Blog Archives

Six Attitudes of Change

To let an old identity die requires clarity about what has to change, candor about the need for change, and courage to make the change happen. When people internalize a new change, they take ownership for it. It becomes part of who they are. To make the shift from actions to patterns, from actions to individuality, or from checklists to leadership transformation, you need to learn and apply six attitudes:

  1. Focus,
  2. Explore,
  3. Claim,
  4. Decide,
  5. Act, and
  6. Learn.

Leaders observe events, see patterns, think critically and creatively about problems, are self-aware about strengths and weaknesses, try new things, and adjust and improve what they do and how they do it. These six leadership attitudes help you move from the tyranny of to-do lists, events, and programs to the absorption of a new identity.

Culture’s Critical Role in Change Management

Culture's Critical Role in Change Management In recent years, I have lost a lot of weight. People ask me how. Most assume that the weight loss, or change, is tied to a diet and that I will return to my former size. In addition, it means choosing to embark on an enormously costly venture, before a crisis makes it necessary.

Most changes, even those that we know are good and right, do not endure. Best intentions to change performance fall short when diets or programs that we depend on to cause change are not assimilated. Persistent change requires a new identity.

Leaders bow to an innumerable of short-term pressures: intense demands for quarterly earnings, risk aversion, discomfort with ambiguity, and resistance to change, linear extrapolation from experience, and leadership unwillingness to cannibalize established businesses.

We need to change the way we think about change. Sustained change may begin with actions, checklists, and tools, but must evolve to adopting a different identity and assimilating a new way of thinking and acting. Assimilation requires a shift in thoughts and behaving. It becomes a new identity where being and acting occur without thinking.

Making change, an identity shift is simple but not easy. It is simple to say “we have to lose weight” and we need to eat less, eat right, and exercise more. However, it is not easy to do it. To assure sustained change, weight loss must come from a change in identity-letting go of an old identity, admitting personal ownership for the new identity, and turning the actions into patterns, routines, and habits.

To let an old identity die requires leadership clarity about what has to change, candor about the need for change, and courage to make the change happen. When people internalize a new change, they take ownership for it. It becomes part of who they are. Identity shift means that we internalize new attitudes and associated practices so that actions come naturally. Back in 2009, Jim Collins warned in How the Mighty Fall that the greatest risk to companies was no longer complacency but overreach; frenetic, undisciplined change that goes beyond what leaders can manage effectively.

To make the shift from events to patterns, from actions to identity, or from checklists to leadership transformation, you need to learn and apply six attitudes. Each one aligns with a question you need to ask of yourself and your team:

Attitude #1: Focus—Question 1: What do I want?

Focus on Change Management Focus on the desired new identity. A focus sorts, prioritizes, and highlights what matters most. In change, not everything worth doing is worth doing well. Some things that are important to do may simply not be priorities. Some things are so important to do they are worth doing poorly. Having a focus requires that a leader may only have limited priorities that they personally champion; they can sponsor others, but can only own one or two. The key is training. The key understands how to think and look for solutions. It is better to do a few things well than try to do too many things and do them poorly. Good is the enemy of great. Leaders need to address conundrums; they will not always make hard decisions correctly. Moving up in leadership denotes moving on, trusting others to do the detail leadership work, culling the right priorities, and fixating on what distributes the most value.

To determine the focus or priority, ask the simple question, “What do I want?” Knowing what is wanted requires reflecting on what could be done, but then getting clear about what is wanted in the situation. You pass the focus test by reflecting on these questions: Do I know what matters most to: investors, customers, and employees? Can I define what matters most to me? Do I communicate the same priorities in leadership public presentations and my private conversations? Do the agendas I follow for meetings reflect those priorities? Am I clear about what I can do that no one else can do? Am I clear about what I want to be known for? What percent of my time do I spend on things that matter most? Am I easily distracted? Without focus, you try to be all things to all people. Then what matters most happens least.

Attitude #2: Explore—Question #2: What are my options?

