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.

Change programs are bound to fail without change-makers

It’s taken a while but larger organisations have finally come to realise they need to change to compete and survive in a marketplace filled with small, more nimble competitors.

However, it’s become apparent to me that many change programs hit a wall when it comes to implementation. They have the best of intentions but lack some key competencies.

Here’s how it generally plays out.

During a change transformation, a manager continues running their department as per usual. They have typical departmental challenges and work loads. But the managers are often tasked with implementing the new change program in addition to their daily workload.

You can see where I’m going with this.  While clamouring to get their job done and respond to the challenges of the change program managers get overburdened and frustrated.

When it all starts to fall apart, they reach out in desperation for a quick fix and the trap is sprung. Why? Because there are no quick fixes when it comes to implementing a change program. But they try anyway and set in motion a downward spiral that many fail to recover from.

Let’s take a closer look at what happens to the program during the death spiral.

Those beleaguered managers get frustrated because they’re being ask to do a job they are not qualified for. Managing change requires a skillset many managers just do not possess. So investing in management and leadership competency is the simple countermeasure.

Most change programs fail when the complexity exceeds the competency of the managers. That’s why they choose quick fixes instead. Ultimately if and when the change initiative fails, the program gets blamed.

As part of our change competency plan, we actively build change skills development into our program and create changemakers that can deploy effectively. These changemakers become internal revolutionaries who see the organisation as it is, and where it needs to be; thereby gaining the courage necessary to speak truth to power.

Providing a realistic picture of change issues it’s not finger-pointing. What we teach them is that they need to cut through the culture and find clarity about where the real issues are that are killing the organisation.

Creating changemakers includes education and hands-on training on how to manage change, how to manage the politics of change and how to manage the range of emotions that arise to them and others in the organisation.

In truth, these changemakers turn everyone in the organisation into agents of local change. Changing the business is an ongoing process.

Change is a state of mind not a project plan.

Once an organisation understands that and develop change-makers, change will come more easily.

If you would like to talk to me about changing your organisation by creating Change-Makers  please contact me.