The Teibel Blog

NBOA 2012—Building the Roadmap for Change

There is a roadmap to navigating a change initiative. That's the good news. The bad news is that using the roadmap is difficult because it forces us to work against our instincts.

Our instincts tell us to we should get all the right people in the room, present our biggest challenges, and then—like magic—solve those challenges. That sort of binary thinking is usually just the thing that drives us to the point of frustration. We must first temper our expectations.

Our goal is not to have it all figured out but to establish enough positive momentum that we create energy around the process. From there, it’s a matter of staying connected, staying engaged with those involved so that people are able to see the progress they are making. The road map below focuses on a hybrid approach of taking responsibility for those things you need to own, getting participation from a broad yet targeted set of stakeholders and finally, getting help where you need it.

In the second of the talks I'll be hosting at NBOA, I'll be leading a workshop on brainstorming and mapping organizational processes, so I'll refrain from delivering the bulk of my talk here, but I'd like you to think about these three concepts before we meet in Chicago. 

  1. What does it mean to identify the best people across your organization to help with your change initiatives? We've already covered the importance of the cross-functional team, a team that brings breadth of experience in operations, and is invested in the change they're tasked with addressing. But what are the individual skills and personalities that lead to being positive contributors, team members interested in moving the organization forward and solving significant problems?
  2. How do you frame the broad vision for your team? How do you ensure that your top performers have a clear understanding of what the institution's best possible future could hold, if they are successful? Careful visioning can uncover not just the best possible outcomes, but is the single best exercise for uncovering the silent risks.
  3. How do you know when you're finished? By simply asking that question of your team, you'll incite a healthy conflict, and likely uncover new constraints on your time. By coming to agreement on a target start and end date for your change initiative, you're defining a boundary of accountability, making it real for the folks who need to own the work to come. 

If you missed our podcast summary of the talks I'll be hosting at NBOA this year, I invite you to click play below, and join us with your comments. I look forward to meeting more of you in Chicago! 

NBOA 2012—The Power of People and Making Change Stick

Welcome to part two of my brief series of posts leading to the National Business Officers Association (NBOA) 2012 Strategic Leadership Conference in Chicago. Click here for background.

Last time around, we talked about the power of uncertainty over our teams, and the fear that comes with innovation. This time, I'd like to narrow the focus a bit and talk about the challenges we have in bringing our teams into alignment with our strategic objectives around change.

The right questions and the right people

If you're asking the right questions, then you're putting the stuff you don’t want to talk about square in the middle of the conversation. That's a very powerful thing. Questions like:

  1. How can we ensure our academic programs create the learning outcomes we expect?
  2. What programs that are core to our mission should be retained and what programs need to be reworked?
  3. How should our division or department be structured to best meet the needs of our core customers?

These big questions demand a broad perspective, especially from those using the services and programs we’re trying to improve. Success means different things to different stakeholders and the right people need to be part of owning the solution. But it's not our natural inclination to think so broadly. Instead, we charge these questions to the most obvious stakeholders and expect them to solve the problem in isolation. If our problem includes a dollar sign, we send it to the budget office. If the problem includes enrollment numbers, we send it to admissions, and so on. This narrow assignment of responsibility is a form of denial, and we can do better. 

Being effective in leading our institutions through change is about learning what will impact our areas of focus; defining a broad constituency charged with understanding—not solving—the problem; and then developing a plan that includes those who will implement and live with the change. Our charge, and our responsibility to our people, is rooted in a measured approach to understanding and gaining broad perspective on our problems from those who know best. 

It's that last point that stymies even the most experienced groups. How, when faced with paralyzing economic and financial forces, do you find the strength as a group to come up with new ideas, and energize your team around change?

  1. Figure it out yourself, identify what you don’t know, build the expertise in this area, and then engage the best of your workforce to be part of the solution.
  2. Hire an expert and have them tell you what to do.

