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Adaptability provides more control in an organisation than less

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.

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.

Planview webinar to focus on Adaptive Enterprise

Since I spoke at BusinessAgility2017 in New York last month, it’s become very clear to me there is a great deal of interest from upper management in my work in creating adaptive organisations.

In recent years I’ve sensed how large organisations are struggling with how to survive and thrive in an increasingly competitive marketplace. Now, it’s become clear to them that it’s time to do something about it.

To that end, Planview invited me to host a live webinar on March 29th titled Power Your PMO with the Adaptive Enterprise: Increase productivity with continuous planning.

This webinar is aimed squarely at those who head up large projects and programs in an organisation and the importance of the PMO in creating change makers.

It’s important to note the distinction between Change Makers and Change Agents.

Change Agents are usually tasked by those in upper management, taking orders without much collaboration with regards to what is being implemented and why.

On the other hand, Change Makers conceptualise, design, integrate, initiate and find new ways of delivering value, driving solutions upwards and downwards.

The webinar will discuss how Change Makers and Agents are crucial to lasting organisational change.

Turning an organisation into a dynamic changeable environment requires a different skill set that command control management. An adaptive organisation is one that is constantly renewing and reinventing strategies as part of its DNA.

To register for the webinar, click the link here and sign up.

If  you  want to talk to me further about how to make your organisation adaptable, please contact me.

Adaptive Enterprise: Increasing productivity with continuous planning

Since I gave a presentation at Business Agility 2017 in New York in February, there’s been a definite spike in interest for my work in making organisations adaptive.

To that end, I’ve been invited by Planview to do a live webinar on March 29th titled Power Your PMO with the Adaptive Enterprise: Increase productivity with continuous planning.

The notes describing the seminar point to how adaptability, not productivity is the goal of good Project Management Offices. It’s a key issue, in that structured processes can often lead to results that are indeed predictable but lacklustre. Getting it done right is the key, not just getting it done on time.

Specifically, I’ll be talking to the following points….

  • How to create an adaptive PMO that flexes at the speed of change
  • How to build a PMO that is responsive to business needs
  • How to promote executive confidence, even in times of uncertainty
  • How to create budgets, plans and resource maps that deliver the strategy while also being responsive to reality
  • How to partner with business and become an Enterprise PMO

The webinar, hosted by Amy Hatton will also include Carina Hatfield Senior Product Manager at Planview. It is offered free but registration is required by clicking here.

I’m rather excited to do this for Planview as it is a further vindication of many years of research and practical applications with clients making organisations adaptive.

As a colleague told me at Business Agility 2017, many large organisations know that to survive and thrive they have to do something. And up until now they had no idea what that something was.  

So please register for the webinar when you get a moment. And if you want to talk to me about how to make your organisation adaptive, please get in touch.

ELLI: changing your organisational climate

ELLI is important in my organisational transformation work.

It’s the acronym for the four factors I look for in any organisation I’m working with.

Engaging. Learning. Leading. Improving.

To develop ELLI, It’s important to understand what the type of organisation we’re looking at.

Only when we know this can we determine the path our journey is going to take. Like any journey, this depends on the internal climate we’re dealing with.

The organisational landscape is determined by the climate. It’s a metaphor I’ve used for years to describe how the overlay of climate influences landscapes. Take away the snow and ice and add some sunshine and the landscape changes drastically from season to season. It’s the same with organisations. The foundations may be strong. But if climate is off, those foundations are buried in an inhospitable wasteland.

Now keep in mind that climate itself isn’t culture. Weather, the specifics of the internal climate, actually are.

We use Climetrics to determine the climate of an organisation. Why the climate?  Because what happens on the ground and how it happens is determined by the work climate of the organisation.

The goal is to change the internal climate so that it’s conducive to producing good work – whatever the day to day changes in the weather.

People respond to these changes and that’s why it’s important that we change work climates. In many organisations people spend all their time “hunting and gathering” for survival, instead of actually trying to look ahead and anticipate the needs of the customer.

With ELLI we change the climate so organisations can leave the frozen wasteland behind and build truly adaptive workplaces.

To talk to me about transforming your organisation with ELLI, please contact me.

Perspective is everything when it comes to your business climate

In the days following my presentation at BusinessAgility2017 in New York in February, I found myself being tagged with an unexpected nickname by attendees.

