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.

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.

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The Change Field: Separating the wheat from the chaff

Working in the field of adaptive change means that one has to consistently assimilate new information and adjust strategies accordingly. To some the very idea that concepts and approaches are fluid because of our hyper-evolving business landscape is terrifying. But for me, it’s business as usual and I love the challenge.

Avoid Snake Oil Salesmen

I work with clients who are committed to real change. They want to make their organisations profitable, now and into the future. It’s something a lot of organisations say they want in theory, but are scared off by the work involved. So obviously the market has responded with numerous off-the-shelf change solutions that are easy to implement but can actually cause significant long term harm to the organisation they purport to help.

People want to achieve big results for as little effort as they can. It’s human nature.  But this has resulted in simple solutions that may seem like the real thing – but only in the way fast food smells better than it tastes.

The bottom line is there are no shortcuts to making successful organisational change at the deepest level. And anyone who claims otherwise is either lying to their clients or to themselves. Change is work and it requires commitment. You can always lose a few pounds to fit into a bathing suit for a week in the sun. But it takes real lifestyle changes for those pounds to stay off once you get back to your real life.

Those few pounds may give you the illusion of fitness, but it’s not real. I understand the allure of easy solutions to managers on a budget who want to be aligned with the change brand and can shed a bit of weight in time for their next quarterly update.

Some don’t really want real change in the first place and even the failure of a look-a-like change program provides the temporary illusion of effort.  They tried – a good optic for them – and that it failed – an out that allows them to avoid actual change.

This is where Lloyd Parry comes in. Our organisational change doesn’t come in a box. There aren’t a series of specific steps to follow to bring change to your organisation. Real change is like a bespoke suit. We institute change in organisations by using Climetrics to assess work culture and then crafting a change process based on what we find.

To learn how Lloyd Parry can bring real change to your organisation, please be in touch.

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Wanting to change is the first step to surviving and thriving

Although working with organisations on change programs is never less than invigorating and challenging, there are some that stand out for me.

Specifically, organisations with very big problems and no obvious solutions. These are generally the clients most consultants would rather avoid. They see them a just too much work.

Change Same Keys Showing Decision And Improvement

But when an organisation finds itself in this kind of situation, I’m eager to get involved. They are more likely to not only listen to what I have to say, but follow through with the implementation plan.

Organisations don’t get to this point over night. It’s typically an environment where underinvestment in people, processes and technologies have brought them to a critical turning point.

Processes and technology are usually at the core of such problems but not investing in people is also a crucial factor. Companies are not inherently adaptable so they tend not to modernize technology solutions or their workforce until they absolutely have to.

However we are experiencing business change at a rate that we’ve never seen before. And in order to survive companies have to be more nimble and adaptable than their competitors every day.

The scope of the average employee’s role is far bigger than ever before.  So unless an organisation keeps its workforce engaged with constant learning, improved skillsets, new ideas from the outside, decline is inevitable.

I understand if that sounds a bit dire but truthfully if I work with an organisation open to change, that can be inspiring. Because wanting to learn how to build adaptability in their organisational culture is the sign of a business that wants to survive and thrive.

To find out how Lloyd Parry can transform your organisation into one built to last, please get in touch.

Stephen Parry

How an organisation redesign saved a company and doubled their staff

I once worked with an organisation who for three years were one of 12 shortlisted companies providing IT Services for home users and businesses for a large US technology company. They suddenly, and without any warning, found themselves bidding to be one of the tech company’s three remaining suppliers.

Stephen ParryMy client was now forced to provide a compelling reason to be one of the final consolidated three companies  – in return the outsourcing USA tech company expected to pay less for the overall service. The US tech company assumptions were that by giving the three successful bidders more business they would have more ‘synergies’ and ‘critical-mass’ and therefore with the higher volume they would be able to operate a much reduced operating cost. The US Tech company intended to get at least their fair share of their suppliers cost reductions.

