Strategic Adaptability

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Adaptability: The New Competitive Advantage


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Starting the conversation:

Becoming more adaptive as a company is to play the long game. When we continue to create value, solve the right problems at the right time, and be present leaders, our competitive advantage is strengthened and we build internal organizational resilience.

Host: Jess Dewell
Guests: Rick Hall, Steve Chaparro, Mike Wittenstein

What You Will Hear:

There are three ways to be more intentionally adaptable: 1) continue to create value, 2) solve the right problems at the right time, and 3) be present and real. Small changes will start to create different (and more) impact to build internal company resilience. The more dynamic your company, the more opportunities may be realized. Listen to Jess Dewell share the insights from Rick Hall, CEO of Aginity, Steve Chaparro, Principle at Culture Design Studio, and Mike Wittenstein, Story Miners, in a discussion about how adaptability keeps companies adaptable.

Start from where you are at to make small and lasting changes.

Innovation and reinvention require adaptability.

First things first, listen.

Facilitate conversation, listening, and be open to experiments.

Shift the frame with which you view your industry, your team, and your customers.

Observe and question to dig deeper and find assumptions.

Building adaptability, long term resilience, for competitive advantage requires confidence.

Time and effort are required to continuously create value.

Solve for the right problems and remember to keep customers in the center of that process.

Be real. Be grounded. Be willing to slow down sometimes.

It is BOLD to be an adaptable leader.

Notable and Quotable:

p262 - Rick Hall

Quote - Steve Chaparro

Quote - Mike Wittenstein

Quote - Jess Dewell



Rick Hall 00:00 I think we’ve transitioned from command and control to empower as the metaphor for which we need to lead organizations.

Mike Wittenstein 00:10 When you find resistance in your organization or among your clients to say, No, we can’t do that. That’s just not the way it works here. If you dig in, and they give you permission, and you earn permission to ask why 234 or five times, you’ll find out the immovable objects, the things that just won’t budge.
Steve Chaparro 00:29 The wicked problems are those that we actually don’t even know what the real problem is, let alone what the real solution is.

ANNOUNCER 00:38 Welcome. This is the Bold Business Podcast. Your Business has many directions it can travel, the one true direction of your company creates the journey for you to move toward a new, exciting level. We call this the Red Direction. In today’s program, we delve into one idea. The idea will support you as you work on ever-present situations, including how to stay competitive in a changing market, how to break through the business plateau, and how to anticipate the changing expectations of your stakeholders. Jess Dewell is your guide. Jess brings you a 20-year track record of Business Excellence, where strategy and operations overlap. Your Path comes from consistently working from this special place, your unique true north. Now, here’s Jess.

Jess Dewell 01:31 Adaptability is the new competitive advantage. The conversations that we had around this topic started with an idea, an idea about small changes that create big impacts. What came out of it, though, were that designed ideas could create big impact, that being purposeful could create big impact all of them on the concept of adaptability. In this program, you are going to hear that it is important to continue to create value. And before we’re looking that when we solve the right problem at the right time, we’re aligning to our priorities, the more real we can be, the more centered we can be. The more we’re willing to take a pause means the more that we can see and adapt quicker. Before I introduce you to our guests for this podcast, I wanted to share something from a Forbes panel article that we found. It’s called promoting a culture of adaptability, four elements stood out specifically around having a competitive advantage by being adaptable. The first is we must be flexible ourselves. The second, when everyone is empowered to identify opportunities, decision-making becomes more broad, and change happens faster. The third thing is that that can happen when we have safe spaces to do our work in. And when we tie all of these things back to our values and our mission, we’re able to communicate more clearly more deeply about what our goals are. Now, I want to introduce you to the first of three guests on this program. Steve Shapiro is an organizational culture expert, and a communicator who speaks worldwide about how companies can transform their workplace culture through intentional co creation, and communication. Here’s how he starts off today.

Steve Chaparro 03:33 Take 2020 as an example, how many of us as leaders and founders and CEOs of our companies had a pretty defined picture of what 2020 was going to look like. And if you stayed on that course through the entire year, you probably would not be doing well today. But if you were able to adapt and I’m not saying you had to pivot, I’m not saying you have to completely change but at least understand in survey my employees, they’re feeling lost and maybe losing their mind and anxious and all this stuff, paying attention to the some of those things, the ability to allow some flexibility and adaptability because things just change too fast. We needed to be able to respond to those things.