We’re biased against hiring an expert thanks to inconsistent performance in the past. We may like doing things ourselves because no one knows our business better than us. We may be reluctant to use cross functional teams because of the risk of accidental public disclosure of our sensitive challenges.

I could go on, of course. It's our past experience that limits our ability to choose from among broader strategies today. Our personal—and organizational—comfort levels can be a key limitation to growth.

If you missed our podcast summary of the talks I'll be hosting at NBOA this year, I invite you to click play below, and join us with your comments. I look forward to meeting more of you in Chicago and will have more thoughts to offer in part three, later this week. 

Ben Zander - World Business Forum 2011

Ben Zander talks to 4,000 people as if they’re children.

Zander serves as the conductor of The Boston Philharmonic Orchestra, and is of renown as a guest conductor with orchestras around the world. He’s a Grammy-winning recording artist with the Boston orchestra and takes as much a part in creating the music as he does in teaching his community—and the world—how music works.

Zander was, by far, the most engaging presenter I have ever seen. When I say that he spoke to us as if we were children, I mean that with no degree of sarcasm. In fact, his first demonstration was to illustrate exactly how children learn music. He used the child’s model of understanding rhythm, structure, and the essential building blocks that lead to this concept he calls flow. Music, he says, and the connection to music, has to be in the body.

As it turns out, taking us back to this more childlike frame was a brilliant way to demonstrate what we need to be doing with our lives and our leadership, and to ask this essential question of ourselves: Are we connected with what we are doing in our lives right now?

Zander then introduced us to John. John was an attendee, just like I was, sitting a little further down toward the front of the hall, and it was John’s birthday. Zander proceeded to stand John on a chair in front of the crowded hall and conduct us in a chorus of “Happy Birthday” to celebrate.

We were terrible. Zander told us so.

He made us take it again. He pushed us, driving us to give our very best to John, saying that this birthday was to be the very best day of John’s year, and that we were to commit to giving John that level of our attention and focus. And John, Zander prodded, was to drink in every ounce, to let it wash over him and be proud of the feeling.

Zander was a lunatic of the highest fashion. And yet, a surprise to many of us, he managed to bring out that commitment and we delivered one of the best damned renditions of “Happy Birthday” I’ve ever heard 4,000 executives muster.

A key lesson of Ben Zander for me is this: Our role as a leader is to demonstrate our commitment to people being as big and as great as they can be. His leadership asks not for following, rather for asking people to be actively engaged and connected in what they are doing. And his own commitment to that same connection inspires what he calls “Shining Eyes”—the physical manifestation of that connection. As a leader, Zander says it’s our job to bring that same shine to all our teams.

Zander’s leadership is not about celebrating his own wisdom and experience as a globally recognized conductor. It’s about what he is able to bring out in others. But developing this sort of relationship comes with great risks, some more manufactured than others. Zander cautions that our modern concepts of performance measurement often come at the expense of true leadership.

Measurement is, at it’s worst, about judgement. It’s about setting a bar above which is success and prosperity, and below which all else is failure. According to Zander, if you want people to succeed, you can’t be kicking off your team relationships from a position of judgement.

If transformational relationships can lead to success, fear of being managed operates in the face of that potential for success. Where Zander succeeds is in eliminating judgement, which in turn eliminates fear, and returns to productivity. Measurement maturity is leading us to be more inclusive about what we’re managing — including more ethereal concepts like happiness—in creating a more well-rounded picture of performance.

Measurement is a collaboration. Zander says he starts off every student-professor meeting by giving his students A’s all around. He presumes success from the outset, and works with his students so that they define why they are going to be successful. If they don’t deliver what they promised up front, they will know exactly why they are going to fail.

This practical, holistic approach to building sound measures hits home for me. It sheds the stigma of the one-size-fits-all methodologies and lets individuals shine as they need to shine, and departments and teams and organizations, too.

