Habits are fractal, occurring at individual, team and organizational levels. At their foundation, organizational habits are changed by individual behaviors. Behavior change is hard, which is a silver lining in a crisis like this – we find ourselves thrust into new conditions where running the old programs is unsustainable. Specially in phygital Agile environments.
What we call complacency is often a reflection of organizational habits (an accumulation of individual and team habits) unchecked by systems of work that have eroded over time into paths of least resistance.
Which is fine, until it’s not. We’ve all been disrupted by COVID-19, in many cases forced into new ways of working. Our old habits – individual and organizational – are rightly challenged to adapt. Traditional business models have long been the sacred cow, one that now point blank faces its shortcomings in how it has or has not promoted cross- functional phygital teamwork, customer focus, autonomy and agility. We reap what we sow.
The paradox of the crisis may be that the distance brings us closer. Closer to understanding what is critical and what is superfluous, as individual contributors, teams and organizations in service to our customers.
There are a lot of moving parts in the process of discovering, developing and delivering value to your customers. Working within a shared understanding of the guiding principles, your current systems will naturally reform and reinvent themselves to support your suppliers, teams and customers in unimaginable new ways.
If your current business model is not designed to support and sustain the impact of quarantine (if you’re experiencing disruption), use this guide and leverage this situation to reshape the way you operate phygitally.
Working ‘backward’ from the point of delivery to your customer reveals the critical path to the exchange of that value. In situations where the system is strained, you learn the difference between need to and nice to, shifting paradigms to put the customer’s needs first.
This disruption in routines we’re all experiencing will expose where your existing ways of working (processes, policies, procedures) have inserted bureaucracy and ‘waste’ (disruption in the flow costing time, money or rework), or where your organization inadvertently hasn’t put the customer first.
Rather than taking weeks to socialize and craft a declaration of principles, simply living them through your choices and actions will communicate them more impactfully than words ever could.
Decisive actions inherently communicate priorities which, when at the service of the customers, team and organization will organically cross-pollinate and permeate all aspects of the work, forming new cultural norms. Actions speak.
Current gaps between your proclaimed organizational principles and the actions of your employees can be traced directly back to the systems of work and management within the organization.
New behaviors are forming anyway- you can shape them, or they can shape the future of your organization.
How leaders use mechanisms (tools, frameworks and systems) and leverage experiments to make decisions are the actions that model, shape, build and consistently reinforce the key behaviors supporting the guiding principles.
To review, principles are not top-down mandates, deployed by management. They can not be in a phygital environment. Rather they are shaped over time through actions and priorities with the feedback loops that come with dialogue.
Principles don’t exist in a vacuum, they have a context and relationship within the ecosystem of your company. To separate principles from values, habits and behaviors is to look at a single facet. Rather let’s practice system thinking, look at the whole, and recognize principles are a means to an end.
The end in mind (with a nod to Stephen Covey’s timeless work on habits) is cultivating the individual and organizational behaviors that will deliver superior value.
Demonstrating these is infinitely more useful than describing them (the map is not the land). Tune in to where these characteristics show up and where they need to, and incentivize these behaviors in the outcomes prioritized (we’ll dive into this next) and expectations you hold of one another in a phygital environment.
Integrity between your actions and words will matter as you model, seek out and highlight these attributes in your team. I once heard a leader explain that ‘transparency was really NOT giving someone the whole landscape, because they would be overwhelmed by options.’ That’s only a problem in an unprincipled, hierarchical, command-and-control organization.
Principles act as a homing device, a compass to help every team navigate complexity, to
discover, align to the customer’s needs, and deliver the value they bring.
As your organization is seeking its new rhythms in this time of disruption, seize the opportunity to shape new behaviors. Through your own actions and those you recognize and reward in others, guiding principles will resonate and quickly pollinate across the company. This is the first key to forming a successful digital remote culture and building a phygital Agile framework… and it begins now.