Jess Dewell 04:19 It’s true. An article by Terry Williams that was published on Lendio, titled, cultivating adaptability is key to business longevity, the elements that she talks about for building longevity align with what Steve was just sharing to embrace ambiguity and uncertainty to increase our tolerance for that uncertainty and to be able to reframe what’s going on so that forward progress can be made insert here a little bit from Jes, which is their tools that you have just from listening to this program, the Bold Business Podcast, and by being part of the Fast Track Your Business community that really dig into having a dynamic SWOT and how to use it, understanding what your priorities are, and knowing how to set them and taking that pause, having a present retreat, where there is a safe space for evaluation and assessment and decisions to be made about the business. With that in mind, that leads me to our second guest in this program. And this is Rick Hall, who is a proven software executive with over a dozen software products and two companies that he has taken to successful sales. Currently, he is the CEO at agility and is on a mission to simplify the process of building and implementing analytical programs.

Rick Hall 05:41 When it comes to technology role, use the umbrella innovation and to me, innovation is critical, has also changed a lot in the past decade. It used to be we thought of innovation is something that came from some brilliant person or mind, somebody like that, that had some brilliant idea. It’s all in their head, that became the basis of some great new idea. Yeah, certainly inspiration. And the aha moment is out there. I think innovation is taking this whole new course, which is really where kind of modern product thinking is, which is around this idea that I’m going to form a hypothesis about something I want to do as an outcome. I want to speed up this process or I want a new vaccine or anything. And then innovation becomes a process of experimentation and rapid iteration, to figure out what it is that’s actually going to deliver that outcome, that process of innovation, which is really only been formalized for the past decade, I think is really kind of cool. What I think of is the basis of positive change today.

Jess Dewell 06:57 Oh, that reminds me of something that I read by Terry Williams, that positive change, reframing, understanding exactly what we have, so that we can proactively and realistically look at what becomes possible. Now I’m going to introduce you to our third guest, Mike Wittenstein. He is an expert in turning strategies into business stories that help leaders win adoption for their boldest plans. He knows why people fight change and how to get them to want to join in using stories to create innovative thinking.

Mike Wittenstein 07:29 When we’re talking about introducing new ideas that can really take hold and move a company in a new direction where it can find new revenues, new clients and sustain itself have new profit, all that stuff. It’s not about following a process. It’s about creating a meaningful and mindful framework quickly go all the way to the details of what am I doing on Tuesday at two o’clock with my three programming resources to get this little black box thing done. Don’t jump to that, first, understand what your outcomes are, what your customers needs are, what are the constraints that allow for a really successful project, if you start framing it up, like barn builders would do to an Amish barn, you’re gonna get a much better structure, you can always make more adjustments as you go further down the process. But if you get the foundation wrong, can’t change the walls can’t change the weight and the load balancing. If you get the walls wrong, you can’t fix the ceiling.

Jess Dewell 08:28 We now have three basic elements to understand adaptability more from what Mike just said about really understanding the reason for what’s happening and what we want to be doing to recall who’s talking about the way that we’re thinking and approaching things, the way that we can use data to create innovative thinking. And Steve who’s talking so far about being exactly where we are as a company, and deciding from right here how to go forward. These require a few skills, listening, shared vision, as well as data points that create an impact within our organization.

Mike Wittenstein 09:11 If you’re thinking about telling others something, convincing them, selling them, teaching them introducing something to them, remember that it’s really, really helpful to listen first. It’s kind of hard to do, and you’re stepping on stage. And you’re the first actor to start a play. But every single one of those really good actors, Takes a Breath. And they look out at the audience. They read the audience. It’s so so so important to be a good listener before you start telling your story.

Jess Dewell 09:40 Yes, yes, that pause in the moment. And one of the ways we can strengthen that pause is by using a president retreat by taking time that we’ve protected and dedicated to our companies each week, so we know everything that’s going on to the best that our information allows us to have the best our curiosity can allow us to imagine. And then when we take those pauses, as Mike was talking about, we can get into the work, we can really hear, we can really listen actively.

Steve Chaparro 10:14 As you grow, and you have new generations of employees coming in, and the landscape of the market is changing so rapidly, you have to be more adaptable. And so rather than being an architect of culture, I think it’s helpful for the founder, CEO, to employ the posture of being a facilitator of culture, to invite other voices into the thinking, when you invite people into the process, the innovation will be much greater, and the culture will be much richer.

Jess Dewell 10:46 To be forward-looking to continue to create value requires taking time upfront, owning what there is to do, owning our role, and fully stepping up and integral,

Steve Chaparro 11:00 I believe that vision as you get larger, the vision rather than being a finite destination, like I predetermined already, what it is, I think it should be much more about a direction. And so when you allow the best ideas to bubble up and emerge through an intentional process that I talked about, then that innovation will be far greater because that’s something that I learned even in architecture was you never begin to design with the end design already in mind, here’s the intent, maybe here’s some of the specs that we need. But as far as what it looks like, let me draw one line, that line will inspire the next line, which will inspire the next line. And then just by the virtue of the best solution emerging from the process, you will achieve a far greater design than you ever could have preconceived. There’s this emergent process, adapting to the landscape adapting to situations, if you’re rigid and not adaptive, you won’t last.