Tal Ben-Shahar - World Business Forum 2011

Tal Ben-Shahar is a teacher and writer. He’s a former Harvard lecturer where, according to his Wikipedia biography, “his classes on Positive Psychology and The Psychology of Leadership were among the most popular courses in the University’s history.” Ben-Shahar is intelligent, charismatic, and driven; the mission on his website reads, “I have created this virtual world for the purpose of helping individuals, relationships, and organizations flourish.” His talk on the WBF stage focused on the science underlying positive well being, and he opened his talk with a trick. He informed us that he was about to put an image up on the screen before us. In that image would be a series of shapes. “I want you to tell me how many shapes you see,” he said, and then an image appeared.

On the screen were shapes of all sizes and geometry — triangles embedded inside of triangles, circles in circles, and so on. After thirty seconds, the image disappeared and he asked us, “how many shapes did you see?” One person shouted, “Ten!” A few more, “a hundred!” Still more voices shouted, “a thousand!”

“Good,” he said. “Now, how many children were on the bus?”

I didn’t know there was a bus in the image I had seen, let alone how many children were on it. The rest of the audience was equally confused.

“What time was on the clock?” he asked. The image came back on the screen. Right there, plain as day, a clock, a bus full of kids, a full story of images beyond the shapes Ben-Shahar had initially asked us to count.

That 4,000 of us in the audience were all but clueless to the story that unfolded in the image on the screen. The experience built the foundation for Ben-Shahar’s key point: the questions you ask provide the foundation of your focus, and your focus is what you end up doing. In this example, he’d asked us to focus on the shapes on the screen. We did so, at the exclusion of other key data in the images.

As it turns out, we are naturally gifted at listening to and following instruction. Our intellectual gift puts a great deal of responsibility on the shoulders of our leaders in discovering and determining the right questions to ask of our organizations. If we don’t ask the right questions, we’re in danger of answering them with irrelevance.

It is Ben-Shahar’s position that we as leaders spend far too much time focusing on what is not working in our organizations, than on what is working. In that light, he counsels leaders to develop what he calls an “also/and” reference frame. It is this frame that allows us to evaluate and grow what is working without ignoring what needs work, but not at the exclusion of it. After all, he says, with every question we ask we’re excluding a whole range of other potentially critical questions, and relevant sets of data.

For example, in the higher ed context, we might be wary of asking “why is our tenure system broken?” Instead, pose the issue, “our Tenure system fosters academic and research excellence and it puts a financial strain on academic departments; it’s time for a discussion on maintaining strength and relevance of the program in light of financial realities.” In this way, we frame a complex discussion in a way that celebrates what is working and highlights issues we must address and resolve collaboratively.

This is a particularly profound learning for me. The lesson here is about more than just learning to ask the right questions. After all, we’ve been taught since childhood that there are no right or wrong questions. But our job as leaders is to be aware that the question you ask will directly guide the outcome.

“Our experience in the world is completely influenced by where we place our attention,” Ben-Shahar says. Our job as leaders is to ask the right questions which foster and grow awareness, and focus on growing what is working, rather than what is not. Where you put your attention as a leader, the organization will follow.

It could be easy to write off Ben-Shahar’s work as a gimmick. I assure you, based on my experience, it is no gimmick. Nor is this a simple framework to use when you’d rather avoid having a difficult conversation. In fact, this new level of focus and awareness opens the door for much more complex, challenging, difficult, and rewarding conversations than we’ve ever had before.

Malcolm Gladwell - World Business Forum 2011

Malcolm Gladwell is an author and columnist. He has brought us great fodder for consideration in his books The Tipping Point, Blink, and Outliers, and has been an award-winning writer for The New Yorker Magazine since 1996. In his time on stage at the World Business Forum, Gladwell shared his thoughts on risk. His thesis is pretty simple: Leadership is about taking risk.

Simple, indeed. According to Gladwell, there are two types of risk that good leaders will have to cross at some point or another in their leadership careers: operational risk, and social risk.

  • Operational risk asks how willing you are as a leader to bet big. Do you have the guts to risk the company on a path you believe is right?
  • Social risk asks how willing you are to give up popularity in the face of big, potentially unpopular decisions.

