Most traditional improvement tools and strategies are frequently ineffective and in many cases are applied for the wrong reasons. This isn't to say, however, that you have to reinvent the wheel in order to be adaptive. Many tools, when used in an adaptive business strategy - such as Business Agility, Lean, and Agile, can help you unlock entirely new capabilities and equip your workforce with the abilities it needs to face new demands, head-on. You must diagnose your business, make a prognosis, and create a work-climate that quickly adapts if your business is going to thrive.
How adaptive is your organisation or any organisation for that matter? This is a difficult question to answer without a thorough diagnosis or analysis of your current adaptability in several key areas of the business.
Most organisations find they perform better in some areas more than others, and this is to be expected, so long as these are the right areas for the organisation to take advantage of change as an asset. No business will achieve a perfect score, because, of course, change forces an organisation to continually change its parameters. However, the willingness to regularly diagnose adaptability performance in all these areas is a hallmark of an adaptive business.
The main areas in which an adaptive culture will positively affect your ability to react to change are:
- Operating strategy
- Operating structures
- Managment practices
- Work-climate, that is the combined perceptions, feelings and behaviours of staff, managers and leaders
- General service performance, considering all aspects of production and / or service delivery
- Ability to innovate and change your practices
- Customer engagement
- 'Sense and Adapt' distributed leadership style
Carrying out regular and thorough diagnoses in all these areas provides insight into the factors that affect your operational performance. You could think of it as an overview of your work-climate.
Diagnosis reveals a snapshot of your organisation from which an adaptability score may be assigned if using a system such as our Climetrics® This is where the real work begins, because from the current state of the business, clear predictions can be made about where it is likely to end up. You may or may not be pleased with this prognosis, but it empowers you to make informed decisions and set out a long-term plan to profitability and greater performance.
The prognosis may reveal room for improvement and potential outcomes in any of the following areas:
- Service delivery outcomes
- Employee performance
- Workforce job satisfaction
- The ability to implement changes and quality improvements.
Once a general prognosis is known, concrete actions can be put in place. However, for an adaptive business, these changes are not knee-jerk corporate reorganisations. Sinking back into this way of thinking will only perpetuate a vicious cycle. Instead, an adaptive business uses the insights from its prognosis to rapidly adapt their organisational work-climate.
These actions are by their nature bespoke to individual organisations, and here we blur the line between what an adaptive organisation looks like and how to implement these changes. For now, let's see what an adaptive culture might look like from an outsider's perspective visiting an organisation:
- Engaging and Understanding: An adaptive business can understand, define and lock on to customer needs, adopting new technologies and processes as appropriate to improve service or product delivery.
- Learning and Sharing: As an organisation becomes more adaptive, it becomes more open to change being an opportunity for learning. This allows such organisations to make better sense of their customers' requirements and identify what they need to rapidly change internally in response. Adaptability also creates new ways of sharing information throughout the organisation and with its partners and wider market.
- Leading and Choosing: An adaptive organisation is strongly positioned for change leadership at all levels and for making reasoned cases for improvement. All participants in an organisation are empowered to lead and innovate in a creative way, not just senior management.
- Improving and Adapting: An adaptive organisation can quickly act and implement improvements and innovations to better serve their customers and to take advantage of opportunities.
In an adaptive business, all employees can play a part as creative problem solvers and critical thinkers. Rather than decisions being the sole domain of a few managers and directors, 'smarting up' your teams enables you to delegate the creative decision-making process to a broader net of individuals.
If you're involved in a business transformation or embarking upon one -- Agility, Lean, Agile and others, and would like one-to-one advice on creating an adaptive, dynamic business, please contact us for a free consultation.