Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Hatred in the Workplace

It has been a while since I stopped by the Mass Bay OD blog. Blogger Jim Murphy has an interesting question-of-the-month going on about hatred between employees and managers.

Hatred is a strong word. When hatred is present in a relationship, I'd think that it was because something happened that sparked and fueled such a strong emotion.

It could have been...

- a betrayal

- an act of unfairness

- a decision that may have helped some, but hurt others

OD consultant and writer Bruce Katcher recently spoke at a Mass Bay OD meeting on this subject and facilitated a discussion of the OD practitioner's role in situations where hatred is felt.

My two cents would be that hatred is a strong flame. First, the heat has to be turned down, way down. Cool things off.

Then start a process of mediated dialogue intended to help each party to understand the other.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, May 27, 2007

Friday, May 25, 2007

Comfusionists Unite!

At the Group Facilitation listserv, Netherlands-based change consultant Jan Lelie coined a new term, comfusionist, to describe those of us in the change facilitation field who work to bring people and ideas together.

As Jan put it:

"Fusion is already 'coming together' and then we add 'com' to add the 'communality'."

I love it!

Posted by Terrence Seamon, May 24, 2007

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Disorienting Dilemmas

Someone at work asked me the other day to explain "disorienting dilemmas."

Not having heard that phrase before, I did a google search. There were a lot of hits all pointing to Dr. Jack Mezirow and his theory of Transformative Learning.

At one site, disorienting dilemmas are defined like this:

"Catalysts for transformative learning are "disorienting dilemmas", situations which do not fit one's preconceived notions. These dilemmas prompt critical reflection and the development of new ways of interpreting experiences."

If I get this concept correctly, disorienting dilemmas are stressful events that destabilize some aspect of a person's mental schematic, causing them to "lose their bearings," and forcing them into a mode where they need to reconfigure their thinking and perhaps even their values.

Perhaps that's what Paul experienced on the road to Damascus?

A couple years ago, I participated in a leadership development program at work that may have been designed based on the concept of disorienting dilemmas. Suffice to say, it was as adverse as all get out.

Was it memorable? Yes.

Effective? Yes

Did I like it? No

Would I ever design and deliver a course like this?

No, not the way this course was done. Making people feel miserable, like failures, does not strike me as a great basis for learning.

Should training, such as leadership development, be about conversion?

Posted by Terrence Seamon, May 23, 2007

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Problems and Predicaments

A few weeks ago, I attended a presentation given by Kenny Moore, an author and internal OD consultant at Keyspan, an energy utility in New York. In a talk about leadership, change, and the role of the internal organization development practitioner, one of his points had to do with problems vs predicaments.

Problems have fixes. Problems have solutions. Predicaments, in contrast, have no clear cut answer; rather there are various possible answers, all with upsides and downsides.

Organizations have both, problems and predicaments. So they need:

- people who are good problem solvers. Typically these are technicians, people on the front-line.

- people who are comfortable in the ambiguous world of predicaments. These are leaders. They can operate on any level inside an organization.

After hearing Kenny Moore's talk, I subsequently heard another talk where the speaker, Billie Alban, recommended a book called Polarity Management by Barry Johnson, which deals with how to manage unsolvable problems, i.e., the predicaments.

I just started reading the book on the train this morning. It's good.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, May 16, 2007

Saturday, May 12, 2007

70/20/10 and Kashkaval

While attending a leadership development conference yesterday in New York City, sponsored by the Conference Board, another attendee leaned over and asked me in a whisper, "Are all of these conferences so dry and boring?"

With a smile, I chose to answer, "Yes, they are."

I chose that answer rather than a more elaborate explanation because it would be impolite to carry on a side conversation while a speaker was on stage.

I also chose that answer because I recognize that what one attendee finds "dry and boring," the next attendee will find fascinating. That next attendee was me.

A couple of observations:

- There is not much that is new in leadership development. Much of what I heard yesterday, I heard the last time I attended a Conference Board conference on leadership development many years ago.

- One not-new idea, however, was a standout gem that several speakers alluded to: the 70/20/10 concept from Center for Creative Leadership, that says:

~ 70% of leadership development occurs on the job and in the context of challenging tasks

~ 20% occurs interpersonally, particularly with coaches and mentors

~ 10% occurs in formal training classes

There were many fine case studies presented, including Ron Meeks and Rajeev Peshawaria on Coca-Cola and Cal Wick & Larry Lennox on Oracle.

One other fine presentation was given by Robert Brinkerhoff who closed the conference with a humorous and eye-popping description of his Success Case Method for proving the ROI of leadership development.

Later, my wife Joan came into the City for a belated anniversary dinner. After a drink at the swanky Hudson Bar, we had dinner at Kashkaval - Cheese Market and Wine Bar, a terrific little Macedonian restaurant in Hell's Kitchen.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, May 12, 2007

Friday, May 04, 2007

Mobilizing Large Groups for Change

Through the New York Organization Development Network, I had the good fortune of meeting OD legend Billie Alban. Together with Barbara Bunker, Billie has "written the book" so to speak on whole system change in organizations. Their latest book pulls together some of the leading methods in large scale change.

In a brief presentation, Billie offered us a great deal of wisdom regarding organizational change, including:

- You need both the head and the heart

- Our job is to help people to "sit down and reason together"

- To make change sustainable, take the process you used in the meeting design and carry it back into the organization

- Help people to learn how to have better discussions

- OD is about "injecting hope" into organizations (with a nod to Herb Shepherd)

Hope that things can be better.

I like that idea.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, May 4, 2007

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Favorite Podcast Spots?

I like podcasts. Now that I am commuting by train to work in New York City, I am planning to listen to them more.

Here is a posting of favorite podcast sites for management topics.

One other I would add is Manager-Tools.

Do you have any others?

Added Note 5/16/07: The American Management Association (AMA) is now rolling out a podcast page.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, May 3, 2007

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Forgiveness...at work?

Here's a question for you: Name a word you almost never hear of in connection with the workplace?

While there are probably many answers, the one that I'd name is forgiveness.

If someone drops the ball and fails to meet expectations, what do we do? If someone misses a due date, what do we do? If someone screws up, what do we do?

Forgive them?

What a different workplace it would be.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, May 2, 2007