Gladwell’s research over the years has led him to some interesting observations. As it turns out, many in positions of leadership take massive operational risks, betting the company on some new product or another, all the while working hard to ensure they remain socially accepted and popular.

But the best leaders, says Gladwell, the leaders that make the biggest and most profound impact, make decisions in precisely the opposite fashion. Instead of being willing to bet the farm on hair-brain ideas that follow the accepted, popular path, the best leaders are even-headed and operationally risk averse. And yet, they are willing to risk their social capital to do what they believe is right. The best leaders inspire through reason, and when push comes to shove, they don’t care what the rest of the world thinks about them.

Gladwell is part of a fascinating caste of journalists at work today. He is a keen observer of the human business condition, and the elements of communication that pique his interest for investigation tend toward those that are only completely obvious in hindsight.

Insight, Gladwell said, might be the greatest difficulty for great leaders. It takes great insight, after all for leaders to find strength and motivation to take risks and accept social rejection. In the end, the calculus is fairly simple: You have to love what you do, Gladwell says. If you truly love what you do, you will be willing to take the right sorts of risk and work that much harder.

Bill George - Word Business Forum 2011

Bill George is a professor of management at Harvard University. He is also former chief executive of Medtronic, where he grew the company from $1.1 billion market capitalization to $60 billion in just 10 years. It’s this experience, being the leader responsible for such a dramatic period of growth in such a volatile market space, that makes George such an interesting subject on paper. But it’s his demeanor that first struck me. I found myself sitting in the audience noting his casual dress, the way his arms swing haphazardly before he crosses them across his chest, his direct yet casual banter; Bill George is an everyman. As much as we love to ascribe an air of pomp and circumstance to those whose work we admire, there is as much a tribute to be shared when those expectations are broken. In the case of Bill George, I find myself admiring him for his leadership lessons, and for his ability to maintain his pragmatic and approachable sensibility while delivering explosive business results.

This sensibility is absolutely apparent in his take on leadership.

George has three operating questions that guide his model for leadership.

  1. What is the purpose of my leadership? In his book True North, George provides an exercise in which the reader is to write an essay to herself describing the long-term purpose of her leadership. The first step in defining great leadership is understanding the near-term purpose of it. However, leadership objectives can’t be fairly assessed without asking the next question. …
  2. How can I stay the course with my values and purpose? George asserts that daily efforts in leadership are likely more connected than we think to the rest of our lives. His follow-up question is appropriately leading: In what ways does the purpose of your leadership relate to the rest of your life? Is it integral to it or separate from it?
  3. How can I develop my leadership? George cites a 2009 Harvard study which revealed that 69% of respondents believe there is a leadership crisis in the U.S., exacerbated by widespread loss of trust in politicians, media, finance, and business leaders. In recovering trust, George says leaders must recover their compassion, contemplation, and sense of purpose.

It’s these three simple questions, combined with George’s profound experience and straight-forward approach to issues so many professionals make too complex, that cement his credibility. He reminds us to align people around mission and values before projects and processes, empower people to stand up and lead, and to do so in a collaborative spirit. I love the simplicity of this message.

So much of George’s presentation clearly comes from a deeply personal place. As he prepared his close, his talk turned particularly sober. “A key part of leadership development,” he said, “is to develop your emotional intelligence.” Practical skills and technical training will give you the tools you need to do a job. But it’s emotional intelligence that allows you to work with others cooperatively, collaboratively, and to create great programs.

Finally, George concluded with a challenge. He said that on our deathbed, we’re going to ask ourselves what we did to make a difference in the world around us by way of our leadership. “If you can work out what that is now,” he challenged the room, “then do it now.”

World Business Forum 2011 - Introduction

Last month, I had the opportunity to join a group of my peers in New York City for the World Business Forum annual session, produced by HSM Global. I attended this conference for my own personal and professional development. Most conferences I attend, I’m interacting with clients and prospective customers in the higher ed and health care space. I thought this might be a good opportunity to see what’s going on in the wider business community.