Three separate people approached me saying ‘Oh, you’re the ‘climate man’. It was amusing but not entirely surprising. It was clear to me by then that the part of my presentation that struck many of them had to do with the importance of climate in an organisation. I was the ‘climate man’ who changed the climate of organisations.

Management can’t ignore the storms below

Using the metaphor of the sky, land and the space in between, I noted how what happens in the climate directly affects what happens on the ground / workplace. If the workplace climate is welcoming, then that’s reflected in the work being done on the ground. If it’s cold, then that frigidity will likely adversely affect the workplace.

When I was talking about the concept during my talk, I heard approving murmuring from the audience, which was entirely understandable. In their working lives, I’m sure all of them had experienced the effects of both hostile and welcoming work climates and knew the impact on their ability to produce.

How do you know what needs changing in your business?

When working with an organisation on a change program, one of the first steps we take is the Climetrics survey.

We map out the many microclimates within the organisation to understand the root conditions of that climate and by doing so, find the best way forward.

Although it’s been presumed that the climate of an organisation is determined by the management at the top, we’ve actually found that not to be case. It’s a lot like taking a plane on a rainy day.  The weather changes to endless sunshine when the pilot brings the aircraft above the clouds. So it is with management. They are so far above the storms raging below them that they easily miss the turbulence at other levels of their organisation.

Does this sound like your organisation? If so, please get in touch to discuss how we can change your internal climate and make your business more adaptive at every level.

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

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.

Organisational transformation: handle with care

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I’ve seen user warnings on all manner of chemical products from floor cleaner to hair spray. And for good reason. You have to ensure the products are used the way they were meant to be if they are to work properly. If not, people can get hurt, or property can be damaged.

img_7373Wouldn’t it be great if the same cautions were given when it comes to implementing management methods?

There are countless off-the-shelf management programs organisations put in place – but with no clear direction. The problem may be with the methods themselves. But just as often the problems come from people not implementing the way they are supposed to.

I’ve walked into organisations that have invited us in to talk organisational transformation and the suspicion among staff is almost palpable. I understand why and appreciate the caution. They’ve likely been through a ‘change’ before, which fit their organisation like an off-the-rack suit –  complete with amateurish alterations.

When Lloyd Parry works with an organisation on an adaptive transformation, we assess the work climate before we do anything else. Why the work climate? Because, put simply, the quality of a work climate is a predictor of an organisation’s long-term profitability.

The work climate reveals the thinking, feelings and perceptions of staff, managers and leaders. Taking all that in, we then work to determine the change route map, an informed choice of the methods we will use with the organisation. Most importantly, we ensure all staff and managers are fully informed as to how to use the methods and approaches we teach to good effect.

We don’t have a warning label on our change transformations because we don’t offer our services in a kit with instructions. We oversee every aspect of our work in making a workplace adaptable.

And that’s what sets us apart.

To find out how we can transform your organisation, please get in touch with us.

Learning environments own the competitive edge

I think it’s safe to say that most employees like to know what they’re supposed to do at work. Without having a fairly specific idea of what’s expected it’s hard to identify, and easily get distracted from, mission-critical tasks.

In the old days this kind of muddling through the day was an accepted part of office life. But this isn’t the “old days” and management needs to adapt its style so that staff have deeper understanding of not only the “whats” of a job, but also the “whys.”

That’s because when there is an understanding of what is expected AND why it’s expected staff are themselves better prepared to adapt in order to accomplish goals rather than tasks.

Today, a productive work environment must see managers, strategists and staff learning at ever increasing rates. Just doing your job really isn’t enough. You must be experimenting, reconsidering processes and learning as you go. And you have to share that with your collaborators, within the organisation.

Sound impossible? Well not only is it possible, it’s becoming essential.

Learning is no longer a “nice-to-have” byproduct of work in an organisation. It’s a “need-to-have” outcome baked into every decision. The pace of change has created a business climate where customer needs demand a  real-time response.

Is it easy? No, not really. But it’s not impossible.

It requires personal commitments from staff and a careful redesign of the work environment –  the work climate –  to encourage, foster, and develop learning for everyone from the shop floor to the board room.

The end result is a much more dynamic environment where contributions from all players are valued. It’s also creates a culture where people want to work for those very reasons. Staff feel valued because they are in fact more valuable to the company.

At Lloyd Parry, we measure how well organisations learn at every level, identify learning gaps in the process and design change solutions to put learning on a competitive footing.

To explore how we can transform your organisation into a learning one, please get in touch.

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