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Adaptability transformation and the end of silos

People often ask me how adaptive workplaces are different from the one in which they work.

It’s a decent question. We become so blind to the current set-up, it can be hard to imagine another way. My job is to describe where I see the business currently and paint a picture of where it would be if it were to become truly adaptable.  

Departmental silos are also rigidly enforced, which leads to resource hoarding and unnecessary internal competition between teams, departments and even divisions that discourage knowledge sharing and ending up with a business of mini-companies opposing from within. Instead of fighting our competitors we end up fighting ourselves.

Siloed thinking has little to do with thinking at all. It’s merely a system where managers are encouraged to spend too much time looking within the silo rather than seeing the customers and how they can combine forces with their colleagues and beat the competition.

After an adaptability transformation, the silos disappear, why? We refuse to think in the old way anymore. Sharing resources between departments is not argued over by department heads. That discussion happens at the level where the work gets done, much lower down by the people who endure the pain.

And whereas before business units fought to protect their territory and assets, in an adaptive environment, rewards come to those who collaborate and share resources to meet the needs of customers and the business.

Further, the decision making doesn’t have seventeen different levels of approval up and down the corporate food chain, again, it happens at the level the work gets done.

But there’s a snag; this means managers must trust staff and just as importantly teams must trust managers especially when things go wrong, we must all learn by brain-storming and resist the temptation to blame-storm.

Only knowing how your own team and department runs prevents everyone seeing how the whole organisation works and collaborates and how you can contribute to the big picture. You must also learn how all other parts of the operation work to enable cross-functional collaboration and problem-solving. The efforts of other departments are your concern, not just another box on the org chart.

As an outcome, a more expansive view of the organisation emerges for all to see. There are still organisational structures in place, but often they become transparent, with the work taking much more importance than under whose hand it is.

The so-called progressive management thinking of decades past used to talk about thinking outside of the box. In an adaptive organisation, we must now work outside of the box.

To start the discussion about transforming your organisation into an adaptive one, please contact us.

Radical-reorganisations

Stopping an Adaptable change program a dangerous proposition

Putting an Adaptability program in place in an organisation is a bit like a farmer planting seeds and tending to the fields over the summer in anticipation of a great fall harvest. There’s a starting point and an end point. But a lot of things have to happen in between.

And if halfway through the growing season the farmer suddenly decides they don’t want to grow the crop they planted and pull it all up, all the preparations are wasted with nothing to harvest in the autumn.

Of course no farmer in his right mind would rip up his field halfway through the growing season. But unfortunately when it comes to change programs, organisations are notorious for plowing under programs before they’ve had a chance to bear fruit.

I recall working with an organisation during a change transformation when seven out of eight senior managers were dismissed from the company.

That in itself shouldn’t necessarily spell the end of a change process – but it usually does.

It generally comes down to egos. The men and women brought in to take over instinctively presume that projects championed by their predecessors are part of the reason they they were let go. As such, the first order of business is to take things in the opposite direction.

To be fair, new hires are almost always expected to make changes. Unfortunately, in the haste to make an impact, they often set forth on a campaign of destruction to distance themselves from the previous regime.

It’s the modern equivalent of defacing the statues of the last pharaoh – and just about as thoughtful.

But halting an Adaptable transformation during implementation can be disastrous on two fronts.

Adaptability programs are about growing people and if a new management regime halts a program midway through, the achievements that have occurred simply wither on the vine.

It also breaks the social contract  organisations make with the employees during the change. That unwritten contract stipulates that management will look after staff and invest in their future in exchange for the employees investing their careers with management. And if that contract isn’t kept the employees will leave.

Some of them have almost no choice. Because once change agents in an organisation find themselves back in a command and control environment without a change agenda, they leave.

To learn how Lloyd Parry International can transform your organisation into an adaptive culture using our Adaptive Business Framework please get in touch.

When middleware becomes muddleware

How many times have you fixed something with an improvised solution? Probably more often than you might guess. It’s amazing how useful a paperclip or safety pin can be when repurposed to hold together things other than paper or a piece of cloth.

But we know that eventually that paper clip is going to give out and we’re going to have to address the problem with a proper fix.

If using a makeshift solution to solve a problem seems odd to you, consider how it happens in our professional lives.

How many times have you tried to communicate with someone’s Mac using a Windows computer? When it works it’s because of something called middleware.

Middleware acts as a software patch that allows these two technically incompatible technologies to communicate with each other – and help us get our work done.  

I see the middleware approach fairly often in organisations that have agile or adaptive working areas within them. The organisations themselves are command and control in management style but have divisions that are agile or adaptive. These areas need to work within the larger corporate structure so they employ a ‘middleware’ approach to make it happen.

The problem with this approach is the same as with the paper clip analogy. It isn’t a solution so much as a workaround. In the end, the middleware becomes what I call, muddleware.

Invariably a solution to this botched communication and organisational interaction is attempted which adds to the muddle. It’s a wasted effort because energy is being put into building a better paper clip, not a real solution.

The only real solution is to make the entire organisation adaptive. But this is easier said than done. When faced with the need to change an organisation to an adaptive or agile footing, management generally prefers to stick with organisational middleware, like a tattered security blanket.

And of course this never works. The real solution comes into stark view the more its avoided.

Talk to Lloyd Parry about how to uninstall the muddleware in your company through ‘Adaptive’ business and organisational design.

Ten police officers and one man with a baseball bat: a Lean story

A few years back when we were working with a UK police force on a Lean transformation project, we put some staff from the IT department in police cruisers with officers for ride-alongs.

In one instance an IT person was able to witness first hand how a communications failure turned a minor neighborhood incident into a major tie-up of police resources.

First some basic info about the command and control system at headquarters. The system handled and recorded incoming information from 999 calls before assessing the situation and dispatching officers to the scene.