Jess Dewell 12:00 Steve and Mike have both talked about being inspired, being thoughtful, understanding what the outcomes are to be, and then starting exactly where we’re at, to see when working with the information that we have, and the outcomes that we want, how the right way forward, that path, starts to take shape, allows us to continue our journey allows us to be adaptable, and can’t forget about this.

Rick Hall 12:29 It’s all about the data. When you test, certainly in the product world, you want to test with customers, or you want some kind of an experiment that lets you validate. Okay, so we live in a world of COVID. And we just went through the introduction of all these vaccines. What did they do, they went through three rounds of trials. And those trials are tests. And what’s the way you know, if the test work with the data, you can get into the weeds of how much data do you need. But there is a basic set of math tells you when an experiment is successful. And the more important your outcome is, the more data you want. These trials, what did they do them with 30 50,000 people because they wanted to get at a result that was accurate down to the very small number. Obviously, the bigger your test store, the more your accuracy is going to reflect on that outcome. You can give up on an idea too soon. And sometimes that comes out of I almost want to say fear because that one of the things about innovation, it’s risk-taking innovation is risky, you’re trying to say I want to do something different. With something new, you have a hypothesis, an idea. A lot of us have those, the ability to go through trying to implement your idea sticking with it long enough to know if it’s gonna work, testing it, and then figuring out okay, this worked this part of it, this part of it didn’t work. I’m gonna go improve on it. People think about innovation. And they think of Google the Google guys. They came up with an idea in their dorm room, actually in a garage while they were in graduate school. And they built it and in launched one of the most important companies in the world, but the number of times that somebody gets it right like that, in fact, it is statistically insignificant, so we should just never count on that happening.

ANNOUNCER 14:28 You are listening to the Bold Business Podcast. We will return to the show soon. But first, I want to take a moment and give you a peek into what additional services and solutions you could access to Fast Track Your Business. This program was created to develop your capacity on demand by sharing insights tips, as well as lessons learned by business leaders unedited, can uncut and we don’t just stop there. There are three additional benefits to help you reach your growth goals. You’ll also have unlimited access to one hearing tips. insights to develop yourself as a leader to get better results more often, to experiencing viewpoints from many different business leaders, three, receiving frameworks to build core competencies and to more effectively focus on business growth and leadership. altogether. The Fast Track Your Business program will allow you to face uncertainty, anytime, anywhere, you can access what will become your most personal tool in your toolkit by going to Fast Track Your Business Now, back to Jess.

Jess Dewell 15:36 Brings up such a good point when we are thinking about problems we are trying to solve in our business today, the right problem at the right time to allow us to continue to create value and before we’re looking Well, most of us will not become Googles of the world, that doesn’t mean we aren’t able to create impact. And I appreciate that about the data that Rick was just talking about the testing the experimentation, understanding what our priorities are, and how we can help our customer base to make our impact in the world shaping our work to that to how accurate do we want to be? What experiments can we run? What are the outcomes we are looking for? What is the situation that we’re facing inside our company and outside of our company? These are the types of things we can use as guideposts to solve the problems that actually show up.

Mike Wittenstein 16:31 What a lot of consultants do, unfortunately, is they try to make more by doing less, they call it efficiency of scale. If a client has problem a and you’ve done solution d 50 times and you try to sell them solution B, do you think that’s really going to help, you might have made a sale because you’re a great salesman, you might have made some improvement, but you’re really not leaning into what the customer needs most. And what would give them the most value? There’s kind of a rub there. A lot of times people think about me, instead of we. If I had a hashtag, it would be we not me, I’ve done it. But I found out so many other people did it first, but I’m now fluffing it.

Jess Dewell 17:08 This brings up such an important assumption that many of us make, how good is repeatable success.

Mike Wittenstein 17:14 Really, the idea of wanting to repeat something means that you’re putting your needs ahead of your customers. When you walk into that next meeting, or you look at that next assignment opportunity, don’t worry about reusing what you have. That’s the old-fashioned, most efficient consulting way to do things. But when you do that, you end up creating a choke point where everything can fail. Just like in the Suez Canal, we found out the world has a choke point, and it’s right there in Egypt. And if a boat goes sideways, it’s hundreds of billions of dollars of inconvenience and cost and lots of angry insurance people and attorneys get involved, they probably lie. They’re the only ones that enjoy it. There are two beliefs at the core of all of that, in my opinion. One is that everything is a hack, as in like hacking something to make it work better. And the other one is that I’m more important than my customers.

Jess Dewell 18:07 That assumption that comes out of the need for repeatable success. repeatable success creates value, then relies on the assumption that our customers actually need what we bring to the table. And to Mike’s point, that is the crux of where adaptability can really happen. And really, that’s actually what Rick is talking about, too, with being innovative and different. Can we automate and repeat? What does make us efficient? And can we experiment and problem-solve creatively together? And know when it’s right to do both? How do we be real? How do we find the center of what we’re truly trying to do? And are we able to actually really ask better questions to get under the surface? And then are we able to actively listen and truly hear and absorb what comes back so that we can take it to our next president retreat and chew on that a while and figure out how it fits in and what could adjust and adapt to keep us competitive to keep us providing value within our companies.

Mike Wittenstein 19:17 Alright, so the first thing was about listening. If you don’t listen first to your clients and what they need, it’s a lot harder to come up with these little things that can make such a big difference to them. So here are a few ways that you can start listening to your clients. One is you can depending on kind of business you are, you can go visit them at their place of business. You can shop their business if they run a restaurant and go eat there, talk to the staff, ask for a tour. Try to push up against the barriers of the service, like send something back just to see what happens or overpay. Like leave a $50 tip and see what happens. By trying and testing a business out. You can find out so much about how it’s wired And that tells you a lot about the founders or the owner or the manager or the brand. And then you can start to see what you’ve got to work with. Every time a business hires you. And when you’re selling to them, you’re not actually selling them, they’re buying you, it’s their choice. It’s not yours.

Rick Hall 20:20 Fear of failure, you’re in that seat all the time, if you’re an entrepreneur, or you’re just doing innovation, in general, maybe, anytime you’re fearing success is really a confidence thing, you don’t have the confidence that know what to do. When you get there, you’re gonna undermine yourself along the way, a lot of people have that.

Jess Dewell 20:39 I know I do now. And again, sometimes, I might call it imposter syndrome. Sometimes I might just call it straight-up fear of flying by the seat of my pants. And other times, I just don’t know if I’m good enough. And there’s a whole bunch of other things that I haven’t said, but I also relate to them. And just understanding that that happens is great, because we can welcome that to the table, as we’re thinking about being adaptable, as we’re thinking about the three points that we’re really honing in on in this program, to make sure that we are staying competitively placed in the market, that we have the advantage of knowledge within our business, and that we’re willing to look and see things that we might not really want to see. Because it allows us to …
Rick Hall 21:23 … Have an idea to stay on the course of action. When you’re somewhere along that course of action, you wake up scared, and you’re like, Oh my God, is this really gonna work out? You know, what I do? When that happens to me, I go back through the original thinking, why I decided to do what I decided to do. And I review it. And I asked myself are all the reasons why I decided to go down this path still true. If they are still true, then I’m on the right course, if something’s wrong, then I have to reconsider. I almost have this mental process I go through which helps me get through those moments of care because I’m going to talk about fear here. But the every entrepreneur has those moments.

Jess Dewell 22:11 Yes. And we still take action.

Steve Chaparro 22:14 I was a VP of strategic design at an architecture firm. The principles of that firm came out of Disney Imagineering. So they had a lot of spatial storytelling mindsets, we would sit down with our clients and say, What is your story? What is your cultural narrative? Who are you as a company? And how can we embody that story into your space so that your physical environment is a branded or cultural expression of who you are as a company? What we noticed there, a lot of organizations actually did not have a healthy grasp of who they were, who they wanted to be, nor did they have an intentional approach to their culture. Many times they thought, well, we just fixed our space, it’ll fix other things. And we said, No, no, no, you got to fix some of these other things. If that moment, I realized that I wanted to apply the mindsets and methodology of architecture, design, design thinking, Human Centered Design, to organizational culture, and businesses.

Jess Dewell 23:16 Take what we have, what we can measure what we can feel, what we can see what we can smell, what we can hear, and reflect on it. And then take more action.

Rick Hall 23:25 I formed this company called Karan Corporation. After I left Costco, which is where I had been the CTO, we had this idea. And I had a couple of co-founders about how to improve analytic processes. And we started doing discovery around it. And then I got introduced to this company agility and the CEO of that company, they were in some tough times. But I could see that they had a really interesting product. My old board and investors and I got together, we bought the company. And we did it in a very short period of time because a lot of things had to happen quickly. For a variety reasons. Their leadership team had actually never met our team, we suddenly had to come together. And this, by the way, was on March 12 of last year, it happened right at the point when COVID struck, and it’s locked downtime, I had two teams that many had never even met. And by the way, here we are a year later, and they’ve still never been in the same room together. I think they would tell you that they know each other really well. But half of my leadership first is decide who’s going to take what role, I have my view of what I’m looking for in people. And so I was able to suss out and it turned out that half of the leaders were going to come from all the genetti and half of we’re going to come from where I was so it was exactly split, which wasn’t necessarily my objective, but it was the outcome and probably helped us like getting them to trust each other, which I think they do remarkably well now, like, I’ll join a conference call, where they’re just like, in giggles and laughs and just having a good time, there is no new co old co stuff anymore, that comes down to building trust, what I tried to do, and I guess it kind of worked. I don’t think I played favorites in who I appointed those roles. But I pointed to their roles. So we got over the, you know, Band-Aid comes off, there was really only turned out to be one person who wasn’t a fit. We were nice about it. But we said goodbye to them. You pointed people into their roles, we gave them enough responsibility to each other, they didn’t have to come to me, they knew how they interact with each other. It took a while for that trust to develop. But then I think it kind of comes down to they have to see that you’re not going to be a vindictive leader. You have to give people room to succeed and room to fail. You have to earn trust, you don’t get trust walking in the door, you have to earn it. A building as a team was a challenge. COVID times made it even more so. But I think you got to pick the right people, give them clear responsibilities, and then empower them. And then you’ve got to demonstrate through your actions that you are somebody to be trusted.

ANNOUNCER 26:27 We’ll be back to Jess and the Bold Business Podcast shortly. You can Fast Track Your Business with on-demand information curated to help you build a resilient business that achieves its goals. But why? Why is it so important that you take the steps to invest in yourself and your leadership team with subscriptions to this program? We all need to save time and get relevant and trustworthy information when we want. This program will reduce your overwhelm and increase your opportunity with high-quality information on demand. This straightforward approach ensures this program answers the most important question what do you need to know to Fast Track Your Business? We answer this question by providing you a vast set of resources to help you work through complex challenges with exclusive articles, videos, podcasts, and access to Ask Jess Your Business Questions. You receive several benefits above and beyond what is available for free with a monthly subscription. To find out more visit FastTrackYou Let’s get back to the show.

Jess Dewell 27:35 So making change, which by the way, is adapting to new situations takes time. It takes time to prepare, it takes time to implement. And it takes time to continue to assess and refine and build the trust necessary for everybody to feel comfortable and understand what their role is, how they contribute and that the adaptability within an organization comes from everyone in the company. So when we know who we are, when we find our own center, we can build upon that and figure out how we can enable and empower others to create value and to enable and empower them to find the opportunities. The world takes all kinds. Our organizations take all kinds. We need all kinds of people with all kinds of interests on our journey, following the map that we have charted that course that we’re taking together to deliver on our mission and serve a group of people and making their lives and making their businesses better. So whichever guideposts you choose to use in your company. Remember, I’m a big fan of having a dynamic SWOT to understanding what the current priorities are. And to bring those along with the vision mission and values to a weakly present retreat that protected time to really spend immersed in everything that’s going on in the organization, and to align and to adapt and to make adjustments to continue to create value to continue to solve the right problems and take advantage of the right opportunities and to continue to show up in a way that builds trust and safety. Because we are real and centered in ourselves.

Rick Hall 29:23 We’re in this space and called collaborative analytics, but it’s about pushing analytics out to every edge of the organization from just a centrally controlled function. And the only way you can really do that is if you empower all those people out at the edge to do their own thing because you can’t possibly do everything from a central place. Everybody needs data today. I’m a big fan of the autonomous team. Leadership is setting objectives and goals and then probably allocating resources to Team And putting the best possible people on those teams, and then really, truly getting out of the way and supporting them. I think we’ve transitioned from command and control, to empower as the metaphor for which we need to lead organizations.

Jess Dewell 30:18 I totally believe in that. Rick and Steve and Mike are all setting up the solutions that they’re also bringing to the table. Now, I want to share a report that Deloitte put out in 2020, called adaptable organization, the new normal, one section of it really caught my eye and pertains to what we’re talking about today. With adaptability being our new competitive advantage. There were some deep-seated deep-rooted beliefs that are holding our companies back. I’m wondering if these are things that you’re holding on to as well. The first is that disruption is a choice we make. The second is that we have a regard for tradition that influences our next action. And the third, that really stuck out change is always ineffectively managed, when we look at those deep-rooted beliefs, those are reasons to shy away from being adaptable. They’re shying away from stepping into truly what becomes possible. And having that courage and facing our fears, to do the best work to serve our customers the best and really have the people who have chosen to work with us alongside us that believe in what we’re doing as a group to make a change in the world. When you find

Mike Wittenstein 31:37 resistance in your organization, or among your clients to say, No, we can’t do that. That’s just not the way it works here. If you dig in, and they give you permission, and you earn permission to ask why 234 or five times, you’ll find out the immovable objects, the things that just won’t budge. And you know what, if you can get those things to budge, that’s usually what it takes to free up all kinds of creative inspiration, energy, new ideas, and lets the organization click two or three degrees to one side. And then after a little bit of time, that’s where all the new gold comes from. You shift from hunting for little flakes of gold to finding a brand new gold vein. So if you find out what those resistance points are, as a vendor, you can show how your products and services can help break that down. Now, sometimes clients don’t want that. But a lot of times they are searching for the silver bullet, what can we do to make things better? Look back at that hack upon a hack upon a hack of just old ways of doing things and find out what’s the oldest piece in there that just really needs to go and start working on that, because that frees up everything. And we’ve had some situations where that’s happened. And it’s been amazing to see what the results for the client are.

Jess Dewell 32:50 Our deep-rooted beliefs, those immovable objects, let’s take that and layer in the team.

Rick Hall 32:57 This is a team sport. It’s not an individual sport that goes across the entire culture of an organization. And to be honest with you, I think most companies actually have made that switch. I think 10 years ago, we might have been having this discussion. And it would be a point of tension with a lot of leaders, I talk to major corporate leaders all the time. And I don’t find very many of them who really have that command and control mentality anymore. If you have somebody who can’t work in a team, they’re an individual or they want to command and control things, I think with people always you have to kind of set the expectation, you have to offer them all kinds of support in making the transition and coach them through that process. And not give them one, not two, but three or four chances. But if they don’t make it, they got to go because it will poison an entire team. If they don’t adopt that point of view. I’m sure you have read The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. It’s one of my favorite books that gets at this first issue of trust. People don’t have trust, probably you can’t build anything on top of it.

Jess Dewell 34:10 All along the way of the forward progress we’re making, especially when we are building adaptability as a core skill across an organization means we’re going to encounter resistance.

Steve Chaparro 34:24 I’m a part of a team that has helped them to essentially restructure their organization. It’s a department within a large organization. And the way the leader defines the purpose of this engagement is to fix the roof during the summer. So it’s basically saying before the rains come before the pain comes before the market tells us we really need to change. We’re going to do this work while the going is good. So that way we can be prepared to scale when growth comes because so many times we’re not prepared for growth to come because of the internet structure is just shaky for not fixing the infrastructure, when times are good, then we’re going to be scrambling because we’re not properly structured to withstand the storms of the markets to storms of whatever chaos we may encounter, sometimes taking care of some of those things are things are good. That even goes for business development. I work with a lot of professional services firms, like architecture firms, when we’re talking about helping them with a business development strategy. They say, Steve, I think actually, we’re good right now. And one thing I’ve learned as a VP of business development was, you don’t put a plan together when times are bad, because you’re already six to 12 months, at least behind the eight ball, if you start now. So the idea is put a plan together when you don’t need it, or at least when you’re not hurting, so that you’re prepared for growth, or that you’re prepared for pain.

Jess Dewell 35:54 Such an important point is never a squeaky wheel. So it always gets put aside, it is the most underutilized part of a business. Our time when things are good to Steve’s point are the times to evaluate what happens when we find a dress, what happens when we turn around. And the backpack that’s carrying all of our gear has been leaving it on the trail behind us yet, we’re still going forward on this course, the problems that we face along the way come from the effort that we put in day-to-day. And when we lead by example, amazing things happen.

Rick Hall 36:28 They want to be inspired, and they want to be led, you should never hide what’s really going on. But you have to be confident and inspirational. People can see when you’re faking it, you have to be that way. But you have to be real. How do you do that? Well, you got to find a certain center for yourself, whatever it is to like, create your own calm space. Is it drinking that cup of tea? Just contemplating is it going for a walk with the dog, whatever it is, for me, it’s almost always some external activity. One thing I’ve learned, which took me a long time not to react too quickly, take a moment to reflect or sometimes take a day or two to reflect, let things transpire around you. One of the hardest things to go from being a manager to being a leader, your manager, you probably could do every task that the people who worked for you could do when you’re a leader, you can’t anymore their whole functions that are outside of your knowledge base. And you have to resist the urge to get involved. And you have to create the space for the people who have those areas to do what they need to do being able to step back and not intervene. That’s the hardest part to learn, for me.

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Jess Dewell 38:36 So adaptability has things that we need like being able to listen actively like being able to design the way that we think and the stories that we use to create buy-in and move the needle toward change to have autonomous teams and all those build trust allow us to have a new relationship with taking time to reflect. And all of it allows us to become more innovative as an organization.

