Yesterday i explored the need for constant adaptation as part of the Dynamic Change process: today, i just want to expand that discussion a little further. The notion that we are not adapting once to fit a new reality, but rather are engaged in constant ‘sense making‘ conversations and constant micro adaptations to suit the new ecosystem. The selective pressures we face exert force for change that needs to be responded to over time, not in one big leap, and which needs careful experimentation, review and active storytelling to embed into our tacit wisdom. In other words: to learn through change, we need to actively structure what we do and how we embed the knowledge.
The Dynamic Change process that i was walking through starts by Framing the change, then co-creating solutions, carrying out a series of adaptations (which we measure the outcomes of) and sharing the story of success and failure. It’s a version of a plan-do-review cycle, or an Action Research approach. The point though is to ensure that the energy required to do it is very low: by which i mean that an organisation achieving true agility will be able to run at this speed without getting out of breath.
If we have to work hard to be agile, we are not agile. If we are out of breath, it indicates that we are operating out of our optimised behavioural space. We are making special efforts towards agility, which is ok as a starting point, but the purpose of training is to change our bodies and minds to be better suited to purpose. So, in time, these activities should become part of our core fitness, something we can take in our stride.
This adaptation is consists of a combination of factors: partly mindset, partly system and process, partly community and partly permission. But, without a doubt, it’s largely about change: a change which requires a recognition that change is necessary in the first place.
One of the other notions i’ve been looking at within the Change Curve framework is the ways in which change is manifested within an organisation. Is it Resisted, Constrained or Dynamic? The Resistant organisation is easy to spot, either from the outside or within, as, indeed, is the Dynamic one. What’s harder to diagnose is the Constrained organisation, and yet it’s likely that most organisations sit within this space. The Constrained organisation thinks that it’s agile, thinks that it’s Dynamic, and yet it’s betrayed by it’s actions and ultimate lack of momentum. Don’t get me wrong: Constrained organisations do change, but they do so slowly and become out of breath in the process. I spoke to someone in a large bank recently who described her organisation as being ‘tired of change‘, exhausted at the end of the long run. And yet, in the scheme of things, they were truly only at the start of their change journey.
If we view change as the exception, we are destined to exhaustion. If we view it as core to our business, and train hard to get fit, it’s effortless.
In part, this comes down to investment: where people and entities are invested in the current state, where they are invested in the lethargy, they hold us back. When they carry out activities outside the norm, it’s exhausting, requiring dedicated effort. Only by investing in the future state, with our intent, our expertise and our actions, can we become agile.