In this instance the IT person was in the car when a call come over the radio about 12 youths on a residential street squaring off against each other with sticks and bats. The officer, realizing he’s closest to the scene, asks for more information.

But the dispatcher comes back on and tells him that his system just died and no more information is available.

So the officer sizes up the situation based on the information he has. He’s in a car with some IT guy and he has to decide if he’s going to deal with 12 people swinging bats alone. Well of course he wasn’t go to go into that kind of a situation alone. He’s a police officer, not Batman.

So he calls for backup and goes to a location near the residential area where he will rendezvous with his back up and prepare to engage. In total there are five patrol cars, ten officers, a dog handler, two big dogs of course and a Land Rover.

They’re ready to go in like gangbusters.

And they do. But what they discover is a little different than what the initial report had indicated. Instead of a dozen youths ready to wreck the neighbourhood, they find one drunk guy with a baseball bat yelling at his neighbours from a window in his house.

It sounds like a funny anecdote. But it was really a disaster. Because of the system failure at headquarters, ten officers in five patrol cars were pulled away from other duties. Not to mention the police dogs and their handler.

I say it was a disaster because if those resources were needed anywhere else during that time frame, they would have been unavailable. And given the life and death nature of some police calls, it could have resulted in a very bad outcome at another crime scene.

In the end it was a simple matter of the system being down for five minutes. A quick call to IT and it was fixed. While a solution was eventually put in place to eliminate such outages, it brought home to the police force management just how important their IT department was to the organisation. And it showed the IT person in the car how important their contribution was to keeping the streets safe.

More specifically, the IT department staff saw the importance of ensuring what they do had a clear line of sight to customer outcomes.  The IT department changed their attitude towards their work and made them see their IT job as more than just fixing the force’s technology. In fact, they came to see it was about keeping police officers and the public safe.

They put in a system to link all IT work that included not a strong view as to why the smooth running of the system was key to customer outcomes.

If you would like to have Lloyd Parry work on a Lean solution with your organisation, please get in touch.

Radical-reorganisations

Stopping a Lean change program is a dangerous proposition

Putting a Lean change program in place in an organisation is a bit like a farmer planting seeds and tending to the fields over the summer in anticipation of a great fall harvest. There’s a starting point and an end point. But in between a lot of things have to happen.

And if halfway through the growing season the farmer suddenly decides they don’t want to grow the crop they planted and pull it all up, all the preparations are wasted and there will be nothing to harvest in the autumn.

Of course no farmer in his right mind would rip up his field halfway through the growing season. But unfortunately when it comes to change programs, organisations are notorious for plowing under programs before they’ve had a chance to bare fruit.

I recall working with an organisation during a Lean change transformation when seven out of eight senior managers were dismissed from the company.

That in itself shouldn’t necessarily spell the end of a change process but it usually does.

It generally comes down to egos. The men and women brought in to take over instinctively presumed that the projects championed by their predecessors was part of the reason they they were let go. And so the first order of business was to take things in the opposite direction. To be fair new hires are almost always expected to make changes.  Unfortunately in the haste to make an impact, they often set forth on a campaign of destruction to distance themselves from the previous regime.

It’s the modern equivalent of defacing the statues of the last pharaoh – and just about as thoughtful.

But halting a Lean transformation during implementation can be disastrous on two fronts.

Lean programs are about growing people and if a new management regime halts a program midway through, the achievements that have occurred simply wither on the vine.

It also breaks the social contract  organisations make with the employees during the change. That unwritten contract stipulates that management will look after staff and invest in their future in exchange for the employees investing their careers with management. And if that contract isn’t kept the employees will leave.

Some of them have almost no choice. Because once change agents in an organisation find themselves back in a command and control environment without a change agenda, they leave.

To talk to Lloyd Parry about change for your organisation, please get in touch.

Do we need an Ethical Framework in the Software Development and IT Business?

Stephen Parry 1st Grant Rule Talk Transcript

 

The Grant Talks

Even though many of us work in a world of analysis, data and detailed measurements, Grant never forgot what it was all for, he challenged everyone to help people do better work, improve themselves along with their companies and societies, to realise their human potential to create possibilities for a better life.

So how do we respond to his challenge? How can we influence companies who are simply concerned with shareholder capital without respect for human capital starting with the software development business?

The Grant Rule Trust. The Trust will be seeking to promulgate the insights into effective business practice discovered or inspired by Grant through a series of “Grant Talks” www.grantrule.org

    

 By Stephen Parry

Author of Sense and Respond

Grant Rule Memorial Talk Number One    

UK Software Metrics Association 23rd Annual Conference: 21st Century Metrics

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Do we need an Ethical Framework in the Software Development and IT Business?

Social Capital

I want to make this notion of ‘social capital’ and changing the lives of people by changing the work environment, particularly software development and IT environments, the main theme for today.

When discussing software development, Grant talked about issues like technical debt, he worked very hard to reduce it by creating and teaching methods to produce software products that worked with little or no rework, that meet the needs of customers and the business.  When he did so, he kept stressing that the work climate needed to foster respect for people, create a blame-free approach and even eradicate fear in the workplace.  This way, software developers could become creative, innovative and adaptive.

Purposeful measurement

Unfortunately, software and IT measurement and development methods in the hands of a particular management style and approach, ones that tend to treat knowledge work as if it were a commodity, is sadly all too common.  Often there are well-intentioned managers who use software and IT measures for the wrong purposes, applying them in order to create work intensification, to assign blame and target under-performing staff.  The wrong measurement applied for the wrong reasons in the wrong way often results in the wrong people being placed in the wrong……. read more….

Download the full transcription here.Stephen Parry 1st Grant Rule Talk transcript