Discussions with upper management about adaptability are often an awkward dance.
Senior management often fears a loss of control in an adaptive workplace. That’s understandable given their training. But it’s also very wrongheaded..
The reality is that adaptability and related control mechanisms provide more control than than you’re likely to find in a traditional organisation.
In adaptive organisations, we need to have much more experimentation. And rapid experimentation across a business is only possible if you’ve got workplace discipline.
When staff identify something needed in the outside world, they say, “You know what, there’s an opportunity we can rearrange a couple of our products and services and create something different.” And they create a scenario and work it between themselves and other teams.
Through this process they discover things that may or may not be useful. But out of this same process comes a whole range of potential new products and services and ways of delivering service that would enhance the customer experience while driving efficiencies through the business. And that’s happening constantly.
This kind of experimentation becomes second nature in an adaptive environment. Like the skin of a chameleon, it changes to match its environment naturally. A chameleon doesn’t decide when it has to change colours, it just does it instantly.
Crucially, this a collaborative effort that goes on constantly. And the collaboration reveals what is going on in the marketplace from those closest to the customer. This leads to conversations about solving the customer’s problem and solving how we organize ourselves within the organisation to respond to it.
Constantly raising and anticipating customer needs, which traditionally would have been projects for a PMO type organization, means solutions are sourced much lower down in an experimental mode.
With technology changing at a breakneck pace, this has to be the new workplace reality. Adapt or die seems an extreme mantra but it’s actually more true than melodrama.