In today’s environment when change, disruption adversity are natural aspects to the world around us, organizations must have strategic flexibility.
Katsuhiko Shimizu and Michael A. Hitt define strategic flexibility as the organization’s capability to identify major changes in the external environment, quickly commit resources to new courses of action in response to those changes, and recognize and act promptly when it is time to halt or reverse existing resource commitments.
I would add the following the definition:
- Identify major changes in the external and internal environment.
- Commit resources to new courses of action in response or in preparation to those changes
- Recognize when it is time to halt, reverse or increase existing commitments.
As organizational and Human Resources, we must consistently be on the lookout for major changes inside and outside of the current environment. We understand external changes and disruptions, but do we have a grasp on internal changes and disruptions? Lack of engagement and alignment, a bored workforce, brewing racial tensions, diversity considerations, toxic politics, etc. This is the messy aspect to Human Resources; not simply seeing the major outside threats but also understanding the lesser recognized inner threats.
Strategic flexibility, in its best form, is both defensive and offensive. Yes, organizations must be able to respond to major changes and disruption, but true resilience anticipates and prepares for the changes. This means understanding the global environment through constant research and understanding what changes and disruptions are potentially on the way.
Finally, when evolution has happened within an organization, strategic flexibility refers to understanding when to halt new resources directed towards the new changes. However, flexibility also refers to being able to increase those resources when necessary.