use as the pace speeds up. Flexibility is how humans keep our skin in the game.
My three decades plus business career has involved managing and directing finance & resources functions, in multiple sectors across several countries; IT distribution, SME manufacturing and wholesaling, retail banking, health regulation, accommodation, education. Supporting the London-based, European office of a Washington DC-based, think-tank organisation, as it doubled in staff numbers and also opened a Brussels office. I’ve also overseen or project managed fee rises, building refurbishments, IT projects and system upgrades.
Along the way, I earned an MBA in Finance (Henley Business School) and broadened my management experience from finance to also oversee ICT, HR, premises, events and governance support functions. I’ve presented flexibility the subject to Year Nine school students. And had planning articles published in several UK business magazines.
For a number of years, I’ve served and continue to serve in non executive director roles too – as an unpaid company director and charity trustee/school governor.
While acting in a senior advisory role in a number of organisations, I’ve regularly encountered issues of risk management, organisational scalability and business planning with significant uncertainty. This led me, to develop a number of business flexibility frameworks & flexibility terminology (a ‘flexipedia’) that are applicable across sectors, B2B, B2C and at various levels of organisational scale.
I’ve also surveyed founders & directors in various private sector industries on their business flexibility practices. And created a number of case studies of businesses whose products & services are based on business flexibility.
What are some of my framework examples?
- 14 Business ‘Flexitypes’ (types of business flexibility),
- 36 Business ‘Flexiscribes’ (devices that create business flexibility),
- flexibility trade-offs and trade-ons,
- flexibility measurement prototypes,
- Style & Substance flexibility,
- Options and Plan flexibility,
- Time flexibility – including time management tactics of buying time (12 kinds), playing for time (7 kinds) and reinventing time (4 kinds),
- flexibility’s role in risk probability management (riskflex) & strategic planning. Riskflex includes moving from accommodate to influence to control.
- 9 enemies of business flexibility.
Style and Core Values
You cannot be a business flexibility advisor without demonstrating flexibility, whether; working with client staff at multiple levels, looking at client problems from multiple angles, or engaging with clients that have different levels of enthusiasm for business flexibility as a solution.
The core values of sleicest-consulting;
- building enduring relationships over short term transactions,
- providing a personalised service,
- bringing fresh thinking (a comprehensive flexibility ‘toolbox’) to each client assignment,
- continuous learning (R&D).
Regarding consulting assignment queries relating to business flexibility (BFL), you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The range of business consulting services includes the following:
- Business flexibility (BFL) reviews. No doubt, your organisation has some types of BFL operating well at present – perhaps to enable growth, manage uncertainty, or counter team biases & blindspots. I can help you develop a wider range of BFL features. Or build future success on a business model explicitly based on product/service flexibility. To perhaps help your HR function use BFL as a tool to achieve its goals – think flexible working practices and multi-generational teamwork.
- Business flexibility engineering. This includes utilising a swathe of BFL tools as appropriate; flexiscribes, flexitypes, style & substance flexibility, plan, options & time flexibility. Using riskflex and encouraging innovation using flexible thinking too. Perhaps developing some bespoke BFL progress measures. Or building flexibility into your organisation’s ‘Greiner growth journey’.
- Embedding BFL more firmly within your business culture. This includes; incentive design, flexibility training and inhouse team facilitation.
- Integrating staff members’ personal flexibility (as individuals operating within and outside the workplace) with business flexibility. This has several aspects – one is about practising flexibility thinking. Another aspect is about building from personal flexibility approaches developed outside the workplace into workplace BFL outputs.
Simon Leicester, Business Flexibility Advisor
I also run a wordpress blog on personal flexibility, if you are interested – I’ve posted more than 70 blogs on this subject. You can find it at www.fisccollection.org.uk – feel free to become a follower on the site for further posts.
One example of business flexibility that I observed on the side of an old building in Sheffield, UK is shown below. Others are displayed elsewhere on this site.