Tuesday, May 07, 2013
Called "Leadership Is A Relational Skill," the author made some very good points about what leaders must do to connect with their teams.
The article, and today's class discussion, has inspired me to create this acronym for leaders, using the word "relate:"
RELATE for Leaders:
Respect - Effective leaders have a deep respect for their followers. They show it by asking for input, by listening, by speaking the truth, by keeping promises, and by building trust.
Engage - Effective leaders practice lively engagement with their people, seeking their involvement in change initiatives, seeking their ideas and opinions on improvements, having frequent two-way conversations, and making them feel like they are part of the very heart of the business.
Listen - Effective leaders are great listeners, opening up to everyone's perspectives, even making sure that dissenting voices are heard.
Acknowledge - Effective leaders notice each member of the team as an individual human being, recognizing each one's talents, strengths, issues, and goals.
Teach - Effective leaders know that they lead by their example (i.e., 'everything they do teaches') and they coach on a regular basis, always on the lookout for potential that can be evoked and developed.
Empower - Effective leaders do everything in their power to support their people so that they can be successful. In a nutshell, the best leaders em-power their people. By giving the team the tools, the training, the equipment, the information, and the authority, plus whatever else is needed to get the job done, the leader has set the team free.
As the Forbes author says, The best way to find out how effective a leader is, is to ask the led. The followers know best how well their leader is doing.
Do you have the courage to ask them?
Posted on Tuesday May 7, 2013 by Terrence Seamon.
Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Many of us in the Organization Development field have had experience working with teams. Project teams. Committees. Boards. For the most part, team building interventions designed to improve how these teams function. But teams that are already there.
Have you ever started a group? From scratch? From nothing but a felt need and an idea?
When the tsunami wave of the Great Recession, washed millions of people into unemployment, many felt totally adrift in the deluge, lost and in need of connecting with others for support.
But in many cases, when they looked around in their local areas for such support groups, they found none. So some started to think about forming their own support groups.
I was one of those. Many years before, I would sometimes say that groups were not for me. That I was "not a joiner." Well, life has a way of teaching you lessons. As a result of organizational and societal upheavals, I changed my tune.
At my church (St. Matthias in Somerset, NJ), we started a small outreach ministry group to help people who were struggling with unemployment in a terrible economy. At that time, I remember noticing that such groups were springing up all over the landscape --many through houses of worship, at local libraries, and at Y's-- as people reached out to one another in solidarity.
One day at an HR networking group meeting in northern NJ, some of us were chatting about this grouping phenomena. Recognizing that people may not know how to start and run groups, my OD colleague Janice Lee Juvrud and I decided to respond. I remember Janice saying to me, "We are experts on groups. We should share that expertise."
Janice was right. Who else would you turn to to design and launch a group? Grouping is a core competency of OD.
So we did. We wrote a short, handy guide on starting a support group. Since writing the guide in 2009 and giving it away for free via email, it has gone all over the world.
As you look around your local area, you may not see an existing group that fits your need. So you may just have to start one yourself. If you decide to do that, let me know. I'd be happy to send our guide.
For some additional ammo, OD and grouping guru Geoff Bellman has identified eight characteristics of extraordinary groups, including having a compelling purpose. When I listened to this podcast, it reaffirmed for me what we discovered as we went about creating groups.
Posted on Tuesday April 30, 2013 by Terrence Seamon
Friday, April 26, 2013
I was pleased to hear that. If training is effective, it does em-power people to do their jobs well and achieve the results they are after.
Here's my new model for training, designed for trainers to guide them through the entire process.
P = Plan the training. This includes analyzing the need for the training. Setting objectives for the training. Assessing the audience for their knowledge and readiness. Creating the lesson plans designed to teach the skills needed.
O = Organize the training. This includes the communicating, the scheduling, the materials, the channels (e.g. classroom, e-learning, job aids, etc), and everything else required to execute the training.
D = Deliver the training. This includes instructing, coaching, facilitating, and an understanding of the ways that adults learn.
E = Evaluate the training. This includes understanding the Kirkpatrick levels of training evaluation.
R = Reinforce the training. This includes following up with the trainees to support them in applying and transferring the skills back to the job.
Let me know how this model compares to ones you know (such as ADDIE) and use.
I would be happy to come to your organization and introduce your trainers to PODER. Let me know. You can reach me at email@example.com or 732-246-3014.
Posted on Friday April 26, 2013 by Terrence Seamon
Tuesday, January 29, 2013
Then something good appears in the feed. Here is a blog post featuring some leadership wisdom from Herb Kelleher, the legendary founder of Southwest Airlines. Kelleher was a real leader. He did things that a real leader does such as paying attention to people, engaging them, trusting them, getting out of their way, striving always to improve, and building more leaders.
