Changing times has accelerated the inevitable. It has exposed underlying problems that were always there. It’s here and it’s about survival. Remember the good old days when you could take months or even years to make critical strategic decisions? Those days are gone. Decisions need to be made now and action taken immediately.
In order to survive the circumstances organisations find themselves in at the moment, change, adaptation and agility are essential skills. Not all organisational structures and cultures allow for these to occur without a great deal of discomfort and disruption. Current world events do not allow for the slow acceptance of the changes required, nor for the frequently glacial speed at which organisational practices, procedures and cultures adapt to circumstance. It is imperative that change is fast and permanent; it is the greatest tool towards organisational survival. But the change must be in the correct direction, placing the customers’ needs front and centre. It is only by using this as the rudder can we be sure that all successes, and failures, are in the right direction, allowing for the forward movement of the whole organisation.
With over a quarter of a century of combined experience, across many sectors and the globe, we are qualified and experienced to guide organisations through the process of change and adaptation. From the C suite level right down to operations, we don’t talk strategy, we just do it! We walk the journey with our clients side by side and make sure our hands are always in reach.
Organisation health versus performance
Traditionally how well an organisation is doing has been based on how well it is seen to be performing. This is a results-driven methodology focussing solely on output and results. How these results are achieved is seldom considered at all. A result of this can be that an organisation that is perceived as doing well is actually crumbling one step behind the good results. Not being aware of this until too late is a result of the fact that performance assessment is a lag indicator.
The moment something unexpected happens, as has happened worldwide in 2020, the structures creating these performance results are threatened or destroyed, resulting in failure of the entire organisation.
The alternative is the judging of an organisation on organisational health factors rather than performance. This is a forward looking method, or lead indicator, of assessing organisational wellbeing. Organisational health is an indicator of potential ongoing performance. Good performance will always follow good organisation health but, as has been illustrated in recent times, good performance is no indicator of good underlying organisational health.
As organisations reopen in the ever-decreasing level of lockdown, all businesses need to be aware of both their employee’s health and the overall health of the organisation.
The first step as we all emerge from the chaos of lockdown and reduced workforce, is to stablise. Organisations and employees need to settle into working in this new normal we all have to adapt to. There is no manual on how to do this – this is new to everyone. What we all need at this stage is partners we trust and with whom we can walk through this process. Staff must be re-equipped for the way in which things will be done, moving forward. No one can simply rehash the way things were and expect success on the new playing field.
In addition to processes that have to be modified and often recreated, so too does the organisational and individual mindset.
These changes must be experienced both collectively and individually. Facing uncertainty head on and dealing with it is no longer an optional extra; it has become a basic requirement for the survival of individual employment and organisational survival.
With a stabilised system and method of work an organisation develops resilience to the upsets that change can cause. Rather than being knocked over by change, the organisation can roll with the punches, changing and developing as necessary to accommodate shifting circumstances and requirements.
THE LENS OF THE CUSTOMER
The need to change to meet modern requirements has been accelerated beyond all expectations by recent global events.
It is essential that any organisation wanting to survive recognises and meets their clients’ true needs and wants. Organisations must do what needs to be done to deliver value and provide the service or products required.
An important step towards this is integration between the customer journey and how your people deliver that. In other words, what is the work that needs to be done to deliver value to a customer?
How does the organisation reorient itself around the customer’s genuine needs making sure there is integration between the customer needs and internal operations?
Everything must be viewed through the lens of the customer. In many cases, the way you operate may have to change in order to allow the customer to both come first and perceive themselves as coming first.
FAIL FAST, FAIL FORWARD, FAIL CHEAPLY
All of this change requires the development of an intrinsic ability to adapt. And part of this process of being able to adapt is being able to both fail and learn from those failures. A successful organisation will have intrinsic agility; the ability to make quick decisions, move fast, and adapt and grow as and when required.
Failure is not a stumbling block if the organisation fails fast and fails forward. The getting up point after a fall must always be ahead of the falling point. When you get back up you are still in front of where you were when you failed.
For many, the reality is that entire businesses and/or operating procedures will need to be redesigned to be fit for the emerging future. This may include innovative, new and disruptive business models.
Organisations must be able to do this, and each individual within the organisation contributes to the overall intrinsic agility required for survival. Heads, hearts and hands must be shifted towards agility, along with a flux mindset that views change as opportunity and embraces the possibilities it offers.
The culture of any organisation is a combination of attitude, behaviour, artifacts and rituals at team and individual level. Changing the culture of an organisation will require more than just words on a wall, change in mindset, behaviours and practices are required. Leaders will be required to be fearless, resilient and adaptive. They need to lead the way through a systemic culture change journey that will move the organisation towards a more adaptive culture, by having its employees act in these ways. Quite literally, the culture can be acted into existence.
As soon as the systemic changes are implemented and acted upon, momentum is created. The resultant positive feedback loop sustains and strengthens the culture of agility, organisational health and resulting good performance indicators.
Quality thinking on its own will not yield the desired impact. At this time it is important to incubate and create both the right mindsets and culture in an organisation. Off that platform quality thinking can catapult into quality action and execution, ultimately delivering the results that are required to ensure sustainable organisational health.