Once you know what is wanted, you need to figure out options to get it done. Exploring options means looking for alternatives; seeking people who have counter-intuitive ideas; having forums for dialogue, innovation, and breakthrough thinking; not being locked into conventional ways; exploring what others have done; and investigating with new ideas and learning from those experiments.

Adopt the mantra: Cerebrate sizably voluminous, start minuscule, fail expeditious, learn always. Explore the options for engendering that incipient leadership identity and examining each option.

These questions will help you to explore options: Have I looked inside and outside my industry for best practices and new ideas? Have I tapped into the expertise to accomplish what I desire? Have I assigned creative and talented people to explore leadership options that might work and given them resources and support to generate ideas?

With focus and exploration, you know what you want and explore alternative paths to make it happen.

Attitude #3: Claim—Question #3: What do I think?

Some leaders get lost in the options game. They can see so many ways to do a project that they never get around to doing it. They do not claim a choice or decide on a solution. At some point, leaders need to claim the option that will achieve the focus. Leaders stake, claim, own, and are accountable for their culls. They agnize things that could be done, but claim the unique amalgamation that works best. They take a stand and become kenned for something. The way inhibiting credences kept sales clerks in one industry from engendering incipient leads. They talk publicly and privately about the direction they are headed and the path to get there; they put energy and passion into these paths; they monitor leadership progress; and they gain or lose credibility by the extent to which they accomplish their claim. With a focus, options, and ownership, leaders pass a calendar test of their time, an emotional test of their passion and energy, and a resource test of the investments required to deliver on the option.

To pass these tests, leaders should ensure that the option is congruent with personal values. They must explain not only why the company wants to do something, but also why they personally want to do it.

To claim an option requires personalizing the change and answering the question, “What do I think?” This leadership question internalizes an identity. It makes the identity something that the leader petitions and claims. Ponder these questions: Am I dear about the path I will take to reach my goals? Have I passed the calendar test? Have I dedicated 20 percent of my time in the next 90 days on the option I have chosen? Have I passed the rhetoric test? In every speech, do I find ways to talk about the option and imbue the message with new metaphors, symbols, and images? Have I passed the passion test? Do I put my energy into the path I have chosen? Is my leadership direction and path consistent with what I believe? Do I feel passion for it?

When leaders assert their desires with a focus, explore their options with insight, and claim their path with boldness, they lead. They set an agenda, define a path, and engage others. They forge a new identity for themselves and their organization.

Attitude #4: Decide—Question #4: What decisions do I need to make?

Clarity of Decisions The leader must now decide to make things happen. Clarity of decisions leads to lucent actions, while ambiguity leads to delayed or random acts.

In the absence of decision, clarity, and rigor, actions may be delayed or misguided. A pattern of decisions shapes an identity. A leader chooses how to spend time, who to spend time with, what information to process, what meetings to hold, and what issues to address. Through this pattern of decisions, she creates an identity.

Being clear about decisions and protocols enables leaders to shape an identity. Decisions protocols also turn a direction and path into a set of choices. Just as leadership is a choice, so is the identity that follows from what and how leaders make decisions.

Not all the transmutation that you estimated turned out to be great—meaning every vicissitude did not result in an ecstatic ending. Thoughtful bellwethers ask four questions:

  1. What decisions do I need to make? Leaders focus on the few key decisions they need to make.
  2. Who will make the decision—and who is accountable for the decision?
  3. When will the decision be made? Work expands to fill the time provided. Deadlines generate commitment to action.
  4. How will we make a good decision? This involves knowing the quality level the decision requires, accessing the right information, asking the right people for input, finding out what others have done, testing alternatives, and involving key people.

When people feel heard, they more likely accept the decision. When people know the why they accept the what. However, most other changes later in life had external dependencies. Discretion is an imperative.

As you follow this protocol, you pass the decisiveness and decision test. You not only know what you want, you know the options, which leadership option works best, and the key decisions that will move the change along and shape a new pattern or identity.

Attitude #5: Act—Question #5: What actions do I need to take?

