We are in an era of high volatility and uncertain outcomes, driven by accelerating technologies, shortened product cycles, fast-changing information, an increasingly mobile workforce, more demanding customers, complex financial markets, ad-hoc public policies, and many other factors that add layers of uncertainty to all future possibilities. While most believe that good management requires better prediction of the future and better planning, Gill Eapen instead contends that the best way to manage effectively in an uncertain world is through the conscious application of flexibility — an ability to absorb constantly shifting variables and adapt quickly.
Flexibility: Flexible Companies for the Uncertain World explores ways in which organizations can systematically enhance their ability to survive and succeed without the guarantees that come with certainty. In these pages, Eapen details:
- Specific attributes of status-quo organizations that hinder their capacity for flexibility in their three primary components: structure, systems, and strategies
- A tool and process for diagnosing flexibility-related problems within an organization
- Specific actions companies can take to improve flexibility, regardless of their size or age
- A case study of a technology company progressively losing flexibility due to management actions, as well as a detailed project plan for remedial actions
Based on the author’s years of experience working with a variety of industries, including life sciences, energy, technology, financial services, and manufacturing, and his expertise in decision options, Flexibility offers a holistic alternative approach for managing risk and making the best decisions possible in these especially uncertain times.
Table of Contents
1. Uncertainty and Flexibility
2. The Evolution of Organizations and the Environment
3. Components of an Organization
Structure: Human Resources
Human Resource Structure
7. Flexibility Metrics
Brief History of a Technology Company Losing FLEX
Metrics for Human Structure Flexibility
Metrics for Information Structure Flexibility
Metrics of Infrastructure Flexibility
Metrics for Technology Systems Flexibility
Metrics for Process Systems Flexibility
Metrics for Content Systems Flexibility
Metrics for Strategy Flexibility
8. Diagnostic Kit and Tactics
9. Creating a Flexible Company
10. Flexible Countries and the World
Gill Eapen is the founder and managing principal of Decision Options, LLC—a boutique advisory services company. Decision Options pioneered the practical application of options-based valuation of private assets to aid decision making in industries that show high levels of uncertainty and flexibility, such as life sciences, energy, technology, financial, and legal services. He conceived and led the development of a technology platform— Decision Options Technology—that allows modeling of complex decision problems and assets to improve decision making, risk management, and portfolio maximization. Prior to establishing Decision Options, he was group director at Pfizer, responsible for the financial analysis and planning of the research and development (R&D) portfolio. During his tenure at Pfizer, Mr. Eapen conceived and led the development of a forecasting and capital allocation methodology and system that incorporate uncertainty emanating from all aspects of pharmaceutical R&D. He also conceived methodologies to incorporate flexibility in the management of uncertainty and helped senior decision makers in R&D to allocate resources more optimally across the portfolio. Before that, he was manager at Deloitte Consulting Group, providing advisory services to a variety of clients in software, technology, commodities, consumer goods, logistics, and manufacturing. Previous employers also include Hewlett Packard Company and Asea Brown Boveri. Mr. Eapen holds graduate degrees from the University of Chicago and Northwestern University as well as an undergraduate degree from the Indian Institute of Technology. He is a CFA charter holder and a member of the Boston Security Analysts Society. His first book, Decision Options: The Art and Science of Making Decisions, details a formal treatment of economic valuation and decision making in companies. His blog, which focuses on market-based policy options, is titled "Ideas, Options, and Speculation." The details of Decision Options, LLC are available at http://decisionoptions.com.
With Flexibility, Gill Eapen masters the application of smart business strategy to a world of unknown circumstances. For your company or your career, Flexibility is a worthwhile guide to problem solving and decisiveness amid the uncertainty.
—Martin Mackay, President, PharmaTherapeutics Research and Development
In chess, control of the centerboard gains flexibility and advantage. Like the grandmaster chess player, Gill Eapen takes an instinctive notion and develops it logically and for purpose.
—Ronald W. Sellers, Chairman and CEO, Atlantic Asset Management, LLC
Gill has found a way to give everyone better decision-making insights to solve complex business and social challenges.
— George Bickerstaff, Chairman and CEO, GWB Capital LLC