Adaptability transformation and the end of silos

People often ask me how adaptive workplaces are different from the one in which they work.

It’s a decent question. We become so blind to the current set-up, it can be hard to imagine another way. My job is to describe where I see the business currently and paint a picture of where it would be if it were to become truly adaptable.  

Departmental silos are also rigidly enforced, which leads to resource hoarding and unnecessary internal competition between teams, departments and even divisions that discourage knowledge sharing and ending up with a business of mini-companies opposing from within. Instead of fighting our competitors we end up fighting ourselves.

Siloed thinking has little to do with thinking at all. It’s merely a system where managers are encouraged to spend too much time looking within the silo rather than seeing the customers and how they can combine forces with their colleagues and beat the competition.

After an adaptability transformation, the silos disappear, why? We refuse to think in the old way anymore. Sharing resources between departments is not argued over by department heads. That discussion happens at the level where the work gets done, much lower down by the people who endure the pain.

And whereas before business units fought to protect their territory and assets, in an adaptive environment, rewards come to those who collaborate and share resources to meet the needs of customers and the business.

Further, the decision making doesn’t have seventeen different levels of approval up and down the corporate food chain, again, it happens at the level the work gets done.

But there’s a snag; this means managers must trust staff and just as importantly teams must trust managers especially when things go wrong, we must all learn by brain-storming and resist the temptation to blame-storm.

Only knowing how your own team and department runs prevents everyone seeing how the whole organisation works and collaborates and how you can contribute to the big picture. You must also learn how all other parts of the operation work to enable cross-functional collaboration and problem-solving. The efforts of other departments are your concern, not just another box on the org chart.

As an outcome, a more expansive view of the organisation emerges for all to see. There are still organisational structures in place, but often they become transparent, with the work taking much more importance than under whose hand it is.

The so-called progressive management thinking of decades past used to talk about thinking outside of the box. In an adaptive organisation, we must now work outside of the box.

To start the discussion about transforming your organisation into an adaptive one, please contact us.

Adaptability in progress: an account

My presentation at the Business Agility conference in New York in February was a great opportunity to talk adaptability on a large scale.  But it also yielded secondary tangible benefits.

Specifically, I had an opportunity to engage in meaningful conversations with some fellow travellers in the change field.

Sometimes I think I’m the one that gets the most from such one-on-one talks. But then I receive a message from a colleague that makes it clear my ideas have left an impression.

One such note that recently popped into my inbox described what can happen when a spark catches fire.

Here are some highlights….

“Here are some of the key work elements which I have been able to put in place since we met.”

  • Introduction of Work-Climates:
    • I brought forward the concept of Work-Climates, to help with our transformation from mass production to lean/agile, as it fits very well in our situation. It has helped with teams/people who are active in changing our culture keep their motivation and drive.
  • Making the customer part of the transformation:
    • Validating with the customer is one of our biggest issues. Up until now, we have demonstrated epistemic arrogance for what the customer wants without even checking or validating with them. From our discussions, and your talks, I have been able to reposition how valuable this is.
  • Moving from vertical metrics to horizontal metrics
    • This concept had opened key individual’s eyes to move away from “how I am doing” to “how is the customer doing”.  This is in line with “You get the behaviour you design for, or fail to design for”. If we truly want to change our focus and include the customer throughout our process, then we must define and promote what is valuable to the customer.

There was more, but what was exciting to me was how this person  took my ideas and made the process his own, shaping it to the realities of his workforce.

If you would like to talk to me about how to make your workforce into an adaptive dynamo, please contact me.

Change programs are bound to fail without change-makers

It’s taken a while but larger organisations have finally come to realise they need to change to compete and survive in a marketplace filled with small, more nimble competitors.

However, it’s become apparent to me that many change programs hit a wall when it comes to implementation. They have the best of intentions but lack some key competencies.

Here’s how it generally plays out.

During a change transformation, a manager continues running their department as per usual. They have typical departmental challenges and work loads. But the managers are often tasked with implementing the new change program in addition to their daily workload.

You can see where I’m going with this.  While clamouring to get their job done and respond to the challenges of the change program managers get overburdened and frustrated.

