Changes, changes, changes…

Increasingly frequent change requires developing the ability to learn and unlearn.

Over the last few years and especially thanks to the accelerated development of some technologies, many organisations have undergone substantial changes in their basic operating paradigms. The evolution of some technologies such as artificial intelligence, genetics, neuroscience and many others are changing the game rules.

EIn this context, large organisations, those with a long history of successes and the occasional failure, face the worst scenario they could anticipate: an unknown and unpredictable future. To face this future, all the planning exercises that had worked so well in the past for strategy design now prove to be sterile.

It is a paradox that precisely this history of accumulated successes has contributed the most to sedimenting a culture based on maintaining the status quo. An immobile culture which, at this moment in time, could jeopardise the organisation’s future.

Unsurprisingly, this legacy of success is extremely powerful and inexorably conditions the mental framework of all professionals working under the umbrella of this culture. For this reason, although these organisations have all the resources for innovation and improvement, most suffer in adapting to the future because there is no incentive to change.

On an individual level, most of the professionals who lead these large organisations are aware of the environment in which they are competing. The reality which they coexist with on a daily basis requires a flexible and resilient organisation, capable of facing an uncertain future with guarantees of success.

Aware of this situation, many leaders are committed to launching training programmes for all their teams to improve their ability to adapt to uncertain environments. However, despite all these efforts, it is very likely that most of these programmes will end up failing, devoured by the pre-existing culture. Past successes are the seeds of complacency which anticipate future failures.

The world we live in needs professionals who are able to continuously learn and unlearn. Apex products will help you develop these skills.

A constant adaptation culture

In all organisations there is talk about change and orientation to the client’s needs. But in day-to-day management, reality is that many of their leaders only go for those ideas which can have the greatest impact on the bottom line short term, without changing the status quo of the organisation in any way.

Although resilience and flexibility are both advocated as organisational values in decision-making bodies, daily practice shows an action line going in the opposite direction. Most actions are aimed at achieving solid and robust processes which ensure the organisation’s control.

The causes of this organisational rigidity are partly explained by individual resistance to change. This individual resistance is a first barrier to change, but by no means the most important one. There is a second barrier which affects collectively everyone living together in the same organisation.

This is the organisation’s immune system.

This system is a cultural barrier largely based on the organisation’s past experiences. It is the set of structures and processes that aims to maintain an internal balance in response to both external and internal aggressions.

Cultural evolution

Unfortunately, change is often seen as a necessity in itself. For this reason, training sessions are scheduled for all staff in order to learn how to manage this change. Which is clearly wrong. While it is true that in the current context we need to adapt to the environment all the time, this need to adapt must respond to the achievement of a higher purpose. The whole group of professionals working in an organisation can be committed and involved in achieving a purpose. They will understand the need for change if change is necessary to fulfil this shared purpose.

This does not mean that change is easier or more manageable simply because we know the reasons for it. But when change is undertaken to preserve the organisation’s core purpose, it is likely to be successful. Otherwise, when it is raised as a goal in itself, it is not likely to be considered as a relevant issue.

It is therefore increasingly necessary for the leaders of any organisation to devote their efforts to explaining and communicating the reasons why the organisation exists.

The purpose should be a clear and concise definition of the organisation’s contribution to the world. When the purpose is clear, it is relatively easy to identify values and even to determine action lines to be followed in each case, regardless of the context.

If you want to design and implement the systems to make innovation a real part of your daily business, we can help you. We will be happy to guide you through this process of organisational evolution.