An incipient identity requires incipient actions. We often judge ourselves by our intent, but others judge our identity by our actions. Make actions part of the new identity.

  • Start small. Seek small, first steps. Look for lead customers who might engage in a new project. Look for early adopters of a new idea. Seek many people making small changes.
  • Let go. New identity requires letting go of old actions consistent with an old identity. As old actions are replaced with new ones, others begin to expect the new identity and its actions. As actions accumulate, they become patterns, and a new identity is forged.
  • Involve others. Change requires a social support network. Leaders who act to sustain change will need to surround themselves with those who model the desired changes.

Sustained Change Takes Time

Sustained Change Takes Time Once new directions and opportunities make sense, have the team participate in creating or revising their vision, goals, and milestones, so everyone knows how they connect to the mission. Try this “four 3s” methodology:

  1. 3 hours: What can I do in the next three hours to make progress?
  2. 3 days: What can I do in the next three days to make progress?
  3. 3 weeks: What can I do in the next three weeks to sustain progress?
  4. 3 months: What can I do in the next three months to show progress?

In three months, old patterns may be replaced by new patterns.

Attitude #6: Learn—Question #6: How will I know and grow?

Sustained change requires follow-up, monitoring, and learning. Without indicators to track progress, learning cannot occur. You must weigh in and figure out what helps or hinders your goal. In change, you should probe for early denotements of prosperity by identifying lead designators of what is or is not working. The tracking indicators should lead to insights, improvements, and upgrades.

Leaders observe events, see patterns, think critically and creatively about problems, are self-aware about strengths and weaknesses, try new things, and adapt and improve what they do and how they do it.

Thorough cultural diagnostics can assess organizational readiness to change, bring major problems to the surface, identify conflicts, and define factors that can recognize and influence sources of leadership and resistance.

Six Attitudes of Change

Six Attitudes of Change Management These six attitudes and questions help you move from the tyranny of to-do lists, events, and programs to the leadership assimilation of a new identity.

Trying to execute faster and struggling with the reality that change takes time. Our techniques are too often informed by what worked in the engineering age. We treat humans like machines and expect things to work properly if we just engineer the change properly. The problem, of course, is that people are not machines. More of what you have suggested is necessary for helping people move through the very human process of change.

A worthwhile challenge can be prodigiously incentivizing, as long as it is a veracious description of the leadership situation.

Make use of management techniques that have been shown to reduce threats during tough times, when boardroom conflicts are more likely to arise because of differing perspectives.

Tagged
Posted in Management and Leadership

The Science of Fear

'The Science of Fear' by Daniel Gardner (ISBN 0452295467) Confirmation bias leads us to accept more readily perceived facts that keep to our existing worldview more willingly than objectively considering all of the evidence. Many corporate leaders leverage disruptive change by making targeted, courageous moves toward new market opportunities. Many companies face up to risk with a strategic framework based on extenuating and managing the probable consequences but that line of attack might build bigger protective walls without guarding against the greatest risks—the ones that are unidentified. The uncertainty advantage is something different: an approach that compels managers to recognize the unknown as a market differentiator and an opportunity to give a free rein to innovative solutions that appeal to customers, investors, strategic partners, regulators, and competitors. Concisely, it is an opportunity to go well beyond the characteristic meaning of risk management—that is, seeking ways to achieve the best of the worst outcomes—to create new and sustainable value out of confusion.

In his book, The Science of Fear: How the Culture of Fear Manipulate Brain, New York Times bestselling author Daniel Gardner describes some of our pitfalls when it comes to framing risk properly:

Once a belief is in place, we screen what we see and hear in a biased way that ensures our beliefs are “proven” correct. Psychologists have also discovered that people are vulnerable to something called group polarization—which means that when people who share beliefs get together in groups, they become more convinced that their beliefs are right and they become more extreme in their views. Put confirmation bias, group polarization, and culture together, and we start to understand why people can come to completely different views about which risks are frightening and which aren’t worth a second thought.

