The first sub-blade of the Process blade is Frameworks. In Powered By Change (PBC), Frameworks refer to the porosity, rapidity and flexibility of existing processes and how the company operates. Essentially, it is about determining whether these are open, fast and responsive enough to allow the company to leverage change or if it impedes them in this endeavour. These are really the essential underlying characteristics required for ongoing success, especially in times of change.
If the way in which a company operates, that is its frameworks, are inflexible or slow or not open, the ability to adapt to change is diminished. In addition, this also creates inefficiency. Such inefficiency is represented in things such as:
- Duplication of work or effort.
- The number of dependencies present.
- A significant time difference between the ideal and actual timeframe to get something done.
Likewise, inefficiency also occurs in instances where processes are not documented, not available or not understood. All of these things contribute to creating inefficiency within an organisation and represent sources of frustration that can culminate in disengagement or an attitude of not even bothering because things take too long. Not only does inefficiency result in a higher chance of being disrupted or disintermediated, because the company’s responsiveness is hamstrung by inefficient processes, it also leads to reduced productivity which has financial implications. Therefore, it makes absolute sense to invest time into ensuring that Frameworks are effective and that it has an ability to adapt to change quickly.
The Frameworks sub-blade is made up of three elements or properties, all of which are necessary to enable change. These are the frameworks should be:
- Porous – the openness of frameworks to receive and send information
- Rapid – the ability of frameworks to allow change to occur in a timely manner
- Flexible – the responsiveness of frameworks
Porosity is what allows frameworks to be penetrable and essentially enables data to flow in and out of our processes. Frameworks are actually organic mechanisms rather than something that is static. This means there needs to be an openness in terms of understanding context to determine how the frameworks need to change. A non-porous framework is something that is insulated or insular and doesn’t allow any information to flow in and out. This would be representative of a company that doesn’t have any real interaction with the outside world of information, that is living in a bubble and operating without any kind of care or regard for what is happening outside of it. One example is a large venture capital (VC) firm that was looking to buy a large record label. It was pretty obvious to people who had a rough idea of how the music industry worked that in fact, the record label was going to be a really bad investment due to a number of things, not least the rise of digital music. However, the VC firm didn’t have a porous framework in place; there was no information exchange or porosity into and out of the company. It went headlong into the purchase and lost millions of dollars in the deal. It was always going to happen because of the single-mindedness or myopic nature of that firm which had a very non-porous framework.
Actually, this myopicness is not that uncommon. There are very few companies that have a nature of porosity to their frameworks. However, there are some exceptions and I have been able to help a lot of companies, including a number of blue chip companies, put in place porous frameworks. In fact, the PBC toolkit helps to distil what a porous framework could and should look like. It helps to look at existing frameworks and whether these are fit for what great looks like to help in designing your business for perpetual success. One of the reasons why the PBC solution exists is to look at these processes very carefully.
Many companies and frameworks are not built with speed in mind. They’re actually built with comfort and status quo in mind or compliance and risk management. Whilst these are absolutely valid concerns and are things that every company needs to handle they can sometimes be prioritised at the expense of things happening fast enough to keep up with the speed of change and we know that today is the slowest pace of change that we’ll ever experience. Thinking about pace in terms of frameworks and processes it is necessary to enable them to have an inherent accelerator inside which allows them to actually keep up with the speed of change. Otherwise what happens is the speed of change increases, but processes don’t and therefore the results is an exponentially slowing mechanism. In the face of the speed of change increasing, there is actually a decelerating process. These are really dangerous outcomes. This is exemplified by a company such as Nokia, which had an 18 month innovation pipeline for new products in the face of another company coming along like Apple with its iPhone who was innovating far faster than 18 months. Whilst the pace of change was accelerating exponentially, there was an 18 month static immovable object within an oil-tanker that refused to have any form of a speedboat and therefore in that contrast ended up suffering a massive disruptive impact. This is why pace is so important. It is also why the PBC solution looks very carefully at pace and analyses rapidity inside organisational processes.
Porous frameworks that have the ability to work at pace, are not effective if an organisation is not able to respond to inputs that are arriving both internally and from the ever changing external world. If there is an unresponsive framework inside organisational processes then it is unable to change and grow and be moldable depending on the input that comes in. This flexibility, or responsiveness, principle of Frameworks is actually around mindset and is not dissimilar to the oil-tanker and speedboat paradox. There is a need to find balance. Interestingly, frameworks are designed in such a way that tends to suit our personalities. Therefore, frameworks could be porous and also pacey and also responsive were it that we wanted them to be. From this perspective, our personality also needs to be highly responsive to change in a productive and opportunistic way. This is really what it means to be powered by change.
Remembering that the difference between success and failure is how we respond to change. If our ability to respond to change is negatively affected by inflexible, slow or closed processes the chances of being able to use change as a fueling mechanism is significantly diminished.
The PBC platform contains all of the tools required to effectively design efficient frameworks based around the principles of porosity, rapidity and flexibility which all contribute to setting up a company for ongoing success.
- Frameworks that are not porous, rapid or flexible create inefficiency.
- Inefficient frameworks contribute to making companies slow to respond to change.
- Efficient frameworks enable the other blades to operate effectively which directly contributes to improved productivity, financial success and capability to effectively utilise change.