When it all starts to fall apart, they reach out in desperation for a quick fix and the trap is sprung. Why? Because there are no quick fixes when it comes to implementing a change program. But they try anyway and set in motion a downward spiral that many fail to recover from.

Let’s take a closer look at what happens to the program during the death spiral.

Those beleaguered managers get frustrated because they’re being ask to do a job they are not qualified for. Managing change requires a skillset many managers just do not possess. So investing in management and leadership competency is the simple countermeasure.

Most change programs fail when the complexity exceeds the competency of the managers. That’s why they choose quick fixes instead. Ultimately if and when the change initiative fails, the program gets blamed.

As part of our change competency plan, we actively build change skills development into our program and create changemakers that can deploy effectively. These changemakers become internal revolutionaries who see the organisation as it is, and where it needs to be; thereby gaining the courage necessary to speak truth to power.

Providing a realistic picture of change issues it’s not finger-pointing. What we teach them is that they need to cut through the culture and find clarity about where the real issues are that are killing the organisation.

Creating changemakers includes education and hands-on training on how to manage change, how to manage the politics of change and how to manage the range of emotions that arise to them and others in the organisation.

In truth, these changemakers turn everyone in the organisation into agents of local change. Changing the business is an ongoing process.

Change is a state of mind not a project plan.

Once an organisation understands that and develop change-makers, change will come more easily.

If you would like to talk to me about changing your organisation by creating Change-Makers  please contact me.

Planview webinar to focus on Adaptive Enterprise

Since I spoke at BusinessAgility2017 in New York last month, it’s become very clear to me there is a great deal of interest from upper management in my work in creating adaptive organisations.

In recent years I’ve sensed how large organisations are struggling with how to survive and thrive in an increasingly competitive marketplace. Now, it’s become clear to them that it’s time to do something about it.

To that end, Planview invited me to host a live webinar on March 29th titled Power Your PMO with the Adaptive Enterprise: Increase productivity with continuous planning.

This webinar is aimed squarely at those who head up large projects and programs in an organisation and the importance of the PMO in creating change makers.

It’s important to note the distinction between Change Makers and Change Agents.

Change Agents are usually tasked by those in upper management, taking orders without much collaboration with regards to what is being implemented and why.

On the other hand, Change Makers conceptualise, design, integrate, initiate and find new ways of delivering value, driving solutions upwards and downwards.

The webinar will discuss how Change Makers and Agents are crucial to lasting organisational change.

Turning an organisation into a dynamic changeable environment requires a different skill set that command control management. An adaptive organisation is one that is constantly renewing and reinventing strategies as part of its DNA.

To register for the webinar, click the link here and sign up.

If  you  want to talk to me further about how to make your organisation adaptable, please contact me.

Adaptive Enterprise: Increasing productivity with continuous planning

Since I gave a presentation at Business Agility 2017 in New York in February, there’s been a definite spike in interest for my work in making organisations adaptive.

To that end, I’ve been invited by Planview to do a live webinar on March 29th titled Power Your PMO with the Adaptive Enterprise: Increase productivity with continuous planning.

The notes describing the seminar point to how adaptability, not productivity is the goal of good Project Management Offices. It’s a key issue, in that structured processes can often lead to results that are indeed predictable but lacklustre. Getting it done right is the key, not just getting it done on time.

Specifically, I’ll be talking to the following points….

  • How to create an adaptive PMO that flexes at the speed of change
  • How to build a PMO that is responsive to business needs
  • How to promote executive confidence, even in times of uncertainty
  • How to create budgets, plans and resource maps that deliver the strategy while also being responsive to reality
  • How to partner with business and become an Enterprise PMO

The webinar, hosted by Amy Hatton will also include Carina Hatfield Senior Product Manager at Planview. It is offered free but registration is required by clicking here.

I’m rather excited to do this for Planview as it is a further vindication of many years of research and practical applications with clients making organisations adaptive.

As a colleague told me at Business Agility 2017, many large organisations know that to survive and thrive they have to do something. And up until now they had no idea what that something was.  

