Thrive through diversity (4/4)

By Maria van der Schoot

The lack of diversity in an organization is like having no biodiversity in nature. In other words, it’s pretty essential.

This article is the last article as part of the series ‘Thrive through diversity’. So far, we have discussed the importance of a solid foundation and that we can enhance this by integrating different domains of diversity. We have discussed the workforce and the product & portfolio diversity and are at the final part about operational diversity.

Embracing operational diversity in organizations
Transitioning to agile operating models for business resilience
Increasing flexibility in organizational contracting and financial systems
Maintaining stability in turbulent business environments
Integrating sustainability into core business operations

Embracing operational diversity means that your business is operating in an agile and flexible manner, free to operate in different ways so it is resistant and resilient. Constantly changing trends, technologies, customer needs increasingly require organizations to be adaptable. The operating model of the company needs to enable that adaptability/flexibility so that they can respond to the need. If not, they will be left behind.

Blinklane, now part of Highberg, has over a decade of experience to support organizations in the transition to such operating models. During such transformations, we support our clients to redefine the roles and responsibilities of the people, redesign the cadences and rituals implemented, reconsider the structure of one’s organization and to slowly become an essentialist by making hard choices and prioritizing only what is truly adding value.

Furthermore, operational diversity can also mean that an organization works with different contracting systems and different financial systems. Having products and services that can be the so called ‘front runners’ and products and services that are more based on stability. These ‘front runner’ products allow an organization to constantly innovate and adapt where needed.

What to do

If you as part of your organization would like to increase the level of ‘operational’ diversity, I recommend paying attention to the following:

  • Organize yourself in an Agile way. We often try to solve complex problems by standardization. However, the extended complexity created from the diverse operational system cannot be solved with simplicity. Instead, organize yourself in an agile way to maintain resilience and flexible.
  • Keep your operating model flexible. How does your operational flows look like, what kind of systems are in place, how much time are you losing by needing to follow certain protocols? Can you move from rules to values and from processes to guidelines?
  • Ask for feedback from ALL stakeholders. All those people connected to the way you operate hold different perspectives and different views. There is no wrong or right. However, ensuring to hold multiple perspectives at the same time will support your organization to stay resilient.

The benefits

When increasing the operational diversity, you will notice that there will be a lot of ripple effects with positive repercussions. These benefits may include:

  • Being prepared for unexpected outside forces. Governmental requirements? No issue. Interruption due to climate change? You know your way around. Left road is blocked? Take the right.
  • Maintaining stability in a turbulent environment. In general, people don’t like change. When change occurs, you can stay stable, show your people they can continue their jobs. Inspiring them with new opportunities the change might bring.
  • Innovate and continuously learn. Having a diverse operating model will allow you to adopt and innovate quickly.
  • Preventing people to fall back into auto pilot. Standardization can seem efficient, and they might be in certain situations. But I’ll challenge you to keep energy flow by constantly stepping into the unknown and see what is behind.

All three ‘diversity’ domains have some overlap and are all interconnected to one another. That is why only focusing on one of the domains will not suffice to achieve a sustainable foundation. Embracing diversity in all three domains will eventually allow for a solid and sustainable foundation that secures an organization of not being swept of its feet when uncertain and turbulent times challenge the status quo.

Interested in more? Please contact us and find out if we can support you in:

  • Transforming into a sustainable organization
  • Building a sustainable foundation for your organization
  • Match your vision and purpose with a sustainability mindset
  • Integrate sustainability into your core business
  • Attracting young talent through sustainability
  • Keeping your licence to operate and staying relevant in the long-term
  • Maintaining balance during challenging times
  • Increasing perspectives and worldviews to stay innovative
  • Staying widely open and closely engaged

References:

Islam, R., French, E., & Ali, M. (2022). Evaluating board diversity and its importance in the environmental and social performance of organizations. Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Management, 29( 5), 1134– 1145. https://doi.org/10.1002/csr.2259

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