A new mindset

In addition to the innovation stages, there are three supporting themes that serve as fundamental concepts and building blocks for ADapT success!

These fundamental concepts are called the three Cs – commitments, conditions and confirmation.

For ADapT to work, management needs to make five, upfront commitments:

  1. Senior management needs to commitment to sustained organisational transformation as a long-term strategy is required from organisational leadership.
  2. The organisation will build cross-functional teams, using the best resources from each part of the organisation to dedicate time to innovate, experiment, evaluate and implement their own ideas in the live business environment.
  3. At least one member of the executive management team as an improvement team member. Their role is as facilitator and coach, but not as the leader of the team – we call this person The Sponsor.
  4. We will create a safe space for teams to innovate and operate free from the restrictions placed on the team by normal organisational processes and controls. We will further invest in systems to ensure that innovation can safely be tested and deployed from the innovation space to the live environment where normal processes and controls will remain in place.
  5. If possible, involve consumers, failing that, the manager closest to the customer/consumer (or one of their direct reports) must represent them.

The senior management team also needs to ensure that conditions for success are met, this includes:

  1. Respect is first and foremost. Everyone in the organisation is treated equally and there are no ‘rock-stars’ in the team.
  2. The team succeeds or the team fails – there is collective ownership and reward for the performance of the team, not individuals.
  3. Failure is accepted as part of life and as an opportunity to learn – the team will most probably fail more than they succeed when innovating. What is important is lessons are learnt from failure, quantified and lead to improving actions in future projects.
  4. Feedback is open and issue-based, never personal.
  5. Performance is measured and displayed visually for all to see allowing the team to quickly identify where and how to improve.
  6. In ADapT – innovation and improvement environments are safe spaces and blameless spots – managers MUST refrain from taking punitive action based on individual actions, otherwise the specific or overall innovation and improvement initiative will fail.
  7. The prime objective of ADapT is to innovate and transform, and yes, address other topics in the mix also – but innovation is the primary goal and transformation the primary end!
  8. More important than anything else – the prime objective of the ADapT TEAM is to learn.
    The final “C” is confirmation. Executive management needs to ensure that:
  9. Formal evaluation is continuous throughout ADapT. Confirmation is more than checking that we are on target or focused on value creation.
  10. Continuously confirm that everyone on the team understands that mediocrity is not an option – we say “What we do is to unlock a 100 times not a 100% more value”.
  11. Measure ROI as the ultimate measure of success. ROI=The Estimated financial benefit or value of any improvement made OVER the cost of people, tools and other resources used to get it done!

Value in this instance is defined by the end customer, or if truly not possible their representative or an intermediary who offers what we do as part of their service.

You may choose other metrics, but whatever the metric/s is/are they need to be simple, objectively measurable, on a continuous basis and very publicly displayed!

The role of senior or executive management

It is evident from the above that we see change as starting at the top. This is important as the right conditions need to be created for evolutionary change to work. It takes time to cement new behaviours in organisations.

It is important that everyone believes that you would not try and change everything overnight. Revolutionary changes almost always fail, evolutionary change may take longer, but it is sustainable. Leadership needs to confirm that not only is this the way we will do things in future, but also proof that it is safe to change and embrace the new way of working.

A change of behaviour of the organisational leadership and the way people are measured and incentivised, serve as the ultimate confirmation to the rest of the organisation.

The management team needs to instil lean thinking and a lean mind-set in the organisation, starting with themselves. Lean management facilitates sustained evolutionary change and reduces resistance to change.

Actively work to obtain organisational agility at scale. Yes, doing agile is important, but not as important as being agile!

Since the first use of ADapT as a defined concept in 2014, the approach had stellar results when measuring ROI. Innovation projects or initiatives typically ranged from ROI between, 280% and 2,800%. Only on one occasion the resulted ROI was less than 100%.

On this occasion we failed in getting unwavering support and commitment to the 3 C’s – just underlying the importance of getting the right commitments, ensuring that the conditions for success are created and the importance of confirming actions and results throughout the initiative!

The value of continued use of ADapT, one could argue is the sum of all the improvements made, but we postulate that the value is much more. Using ADapT as a transformational business approach contributes significantly to creating a new and sustainable enterprise, the value of which is difficult to quantify, but none the less very real!