Mike Wittenstein 39:07 When you’re designing your experience or your service or you’re talking about it to help facilitate the buying process. You need to put your client into the center of the story. When the story revolves around them, as opposed to around you or your process or your products. They start to get more engaged, they become more involved. They become committed because what you’re doing is you’re letting them and this is the point of the whole day. You’re helping them to discover their own experience with your product or service before they buy it. That’s what buyers want to know. They want to know how’s it going to feel? How’s it going to work? How’s it going to make me look? How’s it going to affect the budget? Is it going to work? Is it going to embarrass me or my employees? Will my people use it? All of a buyers questions besides basic functionality are about the future. How will it work? So the better you can pay to picture of their future, the better. But the trick is to let them paint it. So you set them up to make discoveries. And then as they start realizing things, their level of intrigue and commitment goes up, and eventually, it’s a fait accompli. And I don’t speak French. But I hope I said that right.

Jess Dewell 40:18 So what does all this self-work doing? All I talk about on this whole podcast, and every episode is what can you do? What can you do? What can you do? And Mike is bringing up a very good point, once we know what we can do, part of the way we communicate part of the way we serve, part of the way we deliver on our mission is to then invite others to come on a journey with us to make it not about us, to make it about everybody to find out what sparked somebody’s curiosity and build on that there are so many frameworks that we can lean into. To achieve that.

Steve Chaparro 40:50 When you think of design thinking as a methodology design thinking itself, I didn’t realize that when I was in architecture, I was actually employing design thinking or Human Centered Design. Well, let’s go down to the root-like root meaning of what design means if you can designate certain things. If you can intentionally think about something, then you could employ the methodology of designer. So design thinking itself is really an intentional process to solve complex problems. And so we generally think of it in five stages. One, you first learn to understand what the problem is, you do some research, to take more of an understanding quantitatively and qualitatively of what really is that problem. And then you go into an ideation phase of developing a plethora of solutions and then coming up with one solution to work on, then you prototype that solution, and then you test it, and then you do the process all over again. That’s the process that we employed in architecture. It’s the process we employ in design thinking, what I’ve been fascinated about is how do you employ that to the design of culture, the design of a business model, the design of a customer experience, all of those different things, naturally can be addressed through design thinking.

Jess Dewell 42:12 Steve is talking about complex problems. And I believe that this can work on everyday problems, too. So I asked him about that. And here’s what he said.

Steve Chaparro 42:23 But the reason why we say complex problems is because we believe that there are three types of problems there are simple, complex, and there’s even a third one, which is what we call wicked problems, the simple problems, we know what the problem is, and we know what the solution is, we just have to go through the process. complex problems are we don’t we know what the problem is. But we don’t know what the solution is. The wicked problems are those that we’d actually don’t even know what the real problem is, let alone what the real solution is.

Jess Dewell 42:56 The clarification of the type of problem that is showing up. And how we might look at it as an individual, as a team, as a leadership team was very clear, in the end, being able to use a framework and quantify the type of problem to know where to begin and see what shows up as the shape based off of the outcomes we desire is what’s going to provide us the right direction for right now, which keeps us adaptable.

Steve Chaparro 43:24 Even the idea of saying, Let’s come into this process with an open mind. And let’s make sure that we’re solving for the right problem. Too many times, we jumped to conclusions as to Yeah, I already know what the problem is. In fact, I may even know what the solution is. If we can come into a process to say, let’s be open to really understand what is the best problem to solve for our business.

Jess Dewell 43:51 Problems never show up when we have space and time and energy. Since that’s the case, it’s important to understand how to make time how to stop how to even recognize that we have a problem to solve. That comes down to what I think about a president retreat helps with that also comes down to being real, and finding our own center and being able to pause. And Steve builds on that.

Steve Chaparro 44:17 Understanding that there is a problem or that something isn’t working or that something can be better is a really great place to start. because too many times we are so busy doing the work any sort of rhythm or activity in our workplace or time to actually reflect a bit. It’s almost as if we’re constantly flexing, if you’ve ever been to a gym, you know that you’re never going to in one gym session, always be flexing, there’s a flex of and does a release a flex and a release and that releases recovery time. There should be a rhythm in our course of our work, that we reflect on some things taking the time to say yes there is a problem. There is a challenge. Let’s spend some time I forget if a time sign he says, If I had an hour to solve a problem, I would spend 55 minutes trying to figure out what the right problem is to solve that is a very rare thing that we do is to try to identify the right problem.

