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.

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.

Redefining success with Adaptability a sea change for some organisations

When working with clients as they strive to build more adaptable organisations, I’ve found that it often takes time to realign their view of IT to fit the new dynamic. It’s almost like learning a second language.

Consider the case of a police service I was working with. They had an IT department and when they did upgrades, they were very focussed on how the technology worked –  which was ostensibly their departmental mandate.

But we saw the technology very differently. We looked at it through the lens of how it would impact service delivery levels, policing stats and ultimately, how it affected their customer: the public. That vision was quite a drastic shift from simply making sure the equipment was working!

We saw that when the department was setting their targeted strategies for three-years out, five-years out and even further, the technology they were implementing wasn’t aligned to meeting those goals.

They would look at a new piece of technology and talk about how it’s going to save X amount of money in the budget, or save X amount of time in productivity.

Those are valuable considerations of course, but only to a degree. Doing a project, for example, that would save 100 man hours a week of policing time wasn’t enough in our eyes. We needed create a linkage between the technology and how it could make a real difference in their stated goals – whether that be an increase domestic abuse prosecutions by 10 percent, or reduced night crime in under 18s by 15 percent.

We also needed to make sure they understood the need to adapt and change as crime rates rose or dropped.

We worked to get them to appreciate the outcomes of an adaptable transformation in terms of having a very tangible impact on service to their customers. Once they came to see how this expanded view of how technology connected with their stats and public perception of the force, we’d made a breakthrough.

Getting this – and other – organisations to appreciate the positive impact of Adaptiveness on both service levels and financials continues to be an inspiration.

To talk to Lloyd Parry about how we can transform your organisation through Adaptiveness, please get in touch.

Adaptability is the new core competency

It used to be that management skills were passed along from superiors, well aware of how an organization worked based on established institutional knowledge. The formula was simple:  Take past management strategies, tweak and adjust for current realities and then manage. It’s an approach that was packaged, taught and executed with ease.

But we all know that approach just doesn’t work anymore.  The past doesn’t matter as much as it once did. And for very good reason. Traditional management strategies are based on a very different business and organizational reality.

It wasn’t that long ago that the pace of change was such that any response to shifts in the marketplace was executed with a slow, thoughtful, and considered approach. Contrast that to the sense of urgency that comes with improved data monitoring that shows customer satisfaction ebbing and flowing in real time.

Improvements in technology will only continue to accelerate. And if an organization tries to go forward by embracing the strategies of its past, then it is setting itself up for a slow decline to obscurity.

Today’s successful companies don’t view adaptability as a ‘nice to have’ business strategy. For them it is an essential element to business success and longevity.

An organization must recognize, respond and adapt to challenges on an ongoing basis, if they are to succeed and thrive.

That noted, adaptability isn’t just something that can be overlaid on an organization. The organization must learn to make adaptability its core competency, woven into the work culture in a meaningful way. It must be the instinctive first reaction when faced with external challenges.

Lloyd Parry have worked with many types of organizations on transforming their work cultures into adaptability marvels.

Please get in touch to talk about having me speak to your organization or conference about adaptability as a core competency.

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How to do Shared Services the right – LEAN – way

So you’ve got duplicate internal services in your organisation. Simple enough to just share them with others in the company, right?

Great thinking! Too bad it’s not that easy to execute in the real world.

The upside is really impressive: you get to cut costs significantly while improving services. And it can be done. It just takes excellent leadership and an ability to change your organisational culture.

However, there are a number of errors and assumptions that can cause a shared services implementation to fail.

Our Sense and Respond 3.0 Adaptive-Lean Shared Services masterclass looks closely at how to use Sense and Respond – Lean and Adaptive Thinking as a framework for shared service implementations.

We draw on our recent experience implementing LEAN service transformations at Lego and SAP to help organisations get the most bang for their buck from streamlining and improving shared services.

We use the REAL challenges faced by companies as they made radical improvements to provide real-life context for attendees. The result are takeaways and implementation strategies that can save thousands or even millions in lost or wasted revenue.

Despite the currency of the cases we draw from, we continually adapting Lean service because customer and business needs change rapidly in today’s market.

Although the masterclass is designed for Senior Leaders in HR, Operations, Finance, Customer Service, IT and Senior Teams, it is invaluable for anyone interested in successful shared services transformation.

