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Survivability is adaptability


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Survivability is adaptability

  1. 1. 3survivaBilityis adaptaBilityBiology can provide auseful insight into thethree main Barriers thatprevent us emBracingchange in the workplace.rolf e. kleiner Å
  2. 2. 2 | LIVING AMONG WOLVES: SURVIVABILITY IS ADAPTABILITYBACTERIA ARE MASTERS AT ADAPTABILITY. The mostsuccessful bacteria have a memory that allows them to respond to a threat andexecute a response almost instantly. Then, after the threat is gone, they wipe theirresponse memory clean in order to remain fully adaptable to the environmentsthey are in, without being hung up on how they responded to the last threat.They’re not burdened by the past. For them, survivability is adaptability.What if, a business operating in its chosen Yet, companies like have already Zappos, founded and run on the principlesmarketplace could apply these same used a strong focus on adaptability to create of constant adaptation, was purchased byprinciples? Imagine if it were unencumbered a successful alternative business model. One Amazon for well in excess of $1bn in 2009by established processes, practices, beliefs, of their core values —‘embrace and drive —just a decade after its launch. Clearly, theyand infrastructure—how much faster could it change’—reflects the link that they have made were, and are, doing something right.react to market change? between evolution in nature and in business:When we think about how much we rely on “We are ever evolving. If we want to continueexisting knowledge, past experience and to stay ahead of our competition, we musthistory to guide us in our decision-making, continually change and keep them guessing...the concept of applying this kind of ‘wait As long as embracing constant change is aand see’ approach can —at first— seem part of our culture, they will not be able tocounterintuitive. evolve as fast as we can.” – à Å
  3. 3. 3 | LIVING AMONG WOLVES: SURVIVABILITY IS ADAPTABILITYEMBRACING THE NEED TO CONSISTENTLY EVOLVEIS A MORE ROBUST STRATEGIC PRINCIPLE FOR THEWORLD WE LIVE IN TODAY than the traditional focuses of scale,productivity and efficiency. But achieving this requires a dynamic, bottom-upstrategy execution model and this is not an easy shift for many companies.First, it requires giving up the comforting This doesn’t mean that we throw out every • The way we think —our collectiveidea that with enough research and enough element of planning and strategic intent, but decision-making and accepted wisdomdata, professional strategists can predict it does mean that we begin to see the flawsthe future and plan for it. The issue here is that this approach has inherently, and look • The process and practices we’ve createdthat this approach relies on the threats and to build our adaptive capabilities to combat around usopportunities that strategists see when they them. • The infrastructure we rely on to doare writing the plan remaining relatively static Once we begin to accept that we don’t know our workuntil it is implemented. Given that we areall now operating in an era of heightened what’s ahead, and that any prediction is just The established processes, practices, beliefs,volatility, instability and accelerating change, an educated guess, we can begin to shape a and infrastructure that we rely upon to makethis is increasingly unlikely. business to be more agile and adapt when the our business decisions are the very things that next challenge or opportunity does become can stop us from adapting quickly to change.The reality is, any strategy is always —by its clear. To do this, we need to look closely at Bacteria don’t have this—they forget whatnature —a strategy for now. We have data, the three main barriers that might prevent us happened yesterday and focus all their energywe have trends, but these will only lead us to from embracing change: on adapting to what’s happening today.predictions, and every prediction is flawed. Ã Å
  4. 4. 4 | LIVING AMONG WOLVES: SURVIVABILITY IS ADAPTABILITYIT’S EASY TO SEE HOW THE NEW BREED OFTECH COMPANIES MIGHT BE ABLE TO APPLYTHIS KIND OF RADICAL APPROACH, yet even in amature technology-driven marketplace, such as a call centre, the biologicalprinciples of adaptability and of just-in-time thinking can be applied.We know that managing capacity with Companies such as KellyConnect have taken force—one that wants and needs this kind of It’s clear, even without a crystal ball to relyrespect to labor in a call center is critical a more innovative approach to this problem. flexibility to be able to participate in work. upon, that HR practice needs to evolve tobecause the labor is the most expensive Using Cloud Computing and remote capture these new opportunities and to helpcomponent. One of its biggest challenges managing and mentoring, KellyConnect can This ‘workforce virtualization’ is wholly business adapt more quickly to market to deal with the fluctuating nature of the fluctuate the labor pool in accordance to enabled by technological change and it To find the right people at the right time, towork, especially around peak calling times. If real-time call activity. By creating a distributed means that there is an increasing array of foster flexible and adaptive thinking, and topeak calling times are at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. workforce, including at-home workers, they jobs, and elements of jobs, that can be tasked embed a culture that thrives on change, thehow is staff productivity maintained in the have been able to create the kind of flexibility to individuals in any part of the globe. Of way we think about our workforce will have tointervening three hours? that works for their clients and employees. course, this assists companies to access talent adapt as well. wherever it is, which will become increasinglyOutsourcing whole departments to a This sort of technology-led optimization critical as global demographic shifts see talentlocation where labor is cheaper is one way is applicable not just in call centers, but pools drying up in most developed overcome this. However, the waste is still anywhere distributed workers need to be Workforce virtualization is one way to be morethere, it just costs less as result of the labor coordinated or directed centrally. And it adaptable, but there are others.arbitrage. also allows business to tap into a new labor à Å
  5. 5. “IF YOU LIVE AMONGWOLVES, YOU NEED TOHOWL LIKE A WOLF”RUSSIAN PROVERBTHIS IS PART 3 OF LIVING AMONG WOLVES, A WHITEPAPER SERIES EXPLORINGTHE FOUR FORCES DRIVING THE UPTAKE OF HR OUTSOURCING.ABOUT THE AUTHORROLF E. KLEINER is the Senior Vice-President and General Manager of KellyOutsourcing & Consulting Group. In this role he is responsible for the strategicand structural development of the global business practice of KellyOCG.ABOUT KELLYKelly Services, Inc. (NASDAQ:  KELYA, KELYB) is a leader in providing workforce solutions.Kelly® offers a comprehensive array of outsourcing and consulting services as well as world-classstaffing on a temporary, temporary-to-hire and direct-hire basis.  Serving clients around the globe,Kelly provides employment to more than 530,000 employees annually.  Revenue in 2010 was$5 billion.  Visit and connect with us on Facebook®, LinkedIn®, and Twitter®. Ã EXIT