Sunday, February 15, 2009

Core Rigidities from IBM to Churches

(Something from my MBA discussions - I couldn't resist inserting churches into it)

Core rigidities are the dark side of core competencies. They’re our strengths left hardened into anti-innovative and anti-adaptive inertia-creating millstones around the organization’s neck.

Firms need to be on the lookout for this negative transformation because the consequences can be substantial:

  • Sales and revenue suffer on account of incompatibility with the way the world or community is changing; branding becomes archaic, no re-invention or re-imagination of the organization takes place
  • Competitors which are more flexible will overtake the firm
  • Partners and alliances (and even suppliers) may have trouble working with the firm if they have adapted
  • Rigidities may revolve around (or be supported by) selected individuals and these may have over time become very senior people; without checking this trend early, it may become very hard to do so in the future given the high-level of seniority behind the rigidities

By definition, a core rigidity would go against the trend of technological advancement. Thus, our core competencies need to be continually upgraded to ensure it doesn’t run behind or fit awkwardly with the latest applications and innovations.

Major organisations/institutions which’ve had their competences become rigidities include:

  • IBM and General Electric (both seemed overly impressed with their size and market-share, until Louis Gerstner and Jack Welch shook them up respectively)
  • American Express (hung on too tighly to the charge-card concept)
  • Microsoft (O/S dominance ‘rigiditized’ them to more important developments, e.g. the mastery of information a’la Google)
  • various Ivy League universities (unwillingness to fully embrace e-learning), and even...
  • mainstream traditional churches (the ‘fortress’ of their conservative theology makes it very slow in adapting to emergent thinking and culture)

No comments: