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Business Agility 2017 Conference brings even more change to New York

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

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.

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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.