You could build a leadership course around the example of Herb Kelleher.
But we have to be careful when we start looking at examples like Kelleher. When we look at leaders, we tend to stay focused on CEOs and others at the top. The truth is, there are leaders at all levels and in all corners of organizations.
In fact, leadership is not about level. It's about leading. And leading is the courageous choice to identify a problem or a challenge and say "I will take a stand. I will take action. I will lead others by my example."
The other day, the newsletter from my church came in the mail, featuring a story about teams of clean-up volunteers from my parish who have made several trips to towns at the Jersey shore that were devastated by hurricane Sandy. This is leadership in action. And it's going on all the time. Everywhere. Ordinary leaders in communities and organizations the world over. Men and women who may not make big salaries or garner big headlines.
Nevertheless they are leaders: people who see a crying need and they step up to it. They are making a difference.
That's real leadership.
Leadership is not a position. It's a choice. As Warren Bennis said so well, Leadership is the capacity to turn vision into reality.
Posted by Terrence Seamon on Tuesday January 29, 2013. For more on real leading, check out my latest book, Lead the Way, a leadership book for real leaders.
Sunday, January 27, 2013
I've known Robin for years, mostly through the Organization Development Network, and am happy to feature him on my blog.
In this interview, Robin talks about his work in helping organizations through challenging and often complex change.
Q Robin, Please give the readers a thumbnail description of your background.
As you know, Terry, I am a seasoned organizational development practitioner and change agent.
I'm proud to have been a key player on teams that developed and led processes that included complex change initiatives operating on many levels. I have led large and small scale turnaround and culture change initiatives as both an internal and an external OD practitioner. I am one of very few people trained in implementing Dee Hock's Chaordic Theory, and I have developed a new organizational diagnostic tool, the "Molecular" Model.
Q Who were the major influences that shaped your approach to OD work?
I have always been a change agent, Terry, from my earliest years. At the age of 8, I petitioned the City of San Diego to place a traffic light on a hazardous corner in my neighborhood. I was given the Key to the City of San Diego as an award.
Initially, my graduate program was in Human Relations, which was almost totally experiential. My knowledge of actual theory and theoreticians has come from various sources including ODNet. I've increasingly learned that everything I do is, in fact, grounded in OD theory!
In graduate school, our primary resource was the various University Associates handbooks. Of course, I've accumulated many of the "standard" tools over the years. Many of the structures that I led at the Chicago Ys were originally developed by the Dennisons. I further modified them as we went along.
I've developed a couple of "proprietary" tools of my own. In the past 15 years I've been heavily influenced by Dee Hock and by Doug Hall's Eureka Process for innovation. In addition to Dee's books, I've also been recommending Ray C. Anderson's "Confessions of a Radical Industrialist" and Cmdr. (Ret.) Michael D. Abrashoff's "It's Your Ship: Management Secrets from the Best Damned Ship in the Navy".
Q - You've been fascinated by cultures of innovation? What do organizations need to do to change their cultures?
As with everything OD, there's no "one size fits all" answer to this. However, I have identified nine characteristics shared by some of the most innovative organizations in the world. I believe that these are a good starting point, and many of them are quite easy to implement.
First and foremost, find bottom up solutions that fit your organization. If you create the right culture, process will follow (or, often, be unnecessary). People's natural creativity and innovation will come to the fore.
Q - Organizations are under severe stress these days, making it hard to effect positive change. What would you recommend?
That this is precisely the time to begin such initiatives. Positive, effective change is more likely happen when the pain is the greatest. It is precisely during such times that the opportunity is greatest for those wiling to take the risk.
Q Following up on the nine characteristics, what do you recommend to an organization that wants to continue to promote innovation?
Focus on culture. Once you've created the right culture, the rest will follow. If you feel that you must have a formal innovation process, create one that is fully supported every step of the way by the culture.
I like to cite the story told to me by the head of the Chicago office of Ideo. He told me that at one point, so many of their clients were clamoring to learn their process that they created a small consulting group to do such training. What they quickly learned was that the reason Ideo's process is so effective is that their entire organizational culture is built around it. They could teach their process until they were blue in the face, but the client organizations' cultures didn't support the process & so nothing happened.
Q - What is the leader's role in making culture change work?
Clearly define the "what" (including what's negotiable & what isn't); clearly explain the "why"; and then be willing to step back and say, "OK, now YOU tell me how."
My belief is that mission and values alignment are the most critical pieces. However, it's also very important to maintain understanding and gain insight into the organic dynamic whole - the way everything interacts. My "Molecular" Model diagnostic tool can help to foster such understanding. It graphically shows how all the elements (for example, Mission, Values, Culture, Systems, Environment, etc.) influence and interact with each other.
Q Regarding the pain that organizations often have, how do you help them see the positive opportunity in change?