As it turns out, there was a more important reason for me to attend this particular event: so many of the concepts that came together over these two days are part of a conversation that is largely not occurring in the higher ed and health care space right now. Creative leadership from the top, collaboration and teamwork, understanding our core customer; each of these takes a backseat to political struggles and strategic planning initiatives that risk looking backward far more than looking ahead.

The World Business Forum in so many ways was a port in the storm for me, a sign that while our intentions are good, we have so much more work to do together to ensure that our institutions are are ready to transform, to tackle the most difficult issues successfully, and to serve our most important core customers: the leaders of the future.

In the month that has passed since the event, I’ve had the chance to stop and reflect on key concepts and learnings. As I begin to integrate these lessons into my own work, I’d like to share a few of the stories of these leaders with you. Through this series of posts here on the blog, I will walk through the key lessons of eleven of the keynote presenters from the WBF stage including:

[twocol_one]Bill George Malcolm Gladwell Tal Ben-Shahar Ben Zander Howard Schultz

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[twocol_one_last]Patrick Lencioni Tamara Erickson Claudio Fernandez-Araoz Jack Welch Seth Godin

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In many cases, I’ve read their books. For some, I’m a regular reader of their writing online. For few, I’ve never had the opportunity to cross paths with the ideas they shared with us over those two days. But for each of them, I can now say they have rightfully earned their position as influential leader, and that they have taken the time to share their ideas on transformational leadership with our forum is a gift to us all.

It is my hope that this series of posts provides a brief framework for discussion, and that the notes I share here will provide you a launchpad for leadership through change in your own organizations.

Rosabeth Moss Kanter on the Zoom Function for strategic leadership

YouTube - Zooming: How Effective Leaders Adjust Their Focus

Kanter has an interesting take on the importance of zooming in, and zooming out, for leaders in strategic roles. It's a riff off of her "Kanter's Law," everything can look like a failure in the middle, recommending leaders learn to be agile leaders. What I find worth noting is that it's logic that challenges our assumptions of the characteristics that make up the best leaders. We hear too often that the best leaders are big picture people, people who are able to define direction and lead others to grand change. Kanter's assertion is that mixing the big picture with the muscle of zooming in to understand detail, not just principle, allows leaders to "see the specific destination, not just what's around it."

The interview below is just 10 minutes and is worth consideration this morning.

Telstra CEO and exec team hit the call center for strategic leadership perspective

Telstra -- the Australian telecom giant -- brought the executive team into the sales and customer service office to hit the phones. The video below is a company-produced PR piece, so we have to take it with a grain of salt, to be sure. No matter what the intention of the media team, we simply can't underscore the raw power of this sort of upside-down perspective change. As you watch the short video below, note the reactions of the "buddy" team coaching the executives; as much awe as the CEO has for the consultants, as much pride as the marketing chief felt when she sold her first phone package, giving the sales team a chance to "coach up" is one of the most powerful team-building exercises you can offer a close-knit staff.

It's just a few minutes -- I hope it puts as big a smile on your face as it did mine!

WSJ offers decision tree for executive involvement in technology investment

How CEOs Can Manage Information Technology - WSJ.com

Jeanne Ross and Peter Weill for the WSJ:

In a digital economy, IT is the foundation for doing business. This is easy to see at born-digital companies like Amazon.com and Google. But companies of all types are discovering that how they manage IT is crucial to their competitiveness. It determines whether the company's dealings with customers and suppliers are efficient, scalable and timely; whether employees have the information they need to do their jobs; and whether employees throughout the company see technology as a tool to move forward, or an anchor that keeps them running in place.

To provide focus, Ross and Weill offer four excellent questions executives and strategic planners should be asking of their IT pros and investments.

  1. Are we using technology to transform our business, or are we just adding bells and whistles to existing processes?
  2. Are you ignoring important business differences as you standardize processes across the company?
  3. Who is making sure the company's digital strategy is being implemented?
  4. Is electronic data empowering your people or controlling them?

