Building Organisational Muscle: Navigating the Winds of Change

Building Organisational Muscle: Navigating the Winds of Change

In an era defined by rapid technological advancements, economic fluctuations, and global challenges, organisations face a pressing need to adapt swiftly.

The ability to respond effectively to change has become a fundamental determinant of success.

In this dynamic landscape, the concept of developing “organisational muscle” has emerged as a crucial strategy for businesses striving to not only survive but thrive amidst uncertainty.

Understanding Organisational Muscle:

Organisational muscle can be likened to an organisation’s adaptive capacity, resilience, and agility.

Just as physical exercise builds muscle strength and endurance, organisations must engage in intentional practices and strategies to fortify their core capabilities.

This involves nurturing a culture of innovation, fostering continuous learning, and embracing flexibility in processes and structures.

The Need for Agility:

In the business realm, change is the only constant.

Whether it’s disruptive technologies, shifting market demands, or unforeseen global events, organisations must possess the agility to pivot swiftly and make strategic decisions.

By developing organisational muscle, companies can proactively respond to challenges, capitalise on emerging opportunities, and maintain a competitive advantage.

The Rise of Unicorn Companies:

Since the financial crisis of 2007-2008, the business landscape has witnessed the birth of a new breed of companies known as “unicorn” start-ups.

These are privately held companies valued at over $1 billion.

The proliferation of unicorn companies serves as a testament to the entrepreneurial spirit and innovative prowess prevailing in today’s market.

With more than 800 unicorn companies established since 2007, the sheer number underscores the importance of adaptability and agility in the face of change.

Lessons from Unicorn Companies:

Unicorn companies are often characterised by their ability to disrupt traditional industries and swiftly respond to evolving market needs.

Their success stories offer valuable insights into the importance of organisational muscle.

These companies invest in research and development, nurture a culture of innovation, and are unafraid to challenge the status quo.

Moreover, they prioritise talent acquisition and retention, ensuring they have a skilled workforce capable of driving change and innovation.

Strategies for Developing Organisational Muscle:

Promote a Learning Culture: Encourage continuous learning and upskilling among employees.

Embrace online courses, workshops, and training programs to keep the workforce updated with the latest skills and knowledge.

Embrace Innovation: Foster a culture where new ideas are welcomed, and experimentation is actively encouraged.

Allocate resources for research and development, empowering teams to explore innovative solutions to existing problems.

Flexible Organisational Structures: Move away from rigid hierarchical structures to more flexible, team-based models. 

I have discussed the dual structure in our series of articles Change or Chance. 

Whilst a hierarchy is necessary for stability and reliability of process and delivery, a creative network, populated by volunteer employees, operating alongside the organisational hierarchy has the potential to build agile muscle and for the long-term.

It also exponentially increases an organisation’s ability to innovate by harnessing the collective creativity of a large number of committed stakeholders.

These cross-functional teams can respond quickly to challenges and collaborate effectively, driving innovation and problem-solving.

Adaptation and Resilience: Build resilience by diversifying revenue streams, investing in contingency planning, and staying informed about industry trends and global events that could impact the business.

Talent Acquisition and Retention: Identify, attract, and retain top talent. Skilled and motivated employees are the backbone of any organisation’s muscle power.

Take time to hire the very best.  Investing in an effective a repeatable recruitment strategy to really sift out the very best candidates is a critical investment for any organisation.

As yourself is it better to train up an average candidate or to have high performers who can hit the road running almost from day one?

Learn to Continuously Take Opportunity from Change:  We have stressed the importance of this throughout our “Change or Chance” series and their supporting posts and articles.

We have discussed the methodology for achieving repeatable successful change, and if you haven’t already, they can be found at The Sixsess Consultancy’s insights library.


In the face of an ever-changing business landscape, developing organisational muscle is not just an option; it’s a necessity.

The rise of unicorn companies, with their innovative approaches and adaptability, underscores the importance of being agile and resilient.

