What it means to become a RAD organization
The goal of the book Disruption Proof is to help leaders and founders of companies to create what I call RAD companies, which stands for being resilient, aware, and dynamic. RAD requires new behaviors and skills for all, while also establishing new systems, processes, and structure to deal with an increasingly complex and uncertain world.
Resilience is the idea that a business must have a core strength.The roots of the company are firmly planted and the company is able to gain strength from that. It could stem from the “DNA” of the founders that remains; it could be core technology of even values. But resiliency also means being flexible, able to bend in strong winds; the ability to change with a new environment or with new information.
Envision a palm tree that is firmly rooted to the shore, but their strength also means their ability to bend in severe storms yet remain standing. Ultimately, we need to build organizations that have that same sort of resiliency.
The A in RAD means aware. Awareness is a purposely-built capability that allows for all parts of an organization to pick up and share new information. This is exactly opposite of the traditional top-down, hierarchical organizations.
Think about the middle of the industrial age, when companies were producing home appliances for the first time. The risks were technological (can we build it) and operational (can we produce at a cost the middle class could afford). There was very little market risk. If you could successfully produce the product, you would be able to sell them to a market eager to simplify their lives. Once business created the blueprint for building and producing them efficiently, success was determined by creating a structure that optimized the efficiency of executing that blueprint. Knowledge was in the core of the business and proliferated out.
Leaders organized companies to be command-and-control and hierarchical because they understood exactly how to capture a market, and needed to repeat this over and over again. In this digital age, this is no longer the case. We know we can build most stuff, and we know how to produce things efficiently. The risk isn’t inside the company, it’s outside. Critical information–like what products, features, colors, sizes and so on, that the market wants–resides on the edge of the company. It resides with our customers.
Disruptions to the optimized production process also reside on the edge: acts of God, war, supply chain issues, what’s happening with emerging economies on the other side of the world. Pandemics. These events have always happened, of course, but in our massively interconnected world, their repercussions ripple across all economies. Leaders must increase awareness and allow the information to come into the edge, and purposely set up communication flows to the center of the company and across the organization.
Since the information comes from the outside, we must empower people that live on the edge to be able to respond to the information. They can make certain decisions as they encounter issues, which brings us to the D of RAD, being dynamic. “Based on the new information, we have to be able to change, if necessary, and we have to be quick about it. We have to be fleet of foot.
Again, in a command-and-control hierarchical organization, even if information is coming in and being routed to the center, much of that information is actionable right there on the edge. If everything must be routed to the center, the decision-making process is too slow. The channels of communication are too slow, and so we have to build into the organization the ability to decentralize decision-making. We also need to get the flow of communications to the people that need it, and that’s both up and down the hierarchy, as well as across the organization.
RAD companies are necessary to survive and thrive in the Digital Age. Many of the trends we see in business–increasing diversity, agile practices, developing empathy, running experiments–are in response to the complexity and uncertainty in our sociopolitical, economic, and working environmentsworking environments. More on bringing this into your organization and scaling it in the next post.
If you’d like to learn more I’ll be doing a Zoom webinar on August 22 at 11am PST. Here is the link to join: https://us06web.zoom.us/j/87672424063