It's all in the facilitation, as is virtually always the case in OD. It's going to be different in every case, but perhaps the most critical piece is in the data collection. If you collect the right data, that's what usually "makes the light bulb go on."
Q Can you describe one example of the way you help clients with change?
I served as Director of Local Planning for the YMCA (Y) of Metropolitan Chicago where I spearheaded a successful culture change. At the Y, the underlying issue was that they were a "legacy organization" - everyone came up through the ranks & learned to do it "the Y way". That worked beautifully for 120 years, until the 70s and 80s when they were faced with massive competition in health & fitness from the new commercial fitness centers. That was only one of their core businesses, but it was the one that generated most of their revenue.
They not only didn't respond to it, they didn't even recognize it was happening. What we had to do there was change the thinking - get them to the point where they could both recognize & respond to market changes. & that takes time, especially for an organization that size (34 sites, and 5,000+ employees). We had to facilitate a long, complex process that enabled them to see just how out of sync their perception was with reality. & we had to facilitate changing a mindset that was created by 20 years of running in the red which had put them into pure "putting out the next fire" mode.
As a result of this work, the Y received the 1998 George Land World Class Innovator Award. The organization’s budget doubled, and its numbers of people served more than tripled.
I also co-designed and facilitated innovation, creativity, and visioning workshops at that time, which led to the establishment of a permanent "Imagineering" function within the Y.
Q - Robin, As this new year is getting underway, I'm wondering what OD resolutions you are thinking about?
I don't really believe in resolutions, Terry. I strive constantly, every day, to be the best me I'm capable of being, to grow, learn, & evolve. That said, there are 3 things I might wish for:
First, for leaders to begin to understand that the biggest piece of OD is about changing thinking. That's not something that is empirically measurable, but clearly has an impact on the bottom line.
Second, for leaders to understand that times like these, when organizations & markets are undergoing massive dislocation, are when OD is needed most (& when we can generate the greatest opportunities) even if it may be difficult to justify the expense.
And third, for someone with influence to convince organizations that changing an HR or training job title to OD does nothing but degrade the reputation & effectiveness of OD. It does not make the HR or training person into an OD practitioner or an effective change agent.
To contact Robin and learn more about what he can do to help your organization reach a new level of performance, he can be reached at OrgDevGuy@comcast.net
Posted by Terrence Seamon on Sunday January 27, 2013
Thursday, January 17, 2013
In this interview, Nick will share insights into Core Process, what it is and how it works.
Q - Welcome, Nick. Please tell us a little about how you came to this coaching work.
Originally, I was trained as a research chemist and worked at ICI, a multinational chemical company based in Britain. ICI was at the cutting edge of organisation and personal development. In 1970, I participated in a T-Group, through work, for a week and it was a life-changing experience. (In a T-Group you “examine your behaviour as it happens.) I learned some things about myself, and that we have all the resources we need to solve our problems, but we need to listen to each other to solve them.
Soon after the T-group, I decided to devote my life to helping people listen to each other. Since ICI was such a good and flexible employer, I didn't want to leave there. I wanted to find a new job at ICI, and to do this I needed to prove to them that I was serious.
While still working full time at ICI, I spent a year as a volunteer with the Samaritans, listening to suicidal people. Then I become a marriage relationship counsellor with what is now “Relate”, also as a volunteer. It was incredible training where I learned a lot about myself and gained some great skills. Then, after 4 years of learning and asking for feedback, I got a job as internal consultant with ICI. For 6 years, I had a free hand to help managers and facilitate teams.
I was made redundant after a major reorganization, and I decided to work for myself as an external consultant, doing one-on-one work listening to senior people and helping them think deeply about anything that bothered them. I also trained people in influencing skills and built teams where people listened to each other. I've been doing this ever since
Q - Speaking of helping people to think more deeply, let's turn to Core Process. In a nutshell, what is Core Process?
Core Process starts from the idea that, when we are made, we have a job to do, a unique and specific job that fits you, that you were designed to do. When you do it, it goes astonishingly well, you are happy and energized, and you feel the most alive.
As I say at my website, your core process shows you what you are here on the planet to do. Core Process is simply a away of describing what your job is, your purpose, your central and unique talent.
You, the reader of this blog are unique, important and amazing. Core Process helps you discover and describe, your unique magnificence in just two words!
Q - Can you give an example, Nick?
Two words describe your core process. Mine is "creating awareness." Yours is "facilitating wisdom." A woman I know has the core process "touching souls." She has the ability to build trust. She was sent into an angry, hurt-filled factory that was due to close. She met each person, shook her or his hand and said, "I know you are upset and frightened about what is happening to the factory. I will make sure you will find a job." The quality of the connection she made in just a few seconds was such they believed her and their feelings changed. By the end of the year, all but two people had found a job. She touched their souls.
