Applying Sense & Respond (Daniel J. Forno) | May 26, 2012 |

Experience report by @danjforno as VP in IBM applying Sense & Respond to become an adaptive organization in three situations.

Dan Forno is a retired IBM Vice President who applied Sense & Respond concepts and tools to three very different –  and difficult– managerial challenges. Forno was introduced to S&R in 1999. He saw in it a systematic and structured approach to managing the way he was naturally inclined to, but was constantly frustrated in implementing.

Applying Sense & Respond (Daniel J. Forno) | Stephan H. Haeckel | May 26, 2012 | at

Excerpts from the attached document:

Reason for Being
Distinguishing who we existed to support from who we had to satisfy in order to exist was a critical lynch pin in our Adaptive Design. [….]

“Outcome” is an important adaptive management term. My whole team had dealt in nothing but deliverables. Outcomes are similar, but they focus on the benefits realized by the customer, and are better defined. They have conditions of satisfaction; they have roles responsible for delivering them and they are produced by a dynamic linking of outcomes that deliver the ultimate outcome — the Reason for Being. [….]

Governing Principles
“We will always …”, “We will never …” what a way to build a set of usable policy boundaries for a team, large or small, within which to feel fully empowered to act. [….]

Ultimately, these became the most powerful words that I used to lead the organization. They laid out, in simple precise terms, what the members of the organization could or could not do. They established the boundaries within which people were empowered to act — without checking, and as rapidly as possible. By establishing these principles, I was confident that I could coherently empower individuals to do what was necessary to deliver the outcomes they were responsible for. [….]

Role and Accountability Design
[….] “Who owes what to whom” is the mantra of an adaptive organizational design, rather than “what actions are taken in what sequence”. We began listing the roles we had in the organization, starting with the role that had a direct interaction with the customer. We worked our way back, identifying roles that eventually took us down to the roots of the organization where the work actually begins. We then began drawing in ‘outcome arrows’ which were labeled with the outcome that linked one role to another.

[…. After] completing this exercise, we had a sound understanding of the organization, how it was currently operating and how we wanted it to be operating. We also had a framework for monitoring how the organization was performing (measure the outcomes!) which was affectionately referred to as “measuring the lines, not the circles”.

Applying Sense & Respond to Create Adaptive Organizations | Daniel J. Forno | May 2012 at–Forno.pdf

May 26, 2012 | Sense & Respond