Saturday, November 26, 2016

Embracing Change From Both Sides

One of the great difficulties in shifting an organization from a hierarchical, command and control structure to a more networked wirearchical one is that you have to work both ends at once. Strategic guidance and high level models are rather abundant; for instance we generally know that organizations should be flatter, information should be democratized and risk & failure should be made more acceptable. Examining a business and looking at how it can be more social, innovative and agile is not really that difficult. From both inside and outside the organizations, most gaps are easy to identify. But the main challenge is what to do about them. Consultants, and even key internal staff, can often identify the problem (at the time) but then they move on to the next problem before much change has happened.

Complexity theory tells us that complex problems need to be probed through action before any sense can be made of them. Changing to a social business is complex. Dave Snowden has operationalized this with the Cynefin framework (Probe-Sense-Respond in complex environments).

But, as Dave has reminded me, over half of our probes will fail. That means we cannot create a plan for the organizational shift and then implement it. It has to be designed as a work in progress, or really a series of works in progress.

My experience, especially this past year, is that social business is just a different organizational culture. But you cannot directly change it or implement it. Culture is an emergent property of the many practices that happen every day. Change the practices and a new culture will emerge.

Communities of practice are often where work practices get developed. Even without formal approval, communities of practice exist and have a great influence on the organization. They can be a bunch of workers in the lunchroom or the CEO's inner circle. They learn from each other by modelling behaviour. We may not even realize we're modelling (and adopting) behaviours, but it happens all the time; like keeping your mouth shut when an executive says something really stupid.

So how would you re-focus an existing organization? First you need the frameworks and new ways of talking about business in place. These are based on the concepts Steve Denning, Gary Hamel, John Hagel and others talk about (radical management, management innovation, edge perspectives). Then you need to identify Probes, or what Dave Snowden calls safe-fail experiments. These are designed to be not so large that failure would seriously damage the company.

Next comes the trickier part. These probes have to be supported. How do you take a team that has never narrated its work and tell it to "be more transparent" or "share knowledge with customers". New ways of doing things have to be practised, modelled and developed in a non-confrontational environment. It takes time. Not an inordinate amount of time with good support, but it doesn't happen in a matter of week; more usually months.

For example, we've worked with distributed groups who are focused on improving collaboration. Everyone is onboard at the onset. But after an initial week or two we notice that nobody is sharing information. They say there's no time to do it, but this is not a lack of motivation, it's a lack of skills. However, these types of social skills require much more practice than theory.

During one of these probes, there can be lengthy periods of time coaching, cajoling and modelling, but at some point, things click with someone. This person sees how these new ways of working are really helping get work done. Someone else gets positive feedback from people outside the team. After a period of time there is no more need for outside help and the team becomes a model for the new business behaviours such as taking initiative in delighting customers. Ideas are supported, not shot down. People build on others' ideas. One other thing; the end result of a probe is never what we thought it would be.

Like learning a new language, getting access to the right knowledge is only a small part of the solution. The best curriculum and best designed courses will have no effect if people do not practice. Formal instruction, or lecturing, is minimal in any of these probes. People need to do in order to understand. It's social. Individuals practising on their own will not get the entire organization functioning in the new language either. It has to happen cooperatively. Getting feedback from experienced people, while engaging in peer learning, will help develop next practices in social business. But it requires time, effort and patience.

I've been told that you know you're in a real community of practice when it changes your practice. It's a good measuring stick.

There is no doubt in my mind that you need to work both ends at once: develop a flexible, contextual strategy but also practice new behaviours through a continuing series of probes. Supporting these probes and learning by doing are essential. Engaging in probes where failure is an option can be an extremely valuable learning process. It can even be transformational. Developing a strategy and then following the plan is just another 20th century "change management" process. It is backward looking, based on a plan that is outdated the moment it is published. In the 21st century, the aim is not to manage change, but understand and embrace change. It's shifting to an acceptance of life in perpetual Beta.

