The Question Of Preparedness


Thinking Things Through

  1. In business anyway, the ‘future’ will always be an important and valuable construct. It’s powerful because it forces the business to think.

  2. We never reach the future - we can’t ever precisely determine or ever guarantee it. But nonetheless imagining what it looks like and how we get there is an important tool for the business.

  3. Being prepared for the future is as useful as having some idea what it looks like.

  4. Being prepared begins with having the right mentality - the mindset to think that way. It’s a state of mind.

  5. But - a mindset of preparedness is far from a given and having one isn’t as simple as it sounds.

Whether good or bad a mindset/mentality takes time to develop - it will have come about through real experiences. A ‘preparedness mindset’ in someone is likely to have come about over a long time. They will have witnessed countless situations where a lack of preparedness has caused consequences. That’s how our experience shapes us in general - and how minds become set.

How we have experiences, and as a result learn anything, is never the same journey for everyone. What happens is that after a while a series of random situations causes us to have an epiphany of some sort.

The Closed Loop System That Is Preparedness

What follows can be read in many different sequences.

Mindset - Without the appropriate mindset achieving anything is hard. The mindset present in a leader will have a significant effect on all those around. This mindset is likely to be based on heartfelt Commitment to a wide range of beliefs.

  • Q. Do you believe that preparedness is a valuable mindset for a business?

  • Q. Do you think you have one?

  • Q. Are you prepared to be (sometimes) unprepared?

  • Q. Are you aware of your own mindset and natural default behaviours?

  • Q. Would you say that you are genuinely open to change your own mind when new ideas about the future emerge?

  • Q. Are you quick to defend a position or decision/conclusion you have reached about any topic?

Commitment - In a business context, and for successful outcomes this demands real buy and contribution to a vision and mission. And for the commitment to be sustained everyone on the team will require clear and consistent Communication and Accountability.

  • Q. How engaged are you in the detail of what the vision and mission really entails?

  • Q. Has there been much objective and dispassionate challenge been applied to the Vision and Mission?

  • Q. Are those with vested interests in the Vision and Mission genuinely open to being challenged in the right way?

  • Q. How regularly is the Vision and Mission checked against the current state and situation more broadly?

  • Q. Is there a Vision?

  • Q. Would you be prepared to alter it in the face of better ideas?

  • Q. Have you changed your commitment to something at this level in the business?

  • Q. If so what caused that change?

  • Q. Has anyone challenged your commitment?

  • Q. Is commitment measured? Are there consequences for lack of commitment?

Communication - Communication has to happen in all directions. It has to explain what is being committed to and why and crucially inspire everyone to engage in the first place. Therefore it has to embrace multiple perspectives. It will need to resonate with all audiences at the right level. It will need to be coherent, meaningful and flexible enough to span the necessary levels of detail.

  • Q. How inspirational is the communication when it comes to causing attention and engagement with the vision and all that is entailed in getting to it?

  • Q. How well do you/we know what the audiences feel about the vision and mission? Do we know the audiences well at all?

  • Q. In relation to the Vision and Mission is there an appetite for more information or more relevant information?

  • Q. Do you follow other businesses and see what other businesses do in these areas?

  • Q. Do you think you know what good communication looks and feels like?

  • Q. Do you think you are a good communicator?

  • Q. Is good communication commended? Celebrated?

  • Q. Would others think you are a good communicator?

  • Q. Are you following all the new forms of communication available to you these days?

  • Q. Are you open to trialling forms of communication that hitherto have been deemed ‘not for us’?

  • Q. Are you good at engaging with communication that comes at you?

  • Q. Does the business feel like communication is what’s done to other people?

  • Q. Do you agree that communication isn’t a one way thing?

  • Q. What happens after communication? (Follow up, things do change, feedback, debate, anything, a box is ticked)

Accountability - Accountability is foundational if a business is to deliver anything. Without it everything can be at risk because it’s far harder to get everyone aligned. Clear Accountability alongside the right Communication makes it easier for everyone.

They know what they and their colleagues are accountable for. They each know their missions, goals and objectives in sharp focus. And without clear accountability the business will be unable to Collaborate to get anything done.

  • Q. Do people want more accountability?

  • Q. Would more Accountability motivate or demotivate people?

  • Q. Are the leaders capable of sustaining the accountability of the people?

  • Q. Do you genuinely feel accountable?

  • Q. Is lack/proof of accountability governed and are there consequences or rewards?

  • Q. Is accountability a threat or a positive idea in the business at the moment?

  • Q. Would accountability be used in the wrong way over time?

Collaboration - Meaningful collaboration is what makes teams more valuable and businesses work. Collaboration is that ideal state where people combine their skills and ideas to create something more valuable. It’s vital to have the right Conditions in place for people to Collaborate.

  • Q. Is collaboration a useful method in your business?

  • Q. Is collaboration well understood as a way to get things done or is it not the way things get done in the business?

  • Q. Do you think the people in the business and the leaders are able to properly collaborate?

