Being resourceful always trumps being well resourced

perspectives May 16, 2017

A common complaint we hear amongst the various organisations we work with is that there are insufficient resources to achieve their objectives. Very often people experience reducing pools of resources to do even more.

We have also observed organisations where there is little correlation between how well resourced they are and how well they support their people, customers and achieve strategic objectives.

human resources

Often, organisations that are exceptionally well-resourced don’t have a genuine mandate for change, and therefore are less likely to change than organisations that are less well-resourced and facing into greater challenges.

Being well-resourced without matching resourcefulness in the organisation, often leads to duplication. We have seen organisations where functional units “couldn’t get along” so roles and processes were duplicated. This also plays out in functions where there is a lack of trust. Not only is this terribly wasteful, it reinforces silos and allows people to get away with not doing the work of collaboration and change.

One organisation we worked closely with used multiple personal development diagnostics for different teams across various functional units. While the teams appreciated the development, the reality was that it created confusion in language and a lack of coherence, which prevented benefits to the culture being realised.

The antidote is both obvious and challenging – building an organisation’s resourcefulness. Resourcefulness means finding solutions where none appear obvious. It requires learning and adapting, increasing focus and capability in the areas of collaboration, innovation and creativity.

When we have worked with organisations that have crossed the invisible bridge and become truly resourceful, they think and respond to challenges in a very different way. The begin to consider much broader system considerations, and how their organisations can make optimal use of every resource. They often subscribe to “necessity is the mother of invention”. Yet a deeply resourceful organisation goes beyond resourceful through necessity to applying resourcefulness as a strategic advantage.

One organisation we have worked with is exceptional at freeing up financial resources to invest in new markets by improving efficiencies in existing markets. A not for profit organisation we have worked with has complete commitment to being highly profitable in its commercial services so that it can reinvest these profits into its community services

The following are examples of practices or ways of thinking we have experienced in resourceful organisations

  • Pretend you have no choice in relation to a particular requirement. If this was true, what would you need to learn and develop to be successful?
  • Imagine loosening existing constraints in an area that is underperforming; what would be possible; could a small investment of resources make a very big difference?
  • Stretch the mindsets of humans in the organisation; taking a deliberately developmental approach to supporting the growth of individual and collective wisdom
  • Find where else in the organisation pockets of excellence exist and leverage these across the organisation
  • Build partnering relationships with external providers in order to share knowledge and insights. Consider how to leverage customers, supply chains, and value chains
  • Find multiple uses for the one resource – for example, a school that leases out its classrooms to businesses that run evening workshops and activities
  • Punish duplication and reward collaboration and innovation
  • Deliberately set up cross-functional teams to look at systemic issues and opportunities including enterprise solutions

The one asset that has a forever increasing capacity to learn and grow and go beyond its current boundaries is the human being. Adaptive organisations build resourcefulness by intentionally supporting the growth of people, for their benefit, for their organisations benefit and ultimately for the benefit of their communities and spheres of influence.

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