So please register for the webinar when you get a moment. And if you want to talk to me about how to make your organisation adaptive, please get in touch.

ELLI: changing your organisational climate

ELLI is important in my organisational transformation work.

It’s the acronym for the four factors I look for in any organisation I’m working with.

Engaging. Learning. Leading. Improving.

To develop ELLI, It’s important to understand what the type of organisation we’re looking at.

Only when we know this can we determine the path our journey is going to take. Like any journey, this depends on the internal climate we’re dealing with.

The organisational landscape is determined by the climate. It’s a metaphor I’ve used for years to describe how the overlay of climate influences landscapes. Take away the snow and ice and add some sunshine and the landscape changes drastically from season to season. It’s the same with organisations. The foundations may be strong. But if climate is off, those foundations are buried in an inhospitable wasteland.

Now keep in mind that climate itself isn’t culture. Weather, the specifics of the internal climate, actually are.

We use Climetrics to determine the climate of an organisation. Why the climate?  Because what happens on the ground and how it happens is determined by the work climate of the organisation.

The goal is to change the internal climate so that it’s conducive to producing good work – whatever the day to day changes in the weather.

People respond to these changes and that’s why it’s important that we change work climates. In many organisations people spend all their time “hunting and gathering” for survival, instead of actually trying to look ahead and anticipate the needs of the customer.

With ELLI we change the climate so organisations can leave the frozen wasteland behind and build truly adaptive workplaces.

To talk to me about transforming your organisation with ELLI, please contact me.

Adaptability: Don’t Implement – Grow!

While at the Business Agility 2017 conference in New York recently, I met many wonderful people, all eager to engage on the issue of adaptability in organisations. The work I pioneered in my 2005 book Sense and Respond: The Journey To Customer Purpose has found its moment. Organisations know they have to change now and adaptability is their preferred method.

SolutionsIQ tracked me down at the conference to talk with them about my work and I was only too happy to oblige.

As I say in the interview organisations are paying attention to the work we do now because we are speaking to their point of view. Why is this important? Well as I’ve discovered, while many organisations have common purpose, that purpose is lost because the different levels are not speaking a common language. We’re not talking the differences between languages like German and English – but the internal language of company where instructions mean one thing to a manager and quite another to a team member. That lack of common language can lead to communication issues – that kill productive change and slow down innovation.

Of course, these issues can be fixed through the implementation of an adaptive business. But the real struggle is to bring this structural fault to upper management and have them understand why it needs to be fixed.

The managers and leaders at the top of the business are very busy, pressured, and have insights into market share and trends that seem a world away from the people on the frontlines.

It’s an interesting clip and I hope you’ll find it interesting enough to share with colleagues.

If you have any questions or would want to talk to me about how this applies to your company, please get in touch.

Perspective is everything when it comes to your business climate

In the days following my presentation at BusinessAgility2017 in New York in February, I found myself being tagged with an unexpected nickname by attendees.

Three separate people approached me saying ‘Oh, you’re the ‘climate man’. It was amusing but not entirely surprising. It was clear to me by then that the part of my presentation that struck many of them had to do with the importance of climate in an organisation. I was the ‘climate man’ who changed the climate of organisations.

Management can’t ignore the storms below

Using the metaphor of the sky, land and the space in between, I noted how what happens in the climate directly affects what happens on the ground / workplace. If the workplace climate is welcoming, then that’s reflected in the work being done on the ground. If it’s cold, then that frigidity will likely adversely affect the workplace.

When I was talking about the concept during my talk, I heard approving murmuring from the audience, which was entirely understandable. In their working lives, I’m sure all of them had experienced the effects of both hostile and welcoming work climates and knew the impact on their ability to produce.

How do you know what needs changing in your business?

When working with an organisation on a change program, one of the first steps we take is the Climetrics survey.

We map out the many microclimates within the organisation to understand the root conditions of that climate and by doing so, find the best way forward.

Although it’s been presumed that the climate of an organisation is determined by the management at the top, we’ve actually found that not to be case. It’s a lot like taking a plane on a rainy day.  The weather changes to endless sunshine when the pilot brings the aircraft above the clouds. So it is with management. They are so far above the storms raging below them that they easily miss the turbulence at other levels of their organisation.