It’s also much easier to simply be afraid of that with which we can easily recall to memory. Gardner uses Daniel Kahneman’s two systems of thought to explain:

You may have just watched the evening news and seen a shocking report about someone like you being attacked in a quiet neighborhood at midday in Dallas. That crime may have been in another city in another state. It may have been a very unusual, even bizarre crime—the very qualities that got it on the evening news across the country. And it may be that if you think about this a little—if you get System Two involved—you would agree that this example really doesn’t tell you much about your chance of being attacked, which, according to the statistics, is incredibly tiny. But none of that matters. All that System One knows is that the example was recalled easily. Based on that alone, it concludes that risk is high and it triggers the alarm—and you feel afraid when you really shouldn’t.

Tagged
Posted in Investing and Finance Philosophy and Wisdom

Six Drivers of Creativity and Risk-Taking

Six Drivers of Creativity

It is not enough to want to become more creative and to take more risks. To do so means challenging yourself, your team, and the organization. Moving out of our comfort zones is something we rarely do. Yet when we do, we gain insights into our own character. We can then reshape ourselves to the way we want. This is also the case with organizations and teams. But it means changing the culture.

The culture is reflected in what the organization or team values and how it does its business, as well as its propensity for risk taking and creativity. How does your organization view risk taking? Does your culture punish or reward people for taking risks? How willing are you to take risks at work?

Your propensity for risk taking is, in part, a function of the culture. If your boss doles out punitive measures for anyone who fails at a task, you play it safe. Or, if eyes roll when you offer an idea at a brainstorming session, you think twice about offering ideas.

The creativity or risk taking in a culture is consistent with the characteristics of one of seven orientations: Challenger, Innovator, Drean1er, Sustainer, Planner, Modifier, or Practicalizer. This composite profile becomes the group’s norm. Changing the group norm is difficult.

We need to focus on what we can influence directly: our immediate work teams and ourselves. Our efforts in these areas can yield powerful results.

Use these drivers of creativity and risk taking to build innovative capacity:

  1. Creativity driver 1: Ambiguity and its opposite, predictability. Operating in an ambiguous situation means dealing with uncertainty and vagueness. Those who function effectively in ambiguous circumstances don’t require highly structured situations, goals, or objectives to accomplish or create things, ideas, services, or products. Growth in this area yields innovative solutions. Since dealing with ambiguity is challenging, many people try to control variables, chart alternative courses of action, and eliminate the impact of uncertainty. The opposite of ambiguity is predictability. People who demand predictability require structure, clarity, and definition.
  2. Creativity driver 2: Independence and its opposite, dependence. Independence means not being subject to the control, influence, or determination of others. People who are independent will not subordinate themselves to others. They don’t like to be managed by others. They are self-empowered. They don’t have to be given direction. They don’t like to ask for help, believing their way to be the best way. Dependent people need direction from someone. They do not take action without prior approval.
  3. Creativity driver 3: Inner-directedness and its opposite, other-directedness. Inner-directed people and teams feel a great sense of purpose. They often have clear vision of the future. People who are inner-directed believe that they are responsible for determining their own destiny, expectations, and norms. They are guided by their own set of values. They sometimes believe that no one really understands them. Often, they have difficulty reconciling personal agendas to corporate directives. People who are other-directed are always concerned about what everyone else thinks or is doing. Other-directed people don’t take the lead without input from others.
  4. Creativity driver 4: Uniqueness and its opposite, conformity. Uniqueness is appreciating and valuing differences. People and teams that value uniqueness look for creativity in themselves and others. They foster it. They first look for the differences, not to accentuate them, but appreciate and take advantage of them. The opposite of uniqueness is conformity, acting in ways that conform to current styles, norms, or expectations.

