Tag Archives: adaptability

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Adaptability in motion: a simple small example

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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 realize it 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 tact 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.


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The Change Field: Separating the wheat from the chaff

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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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Talking about Adaptive Design in New York

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On February 23rd, I’ll be in New York City engaging in one of my favourite professional activities: speaking with and to my colleagues in the change management world. It’s always interesting to hear the divergent, and sometimes conflicting, viewpoints around management theory and implementation.

The Business Agility 2017 conference on February 23 – 24 will be an opportunity for me to speak about radical organisational change, specifically shifting the culture of a company from an industrial one towards an Adaptive Design.

This is a fundamental but crucial shift, bridging adaptive teamwork in organisations with a management model that is built to support it. That this results in greater profitability is a given, but it also allows an organisation to respond quickly to rapid changes in the marketplace and to smaller, more nimble competitors.

My involvement is with the Agile Organisational Design part of the day. I will speak to workplace design, and job design as it relates to decision making.

I intend to explore how organisational design can inhibit or promote self-organising teams, collaboration, transparency and devolved decision making.

Accepted organisational constraints on decision making will be critically reviewed with a specific focus on evolving role definitions and how shifts of authority can impact organizations. .

By analysing those issues, I intend to explore how organisations can create the proper structures and people development strategies for an agile business.

Increasingly organizations are moving past supporting adaptable teams within a command and control environment to changing the very culture of their leadership structures.

How this will be received is going to be very interesting. But it is only through the free exchange of ideas and the rigorous intellectual vetting that goes with it that one can truly take something theoretical and make it truly implementable.

If you would like to talk with me before or at Business Agility 2017 or have me speak at your conference, please contact me.


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Business Agility 2017 Conference brings even more change to New York

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Although most of my time is spent working on adaptability and change with organisations, conferences are like professional vacations to me.

Discussing change issues with colleagues is an invigorating way to spend a few days. And of course presenting ideas as a speaker to an audience that may be unfamiliar with my work is always a great opportunity.

The upcoming Business Agility 2017 conference in New York City looks to be a particularly good one given that its focus is far-ranging.


Sessions include:

  • Introducing Business Agility:
  • What does it mean to be an agile organisation – you’ve heard the buzzword and seen the articles, but what is Business Agility?
  • Leading the Transformation:
  • How do you lead the change? How do you get 1,000’s of employees to align to your vision of an agile organisation?
  • Business Innovation:
  • How have agile organisations used their agility to continuously adapt in an unpredictable, VUCA, market?

All of them can be seen here.

The one I’m presenting on is Agile Organisational Design.

When I spoke on a similar topic at a conference in Stockholm late last year, I came to appreciate that discussing adaptability as it relates to organisational, rather than team, dynamics resonated more with those who are currently looking to create a culture of change within their businesses. I look forward to expanding on that in New York.

To learn more about the Business Agility conference, click here. To get in touch with me before the conference to discuss organisational change, click here.


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Wanting to change is the first step to surviving and thriving

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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.


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Stephen Parry

How an organisation redesign saved a company and doubled their staff

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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

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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.


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Stopping an Adaptable change program a dangerous proposition

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Putting an Adaptability program in place in an organisation is a bit like a farmer planting seeds and tending to the fields over the summer in anticipation of a great fall harvest. There’s a starting point and an end point. But a lot of things have to happen in between.

And if halfway through the growing season the farmer suddenly decides they don’t want to grow the crop they planted and pull it all up, all the preparations are wasted with nothing to harvest in the autumn.

Of course no farmer in his right mind would rip up his field halfway through the growing season. But unfortunately when it comes to change programs, organisations are notorious for plowing under programs before they’ve had a chance to bear fruit.

I recall working with an organisation during a change transformation when seven out of eight senior managers were dismissed from the company.

That in itself shouldn’t necessarily spell the end of a change process – but it usually does.

It generally comes down to egos. The men and women brought in to take over instinctively presume that projects championed by their predecessors are part of the reason they they were let go. As such, the first order of business is to take things in the opposite direction.

To be fair, new hires are almost always expected to make changes. Unfortunately, in the haste to make an impact, they often set forth on a campaign of destruction to distance themselves from the previous regime.

It’s the modern equivalent of defacing the statues of the last pharaoh – and just about as thoughtful.

But halting an Adaptable transformation during implementation can be disastrous on two fronts.

Adaptability programs are about growing people and if a new management regime halts a program midway through, the achievements that have occurred simply wither on the vine.

It also breaks the social contract  organisations make with the employees during the change. That unwritten contract stipulates that management will look after staff and invest in their future in exchange for the employees investing their careers with management. And if that contract isn’t kept the employees will leave.

Some of them have almost no choice. Because once change agents in an organisation find themselves back in a command and control environment without a change agenda, they leave.

To learn how Lloyd Parry International can transform your organisation into an adaptive culture using our Adaptive Business Framework please get in touch.


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How the blame game ruins adaptive cultures in command and control environments

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Working with adaptive teams embedded within command and control organizations, I’ve noticed an unfortunate and entirely unnecessary phenomenon.

Adaptive groups rail against their management betters while those very managers eye their adaptive teams with a wary eye.

It’s a brutal cycle that breeds mistrust and anger at all levels and poisons any change effort championed from above. So I often find myself in the position of telling the adaptive teams to stop blaming the managers. Why? Because managers are just as trapped in the command and control culture as they are.

It’s simply a matter of perspective.

It’s not a shock that an adaptive team inside a mass production organization would see the world very differently from a manager that doesn’t understand where they are coming from.

Regardless, what is needed to get over the inherent mistrust is a blame-free approach from all parties.  Adaptive teams shouldn’t blame managers and management should allow the teams to experiment and learn.

When I point this out to adaptive teams, a figurative light bulb goes off as they recognize in themselves a small bit of hypocrisy. They blame management for criticizing them while being almost reflexively anti-management.  

By blaming managers who are stuck in the same system, these teams are simply perpetuating the negative and reinforcing unhelpful attitudes. And the only real way to get beyond it to recognize the bias and work to eliminate it.  

To continue to rely on the middleware / muddleware which connects both cultures is no solution. It just gets in the way of the organization’s mission and disrupts the overall work climate.

Since adaptive teams are generally those driving innovation within an organization, changing the management structure to that of adaptivity is usually the logical solution

To learn how Lloyd Parry International can transform your organisation into an adaptive culture using our Adaptive Business Framework please get in touch.


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Redefining success with Adaptability a sea change for some organisations

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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.


Email: info@lloydparry.com
Phone:+44 1462 670342
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