Monday, September 30, 2013

To See the Future

Thinking a lot lately about change. Change management. Change leadership.

It's incredibly hard to predict the future with any degree of certainty. But I am convinced that you can create the future you desire.

What we need in changing organizations is a vista on the future.

The word vista means a pleasing view or prospect, a vision of the future (from the Latin videre "to see")

V = Vision of the desired state

I = Improvement-based culture

S = Situation assessment of the current state

T = Targets identified for the improvements

A = Actions aligned to the aims

With a positive vista on the future you desire, you can create the energy to make it happen in your organization.

Posted by Terrence Seamon on MOnday September 30, 2013

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Love Made Visible

So, continuing the line of thought in my last blog post called Breaking Bread, if the idea of a company is for people to be in a relationship where bread is broken and shared, then what?

My friend and OD colleague Lucille sent me this quote from the philosopher and poet Gibran:

"Work is love made visible. And if you cannot work with love but only with distaste, it is better that you should leave your work and sit at the gate of the temple and take alms of those who work with joy."

Can you work with love so that your work is "love made visible?"

In her note to me, Lucille added this final line: "How fortunate we are to be in a field that brings such continual satisfaction."

It's true. She and I are in the field of Training and Organization Development where we help people in organizations to be more adaptable, more resilient, more productive, and more effective. We guide, we coach, we train, and we mentor.

This is the key, I think. To work with love requires that the work be a source of satisfaction to you.

Taking a closer look at the word satisfy, it comes from the Old Latin: satis + facere = to make enough

What is enough? Our capitalist culture tells us that you can never have enough. That you must always have more. That more is better. That bigger is better. The result? We are never satisfied. We are always craving. Though we don't know what it is that we lack.

But how much do we truly need? Maybe that's what has gone wrong in our psyche. The ancient sage Horace said, "He who is greedy is always in want.”

This is one of the sins, I believe, made by the main character Walter White in the great TV series Breaking Bad. While starting with the desire to take care of his family, he fell into greed, a trap that is so commonplace in our culture as to be invisible to us.

G.K. Chesterton once said: “There are two ways to get enough. One is to continue to accumulate more and more. The other is to desire less.”

If your work, whatever it may be --from music, to medicine, to sales, to engine repair-- is a source of nourishment for you and for others, then that is enough.

Posted by Terrence Seamon on Wednesday September 25, 2013

Monday, September 23, 2013

Breaking Bread

Some of you reading this may have been attracted by the similarity between the post title "Breaking Bread" and the amazing AMC TV show "Breaking Bad" which is about to end its five year run next Sunday night.

As great a TV show as Breaking Bad is, this blog post is NOT about the misguided attempts of a pathetic Chemistry teacher to provide for his struggling family by "cooking" and dealing crystal meth.

No, this post, called Breaking Bread, is about community. The kind of community that is so vital, yet sorely missing, in our organizations today.

First, some etymology. The word "company" means, when you break it down to its component word origins: com = with + pane = bread. Word origin experts have traced the word back to a meaning that should give us all pause: "One who eats bread with you."

So a Company should be a place where we share a meal. Where we feed and nourish one another.

If that is not too far-out for you, let's go a bit further.

If that is what a Company really means, then: Who are we when we go to work? We might think that we are guests at a meal, waiting to be served. But that would be a mistake.

No, we are stewards at a meal.

The Customer is the guest.

Put that in your pipe and smoke it, as my father used to say. In other words, savor it. Ponder it. Let it dwell within you for awhile.

Because that is what we have lost. But it can be found again. And not only found, but reclaimed.

Posted by Terrence Seamon on Monday September 23, 2013

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Goals Workout

Ever since her initial publication in the Harvard Business Review online, the findings of Dr. Heidi Grant Halvorson on success have been on my mind and in my work with clients.

In particular her finding that successful people get very specific when setting goals.

She wrote:

"When you set yourself a goal, try to be as specific as possible. “Lose 5 pounds” is a better goal than “lose some weight,” because it gives you a clear idea of what success looks like. Knowing exactly what you want to achieve keeps you motivated until you get there. Also, think about the specific actions that need to be taken to reach your goal. Just promising you’ll “eat less” or “sleep more” is too vague — be clear and precise. “I’ll be in bed by 10pm on weeknights” leaves no room for doubt about what you need to do, and whether or not you’ve actually done it."

Get specific. Anyone who is into goal setting has already known this. It is part of the old SMART formula where the S means Specific.

But in the context of her research, this aspect of success behavior has a new significance. And it has triggered an innovation for me in my practice. I call it my "Goals Workout" and I've been refining it with clients.

Here is an outline of the process:

First a brief intro on the behavior of successful people as per Dr. Heidi Grant Halvorson's research. This puts the idea of goals into the spotlight in a new way.

Second I ask my clients to write down one of their goals, suggesting that it be one of importance to them.

Third I raise the topic of realism. Dr. Heidi Grant Halvorson found that successful people have a realistic perspective. This includes recognition of obstacles. So I introduce the concept of driving and restraining forces, and the Force Field diagram tool. I then ask my clients to take a few minutes to write down, underneath their goal, their driving and hindering forces.

Fourth I move toward action steps by introducing the Start Stop Continue method to help identify actions that can increase movement toward goals. I then ask them to take a few minutes to identify some action steps that are Starts, Stops or Continues.

The next step is to get people into small groups of three to five members in each. The instructions are simple. Taking turns, each person should share the goal they wrote down. Share the driving and restraining forces. Share the action steps, identifying whether each is a Start, a Stop, or a Continue. And then invite the other members of the group to give input.

The outcomes from this process? Greater specificity in goal setting. Greater clarity. Higher energy.

Posted by Terrence Seamon on Thursday September 19, 2013