  • Q. Do you Collaborate?

  • Q. Are there consequences for lack of collaboration?

  • Q. Is collaboration a part of a procedure or is it genuinely used to make progress or something happen?

  • Q. How aware are you of the Collaborate tools and techniques that exist these days?

  • Q. If it were applied could it be applied in cross functional teams?

  • Q. Is collaboration applied in silos today?

  • Q. Is collaboration on everyone’s performance scorecard?

  • Q. If an initiative to Collaborate was set up by a different leader in a different part of the business would you naturally attend if asked?

Conditions - The conditions within which the business needs to operate will create the foundations for the way Organisation Design is approached. The conditions are the sum total of everything the preparedness mindset needs to build in if it is to equip the business for success. Conditions are directly proportionate to Culture (below)

  • Q. Does changing the conditions sound like a massive challenge or the right thing to be contemplating?

  • Q. How capable is the firm of redesigning the Conditions?

  • Q. Have you ever changed the working or cultural Conditions of people in your team?

Organisation Design - The design of the organisation, and the Conditions created is the platform and model for how the business will operate. It is the manifestation of the driving mindset and beyond that it will influence the role of all the Leadership and how everyone in the business will performs.

  • Q. How capable is the firm of redesigning how the business should operate?

  • Q. Are you generally curious about different kinds of organisations (models) and what exists elsewhere?

  • Q. Would you say the business has the appetite for significant change to the way it operates if it could be shown that it would benefit the business?

Leadership - Leadership is also a mindset and mentality. It is defined by the style and behaviours of those in this position. The ‘attitude’ of the leadership plays a direct part in what is done and what isn’t. It is the cause and foundations of how Culture develops. The leadership has responsibility for delivering the future. Leadership is central to the success of any preparedness strategy.

The tools for leaders are both practical and intangible. They are about inspiring people, managing the consequences of daily challenges, creating the motivation to pick people back up, applying the correct degrees of empathy in daily situations - fostering beliefs and trust in the overall Vision.

Without the correct mentality in these leadership skills then Commitment, Communication, Collaboration, Accountability and all the Conditions above will suffer.

  • Q. Do you feel you are a good leader?

  • Q. Do you have people who are inspired to follow you?

  • Q. What leadership traits are rewarded?

  • Q. Is there generally speaking trust in the leadership?

  • Q. On what basis are leaders hired by the business? (Experience, Cultural Fit, Referrals, Succession) and depending on the answer - is this getting us to a better prepared state?

  • Q. Are you prepared to change your leadership style?

  • Q. Have you changed your leadership style? If so how?

  • Q. Do you have a mentor?

  • Q. Do you feel like you need more support and training to become a better leader?

  • Q. Do you study leadership techniques and tools?

  • Q. Are these questions irritating or helpful

  • Q. If irritating explain why.

Culture - As culture evolves it has the power to strengthen and enforce behaviours and norms. Everything (here) creates the Conditions for Culture. Culture influences how well Diversity thrives in the organisation.

  • Q. Do you believe you can change the culture?

  • Q. If not why not?

  • Q. Do you feel responsible for the culture?

  • Q. Do you think that by changing the culture much would change?

  • Q. By observing people do you think they are making excuses because of the culture?

  • Q. Does the idea of creating a better performing and more ready for the future environment excite you?

  • Q. Does the business have the capability to change its own culture?

  • Q. Have you studied what makes cultures work?

  • Q. Have you seen other cultures that you admire?

  • Q. Are there any consequences for displaying anti-cultural behaviours?

  • Q. Are positive displays of the existing culture rewarded?

Diversity - In the modern era diversity is a considerable quality, resource and opportunity. The presence of diversity in an organisation impacts the quality and creativity of the thinking considerably. A diverse culture and the right mindset/mentality can dramatically improve the performance of the business and overcome the challenge of attracting Talent that hampers many businesses.

  • Q. Does the idea of Diversity raise challenges or opportunities in the organisation?

  • Q. Is there anything about the culture that stops us making different decisions here?

  • Q. Does the word Diversity mean something else in the business?

  • Q. Are you motivated to generate more ideas and different perspectives in the business?

  • Q. Would you embrace ideas from diverse perspectives or would the business be inclined to reject them? Why?

  • Q. Have you seen cases where Diversity has been undermined in the organisation?

  • Q. Although it may say Diversity is critical will the business continue to recruit people in its own current image and style?

  • Q. Is there a way to tackle that if it were to happen?

  • Q. Does Diversity motivation and development appear on anyone’s KPI’s or performance reviews?

Talent - Talent will only sustain if it can thrive. Like the culture above it demands the right conditions. Talent will grow with all the indicators above in place and working well. Talent demands commitment, leadership, collaboration, accountability, communication and great leadership - it also needs the right kind of organisational conditions and Information flowing through them.

  • Q. Are you motivated or demotivated by the idea of recruiting someone more skilled than you?