Core process gets to the heart of who you are when you are in touch with your essence, your truth. We are all different. We are all unique, our experience is unique, and so it's logical that we have unique skills and talents. When you are using this unique talent, it's fulfilling, it's rewarding, and it has good effects: it's the way to your happiness and it makes the world a better place.
They are also all lovely! (Yours too)
Q - What was the genesis of Core Process?
I wasn't there for the beginning. It was around 1970; Chris Bull, Robin Coates and Calvin Germain were at a pub having a conversation about business. They agreed that every business must have a core mission. If the mission is unclear, or if you set out to do too many things, you won't be successful.
The next question was: Could this apply to a person as well? They decided to find out.
In 1972, at an ICI course, on life planning run by Chris Bull, I learned about core process, and discovered my own, "creating awareness." I trained to facilitate the course. Together with the T-Group, this was a momentous time in my life.
I brought Core Process into my own practice as a tool to help clients think about and plan their future.
Q – How can the Core Process help a person? a team? an organization?
People can use their core process as a guide if they want to make career or life changes. It also a great help to get you out of a hole. We will only be truly happy if we are able to use what we are uniquely good at, and enjoy, a lot of the time. As people spend a great deal of time at work, a great fit between your core process and your work is highly desirable. When Chris did the original work in ICI, one eighth of the trainees changed their jobs or left the company within six months.
You can use the Core Process technology to help a team think about its vision, and how to meet the challenges they face. For example, I worked with one team that decided that their vision for the future was "Everything Running Smoothly." It worked for them.
I would dearly love to have all the members of a team know their individual core processes. When a challenge arrived, they would quickly be able to find the right person to help. The member with a Core Process like “Inspiring People” would be great working with a department with low morale, for instance.
Q - Nick, Can you outline the steps you take someone through to discover their core process?
I'd be happy to. It usually takes an hour and a half per person. It's really quite simple.
First, I ask you to tell 3 or 4 stories when you felt most alive.
Second, I ask you to pick one of the stories to think about some more.
Third, I ask you to choose some words to describe what was happening: -ing words and nouns. For example "breathing" and "life."
Fourth, I ask you to choose the words that you like the most.
Fifth, I help the client to distill the words into a two-word phrase, like “breathing life” that excites the client. As they formulate their phrase, I ask, How excited about this are you? How well does this phrase fit the stories you shared?
One other thing: You can do Core Process remotely as well as face-to-face, even via Skype.
Q - Tell me about the Core Process conference you are planning.
This conference will be a first. It will be held in June and in or near London. I hope to bring together a mix of people. Some who are practitioners, some who will know their core processes and some who are just interested in the idea. I hope to see some from organizations that might be intrigued by core process as a tool for personal development, for team building, or for developing empathy. I want this to be very participative, not a series of speeches by “experts”. I want people to have conversations and share stories of doing Core Process and the value it has had for them. Some colleagues and I have had two detailed discussions and the ideas are coming together well.
Q - Last question, Nick. What's next for you and Core Process?
I honestly don't know for certain. Next is the conference. There is an extension of Core Process called Core Process 2 that goes more deeply into purpose and how to deliver it to the world. I plan do more coaching to help people live their core process.
To learn more about Nick and the work he does, click here .
You are also welcome to contact him directly via his website www.nickheap.co.uk or by email: nickheap43(at)gmail.com
Posted by Terrence Seamon on January 15, 2013
Friday, January 04, 2013
It's January 4. The whole new year is stretching out before you. A vast opportunity to do whatever you choose.
The other day, I read a blog post by Chris Brogan where he suggests selecting three words to describe the big story of your year. Not last year. The new year ahead of you.
The three words, whatever they might be, would point toward your vision, your big story, for the year.
Tomorrow I turn 58. Last year I finally published two books. I have one more in mind. The next one will be about change.
So one of my three words for 2013 is change.
The other two words that are surfacing for me right now are create and facilitate.
My big story involves creating something wonderful that will benefit others. Perhaps the book I will birth.
And facilitating with others in some way the wisdom they hold inside.
Posted by Terrence Seamon on January 4, 2013
Tuesday, December 11, 2012
The book, co-written with Thomas Weirich and Frank Andera, industry experts in business process improvement, looks at ways that enterprise resource planning (ERP) programs can drive business improvement and success.
I recently interviewed Art and we spoke about such things as organizational change, culture, systems thinking, leadership, and engagement.
Q. You talk about an integrated approach to business transformation. Can you be more specific about what you mean by, or include in, that comment?
A. Thanks, Terry. Our book “Maximizing Return on Investment Using Enterprise Resource Planning Applications” talks about the exposure of fundamental business logic across functions that becomes illuminated by adoption of integrated business systems. The premise is that there are institutional aspects of business that need to be looked at differently when looked at from a cross-functional perspective, and that the ability to change the cognitive view we have of business fundamentals is key to success.
