When I was a CEO, I knew I needed co-pilots around my executive table. Piloting a business in an environment of increasingly fast-paced turbulence, with such high stakes decision making and so many strategy, execution, and leadership challenges, requires Collective Intelligence in the cockpit. I was running high technology aerospace hardware and software companies, serving […]Continue reading
10 Steps to an Adaptive Culture for your business
Change in business is a constant, of course, but these days it seems the ups and downs of business are becoming more extreme and happening faster.
An atmosphere of technological shifts, expanded competition, ever-changing regulation, and rapid globalization are getting layered atop political insecurity and a global pandemic. The result: increasing numbers of businesses suffering from a lack of growth in revenue, profit, and job creation.
According to Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species, the species that survives is the one that is able best to adapt and adjust to the changing environment in which it finds itself. Which suggests only businesses able to adapt to this rapidly changing environment will thrive.
Challenges demanding increased innovation must be met successfully to create not only a strong culture, but greater long-term economic performance.
Here are the top 10 ways you can build an adaptive culture in your organization:
- Create a sense of crisis. This will help your team members to develop an esprit de corps, recognize the need for change, and help successfully foster options for new directions in which to take the business.
- Communicate consistently and broadly. You need to be talking to your team as well as to your customers, and remember that if you haven’t sold your team on the importance of the organization’s success, they won’t be out in the world selling the company for you.
- Display an “outsiders” propensity to embrace change and new ideas. New opinions are usually opposed merely because they’re different. You can prevent your business from getting stuck in the mud (and eventually failing) by opening yourself to new ideas, regardless of where they originate from.
- Reinforce the importance of innovation. Got those new ideas? Now you need to do three things to keep the company moving forward:
- IMPLEMENT: Look at those new ideas and run with the best of them.
- MODIFY: Find the ideas where your reaction is “If only…” and find a way to tweak them to make them winners.
- REWARD: Motivate team members or friends of the organization to continue a stream of productive concepts with a financial incentive or gift card as a reward for their help.
- Build and maintain an “insiders” credibility. Even as you’re examining the organization as if you were an outsider, make sure everyone recognizes you know this operation from top to bottom. This will give you the credibility of one able to initiate new ideas AND see them through to fruition.
- Institute a balanced focus on success. Every business has multiple stakeholders to be considered with every major decision. Customers, employees, and share owners all need to come out feeling they “won,” and shortchanging any of them could make you and the organization a loser.
- Empower change. While you’re the organization’s leader, you must ensure team members at every level feel they have the ability to produce positive change and are encouraged to participate. If you have buy-in at every level, you’ll have success at every level.
- Decentralize decision making. Empowering every team member not only has a positive impact on morale, but it also frees us space on your desk to focus on the larger issues.
- Promote and demote. Promote carefully and for the right reasons, and demote when necessary. Just recognize that demotions, when handled poorly, may lead to lower staff morale and attrition.
- Operate as a servant leader. There’s a gentleman in San Diego, California, whose lifetime philosophy has always been “The Giver Gets.” Active throughout his community’s non-profit groups and generous with his time and personal fortune, he is beloved and the first person anyone in his region thinks of for doing business within his category. It’s a lesson we can all learn from.
Of course, no change is ever easy. Building a new corporate culture requires a commitment to discipline, support, creativity, insight, and values typically extending beyond one’s comfort zone. Those who choose to follow the path of innovation consistently benefit with strong positive results to their career, personal satisfaction level, and bottom line.
But with transition being forced on us all faster than water comes from a fire hose, it is the smart…and eventually successful…CEO who seizes the opportunity to adapt and uses it to build a more prosperous tomorrow.
If you feel you’re not transitioning to our brave new world as successfully as you’d like to, talk to us at Executive Forums about ways we can help you.