Does this sound like your organisation? If so, please get in touch to discuss how we can change your internal climate and make your business more adaptive at every level.

Business-Agility-conference

BusinessAgile2017 Redux: Change or die

Before last week’s talk at BusinessAgility2017 in New York City, I told some of my confidantes that I sensed something shifting in the change and transformation field.

I wasn’t able to put my finger on it at the time. But it became clear to me after I talked about my work in adaptability that transforming organisations to become more adaptable is needed more now than ever.

You can read the synopsis of my talk here.

I heard from many in attendance that large organisations know they have to do something – but didn’t know what “that something” was. For some time, many have experimented with supporting agile and adaptive teams in their command and control environments to good success. The problem is that it was limited success. The muddleware linkage between agile teams and their managers was unfortunate and led to an increasingly adversarial relationship between the two.

I think the reason organisations only embraced agile methods for teams was two-fold. They wanted to believe that if necessary, it could scale up. Despite what some agile purveyors claimed, it did not scale up. Change at that scale required an adaptive climate for the entire organisation. And second, they didn’t want to let go of their command and control roots.

But now they do. I heard it from conference attendees. As one put it, “they know they have to do something” because market and tech changes are happening so fast that they have to adapt to thrive.

Surviving is no longer enough

When I wrote Sense and Respond ten years ago, I outlined what organisations needed to do to become adaptive ones. At the time, I was very optimistic that many companies were seeing the same increasing trend for rapid company adaption that I had seen as Head of Strategy and Change at Fujitsu Services.

Unfortunately, while many recognised a need for change, many felt they had plenty of time to do so. The market-place has now changed. Businesses are clamouring to find organisation structures and effective approaches to deliver adaptability.

In any case, it’s encouraging that a great number of organisations are now seeking ways to the Adaptive Organisation. The good news is that while Sense and Respond was published over ten years ago we at Lloyd Parry have continued our research into what makes organisations adaptive and created our Adaptive Business Framework (™) to take into account not just the mechanics of adaptability but also the all-important dynamics.

Transformation times for adaptability ten years ago would typically take five years, with the new Adaptive Business Framework TM approach now down to eighteen months.

To learn how your organisation can transform through an adaptability process, please get in touch.

transforming-global-delivery-service

Adaptability in motion: a simple small example

How does adaptability work? How does it make a business more profitable? I get asked those and related questions almost daily.

Let me give you an answer by way of an example. I once worked with a parcel shipping company looking to find differentiation on their core business: package delivery.

Working with them, we came to realise they needed to start having different conversations with their customers.

Here’s how their business was run. Staff would typically drive to a customer who’d called for a pickup. The customer hands them a package that has been estimated in weight and cost. The courier would then bring it back to the office where it would be weighed again. If it was different – and it often was – they had to call the customer to find out how to proceed. If they couldn’t get in touch with the customer, they drove the parcel back to the customer to talk in person. About 24 hours was wasted in this process as well as a lot of the customer’s patience.

We did some research and came up with some solutions. The customer errors in calculating weights for their parcels was due to their lack of a weigh scale. So we gave the couriers scales to bring along when picking up the packages. We also had the couriers show customers how to properly pack items to get the least expensive rate. If the customer didn’t have the appropriate materials, the driver would bring in packing materials to assist.

They basically turned the driver into a customer service specialist. Pretty soon they would see other packages with the customer and ask why they weren’t shipping with their company. If the reason was shipping cost, they would source pricing for them often to find they were cheaper. They would even offer to do the complex import / export paperwork if necessary.

The courier took our recommendations, implemented them and increased their local revenue by 25 percent overnight.

Further, their proactive courier customer contact ended up growing the account.

They had underestimated their couriers. Originally hired to drive from location A to B, they more than rose to the challenge of their new customer-focussed roles.

Is that how all adaptable change processes work? No, not at all. They are as different as one business is from another.

To talk with Lloyd Parry about how to transform your business into an adaptable one and increase profitability, please get in touch.