This same paradigm change applies to most of the consulting specialties that have grown up over the years, like various statistical approaches, quality programs and Organizational Development/Organizational Change Management approaches and tools. All of these are very effective at addressing various aspects of business changes, yet, in my opinion, none of them are sufficient in and of themselves. The central goal of developing a change enabling mind-set cannot be any one program but must be around integrated business change that integrates not only functionality but also the consulting tools that we use to address specific issues as they are identified.
Q - What about culture change? So many organizations want to change their culture. What's your approach?
A. I think that this makes the case that I try to always keep in mind. It is important to note that my work revolves around the use of ERP systems and how these relate to producing tangible business benefits. In our case, the end results, expressed as financial results, become the goal and the organization, during the planning process, to define how the business components like culture, politics and organization can be used effectively to get decisions made along the critical path such that planned returns are achieved.
I have often found that the answer includes a recognition that the current culture prevents successful decision-making on a timely basis. Only then is the question of what to do about it asked. The difference is that at this point, the goal has been established and accepted as worthwhile, the cultural barriers identified and therefore cultural change becomes more measurable. It has always mystified me that major cultural change initiatives would be engaged without a clear view of the need, the failure mechanisms and financial measures of success. Viewing this through the prism of ERP implementations can bring insight into this phenomenon as well as to tie financial results to cultural change initiatives. As Covey said - "Begin with the End in Mind."
Q - Some say that the failure rate of large scale organizational change is as high as 70%. Do you agree with that? And what factors do you think cause failure in large scale changes?
A. From the perspective I have gained during more than 20 years of planning and leading transformational change in business organizations, I would put the number actually quite a bit higher, but that is probably because of how I would define success. If you are at point A and target point B, you can usually tell whether or not you got there. For example, if your goal is to focus on the customer because that has been identified as a key barrier to growth, then you can use surveys and the like to rate performance. If, on the other hand, you define your goal as to increase market share by reducing your internal costs and improve your quality and dependability such that you can price your product more competitively then you have entered a whole different arena. The latter will have to include significant IT applications changes, altered business processes, identification of cost targets, market analysis and many more. Doing these will challenge the existing culture, politics and organization and likely require specific work with executive groups and individuals to alter the cognitive paradigm around business fundamentals.
Q - What should a business leader take into account when he or she is thinking of undertaking a large scale change in their business?
A. A business has to be looked at as a “whole system” that has not only many operating parts (finance, sales & marketing, manufacturing operations), but also have many structural components (strategy of various types, workforce collective knowledge, business processes that are either designed or de facto and many more). Most companies today don’t have a clear view of how all of these cross-functional components operate or what the interaction is between functions and structures.
When I talk about not being able to develop clear personal change objectives until you have a clear view of the business reasons for the changes this is what I am referring to. This will require a change in our world view as it pertains to our business and from there needs to start with development of understanding the key components discussed in the book.
Q – How do leaders and leaders-in-waiting develop the knowledge to make these cognitive changes?
A. This is a core question, and the answer is not simple. Our book takes the approach that there are a few books over the past few decades that have caused major shifts in how we view business and business improvement. Among these, I would include books by W. Edward Deming and Michael Hammer, but there are a few others also. While these were each focused on one aspect of change, they introduced the concepts of paradigm change to the business lexicon. “Maximizing” also defines thought process change at the cognitive level.
One key aspect of this is that Universities reflect the functional business silo organizational structures (or the opposite may be true – the horse or the cart question) and perpetuate the problems. Using our book, at Central Michigan University we have created in our MBA curriculum a Concentration that teaches concepts of integrated business systems but also relates the technology and project management aspects to the business fundamentals that allow for improved business results using the technology as the enabler.
Q - What are some of the key capabilities that change leaders should be developing?
A. Everyone cannot be expert in everything. Our systems are simply not set up to encourage broadening experiences sufficient to bridge the gaps. However, everyone can understand that concepts of how the collective of business fundamentals are necessary for effective and lasting change to occur. For those components where the leader simply doesn’t have the experience to deal with them personally, it is necessary still to figure out how to address these needs. “Program du Jour” will, otherwise result.
If the entire executive suite discussed the concepts presented in the book and were required to honestly evaluate the effects on the organization and then develop practical approaches to address the issues identified, it would be possible to provide transformational project leaders the tools and executive access necessary to resolve issues that would not be anticipated and to keep programs on track and defined and measurable results.
Q - How important is the leader's ability to engage his or her people throughout the organization to realize the benefits of change?
