How to Find the Time to Become an Adaptive and Agile Organization

June 20, 2017

Change is a resource hog. It involves time, money, people, strategy, risk, leadership, training, courage, commitment and governance. Picture each of these as a big boulder, in a big pile, burying and crushing the life out of your mission to become an adaptive and agile organization. To transform your organization, you have to remove each of these boulders, one at a time, and soon the pile will be gone, the crushing weight lifted, and change can begin.

Let's start by removing the boulder that is labeled "I don't have enough time to do this!"

Start with a Simple Time Management Strategy

Use a prioritizing matrix to determine elements that are essential for transforming your organization to an adaptive one; do this by:

  • Determining five to ten qualities that are critical to the success of an action, i.e.




Return on investment (ROI)

  • Create a list of elements to perform - ideas, innovations, characteristics of the mission
  • Rate each of these items based on the qualities they deliver, created in step one - one is low delivery and five is very high delivery
  • Assess your ratings - the highest totals for each element indicates their priority
  • Commit only to those elements in the top 10 percentile (and put the others in a parking lot for revisiting after time management challenges are met).

Allocate Time for Change and Name It Something Fortress-y

Don't create futility and frustration by expecting the team working on the adaptive change to do their regular work or any work other than the business of changing to an adaptive company. Carve out "x" number of hours a day, specifically scheduled - i.e. four hours every working day from 1pm to 5pm-- and protect that time with ferocity. If your team is allowed to be completely focused for a safeguarded period of time, they will produce superior results quickly.

Create a Power Rangers Task Force

Pick a team of people who have demonstrated energy and enthusiasm (about everything). Who they are is more important that what they know or have experienced. Creating time for change is all about super-energy and excitement. This task force will exude positivity, energy and a "go for it" attitude that will at least double (if not treble) the productivity that would typically happen in the established transformation periods.

Develop a Work Faster Plan and Reward System

Ask your people to work smarter and faster and more effectively than even they think they can. Reward them periodically for their efforts and successes (a good time for this is when a milestone is reached). Research on reward systems has shown that people prefer appreciation with a personal touch, i.e. going out for a special evening with the team on the company over a handful of cash or a check. Creative rewards that are heartfelt and celebratory are one way to keep your task force and the people they interact with doing great things in short time periods.

Plot and Monitor Attainable Milestones

As the leader, you'll want to put your vision of the work plan in front of your team. Eagerly solicit their feedback about it. They'll likely shorten some work period allocations and lengthen others. If they have input, they'll feel more accountable for their work and will strive to prove that their estimates are spot on. Accountability will make the time spent effective and ensure the team hits the milestones. Then rewards all around for time well spent and achievements made!

Don't Plan to Do It All Yourself, but...

Pick up the slack when needed. Plan to lighten your own workload as much as possible before the transformation to adaptive and agile begins. Be ready at a moment's notice to roll up your sleeves and get in there to help your team achieve its goals and deadlines. Make sure they feel your commitment to supporting their success. Knowing you have their backs will give them the encouragement and confidence to work even smarter and faster.

Congratulations! You've removed boulder number one. Now you have time to change!

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