The summary and case in the discussion of each question is spot on and worth digesting this morning as you evaluate the technology at work in your change initiatives.

Seth Godin on The New Normal

Seth's Blog: The opportunity is here

Seth Godin, from part 2 in a two-part series on the new normal at work (read part 1):

Right before your eyes, a fundamentally different economy, with different players and different ways to add value is being built. What used to be an essential asset (for a person or for a company) is worth far less, while new attributes are both scarce and valuable.

Are there dislocations? There's no doubt about it. Pain and uncertainty and risk, for sure.

The opportunity, though, is the biggest of our generation (or the last one, for that matter). The opportunity is there for anyone (with or without a job) smart enough to take it--to develop a best in class skill, to tell a story, to spread the word, to be in demand, to satisfy real needs, to run from the mediocre middle and to change everything.

I talk to finance and administration professionals all the time about this concept of the new normal. The act of working to restore where we were, to rebuild the systems and processes that were in place before the tectonic economic shift of our generation, is a distraction. Seth's posts this week make for a well-crafted and ultimately optimistic discussion on the nature of the change in work and work systems, and the opportunity we can all take not to rebuild the old, but to build something new, something different, something even better than before.

 

Tony Schwartz on David Allen, simplicity, and productivity

The Power of Deceptive Simplicity - Tony Schwartz - Harvard Business Review

Tony Schwartz on David Allen this morning in HBR:

It's not my goal to teach you David's system, but rather to bring your attention to the breathtaking insight at its core, which is this: If you're not acting on something that's on your mind, it's consuming time, energy and precious space in your brain that you could be using to do richer and more productive thinking. Or as David puts it, "You'll need to get in the habit of keeping nothing on your mind."

This comes from a piece by Schwartz covering Allen for a series in HBR on being more productive. While much of Allen's work revolves around individual productivity, I've found the concepts are absolutely apt for teams and committees to keep focus and attention on what matters. Schwartz has distilled the intent of the simplicity in the Getting Things Done approach.

In general, teams that are most successful in delivering results on big change projects have created and adopted processes that reduce complexity, encourage participation, and are easy to access. Schwartz's post this morning is a terrific reminder that very often, it's the simple approach that underlies focus, attention, and productivity.

Karen Mishra shares five key learnings from Starbucks

Howard Schultz talks a lot about trust… | Total Trust

Karen Mishra sat in on Howard Schultz's webcast today and pulled five great points from the Starbucks experience that can serve as a guide for each of us. This one struck me:

5) Customers want to buy from companies whose values are like their own, so customers will buy from Starbucks because they appreciate that Starbucks gives their employees health benefits and that they buy coffee beans at a fair price.  This also builds trust with customers.

The same holds true for all our team transactions, doesn't it? We want to work with -- and perform for -- those for whom we have respect and trust. That relationship is key, and something hard-won. The lessons that come from recent Starbucks leadership experience illustrate a terrific way to set goals and drive toward adoption of new processes and procedures with buy-in. Case in point: baristas have a daily goal: enhance someone's day. If there was ever a focused and appropriate objective for frontline customer service personnel, that's it!

A great (and quick!) read from Mishra to start your day today!

Kathryn Schulz is a "wrongologist" talking about the power of being wrong

Kathryn Schulz: On being wrong

Kathryn Schulz used to write a column on Slate called "The Wrong Stuff" and her interviews with luminaries about being wrong were terrific. She's recently released a book, "Being Wrong" Adventures in the Margin of Error." Follow her on Twitter @wrongologist.

Her talk at TED 2011 on the power of being wrong and what failure can do to our ability to engage in the work at hand is a wonderful exploration of ego dynamic and how that plays into the teams on which we work.

"Trusting too much in the feeling of correctness can be dangerous. This internal sense of rightness that we all experience so often is not a reliable guide to what is going on in the external world."

Her talk from TED below is worth watching and reflecting upon in how we engage with those around us every day.

