© 2022, Barry L. Linetsky. All Rights Reserved
As a result of the solid efforts of a small group of dedicated individuals over the past few years, Requisite Agility is beginning to emerge as a transdisciplinary approach to real-time problem solving that is rooted in the science of complexity theory, economics, and management. What is emerging has the potential to be a human-centric, demand-driven, systems-of-systems approach to understanding and optimizing the challenges of how to create and deliver human value in exceedingly complex and dynamic networks of spontaneous and planned systems.
Scientists, academics, and practitioners started defining and addressing these challenges more than fifty years ago and have continued to expand their knowledge and adapt their tools in pursuit of solutions to mankind’s most pressing and challenging problems. Their entrepreneurial spirit for positive change and desire to fulfill our wildest and most optimistic dreams will be forever ongoing.
All of us face the challenge of how to best choose and adapt in today’s fast-paced and technology-infused economy, but these challenges are particularly acute amongst the leaders of large-scale enterprises and governments feeling pressure to provide seemingly “simple,” “obvious, and “fully customized” solutions to consumers in “real-time” that are built on highly sophisticated and complicated technology networks, data warehouses, and algorithms.
Consumers are knowledgeable, sophisticated, time-starved, distracted, and fickle. They have been conditioned to expect anytime and every-time access to everything everywhere and would like to transact on their ubiquitous mobile devices. They expect personalized, customized, reliable, responsive, empathetic, integrated, and most of all available service and solutions through multiple access points. Almost every provider of consumer goods already faces this challenge. The wisdom with which today’s prime-movers and iconoclasts choose, adapt, and act will guide or hinder our future forward momentum and ability to flourish in our new digitized and interconnected world. This is how, together, we continue to cope with Future Shock.
As human beings we are built for purposefulness as displayed by our choices and actions. In the economic realm (defined by freely chosen cooperative behavior in an underlying legal system that recognizes and protects property rights and the absence of the initiation of force in the production of wealth through a division of labour – see George Reisman, Capitalism, p. 15; also M. Munger, Is Capitalism Sustainable?, Chapter 2) – purposeful human behaviour is displayed through mutual voluntary exchange in the form of trade. Those who seek value capitalize on it by means of exchange with those who are perceived to best fulfill the value being sought. Customers, as users of goods and services provided through a chain of transformation from raw resources to finished goods and services, determine what is of the highest value to the achievement of their desires and demonstrate their preferences through their purchasing behaviour. Customers drive the mechanism of production while provider-enterprises continuously adapt and innovate by the means of entrepreneurship to serve and satisfy newly emerging customer preferences, and in doing so, win the dollar votes of consumers over alternative competitive offerings.
Requisite agility in common parlance is descriptive and easy to understand as the required amount of alertness and flexibility made necessary by circumstances. What is being introduced is Requisite Agility as an emerging scientific worldview, philosophic framework, thinking model, and set of underlying concepts and ecosystem of methods, that are sophisticated and bold. Requisite Agility provides insights and pathways into embracing and managing the rising demand for large-scale human value-fulfillment that is technologically, operationally, and humanistically challenging to produce, deliver, and sustain through constant adaptation due to its inherent complexity and the constant emergence of unique, unprecedented, non-standard, and dynamic challenges to fulfill consumer demands.
Dr. Philip Boxer, who has been a pioneer and a leading authority in this space for almost two decades, provides this more technical definition of Requisite Agility:
Requisite Agility is the ability to respond in real-time to changes in (multi-sided) demand as they emerge dynamically within a client’s context-of-use in a way that is sustainable by the organisation.Philip Boxer
Multi-sided demand exists in a situation where an organization attempts to link two or more independent entities seeking different but complementary outcomes, and where these entities entail: i) a consumer that seeks and pays for value, and ii) a provider who seeks a customer for a service they provide. The third piece is an entrepreneur who identifies a value-creating market and establishes a platform to bring the complementary parties together (see Boxer, “Asymmetric Demand is Multi-sided Demand“).
Multi-sided demand is the establishment and coordination of independent service providers to assist in fulfilling demand, and as such isn’t new. What is new is that so much of the complexity of modern business is built on the dependency and coordination of technology platforms, each of which depends on an adequately (or requisite) understanding and addressing of multi-sided demand—of bringing together multiple platforms owned and operated by independent businesses with underlying conflicting interests, resources, and priorities—in ways that weave sustainable customized (context-of-use) value-enhancing propositions to consumers that pays for and justifies the effort. Each independent element becomes part of a larger interconnected system that forms a wider, higher-level, system-of-systems ecosystem that must coordinate and continuously adapt as a larger conjoined entity to discover and fulfill the asymmetrical demands of consumers and the other coordinating partners.
As Adam Smith noted in his now famous metaphor, by pursuing our individual self-interest, “it’s as if we are led by an invisible hand” to bring about changes in a larger system for which we have no intention to affect, yet nonetheless contributes to social and economic outcomes. The hope is that with a better understanding of the effects of our actions upon the larger “system,” we have a better chance of changing our behaviour to cope with the more complex challenges that arise from our self-interested behavior, both positive and negative; that our acquired knowledge will result in identifying and removing obstacles that get in the way of achieving more complex, higher-order, intricately connected, desirable outcomes.
Barry Linetsky is CEO of Cognitive Consulting, Inc., and a Partner with The Strategic Planning Group in Toronto, Canada, where he and his colleagues have been helping executives and owners define and align their business purpose with customer values since 1994. Barry is the author of the acclaimed business biography The Business of Walt Disney and the Nine Principles of His Success (2017, Theme Park Press). His most recent books, Understanding and Creating Vision and Mission Statements (2020), Understanding and Creating Strategic Performance Indicators and Business Scenarios (2020), and Understanding and Creating Critical Success Factors (2021), each co-authored with Dobri Stojsic, are available from amazon. Barry’s thought-leadership articles have been published by Ivey Business Journal, Rotman Magazine, Mises Wire, and the Economist Intelligence Unit in conjunction with Harvard Business School. Barry is also a writer, researcher, analyst, photographer, and business strategy enabler. Read his blog and learn more at barrylinetsky.com. Follow him on Twitter @BizPhilospher.