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.

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.

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.

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An Adaptable organisation: sensing deeper and responding sooner

Although I often talk of how adaptability and creating and fostering an agile environment help organisations keep up with external change pressure. But I’ve also seen these same approaches used very effectively in managing a company’s internal affairs.

Consider the issue of staff recruitment and retention.

I recall a time, some years back, when Blackberry security software was the gold standard for business clients. The emergence of the iPod and its appeal to youth created a conundrum for companies seeking to lure the best and brightest to their fold. Young recruits wanted to have their shiny new Apple toys with them in workplace and many balked at the notion of having a Blackberry ‘for business’.

A friend of mine, who was an IT manager for a security company at the time, lived through this clashing of tech cultures. To reduce the ‘two phones’ grumbling among increasingly frustrated employees, they bought a company that specialized in email security and developed an inhouse solution that allowed staff to use their iPhone for work AND personal use.

Did they do it as part of a public corporate strategy? No, they did it to make themselves more attractive to potential employees and encourage retention among current staff members.

Were they able to do it easily without reinventing their entire IT department? Very easily.

Could they have done it easily without having an adaptable environment in place? No.

Ironically, a lack of adaptability in Blackberry itself, was partially responsible for their decline over the following years. Further, an inability to properly assess the threat of the iPhone to their business model, left them floundering.

If using adaptability and agile to resolve a seemingly minor internal issue seems less than an ideal use, you’d be mistaken.

The IT company in question knew very well that in a competitive marketplace, the acquisition of good talent is crucial. As such, they were able to respond to employee demands and adapt their processes to make everyone happy.

To learn more about creating an agile and adaptable workplace, please get in touch with us at Lloyd Parry International.