 

Kim Girard on coming paper: "It's Not Nagging" and redundant communication at work

It's Not Nagging: Why Persistent, Redundant Communication Works — HBS Working Knowledge

Kim Girard discussing a paper coming from professor Tsedal Neeley on why managers send the same message via multiple media to team members:

Power, it turns out, plays a big role in how managers communicate with employees when they are under pressure.

The research showed that 21 percent of project managers with no direct power over team members used redundant communication, compared to 12 percent of managers with direct authority. And 54 percent of managers without direct power combined an instant communication (via IM or a phone call) with a delayed communication (e-mail), compared to 21 percent of managers with power.

A lack of direct power is common in companies today, Neeley says, because so many people work on teams that form and disband on a project-by-project basis. Yet team leaders are still on the hook to achieve their business imperatives despite this absence of authority.

Such is certainly the case with team members working on change projects, strategic planning projects, complex transformations, and so on. Where the discussion falls short -- and where we'll be interested in following up -- is in effectiveness.

We'll take it as table stakes that those in a position of power feel less inclined to send repeated messages to those over which they have some direct authority, than those project managers who have no direct authority over their own teams. What we don't know is whether there is another better strategy than frequency in messaging to team members, to illustrate importance.

Surprisingly, in Girard's closing, she shares the following:

The results also provide a concrete strategy for managers in Neeley's Executive Education classes who are struggling with how best to communicate with workers. "This is an actual strategy—a communication persuasion strategy that they will go and try," she says.

This piece has sparked an enthusiastic discussion in the comments, including the following, which sums up many more:

A competent manager should be able to communicate urgency without coercion. A few "how's it going" visits will reinforce urgency, but more importantly, encourage open communication about impediments and alternatives.

Tasks then tend to solved collaboratively. Works wonders.

If a manager requires the methods outlined in the article to achieve goals through subordinates, he/she is an ineffective leader, to say nothing about communicator, and probably not suited for the position. Alternatively, the subordinates need to be replaced.

David Maxfield on personal change management

Change anything: Getting personal with performance improvement

David Maxfield:

There are six sources of influence that explain why we make the choices we do. Employees relying solely on willpower fail to consider the five other sources of influence that shape their actions. As a manager, it’s your job to help employees see the full gamut of their behavior.

A big part of any significant change management initiative is something we can't directly control: the individual's ability to muster the energy and motivation to change from within. It's important to keep that in mind, if you're digging in to a change project; as much as we might want to believe we have everything under control, without buy-in at the individual level, we have no support to get the most important work done. But, while we can't directly control it, we can certainly influence it.

Maxfield's six "sources of influence" go a long way to packaging one set of skills managers can employ to set the environment for motivation and inspiration. In particular, three of them rely on ensuring a space exists in which struggling team members are witness to hard-working behavior and mentorship. Absolutely key insight there, and outstanding to see Maxfield's research further supports modeling initiatives.

A terrific read this Monday morning as you begin work on this week's change!

Simon Sinek on the power of outside expertise

YouTube - Why to Consider Outsider Opinions When Planning Strategy - Simon Sinek

Two weeks ago, we posted a link to Noreena Hertz from TED London revealing a perspective on how to use outside expertise in organizations. Her theme celebrated our own expertise, that we should trust our team's collective intelligence and beware of outsourcing our insecurity to consultants.

This week, part of a counter point from Simon Sinek, change agent and celebrated expert discussing his role as an outsider in large and complex organizations, and why an openness to outside expertise and insight can support and enhance even the smartest of teams. It's a quick video this week, part of a larger series with Sinek that is worth watching.

 

Rita McGrath walks history lane with Google's project failures

Failing Toward Success at Google - Rita McGrath - Harvard Business Review

Rita McGrath:

I'm often asked by companies how many experiments are needed to find a good "hit rate" of successes. If Google is any indication, the ratio is pretty high. That being said, what company would not be pleased to have maintained dominance in search, toppled the Blackberry in market share for smart phones at neck-breaking speed, hosted millions of e-mail users with gmail, and helped millions of us find our way with Google maps?

