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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.

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Adaptability in motion: a simple small example

How does adaptability work? How does it make a business more profitable? I get asked those and related questions almost daily.

Let me give you an answer by way of an example. I once worked with a parcel shipping company looking to find differentiation on their core business: package delivery.

Working with them, we came to realise they needed to start having different conversations with their customers.

Here’s how their business was run. Staff would typically drive to a customer who’d called for a pickup. The customer hands them a package that has been estimated in weight and cost. The courier would then bring it back to the office where it would be weighed again. If it was different – and it often was – they had to call the customer to find out how to proceed. If they couldn’t get in touch with the customer, they drove the parcel back to the customer to talk in person. About 24 hours was wasted in this process as well as a lot of the customer’s patience.

We did some research and came up with some solutions. The customer errors in calculating weights for their parcels was due to their lack of a weigh scale. So we gave the couriers scales to bring along when picking up the packages. We also had the couriers show customers how to properly pack items to get the least expensive rate. If the customer didn’t have the appropriate materials, the driver would bring in packing materials to assist.

They basically turned the driver into a customer service specialist. Pretty soon they would see other packages with the customer and ask why they weren’t shipping with their company. If the reason was shipping cost, they would source pricing for them often to find they were cheaper. They would even offer to do the complex import / export paperwork if necessary.

The courier took our recommendations, implemented them and increased their local revenue by 25 percent overnight.

Further, their proactive courier customer contact ended up growing the account.

They had underestimated their couriers. Originally hired to drive from location A to B, they more than rose to the challenge of their new customer-focussed roles.

Is that how all adaptable change processes work? No, not at all. They are as different as one business is from another.

To talk with Lloyd Parry about how to transform your business into an adaptable one and increase profitability, please get in touch.

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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.

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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.

Redefining success with Adaptability a sea change for some organisations

When working with clients as they strive to build more adaptable organisations, I’ve found that it often takes time to realign their view of IT to fit the new dynamic. It’s almost like learning a second language.

Consider the case of a police service I was working with. They had an IT department and when they did upgrades, they were very focussed on how the technology worked –  which was ostensibly their departmental mandate.

But we saw the technology very differently. We looked at it through the lens of how it would impact service delivery levels, policing stats and ultimately, how it affected their customer: the public. That vision was quite a drastic shift from simply making sure the equipment was working!

We saw that when the department was setting their targeted strategies for three-years out, five-years out and even further, the technology they were implementing wasn’t aligned to meeting those goals.

They would look at a new piece of technology and talk about how it’s going to save X amount of money in the budget, or save X amount of time in productivity.

Those are valuable considerations of course, but only to a degree. Doing a project, for example, that would save 100 man hours a week of policing time wasn’t enough in our eyes. We needed create a linkage between the technology and how it could make a real difference in their stated goals – whether that be an increase domestic abuse prosecutions by 10 percent, or reduced night crime in under 18s by 15 percent.

We also needed to make sure they understood the need to adapt and change as crime rates rose or dropped.

We worked to get them to appreciate the outcomes of an adaptable transformation in terms of having a very tangible impact on service to their customers. Once they came to see how this expanded view of how technology connected with their stats and public perception of the force, we’d made a breakthrough.

Getting this – and other – organisations to appreciate the positive impact of Adaptiveness on both service levels and financials continues to be an inspiration.

To talk to Lloyd Parry about how we can transform your organisation through Adaptiveness, 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.

Adaptability is the new core competency

It used to be that management skills were passed along from superiors, well aware of how an organization worked based on established institutional knowledge. The formula was simple:  Take past management strategies, tweak and adjust for current realities and then manage. It’s an approach that was packaged, taught and executed with ease.

But we all know that approach just doesn’t work anymore.  The past doesn’t matter as much as it once did. And for very good reason. Traditional management strategies are based on a very different business and organizational reality.

It wasn’t that long ago that the pace of change was such that any response to shifts in the marketplace was executed with a slow, thoughtful, and considered approach. Contrast that to the sense of urgency that comes with improved data monitoring that shows customer satisfaction ebbing and flowing in real time.

Improvements in technology will only continue to accelerate. And if an organization tries to go forward by embracing the strategies of its past, then it is setting itself up for a slow decline to obscurity.

Today’s successful companies don’t view adaptability as a ‘nice to have’ business strategy. For them it is an essential element to business success and longevity.

An organization must recognize, respond and adapt to challenges on an ongoing basis, if they are to succeed and thrive.

That noted, adaptability isn’t just something that can be overlaid on an organization. The organization must learn to make adaptability its core competency, woven into the work culture in a meaningful way. It must be the instinctive first reaction when faced with external challenges.

Lloyd Parry have worked with many types of organizations on transforming their work cultures into adaptability marvels.

Please get in touch to talk about having me speak to your organization or conference about adaptability as a core competency.

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A3 thinking guides managers from thinking to doing

One of the more popular workshops I conduct has to do with the A3 decision making process

It’s popularity isn’t surprising. Many managers at all levels know well how challenging it can be to manage a steady flow of data and information coming to you from a myriad of sources.

A3 thinking pulls that info apart separating the noise from the really useful information. Adapting an A3 process provides a structured problem-solving mindset to guide you and your staff to the best solution.

First developed at Toyota, A3  Thinking is a process is now applied to just about any management conundrum. However It is especially effective at helping understand and solve complex, cross-functional, and chronic problems.

The A3 Thinking process helps you:

  • Make rapid, iterative steps toward improvement and problem solving
  • Surface issues and problems in a way that avoids blaming individuals
  • Cut through the noise and/or misleading information to get the facts
  • Be clear with your team about priorities and responsibilities
  • Quickly develop a problem solving mindset in your staff to take responsibility for improvement

At Lloyd-Parry, we engage with companies at all levels to demonstrate just how effective A3 is in empowering management environments to move ahead smartly and quickly when sourcing solutions.

If you are interested in A3, Lloyd-Parry is interested in talking to you about workshops and educational sessions. Please be in touch by clicking here.