By investing in their adaptive capacity, organisations can not only survive in turbulent times but also position themselves as leaders, driving positive change and innovation in their industries.

Just as physical exercise strengthens the body, developing organisational muscle fortifies businesses, enabling them to endure the challenges of today and emerge stronger tomorrow.


A List of just 25 of the Nearly 800 Examples of Unicorn Companies That Have Emerged Since 2007:

  1. Uber Technologies: Founded in 2009, Uber revolutionised the transportation industry with its ride-sharing platform.
  2. Airbnb: Established in 2008, Airbnb disrupted the hospitality industry by allowing people to rent out their homes or spare rooms to travellers.
  3. Stripe: Founded in 2010, Stripe provides online payment processing for internet businesses, making it easier to accept payments online.
  4. Robinhood: Founded in 2013, Robinhood offers commission-free trading and became popular for its user-friendly interface and accessibility. 
  5. Coinbase: Established in 2012, Coinbase is a cryptocurrency exchange platform that allows users to buy, sell, and store various cryptocurrencies.
  6. Didi Chuxing: Founded in 2012, Didi Chuxing is a Chinese ride-sharing company and one of the largest in the world.
  7. Grab Holdings: Founded in 2012, Grab is a Southeast Asian ride-hailing and food delivery company.
  8. WeWork: Founded in 2010, WeWork provides shared office spaces and services for entrepreneurs, freelancers, and businesses.
  9. ByteDance: Founded in 2012, ByteDance is a Chinese tech company known for creating TikTok, the popular social media platform.
  10. Stripe: Founded in 2010, Stripe is an online payment processing for internet businesses. It enables businesses to accept payments over the internet, and its services are used by companies worldwide.
  11. Snowflake: Founded in 2012, Snowflake is a cloud-based data warehousing company that allows businesses to store and analyse large volumes of data in a scalable and cost-effective way.
  12. DoorDash: Founded in 2013, DoorDash is an on-demand food delivery service that connects people with the best in their cities.
  13. Instacart: Founded in 2012, Instacart is an internet-based grocery delivery service that connects customers with personal shoppers who pick up and deliver groceries from local stores.
  14. Coupang: Founded in 2010, Coupang is a South Korean e-commerce company known for its fast and reliable delivery services. It offers a wide range of products, including electronics, household items, and groceries.
  15. Rivian: Founded in 2009, Rivian is an electric vehicle automaker and automotive technology company. It focuses on creating electric trucks, SUVs, and delivery vehicles. 
  16. Chime: Founded in 2013, Chime is a neobank that provides online banking services with no monthly fees and helps customers save money automatically.
  17. Wish: Founded in 2010, Wish is an e-commerce platform that connects consumers with sellers offering a wide range of products at discounted prices.
  18. Affirm: Founded in 2012, Affirm is a financial technology company that offers point-of-sale loans, allowing consumers to buy goods and services and pay for them over time.
  19. Ripple Labs: Founded in 2012, Ripple Labs is a technology company that specialises in the development and distribution of real-time gross settlement systems, currency exchange, and remittance networks.
  20. Ola Cabs: Founded in 2010, Ola Cabs is an Indian ride-sharing company that provides various transportation services, including cabs, auto-rickshaws, and bikes.
  21. Databricks: Founded in 2013, Databricks is a big data analytics company that provides a unified analytics platform for data science and engineering.
  22. Opendoor: Founded in 2014, Opendoor is an online real estate marketplace that simplifies the process of buying and selling homes by providing instant offers and quick transactions.
  23. Toast: Founded in 2011, Toast is a restaurant management platform that offers point-of-sale systems, online ordering, and various other tools to help restaurants streamline their operations.
  24. Founded in 2012, is a global payment solutions provider that enables businesses to process payments online, offering services such as payment processing, fraud prevention, and analytics.

Barry Eustance CMgr MCMI

Principal Change & Transformation Consultant


#change #transformation #kotter #unicorn #organisationalmuscle #thesixsessconsultancy #sixsess

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