If you only use Google for search, you may have missed the products that McGrath reviews in her post this morning. But don't let that stop you from reading it. What she's done, using Google as a clear exemplar and backdrop, is give us all a stark reminder of the work it takes to actually find a path in our strategic plans and operations.

What Google has been exceptional at over the years is knowing both when to launch, and when to call it quits on a project by project basis. And each, if you look closely, ends up being cumbersome in delivering on their core strategic objective: drive advertising online.

Even the ad-oriented products like Google Print and Google Catalogs didn't make it. Apparently, someone at Google discovered that the bloom might have fallen from the rose of the print ad business. That's how it happens, more often than not: it's not necessarily Google's fault that Google Print didn't fly; the market evolved, transformed around them, and suddenly the product had no place.

So, today's message, if we can let Google's experience serve as a model for all of us, is to ensure we're maintaining a vigilant watch over our portfolio of projects and, like Google, make the choice for change when projects fall out of alignment with the strategic plan.

Andrew McAfee poses: biggest tech deals in business--what is technology doing for teams?

Which Technologies Will Be the Biggest Deals?

Andrew McAfee is working through a series of questions aloud on his blog covering the span of digitization in business. His first questions from this morning:

So here’s question #1: Which recent digital innovations will have the biggest impact on the business world over the next decade? By ‘biggest impact’ I don’t mean anything like ‘largest IPO;’ instead, I’m trying to get a sense of which new/new-ish technologies will bring the biggest changes to the most companies and industries? Which ones will most increase productivity, change how work gets done, change the balance of competition, affect the most jobs, and so on?

McAfee offers a few suggestions to get the discussion started, including Google's autonomous car and IBM's Watson Q&A Computer (of Jeopardy fame). But the comments bring even more grist to the mill. This from Jochen Adler:

I'd bet on "awareness" technologies in the workplace to facilitate virtual teamwork. These can be activity streams like the ones generated from microblogs that improve the understanding of who does what by when and for whom, but also location-based services that render questions like "where are you, should we start the meeting" obsolete.

As often as we look to technology to solve our workplace woes, when it comes to delivering big results, the fuel is still the team. It's people that bring the beauty of technology to fruition in new and wonderful ways -- in ways we rarely expect. It's people that bring technology and process to life.

To riff off McAfee's question then, what are the biggest digital innovations you're seeing in your workplace that affect how your teams are able to function? How has technology served communication and organization? Where is the innovation in systems that allow you to work better, more fluidly, in teams?

Kimberly Weisul reports on why smart people can make for dumb teams

Why Smart People Make Lousy Teams | BNET

Kimberly Weisul summarizes new research from MIT, Carnegie Mellon, and Union College on how raw smarts affects teams. A sample of nearly 700 were tasked with puzzles, games, negotiations, and analysis, all to be navigated in teams.

Weisul, on the results:

  • Individual smarts doesn’t affect performance. The average intelligence of team members wasn’t related to team performance. So if you’ve got a team that’s struggling, putting a couple of really smart people on it isn’t going to help.
  • EQ–emotional intelligence– is more important than IQ. Good communication and good coordination make teams function well. To get that, you need people who are good at reading and responding to other peoples’ emotions. Teams that included even one person with superior skills in this regard had better performance.
  • A ’strong’ personality hurts performance. Groups where one person dominated the conversation or the decision-making, or where people didn’t do as well taking turns, had worse performance. This correlates well with other research that shows ’stronger’ leaders are often less effective than those who perceive themselves to be less powerful.

As it turns out, smarts are good on teams, but balance is better. This research holds consistent with our real-world experience, that this notion of EQ is often under-rated in team dynamics, and having a focus on balance when constructing a team can pay early dividends in team cohesion and early team wins on large projects.

And yes, as it turns out, the research suggests a strategy for finding this balance. It's the punchline to the story, which we're not going to tell. For that, you'll have to read on!