Key Learning Outcomes:

  • What exactly is LEAN  and why does it matter for people planning shared services – Lean is now a familiar concept to many business leaders, but do we all have an accurate and complete understanding?  It’s not about cutting costs, it’s about delivering value to customers
  • How to create a clear line of sight between what you and your staff do every day, and what the customer actually values
  • Measuring the right things in the right way – CORE LEAN principles – how to use the principles and tools to keep you focussed on what matters to your customer, and why this is especially vital when planning/running shared services
  • How to collect the information that you need to make good quality decisions, and how to tell the difference between quality, robust, reliable information and the rest of the stuff you’ll get
  • Managing resources during the transition to shared services – do you have enough people are they doing the right things – LEAN is likely to radically transform what people do every day, how do you manage this?
  • Measuring internal and external customer outcomes and using this information to keep evolving

Please read more about the masterclass here and then get in touch.

Ten police officers and one man with a baseball bat: a Lean story

A few years back when we were working with a UK police force on a Lean transformation project, we put some staff from the IT department in police cruisers with officers for ride-alongs.

In one instance an IT person was able to witness first hand how a communications failure turned a minor neighborhood incident into a major tie-up of police resources.

First some basic info about the command and control system at headquarters. The system handled and recorded incoming information from 999 calls before assessing the situation and dispatching officers to the scene.

In this instance the IT person was in the car when a call come over the radio about 12 youths on a residential street squaring off against each other with sticks and bats. The officer, realizing he’s closest to the scene, asks for more information.

But the dispatcher comes back on and tells him that his system just died and no more information is available.

So the officer sizes up the situation based on the information he has. He’s in a car with some IT guy and he has to decide if he’s going to deal with 12 people swinging bats alone. Well of course he wasn’t go to go into that kind of a situation alone. He’s a police officer, not Batman.

So he calls for backup and goes to a location near the residential area where he will rendezvous with his back up and prepare to engage. In total there are five patrol cars, ten officers, a dog handler, two big dogs of course and a Land Rover.

They’re ready to go in like gangbusters.

And they do. But what they discover is a little different than what the initial report had indicated. Instead of a dozen youths ready to wreck the neighbourhood, they find one drunk guy with a baseball bat yelling at his neighbours from a window in his house.

It sounds like a funny anecdote. But it was really a disaster. Because of the system failure at headquarters, ten officers in five patrol cars were pulled away from other duties. Not to mention the police dogs and their handler.

I say it was a disaster because if those resources were needed anywhere else during that time frame, they would have been unavailable. And given the life and death nature of some police calls, it could have resulted in a very bad outcome at another crime scene.

In the end it was a simple matter of the system being down for five minutes. A quick call to IT and it was fixed. While a solution was eventually put in place to eliminate such outages, it brought home to the police force management just how important their IT department was to the organisation. And it showed the IT person in the car how important their contribution was to keeping the streets safe.

More specifically, the IT department staff saw the importance of ensuring what they do had a clear line of sight to customer outcomes.  The IT department changed their attitude towards their work and made them see their IT job as more than just fixing the force’s technology. In fact, they came to see it was about keeping police officers and the public safe.

They put in a system to link all IT work that included not a strong view as to why the smooth running of the system was key to customer outcomes.

If you would like to have Lloyd Parry work on a Lean solution with your organisation, please get in touch.

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Climetrics: Inside the process

So you’ve hired Lloyd Parry to work on your internal change program. You’ve seen the overview of how Climetrics works and understand the value of creating a highly adaptive organisation. But how does the process work? You’ve got thousands of employees spread over branch offices around the world. How can we possibly live up to the promise of adaptive and  make change happen at the scale you need it to happen?

If I was in the same situation, I’d be asking the same questions.

So here is where I pull back the curtain and tell you how it’s done.

Here’s how change is made…

After discussing the proposal and scope of the process, we agree on terms and sign off on the proposal.

Next comes a two-day site visit.

Day One, we do a detailed site visit scoping for the climetrics survey and set survey parameters.

We meet with two or three managers to gain a deeper understanding of:

    • stated organisational values
    • organisational structures
    • duties of the main teams, goals-targets-objectives
    • management reporting
    • change programs and their objectives
    • current barriers and constraints
    • terminology and jargon used within the business

On Day Two, we meet with various managers and teams, conduct on-site data gathering and garner insight into day- to-day operations and decision-making.