Mike Wittenstein 45:20 You have to be brave about looking at new things. And you have to be willing to not do that ROI thing I could have said, as the leader of story miners, you know, we just did 3.0, we put money into the website and our social media presence, we did all this thought leadership, we had all these offerings, let’s just make those work. I’m hiring you, you go make that work. That’s your job. That would have gone nowhere. And now that we’ve had a few more months, I know that would have gone nowhere. We’re just being more noise, more clutter, more confusion, frustration, more pitting people against each other, not the way to go, the way to go is always along the path of how do I deliver more value for people in my ecosystem, my clients, my customers, my partners, that whole thing, if you find that solution, that raises everyone up, you go up to that’s the smart way to design. So that’s what we’ve done. And now our ecosystem has got, like 20 players on it on the website, we’ve got other corporate relationships that are much larger than we are that we can call on for project management for tech for all kinds of things. So now our design, I feel is kind of unbounded, because we have these much larger partners that if we need to, we can call it, which is never the way I thought about the company, I always thought I had to own all the assets, all the resources. So we’re not quite Uber but we’re thinking differently.

Jess Dewell 46:49 [uninteligible] And that’s what the Bold Business Podcast is about. What can we do differently today to be more adaptable to stay competitively positioned to best serve our customers and the greater industry in the greater world? Just a quick note that all of the reference material you have heard in this program will be listed in the show notes, along with quotes from our guests, as well as other resources, they came up in our conversation. So make sure you visit Red Direction comm to see the full show notes. And if you’re interested in the source material, get the links. Now we have to talk about why it is bold. It is bold, to expand what you do to be more adaptable.

Steve Chaparro 47:36 I think it’s bold to be adaptive to be a facilitator because you have to admit that you are not the smartest person in the room. Too many times we as leaders of our companies think that we need to have the best idea, have the best expertise and the best knowledge. Sometimes we’re faking it or faking it just because we’re posturing a bit let’s be honest, if we are adaptive not to say that we are flaky because I don’t want people to misinterpret what I’m saying to be adaptive is not to go with any new wind and trend floats by because that frustrates me. as all get out when a person changes strategy based on the latest crisis. For me, it shows that there’s no conviction in their strategy. But to understand that you need to be adaptive to the changing climate, to even different expectations of employees as new generations come into the market. Understanding that best practices are today’s solutions to yesterday’s problems. So be careful about best practices, I want to be able to be much more adaptable and not just resort to the heuristic of a best practice. It takes boldness to say I don’t know what five years looks like, I know what I want it to look like. So those are some things that come to mind for me.

Jess Dewell 48:55 It is bold, to expand what you do to be more adaptable.

Rick Hall 49:01 I feel remarkably lucky. Because of my parents. They were all about thinking and ideas. And so we sat around the kitchen table when I was like 10 and debated socioeconomics and politics all the time. And we talked about leadership, we talked about all kinds of things. And so I guess that I came up thinking through that process. I just love to think it’s my favorite thing to do is this weekend, I’m going to get my car with my dog. And I’m going to drive to the east coast for the next few months. It’s 28 hours of drive time between Denver, Colorado, and Washington DC where we’re going to be so a lot of time on the road, just me and the dog and people like that’s so long and it is long, it’s sometimes tiring. But like for me, it’s like I get to sit in the car and just think for like eight hours and I get a kick out of that I actually enjoy that. What was it, Socrates said, The unexamined life is not worth living, reflecting upon yourself and the world that you’re in is if you get the opportunity to do that, that’s a great thing.

Jess Dewell 50:15 It is bold to expand what you do to be more adaptable.

Mike Wittenstein 50:19 Being adaptive is not a pivot. It’s something that you learn over time, and that you have to practice from lots of different ways of thinking in different areas of your life. So it’s almost like a religious commitment going on faith type of thing. But the really bold thing that everybody can do, based on uncertainty without feeling diminished, when you face uncertainty, a lot of times people feel afraid, imposter, like get imposter syndrome. I don’t know if I can do that. Or I’ve never done that before. Or wonder what people will think of me What if I fail, you have to be able to face uncertainty with your teams and support all of them. And if you just focus on that, you will get better at that. Because reality is that with your team and with your clients, there’s a lot less risk and uncertainty, it’s actually a stronger structure to go forward on during times of change with your friend.

Jess Dewell 51:19 The new competitive advantage is to be adaptable. In this program. You heard Steve and Mike and Rick talk about continuously creating value solving the right problems at the right time to be real to find your center and fully show up and you took away some solutions and some experiences that each have had. Because when we’re forward-looking, when we know what our priorities are, when we take time to pause and understand and assess even in just one breath, we are building our ability to adapt.

ANNOUNCER 51:57 Thank you for tuning in and listening to the Bold Business Podcast. If you have learned something from this show that will help you in your business right now, consider what additional impact you can get by subscribing to the Fast Track Your Business program. You owe it to your business to seek out new ways to achieve more while building a resilient and profitable business. Subscribe now. Visit Fast Track Your Business Special thanks to The SCOTT Treatment for technical production.