A. As we discussed, while this is a process that must be led by a leader with a broader perspective of the integrated business issues, actual performance must be a collective issue. Key leaders need to take an approach that includes recognition of and adoption of the need for cross-functional designs and shared results. While this may be resolved through such actions as eliminating destructive incentives and involvement/empowerment programs, it is also possible that the executive may have to make personnel changes in some cases to create a work group aligned to the new transformation change objectives.
While this may seem like a lot of work to do, the fact of the matter is that this is not easy stuff and that it has to start with cognitive changes in our business world views. In the case of a consulting specialty, it is going to require that we develop the key leader who can navigate these issues, who has the strength to lead his/her executive suite through the process and that we stop expecting and accepting failure to produce the improved business results and create a culture of transformational change.
Q - Any final words, Art?
A. Yes, a final thought for leaders: You cannot lead the transformation of your business or your culture from a spreadsheet.
About the Author:
Art Worster is President of Worster Associates, LLC and Director, Applicability, Student Support, and Professional Specialist Acquisition at Central Michigan University. Art has more than 35 years of experience in manufacturing and logistics and 12 years of ERP implementation management experience. He is also a published expert in ROI calculation, business process management design, and IT strategy development.
Art’s new book, Maximizing Return on Investment Using ERP Applications, was published by John Wiley in October 2012 and is available in hardcover and Kindle editions at Amazon.com.
You can follow Art on Insider Learning Network, Twitter, and SCN or you may email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted by Terrence Seamon on Tuesday December 11, 2012
Monday, December 03, 2012
Here then is a short interview with Marcella Bremer, followed by more information about her and her book.
What is culture change and why would a company do it?
“Culture change is a label for behavior change. Why would you change behaviors? There are many reasons why. Employee turnover is one symptom. Losing a major account is another. Only a few companies have the visionary leadership to see change far ahead. Most do not change. They wait until they feel the pressure. Until they are standing upon the burning platform. Then they must change, whether they like it or not.”
What mistakes do companies make in this regard?
“75% of Organizational Change programs fail because their approach is too conceptual, too large and too wide. Some companies try to change in a hurry. When an organization is changing, people are stressed and scared. Their focus gets narrow because of fear. To engage people for innovative thinking, it requires an open mind. A relaxed open mind is the best for seeing the possibilities. When employees feel safe and are empowered, they coach one another and good things can happen.”
What are the keys to making culture change work?
“My approach is to keep change small, personal and focused on specific behaviors in peer groups of 10 trusted coworkers. Circles of 10 can change the world.”
Is there a process you recommend for culture change?
“You have to make change a step at a time. I start with behaviors. What behaviors will make a difference? Start with an assessment tool like the OCAI (Organizational Culture Assessment Instrument). It’s easy to understand and will help you get a grip on behaviors. Look at the current behaviors: What do we do today? Then develop a clear picture of the change: What behaviors do we need to change to be successful? It’s like the fish in water doesn’t know that it’s wet. This process generates self-awareness and helps you build consensus on the behaviors.”
What must leaders do?
“Be careful at the outset. Don’t start with big speeches and fanfare. People don’t change because of a big speech. Skip the big talks. The leaders must engage with the change themselves. They must be the change they want in the organization. Being the change is critical. The senior leadership team will be part of the change process too, working together, collaborating rather than competing. When they do this, it sends a consistent and congruent message to the rest of the organization.”
Say more about the small groups?
“I use small support groups –circles of ten— that make change a collective effort. It’s intimate, safe, and more rewarding for the employees, even inspiring. Yes it takes time. But it’s worth it because the people are engaged, they own the change. It creates a favorable environment for the change to happen. They help and support each other. And they hold each other accountable.”
Why did you write this book?
“This is the book I’d like to have read in college and when starting out as a consultant in change and organization development and later on, when I managed our own team.”
About the author:
Marcella Bremer works as a consultant guiding organizational change and personal development. Her motto is: "Develop the workers, the workplace and the world."
She is a Master of Science of Business Administration from Rotterdam School of Management and she helps organizations and consultants diagnose and change culture, so they can utilize culture to create a great place to work in a very pragmatic, hands-on and engaging way.
She’s been using the Organizational Culture Assessment Instrument (OCAI) for years in a great variety of organizations and she felt it was time to share practical lessons learned and experiences.
To learn more about Marcella and to order the book:
Here is the link to the book
Also check out her Linkedin profile
To learn more, here is her author page at Amazon
Posted by Terrence Seamon on Monday December 3, 2012
Monday, November 19, 2012
What's it about? In a nutshell, how to become a more engaging leader. Here's the blurb I wrote:
Thinking about what it takes to become a more engaging leader? The roadmap to leading effectively is not a secret. In fact, the way has been known for a long time. In Lead the Way, the roadmap to becoming a more engaging leader is described in clear, commonsense, and practical terms, so that anyone who desires to lead more effectively can do so.