After the two day site visit, we create a custom survey template and review it with a representative of the organisation. Following the review we run the survey with a small test team.

After any necessary adjustments, all staff and managers complete the full survey.

We then take the completed survey results and conduct a statistical analysis of the data. That information combined with the on-site interviews forms the basis of an executive report.

With the Climetrics executive report in hand, we then meet with the client and the survey statistician.

After that meeting the conclusions and recommendations are published jointly by the client and Lloyd Parry International.

When these recommendations are accepted we then go about creating a custom program that takes into account the entire organisation and all its branches.

What makes our approach different is our commitment to knowledge transfer. We don’t just guide and implement the program, we teach the organisations work with how to sustain and adapt  their processes long after we have left.

To learn how Lloyd Parry International can transform your organization through Climetrics, please get in touch.

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Inside Climetrics: the process of changing a work climate

The benefits of changing a work culture are well known. When people talk to us about change their questions aren’t about “why” it needs to happen, but rather “the how Inside Climetrics.” 

How you change the work climate within your organisation

At Lloyd Parry we use a proprietary system called Climetrics. And as part of our comprehensive change programs we first take the time to understand the the alignment between the following areas:

  • Operating strategies
  • Organisational structures
  • Managing practices
  • Delivery capabilities
  • General work climate (i.e. operational performance and behaviour)

Then, a general assessment is made to determine the overall operational impact on workplace perceptions, and the ability of employees to serve customers better in the following areas:

  • Ability to define and measure customer value and end-to-end delivery performance metrics.
  • Ability to share customer data and operational performance information at all levels within the organisation.
  • Ability of the organisation to introduce innovation and improvement.
  • Leadership styles and drivers at each level within the organisation.
  • Particular attention will be paid to the processes and practices used to define new customer business, create a service design, implement, test and deploy.

Managerial practices are also reviewed in the following areas:

  • Customer and client management
  • Management review practices
  • Workforce management practices
  • Change and improvement practices
  • MIS practices
  • Knowledge management and reuse
  • Reward and recognition policies
  • Service-level-agreement regimes
  • Process standardisation and reuse
  • Staff targets and goals
  • Management targets and goals

Then we conduct interviews, observe work demonstrations and review operational reports.

And now the change program takes shape

Up until now we’ve spent most of our time doing a deep dive that shows us at a very detailed level how the organisation functions (or dysfunctions!) Using this information when can then prepare and configure a subsequent on-line survey to collect staff and management perceptions, feelings and behaviours.

Is it that easy? No.

All organisations are different and those differences and how we adapt to them ourselves is part of the Lloyd Parry International expertise.

To learn more about Climetrics and how Lloyd Parry can make your organisation more profitable, please get in touch by clicking here.

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Climetrics key in transforming from mass production to adaptable organization

I’ve said before that Climetrics is like a tailor-made bespoke suit. Many change programs come in a one-size-fits-all package. And I think we all know about how well that works out adaptable organization. 

Cuffs too long, neck too big and pants too long. As it is in fashion, so it is in an organization. One size never fits all!

Climetrics is a highly customized transformation that is responsive to the needs of each and every client.

It always starts with a site visit by Lloyd Parry International to examine current operational practices, capabilities and change-readiness status. Think if it like a custom weather report on operational effectiveness. 

A different kind of climate change

Consider the work we did with a global company operating in the enterprise software and hosting marketplace. The company embarked on a change that required new organisational design, working practices, behaviours and culture.

More specifically, their goal was to become more responsive to customer needs in a way that required a more proactive approach from all staff. The organisation was facing increasing customer complaints and high degree of customer churn.

We determined that the issue was that they were operating in a mass production model and needed to transform into a higher-performing, adaptive organisation centred on a blend of mass-specialisation and mass-adaptation principles.

The company could have simply gone through an improvement plan to make themselves a more effective industrial-climate. But they bravely moved toward a transformation to make themselves more adaptable.

It took 18 months but the difference was dramatic and, yes, truly transformative.

To learn how Lloyd Parry International can use Climetrics to transform your company in a more agile and adaptable organization, please get in touch.