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.