Optimal organizational structure is essential
There is a lot written on the topic of making organizations more efficient. Structure is important but people are more important. Structure is ultimately there to catch the mistakes of people. And we all make mistakes so a framework is necessary for scaling.
If you have the right structure supporting the right culture, creativity and openness to change will follow naturally. And you will be able to scale and improve efficiency.
Let’s break these down.
What is efficiency?
Efficiency = “The ratio of the useful work performed in a process to the total energy expended”
To be efficient means to use the resources available to you optimally in order to maximize your output and achieve your goals. Here are a few other variations that fill in the picture:
- To do more with less
- To achieve better results with the same resources
- To reduce waste of resources
- To reduce waste of time
- To be diligent and mindful with how you use your resources
- To be more productive
- To be wise and pragmatic
- To be flexible
What is creativity?
Creativity = “The use of the imagination or original ideas, especially in the production of an artistic work”
Sidenote on artistic work: I believe crafting a flawless work process and making everyone’s day-to-day better is artistic work.
To be creative is to use your imagination to create something new that holds value in some regard. Here are some variations and takes:
- To come up with original ideas
- To improve existing entities
- To invent new products or services
- To improve products or services
- To invent new processes
- To significantly improve an existing process
- To create a work of art
- To solve a complex problem that did not have a solution
- To invent a new better way to do something
What is a willingness to adapt?
Adaptability = “The quality of being able to adjust to new conditions.”
Willingness to adapt means being open to change and being open to learning new skills in order to do better in the changing environment.
Change is usually slow. We are used to this kind of change. When change is faster it is more difficult to adapt. What else adaptation means:
- To understand different perspectives
- To think long term
- To think for the group rather than the individual
- To understand the process of change
- To seek answers
- To grow and learn
What else helps us adapt:
- Being open-minded
- Being open to learning new things
- Being open to taking on challenges
- Being open to taking on new responsibilities
- Asking for help
- Offering help to others
- Talking to others about the best way to adapt
- Understanding that change is a process
- Sharing our perspective with others
- Seeking to understand others
How do creativity and openness to change work?
They work both ways. To come up with a novel idea that will change the status quo, you have to be creative and open to change. This is when creativity drives the change and adaptability follows.
To be open and to embrace change you have to be open to trying and learning new things. Often we do not drive the change with our actions but we still need to adapt to it. We sometimes have to learn a new skill, interact with new people, rethink our routine and flow of things. This is when change drives us to be creative and adapt.
We are all creative every day without even thinking about it. When we are explaining something and use an example. When we take notes and use a shorthand for something. When we send a message and summarize a complex concept in a few words. Creativity is part of us. But we often hold it back when it comes to bigger untested ideas. We sometimes think: “this is too out there, I’ll just shelve it for now”. But those are the ideas we need to share and embrace because they can lead to wonderful things.
Creativity and adaptation have to work together. When they are small they are easy.
When we give an example about something we do not even think about it as being creative. Like when you play Taboo and the word is “rainbow” and you say: “where the unicorns live”. That is creativity!
When change is small, like when we move to a new place in the same neighborhood, it is easier. We can still go to the same stores and restaurants. The drive to a friend’s house is about the same. But when change is large, like if we moved to a different city, it’s hard. We have to find new stores and restaurants. The trip to see friends is longer. It takes time to adapt and we often resist this kind of landscape change.
When creative ideas are novel they sometimes face resistance. Because they bring a large change. We have to foster such ideas and we have to help each other cope with the change. And that coping mechanism should be rooters in the culture, relationships, and transparency. When these three pillars are established they bring harmony. And harmony leads to efficiency even during large transitions.
Harmony gives birth to efficiency
When everyone trusts each other and information flows freely, we feel safe to be creative and it is easier for us to embrace change. We embrace a faster-than-average pace of change as everyone shares ideas and ways to do things better. We are also comfortable sharing our creative ideas of how to navigate change.
When this mechanism works harmoniously, efficiency just happens. Because efficiency comes when optimal productivity and open communication are driven by change. Be it automation or optimization. Be it in large leaps or small increments. We as individuals and organizations get better at doing things by learning and adapting through openness to change and creativity.
The loop closes.
Ultimately, being creative and open to change helps you grow. Learning new things and becoming better in every possible aspect as an organization and as an individual is essential. A good sign of growth is that when you look back to a year ago you are shocked at how silly you were back then.