Thoughts on the World

Business Flexibility - An Analogy

This piece was inspired by an article on Richard Veryard's SOAPBox Blog, entitled "The Value of Emptiness". In it Richard muses on the value of flexibility, and thinks about the business equivalents of expansion capabilities like the spare slots in a desktop PC.

The value of an option increases with uncertainty (for example, the value of a financial option increases with the price volatility of the underlying item). Flexibility is therefore a choice you make depending on your situation. The only thing certain about my desktop PC is that I continuously find new purposes for it. Therefore expansion capacity is important. But in a laptop I willingly forgo expansion capacity in exchange for efficiency in a more limited purpose, e.g. light weight. Even if it costs more and has a shorter life, this may still be the right solution.

Also flexibility, even in PC architecture, takes different forms. This allows us to extend Richard's metaphor to different types of business change:

  • You may choose surplus capacity (such as a big disk). The business equivalent is a larger factory than the immediate need.
  • The expansion slot allows you to do new things, but you have to acquire devices and reconfigure the PC, not a zero-effort activity. The business equivalents are probably new channels, and M&A activity.
  • But in the brave new world of USB 2, you can plug and play new devices, and you may not have to take permanent ownership of them. A service oriented business is more like this.

So the way we design our business depends, as ever, on our plans. If we want to do more of the same, we need cheap capacity. Expanding our own core capability demands the equivalent of the expansion slot - things like flexible people with enough time to tackle M&A work. But if we want to use or supply external services, then a service structure is most appropriate.

The advantages of any provision for future flexibility are that they should enable you to react more quickly when the need arises, they can help to smooth investments over time, and they can help to manage the impact of change. Just buying a new card rather than a whole PC is a good example. But flexibility usually has a cost, and makes best sense in the context of the type of change you forsee for your endeavour.


If you'd like to comment on this article, with ideas, examples, or just to praise it to the skies then I'd love to hear from you.

Comment on this article

Please share: All Addthis servicesTweet thisFacebook thisLink thisYam thisShare on Google

© Questa Computing Ltd. 2005
Page last updated 14 May, 2015 12:46

Questa Computing Ltd. is registered in England and Wales number:2889117.
Registered office: Ember House, 35-37 Creek Road, East Molesey, KT8 9BE UK
For credits, copyright details and cookie policy, see here.

Search my Sites:

Share this page:

Share |


Favourite/Major Articles
All Articles by Category
All Articles by Title
Review Index

Site Map:

Welcome / Home Page
Contact Me
Search the Site
Thoughts on the World
Consultancy Services
An introduction
Key Skills
Career Summary
Case Studies
IT Knowledge/Education
Customer Profiles
Training Courses
Previous Experience
Download Full CV
National Grid Group Plc
British Energy Power and Energy Trading
Legal Marketing Services Ltd.
Marks and Spencer Plc
Faith Footwear Ltd.
Barclays Sales Financing Ltd.
Oracle Corporation UK Ltd.
Livingston Rental Group Ltd.
National Power Plc.
Agile Development
Coding Projects & Thoughts
General Thoughts
Products and Projects
Reviews: Books, Music & Films
Website Announcements
Full Index
Publications and Papers
A Hacker's Guide to Project Management
Conference Papers
Agile Architecture
Practical Enterprise Integration
Modelling an Enterprise Data Architecture
Strategies for Flexibility
Getting Sizing Right
Muzzling the Alligators
Evolution of a Test Method
Photography Articles & Discussion
Photo Gallery
Projects and Products
RelQuest - Reliability Modelling Tool
ConQuest - Container Yard Management System
Full Index
Biography and Personal Endeavour
Construction & Civil Engineering
Human-Computer Interaction
Mathematics & Statistics
Military & 20th Century History
Modelling & Analysis
Photography & Photographers
Physics & Cosmology
Project & People Management
Psychology & Human Behaviour
Science, General

Contact Me

Email me

Feeds and Tweets

Follow me on Twitter


Thoughts on the World
(main feed)

Feedburner XML
RSS Version XML (direct)

How many subscribers?

Other Feeds

Professional Blog
Photo Blog
Photo Album
Review Pages

About my feeds

Google Blog Search

References to
References to

Sister Sites: