Business Speak goes Physical!

Do you speak the new Business Jargon? Has your BusinessSpeak gone all sporty, as if business were just a form of professional sport? Do you Touch Base in the Ballpark, Kick for Touch, Play a Long Game, or develop a Hardball Game Plan to Fast-track the Scorecard? Do you seek to be Lean, Agile, and Nimble or to Bulk Up to achieve a Win-win?

This new lexicon is vivid and appealing, and quickly learned. It is doubly welcome if it has cured us of Acronym Affliction. But it may have sidelined many intangible words whose meaning is simple and precise – like Profitable, Productive, Efficient, Excellent, Result, Quality and Customer Satisfaction.

Its real merit lies in its use as a metaphor or parable, so that a thought may be clearly communicated by a sporting analogy. But like all jargon, each term will become clichéd, and gradually lose its usefulness.

Meantime, we will be frequently reading about an attractive term, Business Agility, which is described as “a concept that incorporates the ideas of flexibility, balance, adaptability, and coordination under one umbrella……Agility typically refers to the ability of an organization to rapidly adapt to market and environmental changes in productive and cost-effective ways”. ……….“The agile enterprise strives to make change a routine part of organizational life to eliminate the trauma that paralyses many businesses attempting to adapt. Because change is perpetual, the agile enterprise is able to nimbly adjust to and take advantage of emerging opportunities.” See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Business_agility or http://www.baselinemag.com/c/a/Innovation/The-Speed-of-Business-Today-720022/ for useful chats on the topic.

But how do you move from a change resistant outfit to an agile one? It is absolutely a People Issue, where the tools of attitudinal change need to be wisely selected and expertly deployed. Agile writers seem to agree that the way in is through Lean, with a strong IT dimension alongside. (I touched on Lean in my May 2010 piece, recommending Lean as perhaps the best choice for endowing your organization with the capability to adapt, compete and survive).

So, this wonderful sporting year of 2011 might also be the year your organization commits to a Lean and Agile future, where you give yourselves a better than sporting chance of achieving competitiveness and longrun prosperity.