  • Q. Is the business capable of opening up to support and give the room for new talent to prove itself?

  • Q. Does the business know what talent it needs?

  • Q. How does the business know what talent it needs if it doesn’t have a preparedness strategy in place?

  • Q. Is it possible that people and their talent already exists in the business and we haven’t uncovered it?

  • Q. Do we always look in the same places for the same old talent?

  • Q. Can people be inspired to bring talent that they have but don’t feel they’ve been asked for to work?

  • Q. Is it possible that we have the right people in the wrong roles right now?

  • Q. Is it possible that in some ways (hierarchy, bureaucracy) that we are stifling talent already and don’t realise its there?

  • Q. Is there anything about the culture that stops us making different decisions here?

Information - Another foundation for the successful organisation - information drives quality deliverables, outcomes, decisions and collaboration. Information is the fuel of every platform and digitally enabled business. Information is now the lifeblood - but still a basic qualification for existence. Used well it means distinction and competitive advantage. Information sits very closely alongside the Technology that enables it and allows for the exploitation of the Digital age.

  • Q. Are you a detailed person?

  • Q. Do you think that the value of information is understood in the business?

  • Q. Do you think it’s over valued and that we don’t have the right information in the first place?

  • Q. Do you feel that the quality of information can be a real challenge and that spending too much time with it has possibly already set the Business on the wrong path?

  • Q. Do you feel you are drowning in information?

  • Q. Do you feel the detailed understanding of information is mostly someone else’s job?

  • Q. Have you used the excuse that these days there’s too much information so you have switched off?

  • Q. Does information land at your door that you feel could be far better presented/considered and then you would do more to engage in it?

  • Q. Is information shared well or kept as a weapon of control and power?

  • Q. Are you quietly hoping that technology will solve the challenge of deep engagement and you will have better access to it through smarter interfaces?

  • Q. Is the organisation using too much data as an excuse?

  • Q. Do we have the capacity for turning information into valuable content and insight?

  • Q. Do we have the capability and skills for turning information into valuable content and insight?

  • Q. Would we know the right information anyway?

  • Q. Would we be able to turn that information into actionable advantage?

  • Q. Does your business lack content (Information) in the development of stories and relationship building activities as prospects become customers?

  • Q. Do we do enough to track the information on customers and our evolving relationships with them?

Tech/Digital - Knowing what’s happening in the technology world is critical - not just for information but the very platforms and infrastructure upon which everything works. For the business it has to be applied in a meaningful way. The prepared business will have access to the right Resources (the right mix of resources), to make the most of what is available and what creates the competitive advantage.

  • Q. Do we avoid taking the plunge into observably better technology for fear it’s the next legacy system?

  • Q. Are we capable of mapping the foreseeable future of technology to the Vision and Mission of our business?

  • Q. Would we know if that’s giving us the correct degree of preparedness?

  • Q. Are you a user of technology or simply a user of a smart phone and desktop computer?

  • Q. Do you spend much time on the platforms and channels that your customers use?

  • Q. Are you aware of what’s happening in business technology in relation to (for example) data analysis, predictive sentiment analysis, yield management and the many other forms of media technology?

  • Q. Is the business up to speed on AI/ML - RPA, Blockchain and other Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies that will prepare the business for the emerging disruption?

  • Q. Are you aware of the new business models and capabilities in platform technology?

  • Do you use Alexa/Google Home/Siri?

  • Do you regularly use e-commerce apps and shop on your mobile phone?

  • Q. Do you rely on others in your business to tell you about technology?

  • Q. Do you feel that they are informed enough about all these new technologies to understand what the business needs in order to be prepared?

  • Q. Do these new techniques and technologies inspire you?

  • Q. Does the business think about the customer experience in terms of how automation and data can transform and augment the future of the business and prepare it for the future of work?

  • Q. Is there anything about the culture that stops us making different decisions here?

Resources - The absence of the right resources will seriously limit the ability to grow and scale and sustain even the smallest and most specialist of businesses. No amount of good intention (mindset - mentality) will make it possible to deliver a future vision that will sustain today’s business.

Businesses that are successful and don’t change with the times are very thin on the ground. A fresh vision being built today and been committed to must meet the indicators above and stay alive to the reality that they will also continue to evolve and change - and so the cycle continues....)

  • Q. Do you know how to partner well?

  • Q. Have you been able to outsource successfully?

  • Q. Is it possible that you can leverage resources better than we do?

  • Q. Are you constrained by past experiences when trying to solve the resources challenges?

  • Q. Are there wasted resources in the business today?

  • Q. Are wasted resources being hidden in some way?

  • Q. Are you prepared to admit significant mistakes and bad/expensive decisions in order to overcome the past?

  • Q. Do you know what resources you already have?

  • Q. Are you paying for resources you don’t use?

  • Q. Are resources available that you can easily use but don’t?

  • Q. Do you know what resources you need?

  • Q. Is there anything about the culture that stops us making different decisions here?