DOVC – #066 – How to Unlock Progress and Possibilities by Embracing Flexibility

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How to Unlock Progress and Possibilities by Embracing Flexibility

Do you cling tightly to rigid processes and protocols even when situations demand more adaptable solutions?

If so, you’re severely limiting possibilities.

After recently witnessing multiple disturbing examples of stubborn inflexibility causing inefficiency and frustration.

I felt compelled to discuss the critical role flexibility plays in progress, innovation, and humanizing customer experiences.

In this article, I’ll share painful examples of rigid rule enforcement backfiring, make the case for situational adaptation, and provide tips to nurture organizational and personal nimbleness.

The future belongs to the flexible – let’s start stretching now!

When Rigidity Goes Horribly Wrong

I recently encountered two situations where the rigid application of policies and unwillingness to tailor approaches based on circumstances led to absurd outcomes bordering on parody:

  1. A partner platform’s refusal to create a quick how-to video for clients despite having zero documentation. After suggesting tools to easily record a 5-minute walkthrough once versus fielding thousands of repetitive questions, I was informed “That's not protocol.” When I politely (or not so politely) pushed back highlighting the irrefutable value for all parties, they shut down discussion by accusing me of calling them an idiot. Seriously?!
  2. An archaic bank’s insistence on printing, scanning, and faxing documents to authorize money transfers in 2016 while I traveled to remote areas with no access. Despite desperate pleas for modern solutions like password verification, I battled so intensely for so long trying to navigate their technological stone age that by the time they finally introduced online banking, I nearly lost my mind. The fact that convenient digital transfers were supposedly already available and no employees mentioned this still induces eye-twitching rage.

In both cases, brainless rule enforcement and avoidance of situational adaptation led to needless struggles ultimately eroding relationships.

A dash of common sense could have prevented so much friction.

The Critical Importance of Flexibility

Remaining nimble is essential as unpredictability, diversity, and accelerating change define business landscapes.

Sticking rigidly to protocols made sense in stable, uniform environments.

Today’s fractured world demands flipping mentalities.

Customers expect personalized, digitally-driven experiences that meet their unique needs, not one-size-fits-all.

Technology keeps rewriting traditional operating assumptions.

If you cling to old ways, competitors will outpace you.

Beyond external shifts, flexibility creates value internally too.

Workers crave autonomy and input around decisions impacting their roles.

Fluid teams outperform rigid hierarchies.

Open cultures unlock innovation; closed ones ossify.

Bottom line – rigidity restricts, flexibility fuels.

Bend or break.

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Tips to Strengthen Your Flexibility

If enhancing organizational and personal nimbleness matters, here are constructive suggestions:

  • Seek First to Understand – Listen openly before defaulting to rules. Context offers wisdom. Ask “Why this way?”
  • Empower Team Judgment – Trust people’s discretion. Don’t penalize well-intended situational decisions.
  • Keep Core, Loosen Periphery – Clarify which components of systems/processes are untouchable vs open to modification.
  • Get Comfortable with Discomfort – Reorient from valuing predictability/consistency above all. Fluidity enables growth.
  • Automate Where Possible – Leverage technology platforms that adapt experiences based on user data and shifts.
  • Experiment with Controls – Try more autonomous team workflows before assuming chaos will reign.
  • Crowdsource Fresh Ideas – Ask staff and customers directly how policies/rules might improve.
  • Explore Other Models – Research how pioneers structure for agility. Don’t limit viewpoints.
  • Review Periodically – Reassess processes to validate still optimal or need tweaking.

Avoid Entrenchment – Evolve Intentionally

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Key Takeaways: Unlock Progress and Possibilities by Embracing Flexibility

Ultimately, the world keeps changing with or without you.

Clinging to rigid structures, systems, and mindsets whilst hoping external realities morph to accommodate you is insane.

As Darwin said: “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent; it is the one most adaptable to change.”

Build a culture and mindset that constantly scans horizons, proactively experiments, and says “yes” more than “no” when facing novel suggestions.

Infuse core values while staying open peripherally.

Seek to understand before judging.

Empower people’s best instincts. Automate rote tasks for fluidity. Never stop improving.

Agility, creativity, and humanity drive the future.

Leave rigidity buried in the past where it belongs.

What outdated practice will you transform this week?

Share one flexibility win!

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