It didn’t work out that way because the company didn’t appreciate an underlying issue. While their way of measuring the end-to-end service seemed logical enough by splitting the end-to-end measure by each supplier they assumed the real delivery to the customer would be the same.. you guessed it, the reality was far from the functional company measures would have you believe.

The real end-to-end service delivery metrics were falling well short of their promised service levels to customers but they were disguised by the functional metrics which made it all look good. A case of the feasible parts making an infeasible whole. And who would know? because the US tech firm had set up their own people to monitor how each company was performing Individually without understanding how everything combined to provide the end user with a seamless service.  Microscoping management methods used when telescoping ones were needed.

So here’s what we did to help our client leverage a sticky situation into a growth opportunity.

First we spoke to company that was looking to reduce the number of suppliers and listened carefully to their plans to reduce the operational costs of running it’s end-to-end service provision    

When faced with the US tech companies selection panel our client’s COO did something most unexpected. He said “actually, we want to put the price point up.”

He quickly followed with an offer to show how his company could knock two days off overall product delivery time across North America. He also highlighted delays in the technical diagnosis centers, the inventory planning, the five logistics transportation companies and the five engineering companies who tasked engineers to problems.

Intrigued, his client asked him to explain.

Before we go any further let me explain how we got to this point. It really is odd for a supplier like my client to propose a solution that was outside of their core competency.

Indeed, when I first started working with the COO’s company, they were in a bind. They couldn’t afford to cut their margins enough to make it into the top 3 providers. They also knew that not landing the contract would throw 2,000 people out of work.

They needed to change their business model.

Our solution was to give them a new way of thinking, and a new way of competing.

Instead of competing as a diagnosis centre we decided to compete as a whole value chain. Monitoring and measuring how all the downstream activities including their own met the customer’s needs.

The result? They discovered that while all the companies in the value chain were meeting their functional goals the end to end service was nowhere near where the measurement system was telling them they were.

They went further and were able to devise a system where they could predict the actual end-to-end repair service down to zip code and product type and highlight the companies that were causing the delays.

It goes without saying that this client already knew about their dissatisfied customers. They just didn’t know how to drill down to find out why this was happening. Our client’s company did know because we taught them how to do it.

And because they offered something their competitors couldn’t, they got a contract despite the higher costs. As a footnote, nothing succeeds like success: their company not only kept their 2,000 employees but also doubled that number shortly soon after.

The key to this was looking at the end-to-end business as a whole including all other companies in the value stream and making the decision to compete on a value stream basis not just an outsourced functional basis.

In order to do this they had to become more adaptable and highly inventive and make it a core competency. It was clearly time for them to not only think outside the box but work outside ot it.

If you want to learn more about how Lloyd Parry can work with your company to stay competitive, please get in touch.

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The “why” behind a career in adaptability and change

I was asked by someone recently about what it takes to have a career in organisational change.

The question challenged me a little because it made me think about my own reasons for choosing to work in this area. Adaptability and change is a very ambitious, complex and demanding path to follow.

And anyone who chooses this line of work has to be prepared for rapid learning and study. It requires patience and a the ability to look behind the surface behaviours of those individuals and organisations you are trying to help.

One has to intuitively know when strategies have to shift in response to unexpected obstacles, opinions and behaviours. Add to this a combination of diplomacy and honesty that is necessary to forge productive working relationships and alliances.

Many times it feels like you are jumping from the plane without a parachute. So you have to be courageous because you leading from a position of literally no power other than your expertise and reputation.

I’ll say it now, you can’t truly manage change. The only change you have any power over is in how you respond to situations. And sometimes that means being brave enough to change your mind  – even if it means losing face.

Change is overcoming your fears using new knowledge and experimentation. If others are not changing then we must change ourselves to create opportunities and set examples for them to follow. When you lead from within you touch, move and inspire others to be courageous and make their own choices, choices you have made clear to them through your own leadership.

I can’t say that what I told the person who asked the question helped them make a decision about getting into the field. But I reminded them to keep asking questions. Because those lead to better questions and yes, better answers as well.

To talk to me about making your organisation adaptable and profitable, please get in touch.