© 2022, Barry L. Linetsky. All Rights Reserved
The purpose of Requisite Agility is to provide deep and meaningful insights into what is going on under the surface of perceived complexity, and then to provide informed practical guidance to innovate and cope successfully in serving consumers. Technology and digitization have opened the doors to a new epoch of possibilities that we need to understand and apply to achieve a broad set of human-centric values as part of a wider environment of interconnected systems-of-systems but are just beginning to learn how to manage.
As in all major endeavours, theory proceeds practice. In the old paradigm (still much in operation today) responses are managed in ‘design-time’ (the time it takes to create, produce, and release a product to the consumer). The products or offerings are then served out from the supply-side by creating more variation from which consumers can choose. The model is to create viable products and over time introduce variations through product extension (Requisite Variety) [see https://rossdawson.com/the-law-of-requisite-variety-why-flexibility-and-adaptability-are-essential-for-success/]. What has changed in this kind of thinking for many types of businesses, is that the capability is now emerging for the supply-side (producers) to respond to the demand-side (consumers) in real-time with variety and agility (Requisite Agility).
Digitization and the power of disbursed knowledge combined with the demand for mass customization of unique solutions on the part of an increasingly technology-savvy consumer population is forcing providers to shift to creating and delivering speed and flexibility in delivering ‘context-of-use’ solutions, i.e., aligning the process of producing solutions to what consumers really value and/or feel that they value, in real-time. Think of it as an element of variable geometry in facilitating the creation of a dynamic consumer value-proposition and addressing the “jobs to be done” (see Clayton Christensen, https://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/clay-christensen-the-theory-of-jobs-to-be-done).
Boxer and Anderson write:
When the system of systems can support a variety of geometries-of-use on the demand-side, it benefits from an infrastructure that is more flexible and adaptive to anticipated and unanticipated demands. In other words, its infrastructure has the agility needed for its use to be determined closer to runtime.Philip Boxer & Bill Anderson, “Requisite Agility,” 2008: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/230819190_Requisite_Agility
Geometries-of-use is defined by Boxer and Anderson as “the particular ways in which capabilities need to be put together to meet demand.” The degree to which solutions need to be customized to the specific demand of consumers “defines the requisite agility of the system of systems” that is required. (See Philip Boxer & Bill Anderson, “Requisite Agility,” 2008.)
I think of geometries-of-use as the ‘shape’ or ‘form’ of a viable solution that delivers the value proposition sought by the consumer, even if the consumer doesn’t exactly know the shape or form of the solution being sought. The consumer feels a demand and looks outward to seek a solution provider. The consumer is seeking a solution to a felt value deprivation that they may or may not be able to fully and accurately articulate.
The consumers’ perspective on what constitutes a good solution can be highly dynamic based on their particular and fanciful perceived needs, desires, and whimsy, and arising from both their rational consideration and emotional urges. It includes not just the product or service itself that the consumer desires and seeks, but also the multitudinous aspects involved in the co-creation of the delivery of perceived value that are all-encompassing throughout the consumer/producer relationship and of ever-shifting shape (I’m thinking here of what are typically considered to be articulated and unarticulated brand attributes desired by the consumer).
In complex situations, consumers are seeking innovative solutions and new or expanded expertise at the edges of corporate capability. These desired solutions, when recognized by entrepreneurial insight, can only be delivered by evolving expertise linked and coordinated across multiple platforms, systems, and eco-systems that consumers are unlikely to understand but from which they seek to benefit. Consumers always seek more value than they pay for and business managers, on the flip-side of the same economic equation, seek to provide these desired enhanced values at a price higher than the cost of delivery.
It is in these ways that achieving the fulfillment of the demands of the consumers in many situations comes with a high degree of complexity, cost, and customer commitment in the form of transaction costs. The entrepreneurial task of creating a profitable solution rises to an exceedingly high level of detail and coordination that workers and organizations struggle to understand, cope with, and satisfactorily deliver upon. It is an area where satisfying the customer is not well defined by standard operating procedures and where control of the levers of customer satisfaction exists in an environment where they are spread across many partnered organizations where cooperation, coordination, and alignment of work to satisfy the customer is difficult and complex, perhaps even chaotic.
Next: Part 5 – The Tempo Dance
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.