How To Resist Corporate Hoarding

Many companies are still using software built or purchased from a time when Blockbuster were fining us for late returned videos.

Most of the companies we admire for their innovation , your Amazons, your Netflixes or your Apples have no such legacy ways of working holding them back. They either cleared them out years ago or never had them in the first place.

It’s often difficult to have an ambitious organisational clear out – as standardisation and minimalism isn’t seen as very exciting, or innovative. It can be expensive too, just like renovating an old house, and you can understand why many put it off,  or choose not to bother.

Last week I was talking about this with David Anderton the Transformation and ICT Director at Bromford.

It was David who identified the requirement for the Bromford Design Principles as well as the need to have a clear out of what was a 50+ year old organisational infrastructure that was disconnected and messy.

The problems we were set up to solve were once relatively simple, but as organisations get larger there’s more technology, more people, more regulation. We put together processes, controls, reviews, and structures and these factors together create a great amount of complexity.

Unravelling this – at the same time as keeping business running as usual – is no easy task.

  • Some of us simply don’t like letting go of the working practices we have become used to.
  • Some of us don’t see the need for connectivity and interoperability beyond our own functional silo
  • Some of us become overly attached to the tools we use to do our jobs despite them being well past their sell by date (In the same way as I can’t get my Dad to move past a Nokia 3210 – “It still does the job, son”)

According to David there are five factors hindering effective transformation:

  • inertia
  • risk aversion
  • lack of investment in operating models
  • an overinflated sense of delivery excellence
  • too much celebration of mediocrity

Additionally many organisations have become afflicted by a kind of hoarding disorder. This disorder means the organisation acquires an excessive number of policies, systems and structures and stores them in a chaotic manner, resulting in unmanageable amounts of clutter. This clutter isn’t just an aesthetic problem. In an era reliant on the instant transfer of information and data it hoards knowledge and makes it inaccessible rather than opening it up.

This is why the replacement of legacy systems is the modernisation headache, because it’s not an IT issue, it’s all about organisational behaviour.

One of the reasons people can be resistant to change is because – from their perspective – it doesn’t add any value. The case for a simpler operating model is often hard to see from a siloed perspective.

However, standardised and simplified operating models are the bedrock of innovation – as you can’t make a leap forward when you’re disorganised and disconnected.

And that’s what we’ve been trying to do.

  • A new operating model based on services
  • Designed from ground upwards
  • Focused on services required for strategy
  • Then build out a transformation journey with enabling technology

The problem is you can’t achieve this simplicity without a lot of hard work and some resistance.

The innovative companies we all admire have done this hard , boring , work years ago. Which is why they can experiment with AI and VR – they’ve built future ready platforms to which tech innovations can be seamlessly integrated.

Our old model organisations thrive on complexity. Many of the problems we set to solve are indeed complex, but that complexity doesn’t need to be mirrored internally.

Simplicity means saying no to things and doing less. Many of an organization’s activities are misaligned from , or have poorly defined, strategic objectives. We often anchor around the wrong thing. That’s why some big institutions have no chance – they are hit by random plans and transformations rather than anchoring around purpose.

This takes discipline though as it means killing vanity projects and saying no when something doesn’t fit into the plan.

02 (1)Doing more stuff gets people noticed and promoted.

Doing less stuff – but the right stuff is what we should now recognise and reward.

Consistency of operating model, clean data and standardization aren’t sexy.  But every one of the innovative organisations we admire has been through the pain of achieving that.

A future ready operating model eliminates corporate hoarding and replaces it with an agile framework that companies can adapt and morph on an ongoing basis,

They match the speed of today’s change and run with it, rather than constantly trying to catch up.


 

You can get the full set of the Bromford Design Principles here 

Cover photo by Wonderlane on Unsplash

Published by

Paul Taylor

I’m a facilitator, innovator and designer. I work with organisations to identify problems and solve them in ways that combine creativity with practical implementation. I have a track record in project delivery and service change that crosses all disciplines and has resulted in millions of pounds in business benefits. This work has resulted in numerous acknowledgements and awards. In 2013 I established Bromford Lab as a new way for the organisation to embrace challenge and adopt a ‘fast fail’ approach to open innovation. Nearly everything the Lab works on is openly accessible at www.bromfordlab.com. I'm a regular contributor to forums , think-tanks , and research reports and a speaker or advisor at conferences and events.

6 thoughts on “How To Resist Corporate Hoarding

  1. …..and I’m sure that complexity is what leads to the seemingly inexorable growth in the number of managers/leaders/directors/chiefs etc. They are there as much to interpret and help guide colleagues through this complexity as they are to truly lead.

  2. Nailed it Paul. Remember when we went into Apple and got the phrase I still use. “Any idiot can add in complexity but it takes a genius to simplify”

  3. Reblogged this on The Strategic Sync by Fahim Moledina and commented:
    Change and transformation at organizations starts with people. There is a panic at many organizations to work differently and quickly but often these organizations are held back. Reading this reminded me of some of the struggles I have had and had to overcome when implementing change at a variety of organizations. The five points that I agree to hold the speed of change back are:

    -inertia
    -risk aversion
    -lack of investment in operating models
    -an overinflated sense of delivery excellence
    -too much celebration of mediocrity

    The reason there is a push to change operating models to be more responsive to customers and provide value is that there is a demand to provide customer value with speed hence why many organizations are introducing agile principles. Often structures and a framework are needed with any large change so there is not disorganization.

    Organizations can introduce technology, automate processes and take other steps but the operating model and culture of an organization to embrace change is the largest advantage and value it can gain.

    Regards,

    Fahim Ekbal Moledina,

    Fahim Moledina is the Principal Consultant for Opti-Syn Strategic Consulting and is a business leader with expertise in project/change management, finance, lean/agile methods, as well as marketing and sales.

    If you enjoyed this post please share below:

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