Regaining Agility: Addressing Common Challenges in Large Enterprise Organizations

Size isn’t always an advantage.

2 Minute Read

Unfortunately, the scaffolding put up to support large scale – more process, layers of leadership, and bifurcation of responsibilities – often comes at the expense of agility, innovation, and productivity. In this article, we will explore common pain points faced by large enterprises and provide actionable tips and examples to help you regain the edge in your organization.

1. Moving Too Slow. One of the primary challenges faced by large enterprise organizations is the tendency to move slowly when it comes to decision-making and execution. To overcome this challenge, organizations should focus on streamlining decision points, making it clear where flexibility is encouraged and in which instances to seek approval, and empowering each leader to make not only more solo decisions but better ones with real-time information and a cohesive strategy so that a “bias for action” (choosing to move quickly) is realistic.

- Example: Amazon’s “Two-Pizza Team” rule is one example of a policy intended to combat slow decision-making. By keeping teams small enough to be fed with two pizzas, the company fosters a sense of urgency, accountability, and streamlined decision-making.

2. Politics and Climbing the Corporate Ladder. In large organizations, the focus on politics and climbing the corporate ladder can often overshadow the importance of producing great work. To address this challenge, organizations should foster a culture that values meritocracy and rewards excellence. Encourage open and transparent communication channels, where ideas and achievements are recognized based on their merit rather than personal connections. Create a performance evaluation system that emphasizes objective criteria and meaningful feedback, promoting a culture of fairness and driving employees to deliver their best work.

- Example: Zappos, the online shoe and clothing retailer, implemented a unique approach called “holacracy” to combat internal politics, replacing the traditional hierarchical structure with a self-organizing system where employees are given greater autonomy and decision-making power. It eliminates job titles and encourages employees to define their roles based on their skills and passions. By implementing holacracy, Zappos aimed to promote a culture of collaboration, innovation, and personal accountability, reducing the emphasis on office politics and hierarchy.

3. Frustration and Burnout. Large enterprise organizations often experience high levels of frustration among employees, leading to burnout and decreased productivity. To address this challenge, organizations should prioritize employee well-being, work-life balance, and stress management. Provide opportunities for professional development, mentorship, and career growth to keep employees engaged and motivated. Foster a supportive work culture that values work-life integration, promotes flexibility, and provides resources for managing stress and maintaining mental health.

- Example: Patagonia, the outdoor clothing and gear retailer, is known for its progressive employee policies, including a unique sabbatical program. After working with the company for five years, employees are eligible for up to two months of paid time off to pursue personal growth, travel, or engage in environmental causes. This sabbatical allows employees to recharge, explore new interests, and return to work with renewed energy and motivation.

4. Synergy and Cross-Team Collaboration. In large organizations, cross-team collaboration and synergy can be weak due to siloed departments and hierarchical structures, with some things slipping through the cracks and other efforts being duplicated. To overcome this challenge, organizations need to tactically support a culture of collaboration, establishing clear communication channels and encouraging knowledge sharing. Implement cross-functional projects or initiatives that require collaboration across different teams or departments that have overlapping responsibilities and will benefit from each others’ information. Foster a sense of shared purpose and create opportunities for team members to interact and collaborate outside of their immediate work context. And be thoughtful about knowledge management – what easy ways does any employee have to quickly understand the “big picture” strategy, how their department fits in, and where to turn to bring the full force of the company’s expertise with them?

- Example: Maior helped a large consulting firm that had separate departments for HR and quasi-HR functions (recruiting, engagement staffing, and learning and development) create a regular connection point and shared data, enabling these departments to understand in real-time important considerations to their individual departments' and the firm’s overall success, including which skills were in short supply and needed, whether they needed to hire or could cross-train from a less busy department instead, which learning and development programs would make the most sense given the engagement type trends, etc.  

5. Losing the Personal Touch. In large enterprise organizations, as more process is layered for consistency, some of the nuance of personal client/customer service gets lost in the shuffle of “sameness.” Maintaining a personal connection with customers or clients can be challenging, but it’s essential to maintaining differentiated value. Not only should you use your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) System to efficiently track customer preferences and feedback, but empower your customer-facing teams to make decisions, personalize interactions, and go the extra mile to meet customer needs and create memorable experiences. As a large organization, you also have the bandwidth and funds to organize tailored events to show appreciation for your clients so you can connect on a personal level, gather feedback in an informal setting, and show that you value the partnership. Make sure someone is responsible for the satisfaction and retention of every account or cluster of customers. In B2B businesses, assign one person to each corporate relationship; they are responsible for maintaining and enhancing satisfaction, from ensuring deals aren’t stalling in procurement to showing appreciation and checking pulse survey results to understand improvement points. In B2C businesses, individual employees should have responsibility for the satisfaction of specific demographics of your customers, including tracking internal trends (retention, complaints, etc.) and external trends (values, changes in preferences, etc.).

- Example: Even web-only businesses can stand out for superior service. Smartpress, the online printing company, differentiates itself in a crowded and commoditized space (business cards and related collateral) by sending prospects that request its free sample paper stock booklet an email from an individual customer service representative who welcomes prospects to the Smartpress family as their dedicated account person, asks how they can help with design, custom quotes, etc., and responds in a timely fashion to replies, bringing a highly personal touch to what could be an anonymous process.

Are you ready to get your edge back? Contact Maior for a fresh perspective on how to gently break and reset some of your legacy processes to be more nimble, keep employees and customers engaged, and get back to a meritocracy for organizational longevity.

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