And not only has the book come out, so has a podcast interview with UK-based Anna Farmery at The Engaging Brand, where we discuss the book.
An accomplished interviewer, Farmery asked me some excellent questions, exploring such topics as:
- the roots of engagement (it starts from within)
- the power of connecting (where the sparks start to fly)
- the language of leadership (we need to use language creatively)
- the levers of engagement (there are many)
- the stress of managing today (and the importance of energy)
- and the importance of peacemaking (including cooperation and teamwork)
PS - I forgot to tell her that the next book, to be called Change For the Better, is already in process and will address the challenge of leading organizational change.
Posted by Terrence Seamon on Monday November 19, 2012
Tuesday, November 13, 2012
My Israel-based organization development colleague Allon Shevat wrote that the most important skill for an OD practitioner is the ability to stay with the unknown.
Here is an excerpt of his note: "...we can't cope well with ambiguity. I was trained on the knees of the Tavistock model which helped me more than almost anything else to navigate well through unknown complexity. If you want to add to what else helps to deal with ambiguity, then delve into eastern belief systems, live in a country that lost an empire like the UK, or come to Tel Aviv for a week."
Paraphrasing him, the most important skill for an OD practitioner is the ability to navigate and cope with complexity, the unknown, and the ambiguous. Or as Allon said, to stay with the unknown.
Amen to that.
When I think back to my earliest OD training, as an undergrad in the Human Communication Interaction Lab at Rutgers, that was my number one learning.
My gurus were masters at the unknown and ambiguous. Their standard answer when we would come to them begging for answers was, "Figure it out."
I can still remember hearing myself say, when people would ask me what I am majoring in, "Not knowing."
In today's organizational world, this is an especially vital capacity. The ability to tolerate ambiguity, to trust, to hold the questions, to go with the flow, to listen and observe, to be patient, to deepen appreciation for the mystery in life, to cultivate mindfulness.
What do you think? How important is this competency in your view?
Posted on Tuesday November 13, 2012 by Terrence Seamon
Tuesday, November 06, 2012
With so much research, thinking, and writing on the topic of leadership, I sometimes wonder if we are getting any closer to really understanding it? I wonder if ordinary people recognize that they have the capacity to be leaders too?
Then along comes a force of nature, superstorm Hurricane Sandy, and we get a very clear idea of leadership in action.
For example, look at the Spanish club students at Franklin Township High School in Somerset, New Jersey, who noticed that gasoline was getting scarce so they developed an app to find out where the gasoline was in your part of the state.
Look at the two women in Hopewell Township who formed a storm relief effort to collect food and clothing for victims of the storm.
The list goes on and on. Neighbor helping neighbor. Ordinary people doing extraordinary things when the need arose. That's leadership.
Leadership guru Warren Bennis once said that leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality. What that means, I think, is that a leader is one who sees a need and takes steps to do something about it.
The vision Bennis mentions could be the acute awareness of the suffering of others such as residents of Jersey Shore towns whose homes were destroyed and possessions washed away in the storm surge. The reality Bennis mentions could be the action plans developed and implemented to provide help in a time of great need. Even innovative
help like the app to find gas stations with fuel.
In sum, leaders step up to challenges and take action.
Perhaps the clearest example of leadership in action, provided during this past week of storm-related news, was the meet-up between NJ Governor Chris Christie, a Republican, and President Barack Obama, a Democrat.
In the hour of need, both men showed us what leadership looks like. They were able to set aside partisan differences and come together in mutual solidarity. They joined forces at the Jersey Shore to tour several towns devastated by Sandy and show their unified support for the victims and for the responders involved in the recovery effort.
Christie thanked the president, saying that they had a "great working relationship" and that the president had "sprung into action immediately."
Although Christie had recently given a fiery speech at the Republican convention, severely criticizing Obama and his administration, and Obama was in the midst of a fierce election drive against his Republican opponent, both were able to set aside their differences and come together.
At the risk of upsetting his own party, Christie added, "I just want to thank (the president) for his concern and compassion, his extraordinary leadership."
Let's put it together: Sensing the need. Stepping up. Doing what's right. Speaking the truth. Putting aside differences. Working together for the common good.
There you have it. That's leadership.
Posted by Terrence Seamon on Tuesday November 6, 2012
Saturday, October 06, 2012
I am currently doing some work for a client that is a large, faith-based, non-profit social services organization in northern New Jersey. They do a lot of good every day for some of the most damaged and troubled people in our communities.
In our training sessions, it's not unusual to hear the word "love" used. Yesterday, at a school for special needs children, in a session on how to strengthen teams, one of the participants commented on the list of teamwork ideas that the group had just generated.
"It's a good list," he said. "But without love, it's nothing."
Around the room, other heads were nodding in agreement. One other person chimed in, "It's true. Though we may not use the word very often, we do love our kids and we love our jobs."
