Beyond traditional organisational resilience

In business, organisational resilience often relates to ensuring services and operations are maintained, or return to their current state after a period of instability.

However, there is an extension of resilience that organisations can utilise to continuously evolve, find new stable states and rapidly seek novel opportunities.

These benefits can result from intended low exposure to instability that would otherwise be too brand damaging in high degrees.

Examples of types of organisational resilience

Barclays: Resilience testing used to ensure existing service & operations are maintained

Sainsbury’s: Rapidly improved proposition using customer complaints feedback after intentional closure of an in-store bakery

Netflix: Increases resilience from purposeful disruption of infrastructure – Chaos Monkey

Domino’s (USA): In 2010, recovered brand image through a self-critical ad campaign

Walmart: During Hurricane Katrina crisis, Walmart used their logistics capability to provide disaster relief to local communities; thus capitalising on this Black Swan event

Stabilise rapidly and exploit new learning

Whether instability is intentional or a result of external factors, organisations should be structured to rapidly respond, and capitalise on new understanding

References

Barclays: Reference on request

Sainsbury’s: Contact Dean Latchana

Netflix: Chaos Monkey

Domino’s (USA): How Domino’s Pizza Reinvented Itself

Walmart: How Wal-Mart used Hurricane Katrina to repair its image

Find out more

Resilient Organizations: How to Survive, Thrive and Create Opportunities Through Crisis and Change – Erica Seville (2016)

Antifragile – Nassim Taleb (2012)

My mini-series of articles on organisational resilience (2018)

I’m available to deliver a talk on Agile and Organisational Resilience.

Contact Dean Latchana to learn more about how organisations can benefit from intentional disruption and crises.
(dean@latchana.co.uk)

Talk: The rise and fall of an agile transformation

This talk will be given in London at Aginext.io 2019 on 22 March 2019.


The rise and fall of an agile transformation

And the green shoots of recovery

A bittersweet true story

It was going so well. The CEO had recognised business agility as critically relevant to the organisation. A FTSE 100 organisation that’s served its customers for 150 years. A firm whose market share is now threatened by cheaper competition, technology upstarts and market forces.

The CEO had appointed a powerful Director of Transformation to battle against the corporate bear. The transformation programme had assembled 10 courageous lieutenants to build, test and learn how to create opportunities amounting to several £100m.

The delivery teams were proving business agility was possible outside the confines of IT. They were autonomous, had leadership protection and delivered value within weeks. They were mavericks, and they were winning….

Yet, within 12-months the embryonic transformation programme was engulfed by the slower corporation. The CEO had bigger fish to fry. The leadership team went their separate ways. The transformation principles become no more than wistful memories and words printed on a rolled-up abandoned poster.

Yet, like a phoenix rising from the ashes, there are early signs of revival….

Come to this talk to hear this true story of a plucky band of agile transformation pioneers attempting the impossible of moving an organisation across the chasm.

You’ll get lessons and advice from a transformation coach that was in the thick of it.

S.I.L.L.Y Organisations

S is for Structure

With its functional silos, the structure of our organisations is not effective in creating an environment for shared intent, cross-functional collaboration and synchronisation.

Create small, colocated, full-time, cross-disciplined, self-managing, long-lasting teams that continuously deliver value directly to our organisations’ customers and clients.

I is for Incentives

We often incentivise, reward and recognise individuals and departments with little regard to whether they’ve worked alongside others to ensure value is delivered end-to-end.

Instead, we should evaluate performance holistically and with peer feedback for learning and development. We should reward shared success against the competition.

L is for Leadership

As leaders, we are often schooled in, and then perpetuate ways of working that are a legacy of 19th-century manufacturing and 20th-century cost-driven centralisation. This may be appropriate for managing from a distance and at scale.

However, it’s not fit-for-purpose for most 21st-century business endeavours where organisations need to become value-driven and sense & respond to market conditions. As leaders, we should know teams need to be devolved, yet have a more involved leadership that coaches and aligns teams.

L is for Losing Time

Too often organisations lose 80% of their time trying to deliver what is in reality only 20% of the value.

Instead, our organisations should be spending, at most, 20% of their time determining whether there’s potential to realise 80% of the value. Test assumptions, challenge convictions, and course-correct before spending 20% of the time and budget.

If, despite best efforts, the value cannot be realised, pull the plug on the work without delay, regroup, reflect and set off in a new direction.

Embody the principles of Action before Perfection and Delivering Value Early and Often

Y is for Yesterday

In a fast-changing world, yesterday’s success is no guarantee for future success.

Check out Barry O’Reilly book Unlearn.

S, I, L, L and Y spells SILLY.

Each point represents the often unquestioned reality of many of our organisations. It hampers Business Agility – the ability of an organisation to continuously sense and respond to its environment in order to fulfil its mission.

We need to be bold, ask challenging questions and co-discover ways to create organisations that support our colleagues to deliver value to customers, clients and civil society.

Email or call me to discuss.
dean@latchana.co.uk
+447801 953 120

A letter to a future client

Recently a potential client approached me about starting an engagement following some agile training I provided to their leadership team.

Although they’re very keen to get me on board, I wanted to check whether they were ready to work with me to uncover and deliver profound change to the organisation; change that is likely to make many leaders uncomfortable and sceptical.

Here’s what I wrote to them. I’ve anonymised identifying details.

From: Dean Latchana

Sent: 19 October 2018 11:26

To: xxx

Subject: Thoughts on joining [company]

Hi xxx,

Thank you for the offer for me to join [company].

In order for me to truly help the organisation, and know if I’d be a good fit, I’d like to understand the potential appetite for fairly profound organisational change.

It’s likely we’d need to review and change some fundamental expectations of how [company] is structured, how colleagues work together and how they’re led.

As we explored during the training, regardless of business ‘silos’, we need to consider creating more cross-functional small teams who sit together, potentially alongside their clients.

Regarding the clients, we may need to put more focus on collaboration, co-discover and joint experimentation to drive toward shared outcomes, and therefore put less emphasis on expected pre-defined deliverables.

We should also examine and change the traditional role of leaders. Changing them from defining pre-determined deliverables in a top-down manner. We probably need to coach leaders to embrace uncertainty in terms of how [company] competes, serves its clients and in terms of the natural uncertainty of innovation. Leadership probably need to switch to a governance structure which supports empowered delivery teams who continuously pivot or terminate initiatives as insight is gathered.

We need to consider how budgets are set. In a complex business environment, budgets probably shouldn’t be set on a 12-month cycle with pre-defined targets and resource allocations. To increase agility, innovation and competitiveness, we need to consider delivery teams having access to the “bank” where initiatives are frequently reviewed and financed on the strength of their latest insights and ROI.

We need to work with HR and Recruitment to ensure we have the right colleagues who have the right mindset to not only refine BAU operations, but also develop a mindset of exploration where there’s an appetite for ambiguity and delivering business outcomes at pace.

We probably need to visualise existing work at a portfolio level. An enterprise portfolio view will help us decide where to put emphasis, and quickly terminate any ongoing initiatives which aren’t delivering value now or in the future. At the portfolio level, we should consider creating a balanced scorecard that monitors existing ROI and potential ROI.

There’s plenty more we can explore and I’m saying all this without understanding [company] in great detail. However, what I’ve said gives a flavour of what we may need to change in order for [company] to operate effectively, serve its clients and compete.

Do you think my role will have the c-suite support for us to seriously consider these profound changes?

No doubt there’ll be hesitancy and some scepticism, however tactics are available for the leadership team to learn and adjust these new ways of working.

Best,
Dean