Thanks for Harold Jarche / Jarche / Harold Jarche


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Thursday, November 24, 2016

Is This Seat Taken?: Random Encounters That Change Your Life

Is This Seat Taken?: Random Encounters That Change Your Life

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Average customer review:
(43 customer reviews)

Product Description

If you think incidental meetings are just incidental... think again. As a jet-setting executive who frequently travels to varied and far-flung places, Kristin S. Kaufman has had years of chance encounters with strangers. More importantly, Kaufman takes the time to find out who these people are and experience what they offer, be they the clerk at her neighborhood grocery or the executive seated next to her on an airplane. This has allowed for a lifelong accumulation of wisdom from the unlikeliest of places. From these experiences, Kaufman draws different perspectives, insights, and a heightened self-awareness. Now she wants to share these experiences and the provocative nature of the incidental interaction with you. Contained within these pages is a collection of personal stories that offers a refreshing and often humorous reminder to be aware of the random opportunities and people that surround us each day. Kaufman's openness to others allows her to learn secrets of fulfillment from those she encounters. Her diverse tales raise curiosity of what might happen to each of us if we are truly awake and pay attention to those seemingly insignificant encounters in our daily lives. This book is certain to touch anyone who has ever awakened with the questions: Is this all there is? What do I actually want to do? How do I truly want to contribute?

Product Details
  • Amazon Sales Rank: #942560 in eBooks
  • Published on: 2011-10-31
  • Released on: 2011-10-31
  • Format: Kindle eBook
Editorial Reviews

No matter how much we plan as individuals or as a company, the random encounter offers unplanned opportunity. Kristin Kaufman will have you looking at chance encounters with a different perspective after reading this book. --Gary Kelly; CEO, president, and chairman, Southwest Airlines

Through real-life stories, Kristin Kaufman illustrates the core idea of being present in the moment and opening oneself up to new ideas in order to become an authentic leader in life. --Stephen R. Covey; Author, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and The Leader in Me

An inspiring and practical leadership handbook. Through powerful personal stories and great teaching points, Kristin challenges us all to be better leaders. --Dr. Noel Tichy; Professor and director, Global Citizenship Initiative at the University of Michigan and Coauthor, JUDGMENT: How Winning Leaders Make Great Calls, with Warren Bennis

About the Author
Kristin S. Kaufman is the founder of Alignment, Inc., formed in 2007 to serve individuals, corporations, boards of directors, and nonprofits in finding alignment within themselves and their organizations. Alignment, Inc. is a unique services organization that works with companies and individuals to create sustainable success individually and collectively. Kaufman has brought this expertise to hundreds of people since establishing Alignment. During her twenty-five years of corporate experience, she has held executive positions at Hewlett-Packard, Vignette Corporation, and United Health Group. In 2009 Kaufman pursued and was awarded the distinction of professional certified coach from the International Coaching Federation and also achieved the designation of certified leadership coach through the esteemed program of Georgetown University.

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Career Change Advice: 3 Things To Think About When Embarking On A New Path

Is This Seat Taken?: Random Encounters That Change Your Life
After several years at a job, it's common for people to contemplate a new position within their organization, leave the company for something new or even strike out on their own to try their hand in an entrepreneurial stint.

The reasons for their changes often include dissatisfaction with the current organizational culture, lack of promotion, a desire to contribute in a more meaningful way and find opportunities to fully optimize their knowledge and skills.

At some point in our careers, the questions invariably come up: "Now, what do I really want to do?" and "Is this it?"

Career Change Advice: 3 Things to Think About:
Here are some simple ideas as you contemplate the virtual unknown:

1. Find and Leverage the Right Support System:

We really do nothing alone.  We need mentors, lawyers, colleagues, executive/leadership coaches and even family to help navigate the road to change. Often we don't see or hear what we hoped for. Perspectives from objective sources bring fresh solutions and ideas.

2. Evaluate Your Current Position:

It can be easy to become intoxicated with visions of grandeur. Stay grounded and realistic about your currency in the market and how you spend it. Here are a few questions to ask yourself:

  • Do you have money to support you and your lifestyle while pursuing this new venture?
  • How do your skills stack up against others in your field?
  • What makes you different?
  • What do you really want to do in this new role?

Don't lose sight of any of these factors and answers.

3. Remember Nothing Is Permanent:

We can make changes, mistakes and missteps as we travel our career roads. We learn through each experience, which ultimately makes us the leaders we are. Be honest about what you are good at doing and what the most challenging aspects are of your profession.

Stretch, grow and remember — the only compass you need to follow is your authenticity and how you want to contribute in this world.

Author: Kristin Kaufman is founder of Alignment, Inc., formed in 2007 to help individuals, corporations, boards of directors and non-profits find alignment within themselves and their organizations. During her 25 years of corporate experience, she held executive positions at Hewlett-Packard, Vignette Corporation and United Health Group. Her first book – Is this Seat Taken? Random Encounters that Change your Life – is slated to appear in bookstores November 2011.

Thanks for Kristin Kaufman / FeedBlitz, LLC

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