Thursday, April 28, 2011

Culture shift is possible

There is a reason some words take on a buzz. Words like 'empowerment' and 'collaboration.' It's because at a core level, people want the good feelings that go along with what those words have come to mean and to represent. People want respect. Workers want to believe that their colleagues and their bosses believe they have something of value to contribute. Plus, as human beings, we want connections. We've come to believe that things work better when the people are working together. After all, two heads are better than one. There has, too, been a recurring, expressed desire for more entrepreneurial cultures in organizations of all types, sizes and sectors. A cry for innovation. A call for new thinking. And, in some cases a caution for the responsibility that goes along with all such good things.

In late March, Monitor released an excellent framework that speaks to the opportunities of infusing an entrepreneurial culture and the bold, courageous moves required by leadership to help it take hold and be sustained. It asserts that companies "do have the power to break down the cultural and organizational barriers to entrepreneurship" and it identifies three inter-connected enablers required to move it forward along with the five levers for making it work.

For me, examining their findings, my eyes were opened to why I am consistently drawn to organizations in transition and those trying to break beyond business as usual. The consideration for executive leadership, aligned incentives, clear direction, celebration of things good and things learned, and the overwhelming power of one's space ring true. As do the enabling connections between intention, action and impression.
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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Power Relationships Shape Success

Understanding organizations is about understanding people -- and all the complexities and context that go along with their individual survival and group dependencies. A recent Harvard Business Review blog posting walks through the value of wise leaders and those who cultivate such knowledge, it further points to the absolute necessity of understanding the power relationships among the people and the ideals that drive an organization's behaviors and actions. Those power relationships are critical and something that people often fail to examine with a true eye toward learning and growth. They tend rather to view them from the surface in order to assess how they might manipulate or use them to advantage. Give away those tendencies, dive deeper into the organization toward the interdependencies of the various levels and the dynamics of how the broader good (through the individual contributor) might be advanced. You might discover ways to grow and succeed unlike any you've known before. Seek to understand how best to grow the people and you might become more insightful about how to grow the organization.
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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Find your transformation agents within

Sometimes organizational transformation has to be signaled, driven and reinforced from within the very culture it seeks to influence. Consultants can be helpful for framing processes and facilitating examinations. Yet, the consultant can only survey the scene, it is the people inside of the organization who have to solve the problem(s) by living forward the transformation long after the consultant leaves.

So, before jumping to a consultant as part of your effective transformational strategy, look inward for ambassadors and agents. (You might even find someone not only capable of helping you move forward but also eager to make that contribution.) And, if your search from the top to the bottom of your org chart reveals a willingness for change but a lack of understanding for how to make it possible, then consider how you'll get better results if your consultant of choice works from a platform of employee engagement.
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Friday, April 15, 2011

Four cornerstones to progress

When you're ready to move, manage the details and focus on engaging people in a sound process.

  1. Start with clarity on what needs to be accomplished.
  2. Spark curiosity to inspire possibilities.
  3. Garner commitment to the determined direction.
  4. And, drive communication clearly and consistently through implementation.

Four cornerstones for strategic thinking and practical planning that gets the intended results.
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Thursday, April 14, 2011

The discipline of transformation

Organizational transformation is tough stuff for most people. It takes a discipline that has become more and more scarce (perhaps reflecting how discipline in its more traditional forms has been fading in our Western society). Leaders must take a hard look inside themselves to be clear on how capable they are to lead the charge, maintain momentum and continually reframe progress as positive and possible. They must consider what attracts them about the culture and what they are willing to adapt when the cultural norms begin to exert their powerful influence for status quo.

For once the transformation process begins, they must focus and be disciplined in both their communications and in their actions. People are watching -- often often waiting to circle the wagons with business as usual. The leader who remains focused on the end game, reinforces aligned actions and corrects out-of-step behaviors makes it possible for people to believe in the possibilities of the new way. It also helps preserve those good things about the corporate culture that brought the good people there in the first place.
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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A New Order

Executives have a responsibility to simplify. They achieve it by making clear decisions, providing consistent context and articulating strategic themes.

Managers have a responsibility to focus. They achieve it by deliberating resources, deflecting distractions and articulating strategic direction.

Supervisors have a responsibility to clarify. They achieve it by discerning priorities, securing intentions and articulating strategic connections.

Staffs have a responsibility to deliver. They achieve it by seeking clarification, framing issues and taking strategic actions.
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