I asked them if they love one another. Though it generated some laughs, they said that they did.
Pursuing it, I asked them: What is love in this workplace?
Here is some of what they said.
It means looking out for each other. If someone needs help, it means taking the time to step in and assist them, even when you are busy.
It means caring about one another. The kids in their school are "special," meaning, in some cases, behaviorally difficult. One teacher was attacked by a student just days before our session. So when one of them is stressed and upset, they are there for each other.
It means lifting each other up. Some days are good, some are bad. Love in their workplace means lifting the spirit of the team.
Do you bring love to your workplace?
Posted by Terrence Seamon on Saturday October 6, 2012
Friday, August 24, 2012
But not enough.
I was reminded of Gleicher and Beckhard's Change Formula, D + V + F > RtC, where:
D = Dissatisfaction with the current situation, plus
V = Vision for improvement, plus
F = First Steps, must outweigh
Rtc = Resistance to Change
Recently, due to some reading and conversations, I've been thinking of some additional variables to further enrich this model. Perhaps the Change Formula could go something like this...
D + V + F + R + P > ItC
D = Desire to change or Drive to change, plus
V = Vision for the possibilities in change, plus
F = First concrete steps in the direction of the change, plus
R = Resilience, plus
P = Participation, must outweigh
ItC = Immunity to Change
A few comments on the tweaks above, in reverse order:
Immunity to Change - This is the title of psychologists Robert Kagan and Lisa Lahey's book on our built-in defenses against change. Their thesis, in a nutshell, is that we will do almost anything to avoid changing, even when it is for the better...and for our own good.
"Better the devil you know" may actually reflect a deep psychological truth.
If Kagan and Lahey are right (and I think they are), it appears that we are so change-averse that we will do our utmost to rationalize our way out of changing.
This may be the reason for the extraordinarily high rate of failure of change initiatives.
So what is the answer? I believe that the next three tweaks to the Change Formula may hold the key.
Desire - While dissatisfaction with the status quo may drive some change efforts, it may not be enough. Change expert John Adams taught us this years ago. One person's sense of dissatisfaction may be the next person's "so what?" Unless we are feeling a strong inner drive to change (a "sense of urgency" as John Kotter would say), not much will happen.
Do your people feel the need to change?
Resilience - Change guru Daryl Conner describes resilience as the human capacity to absorb high levels of change without cracking up. We can absorb a lot, even when we don't like it, which is most of the time. If we are so resilient, what's the problem? The problem with resilience is change exhaustion: the unrelenting "white water" rate of organizational change that produces cynicism, stress, and burnout.
Are your people ready for more change?
Participation - The great Meg Wheatley once said, "People support what they help to create." In a word, inclusion.
Many have wondered, How do you get 'buy-in?' The answer is, as Wheatley says, bring people into the process.
Have you designed involvement into your change strategy?
Posted by Terrence Seamon on Friday August 24, 2012
Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Serving customers is one of the most challenging jobs out there. You need to be a good listener, an effective communicator, a calm conflict mediator, and an analytical problem solver all rolled into one. You must be very organized and have infinite patience. Plus you need to wear a sunny disposition even on days when you don't feel like it.
Many have endeavored to capture the key ingredients in customer service, so I have decided to throw my hat into the ring as well.
I call my approach Customer Service With HEART:
H = Help and Hear - You are there to Help the customer. Plain and simple. And the first (and most important) thing you do is listen. Hear the customer fully before responding. This may be the toughest part of listening. We have to make the choice to listen, especially when we are busy, preoccupied, stressed, and distracted. When you focus on the Other, pay attention to What is being said, as well as What is not being said. This includes the non-verbal signs the person is displaying, plus their feelings and tone of voice.
E = Empathy - The customer has come to you with a need, a question, a problem. Empathize with their feelings and point of view. Empathy doesn't mean agreement. It means trying to see (and feel) what the Other Person is going through.
A = Assess the situation - Analyze what the customer is saying. Ask questions to find out: What is the problem? What does he/she need from me? Apologize as necessary.
R = Respond - Once you get what the customer needs, Respond so they know the action you are going to take. Let them know what to expect next.
T = Take action - Do what you said you would do. Then, if the situation calls for it, follow up later to see where things stand.
Serving others well is hard work. It's stressful. It's tiring. After a full shift of serving customers, you will need to relax and recharge afterward.
The great thinker Albert Einstein once said, "Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile."
When you think about it, your work in customer service is vital to your organization. To the customer, You Are the Company. You can make (or break) their day, in seconds.
Often, what the customer is after is an answer, or a solution, or a sense of direction. You could be the answer to their prayers.
Truly, serving others is one of the most important jobs there is.
Posted by Terrence Seamon on Wednesday August 22, 2012