Friday, November 12, 2010

Winning During the Slog - Part 5 - Create an Adapting Culture: When It Can Go Wrong

(from Issues for Growth Vol.19, No.17)

This is the fifth of a series of articles about how companies and individuals are winning during the “The Long, Slow, Hard Economic Slog” that we are in (Issues for Growth Vol. 19, No.13). This article is written by Chris Carosella who works with The Mead Consulting Group. – DPM

Signs and slogans won’t do it. A healthcare CEO thought he could quickly transform his company’s culture by having a couple of meetings about “let’s become an adapting company!” He put up a bunch of posters, put “ADAPT” on every agenda, and waited for the transformation. What he didn’t do was ask employees what adapting meant to them, how they’d do things differently every day if they were adapting instead of changing, what did they expect of the management team, and what kind of training/development did they need to be able to achieve at high levels. When nothing changed, he blamed the employees.

Other factors that can derail the ability to adapt are:

· Leaders/key influencers who are rigid and concrete in their thinking tend to have the most difficulty in adapting. It’s not easy for them to let go of control or work outside comfortable patterns.

· Companies that operate in crisis and chaos mode are full of destructive behaviors: frustration, anger, fatigue, and apathy. There are too many activities, along with a lack of focus on the right activities.

· Organizations don’t adapt. People do. Or they don't. If employees don't trust the leadership team, don't share the organization's vision, don't buy into the ability to adapt, and aren't included in the planning, you will not be successful, regardless of how brilliant your strategy.

· For today's skeptical employees, rhetoric without action quickly disintegrates into empty slogans. If you don’t walk the talk of creating an adaptive culture at the highest levels, you will not succeed.

No company can afford to waste human talent. Every talent, every idea, every skill is needed urgently if companies are to survive and thrive. The potential of the workforce to adapt to any possible scenario or opportunity really is the company's greatest asset. Now is the time to build an adapting organization so you can reach sustainable, profitable growth in a culture of achievement. If you wait for the right time, it’s already too late. The window of opportunity has never had narrower or shorter open time.

Companies underestimate the importance of culture to their continued success. This is especially true of companies that have enjoyed early success based on product or technology acceptance.

“Corporate culture can have a significant impact on long-term economic performance. Un-adaptive cultures will have an even larger negative financial impact in the coming decade.” John Kotter & James Heskett, Harvard Business School, Corporate Culture and Performance

Your success depends on achieving the desired results for your company. Companies are recognizing that, in order to succeed during “the slog,” the current and future economic environment calls for a dramatic difference. Companies are enjoying success using the RapidAdaptÔ process. Adapt means to Accelerate Decisions Attitudes and Processes in Time so that you can stay ahead of competitive, client, and company challenges. The purpose of RapidAdaptÔ is to help you develop the ability to constantly adapt strategies and tactics in order to create sustainable success in any environment. It’s not just a strategy process. Employees learn how to create an adapting culture with a sense of urgency instead of complacency. That, in turn, creates a continuous learning culture with accountability at all levels of the company.

Some companies are experiencing significant “new thinking” results. What are you doing to change how you think about your business and create a culture of adaptability? Post your comments.

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