There are three types of tasks that organizations face.
The first type are tasks that they have to be able to do repeatedly and consistently. These are the things that the organization is usually “known for”. Then there are new challenges that can be foreseen and that the organization has to be prepared for. This is how an organization is capable of reacting to upcoming changes or just moving forward in their evolution as an organization. Third, are the unexpected. And these are the situations when something happens that was not possible to predict.
If we pick an organization, for example, an auto manufacturer, the first type of tasks are producing the current year model. Being able to consistently deliver an automobile on spec. The second type may be the same auto manufacturer working through their development process to create the next year’s model, or even reacting to the trend of electric car demand. The third one is more complicated, and it is the appearance of an unexpected issue, either positive or negative, like -for example- a global pandemic, some kind of lawsuit, or the unexpected opening in the market left by a competitor facing a problem. An event of the third type requires a quick reaction.
Each of these areas has a different operational mode that addresses optimally the particular challenge.
Repeatable tasks require repeatable processes. Documented, carefully optimized processes that produce exactly the same outcome every time, in exactly the same time, at exactly the same cost. Processes that are implemented and documented formally can be improved upon in a systematic way as well, leading to a virtuous cycle.
Foreseen shifts require a way to address them optimally, and there is no better way than to plan for them. The plan, and the planning process, aligns the resources and keeps things on track, turning change, into something predictable.
Finally, the best way to deal with unforeseen changes is to have in place people with the leadership attributes to be able to react swiftly, but in a clear-headed way, in face of an unforeseen situation.
Most endemic issues at organizations come from the fact that they attempt to address a task with the wrong operational mode. When unforeseen issues are handled through standardized processes, they break down, causing more issues; failing to plan in complex change projects usually leads to failure, and just throwing good people at issues, without any formalized process in general just doesn’t scale.