software developer

Past experience won’t help businesses survive change

It’s a scary yet exhilarating time to be in  businesses survive change.

Scary because it’s a time when past experience and solutions are shown to be poor determinants of whether or  not a business survive.

Exhilarating because embracing change is not just an option, it’s the only way to run a business in the  21st century.  If you can’t create a culture of adaptability and move with the market, your foundation is about as solid as a sandcastle waiting for the tide to come in and wash it away.

Here are some salient facts to consider…

  • Global competition is increasing at exponential rates.
  • Employee and customer expectations are outpacing many organisations’ ability to keep up.
  • Shareholders and stakeholders are demanding more for less.
  • Disruptive technologies are creating environments of continuous change and wiping out entire industries on a scale like we haven’t seen before.
  • Traditional management training and development programs were established in a time of relative stability and are woefully inadequate to deal with not only what’s coming next – but what’s here now.

So what’s the way forward?

In an interconnected world, we must develop interconnected skills, knowledge and learning.

Senior management must be open to data and evidence flowing forward from any position in the organization. Being that accessible and flexible while leading and engaging staff requires a mind and skill shift.

Sense-and-Respond thinking creates a climate that can see the value in recognizing ‘disconnects’ with customers and a climate in which management and staff learning is seen as central to business success, not just an add-on activity.

This is the heart of Sense and Respond thinking and central to the development of adaptive, innovative and engaging work environments.

The integrated learning, development and thinking program we put in place is structured around developing management’s ability to engage with customers, employees and leaders, not just those on the next level down the corporate ladder. And when a problem is surfaced, it’s addressed in a blame-free work climate that values the improvements that flow from proper problem-solving strategies.

Organisations succeed by creating a culture that shares information end-to-end and with senior management –  leading from a position of knowledge not hierarchy, improving both managers’ abilities and those of staff.

To learn more about how to have Sense and Respond transform your organization, please contact us at


Championing failures the best way to succeed

Someone told me recently about Pixar Studios cofounder Ed Catmull and how he said that you had to embrace failure to succeed. I hadn’t heard that particular story but I smiled in recognition. It’s no wonder that PIxar as a studio produces so many hit movies and collects numerous Oscar trophies.

Environments like those found at Pixar are very much like Lean / Agile workplaces. It’s a much more entrepreneurial model, filled with experimentation, lots of failure and rare successes. By my estimates a good ratio is about one in 20. But the results of the successes are  so beneficial they quickly make all the failures vanish down the “memory hole.”

Traditional organizations don’t tolerate failures and go to great lengths to lock everything down. The cruel irony is that for all their anti-failure measures, they’re not very successful.

It’s not just the work culture at fault. It’s also the the methods, the engagement, the collaboration and all those human attributes that typically enable people to work together effectively. The challenge is that traditional ways of designing, building and operating organizations come from an industrial model that doesn’t really work for people.

The great thing about failure is that sharing it with helps others avoid making the same mistakes. Someone once said that every time a bridge falls down anywhere in the world, it makes it better for every other bridge.

We learn from a failure, update the specs and then make certain we don’t make that same mistake.

But people don’t usually want to talk about their mistakes. And that’s a huge mistake.

I have a saying which says whatever hurts me makes my colleague stronger. I’m currently using Lean / Agile methods when working with companies to get their staff to talk about errors and mistakes. But I find myself pushing hard against the shame culture surrounding mistakes that is pervasive in most organisations.  It takes courage, and a collaborative and blame-free environment.

Collaboration isn’t about egocentric people looking better in front of their colleagues, it’s about helping each other when things go wrong.

It’s a brave thing to do and I wish there were awards for brave failures. Because like Pixar, the company that turns brave failures into huge successes, it’s the only way to forward.

business people

Sense and Respond helps organisations in Shared Services implementations

If you are embarking on remaking a Shared Services programme, one thing is certain – you will face challenges.

And to execute it successfully requires excellent leadership and the ability to change many aspects of your organisational culture. The risks and potential rewards of shared services are great.  Do it right and you could cut costs significantly AND improve services.

I’ve discovered through my work that using the Sense and Respond – Adaptive thinking approach to shared services implementations helps organisations through the transition. That’s because this approach allows the business to avoid errors and assumptions that can undermine a successful outcome.

And even though Lean / Agile can deliver cost savings, it’s not about cutting costs, it’s about delivering value to customers. It comes down to how to create a clear line of sight between what you and your staff do every day, and what the customer actually values.

Core Lean / Agile principles are crucial to keeping you focussed on what matters to your customer. By measuring internal and external customer outcomes you continually gather information to keep the improvements going throughout the transition process.

Is it as easy as it seems? Well, yes and no. Lean / Agile can only be effective if it’s put in place with management support that goes beyond lip service. At it’s essence Lean / Agile is about managing people and resources. So the changes it brings about are transformative.

To learn about how Sense and Respond – Adaptive thinking can transform your organisation, please take a look at Conferences and Workshops on our site, specifically Adaptive-Lean Shared Services – Masterclass for Senior Leaders. Then please get in touch.