Change is the only constant

Image copyright 2016 Alan Clark

Image copyright 2016 Alan Clark

Recently whilst walking along a valley high in the Swiss alps I came across an information point. Below the information board there was a box of leaflets that carried the title that I have used for this piece.

Even amidst the spectacular scenery of this beautiful and apparently unchanging rocky valley change has and is taking place. Hence the title. When you reach the head of the valley it is clear that the glacier below the Breithorn mountain (above right in the photo) has retreated. Evidence, literally on the ground, shows the huge distance that it has retreated since 1930. Further back, more than 90 million years ago, Europe was as flat as Holland and you see all the way to the Mediterranean!

Makes you think. Indeed all business people and managers should be thinking, planning and taking action to deal with change. But it's hard isn't? It's especially hard if the structures within a business or other organisation do not have the ability to be sensitive to the need for change built into them.

Looking at any organisation using conventions such as an organisation chart or a set of statutory accounts does not always make the need for timely change obvious. The very different view of organisation below makes change part of the way that you can look at your organisation. Are you ready for something completely different...?




We call this the Flow & Feedback (2F) Diagram. Now that you have got over your surprise you may have noticed that the diagram is built around the Study-Act-Plan-Do (SAPDo) learning and improvement cycle. In this way change is built into the way that your organisation can be understood and so become more adaptable.

Putting SAPDo at the heart of everyone's thinking in businesses and other organisations is important for another reason. Having made a change to adapt to changing circumstances, how does anyone know objectively whether the change was an improvement? Opinions like, "That worked!" or "That didn't work!", however motivated, are worth nothing. Getting evidence of the effects of the change, which is then reviewed in the Study phase, enables valid learning, even when the change doesn't work. In the Act phase the change can be adopted, adapted or abandoned in favour of an alternative.  In this way effectiveness and knowledge about the whole situation increases so improving the chances that, overall, success can be achieved and sustained.

The other fundamental difference is that customers are included in 2F, which is not the case with the usual organisation chart or a set of statutory accounts. This makes customers the focus of the whole organisation, which may come as a surprise to some! By focusing on customers the organisation is better placed to understand their changing needs and thus be more able to sustain success.

This was based upon principles in the ebook Simply Manage, where you can find out more about effective management.