Six Drivers of Risk-Taking

  1. Risk-taking driver 1: Authentic and its opposite, political. Authentic means being what you purport to be. Authentic people and teams live by their core beliefs; they mean what they say and say what they mean. Their actions are congruent with their espoused values. They “walk their talk” and “tell it like it is.” They take stands on issues. They are true and genuine. Its opposite is being political. Political people don’t communicate with others directly. They are always navigating or positioning for self-advantage.
  2. Risk-taking driver 2: Resiliency and its opposite, rigidity. Resiliency is the ability to rebound, adapt, and learn, even in the face of adversity and stress. Resilient people pick themselves up after being knocked down. They believe that something good always comes out of a bad experience. They create options. They persevere. They get the job done, sometimes by the force of their will. Its opposite is rigidity or inflexibility in response to change, rejection, or setbacks.
  3. Risk-taking driver 3: Self-acceptance and its opposite, victimization. Self-accepting means to be approving of one’s own behaviors or actions. Self-accepting people like themselves and their situations. They exhibit self-confidence. They are unlikely to say they’re sorry about much, because they have few regrets. They don’t try to be perfect. They like themselves, in spite of themselves sometimes. Its opposite is victimization. Victimized people complain and blame others.

If everyone on your team cultivated these drivers, your innovative capacity would accelerate rapidly.

Tagged
Posted in Mental Models and Psychology

Objectivity vs. Subjectivity

Objectivity vs. Subjectivity in Judgment

Objectivity

Something is considered objective when it is seen to be free and independent from particular feelings, opinions, emotions, or sentiments.

When someone or something displays these characteristics he, she or it is said to show objectivity. Objectivity is a central plank of the scientific approach to building knowledge. For adherents of objectivized approaches, knowledge thus created is said to contain truth and validity.

An important concept within this view of objectivity is that such truths exist independent of, and external to, the mind and body of the observer or researcher.

Subjectivity

Subjectivity concerns, among other facets, points of view drawn from an individual, or groups’ perspective. It is the product of particular mind(s), imagination(s), knowledge(s) and experiences.

From a mainstream and normative perspective, the description of something as ‘subjective’ is generally likely to be considered as problematic by which is meant that it will be viewed as partial, biased, and not based on objective reasoning or rationalism.

Tagged
Posted in Mental Models and Psychology

The Way Ahead: How to Get Ready for What’s Next?

How to Get Ready for What is Next

We can already see the future taking shape. But I believe that the future will turn in unexpected ways. The greatest changes are still ahead of us. The society of 2030 will be very different from today’s society and bear little resemblance to that predicted by today’s futurists.

The next society is close enough for action to be considered in five areas:

  1. The future corporation. Enterprises—including many non-businesses, such as universities—should start experimenting with new corporate forms and conducting a few pilot studies, especially in working with alliances, partners, and joint ventures, and in defining new structures and new tasks for top management. New models are also needed for geographical and product diversification for multinational companies, and for balancing concentration and diversification.
  2. People policies. The way people are managed assumes that the workforce is still largely made up of people who are employed by the enterprise and work full-time for it until they are fired, quit, retire, or die. Yet, two-fifths of the people who work in many organizations are not employees and do not work full-time. Today’s HR managers also still assume that the most desirable and least costly employees are young ones. Older managers and professionals are often pushed into early retirement to make room for younger people who are believed to cost less or to have more up-to-date skills. The results are not encouraging. After two years, wage costs per employee for the younger recruits tend to be back where they were before the “oldies” were pushed out. The number of salaried employees seems to be going up at least as fast as production or sales, meaning that the new young hires are no more productive than the old ones. Demography will make the present policy increasingly self-defeating and expensive. The first need is for a “people policy” that covers all those who work for an enterprise, whether they are employed by it or not. After all, the performance of every one of them matters. So far, no one seems to have devised a satisfactory solution to this problem. Second, enterprises must attract, hold, and make productive people who reach official retirement age, become independent outside contractors, or are not available as full-time permanent employees. For example, highly skilled and educated older people, instead of being retired, might be offered a choice of continuing relationships that convert them into long-term “inside outsiders,” preserving their skill and knowledge for the enterprise, yet giving them the flexibility and freedom they expect and can afford. The model for this comes from academia: the professor emeritus. He remains free to teach as much as he wants, but gets paid only for what he does. Many emeriti do retire altogether, but about half continue to teach part-time, and many continue to do full-time research. A similar arrangement might well suit senior professionals in a business. But for people in operating work-sales or manufacturing-something different needs to be developed.
  3. Outside information. Surprisingly, the information revolution has caused managements to be less well informed. They have more data, to be sure, but most of the information so readily made available by IT is about internal matters. The most important changes affecting an institution today are likely to be outside ones, about which present information systems offer few clues. One reason is that information about the outside world is not usually available in computer-useable form. It is not codified, nor quantified. This is why IT people, and their executive customers, tend to scorn information about the outside world as “anecdotal.” Moreover, many managers assume, wrongly, that the society they have known all their lives will remain the same. Outside information is now available on the Internet. Managers must ask what outside information they need, as a first step toward devising a proper information system for collecting relevant information about the outside world.
  4. Change agents. To survive and succeed, organizations will have to become change agents. The most effective way to manage change successfully is to create it. Grafting innovation onto traditional enterprises does not work. Becoming a change agent requires the organized abandonment of things shown to be unsuccessful, and the continuous improvement of every product, service, and process. It requires the exploitation of success, especially unexpected and unplanned-for success, and it requires systematic innovation. It also requires seeing change as an opportunity, not as a threat.
  5. Big ideas. Once again we see the emergence of new institutions and theories. The new economic regions—the European Union, NAFTA, and the proposed Free-Trade Area of the Americas—are neither traditionally free-trade nor traditionally protectionist. They attempt a new balance between the two, and between the economic sovereignty of the national state and supranational economic decision-making.

And then there is the upsurge in interest in Joseph Schumpeter’s postulates of “dynamic disequilibrium” as the economy’s only stable state; of the innovator’s “creative destruction” as the economy’s driving force; and of new technology as the main, if not the only, economic change agent-the antithesis of earlier economic theories.

The central feature of the next society will be new institutions, theories, ideologies, and problems.

Tagged
Posted in Global Business Management and Leadership

Life Lessons from Jane Rosenthal

Jane Rosenthal, movie producer and co-founder of Tribeca Enterprises

Jane Rosenthal is a movie producer and co-founder of Tribeca Enterprises with actor Robert De Niro and New York real estate investor Craig Hatkoff. Tribeca Enterprises organizes the annual Tribeca Film Festival. Jane Rosenthal is the producer of many films, including the Fockers series ( “Meet the Parents”, “Meet the Fockers”, and “Little Fockers”) and the “Analyze This”- “Analyze That” series.

In the 10-Apr-2014 issue of BusinessWeek, Jane Rosenthal offers three valuable life lessons:

  1. Having the right work-life balance is important, especially when you are a parent.
  2. You can have it all, but you cannot have it all at the same time.
  3. Work hard and make good decisions. The rest will work itself out.
Tagged
Posted in Education and Career Leaders and Innovators

Four Common Traps in Decision Making

Traps in Decision Making

One of the toughest tasks of a leader is decision making. The bigger the stakes are, the tougher the decision. To facilitate decision-making, leaders need to start with a strong sense of organizational values and direction. This conviction can then lead to data-based decision-making. Here are four watch-outs for leaders during the decision making process:

  • Fixation. Many leaders give disproportionate importance to a particular option they like, an option that they develop, or a particular information source. They become close-minded, fail to explore alternatives even if the preferred one seems appropriate.
  • Ego and hubris. Leaders often tend to lose focus when they put what they want to do ahead of what the organization should really do. Consider how the decision will affect the organization’s goals and values and how the decision can affect employees.
  • Inaction from attachment to the status quo. Change is often difficult to initiate and see through. Therefore, many leaders tend to prefer options that can maintain the status quo. If you find yourself inclining to the status quo, reassess the need for change and check if the status quo truly serves your objectives.
  • Validating data points. Often, we tend to seek and accumulate data that support an existing opinion. Check with a consultant, outsider, or colleague. Question employees who agree with you and ask them to collect data to dispute your arguments.
Tagged
Posted in Management and Leadership