Tough Decisions.

11 11 2017

When your values are clear to you, making decisions become easier.          Roy E. Disney

Life can be challenging and we all have to make choices. Some choices may be more challenging than others and can put you in really tough situations. Still, you have to make a choice for your decision.

From this interesting article; How to Tackle Your Toughest Decisions, by Joseph L. Badaracco, who is is the John Shad Professor of Business Ethics at Harvard School gives us insights in how to handle tough decisions in organisations as well as in life in general.

Badaracco; “Good judgement relies on two things: One is the best possible understanding and analysis of the situation. The other involves the values, ideals, vulnerabilities, and experiences of whoever will be making the decision.”

When you have chosen your decision and committed to it and act on it, you have to take the consequences of your choice say Badaracco. Author; “After considering outcomes, duties, practicalities and values, you must decide what matters most and what matters less. This has always been the challenge of taking on any serious responsibilities at work and in life.”

In daily life you are faced with challenging situations and adversity. The question is how you take it and analyse the difficulties you are faced with. Managers has to take difficult decisions almost everyday in organizations.

From another article; How to Bounce Back from Adversity, Joshua D. Margolis and Paul Stoltz, is talking about how to handle our instinctive reactions to crisis. Authors; “We believe that managers can build high levels of resilience in themselves and their teams by taking charge of how they think about adversity. Resilient managers move quickly from analysis, to a plan of action (and reaction). After the onset of adversity, they shift from cause-oriented thinking to response-oriented thinking, and their focus is strictly forward.”

Through their work with leaders from different companies and industries, the authors have identified four lenses through which managers can view adverse events on how to make this shift effectively. These four lenses are: Control, impact, breadht and duration. 

Here a short description of the four lenses; Control. Here a crisis occurs. “Do you look for what you can improve now rather than trying to identify all the factors – even those beyond your control – that caused it in the first place ? Impact. Instead of focusing on the origins of the problem in yourself and others, you focus on your positive effects your actions might have ? Breadht. “Do you assume that the underlying cause of the crisis is specific and can be contained, or do you worry that it might cast a long shadow over all aspects of your life ?” Duration. “How long do you believe that the crisis and it’s repercussions will last ?

The two first lenses; control and impact is characterising an individuals personal reaction to adversity.

Breadht and duration captures his or her impressions of adversity’s magnitude.

Authors; “Managers should consider all four to fully understand their instinctive responses to personal and professional challenges, or failures”.

When adversity strikes us, both in organizations and in the private zone of life, we can easily get in to negative emotions. The authors say that people commonly fall into one of two emotional traps. And one of them is deflation. Here is what the authors say; “Someone who has marched steadily through a string of success can easily come to feel like a hero, able to fix any problem single-handedly. A traumatic event can snap that person back to reality. Even for the less heroic among us, adversity can touch off intense bursts of negative emotion-as if a dark cloud had settled behind our eyes, as one manager described it”.

We can feel disappointments in ourselves and others, mistreated and dispirited as well as even besieged.

In the other article; How to tackle your toughest decisions, Badaracco say; “The phrase ‘the world as it is’ points toward Niccolo´Machiavelli’s thinking-a perspective that might seem surprising in an article about making responsible decisions. But his view is important because it acknowledges that we don’t live in a predictable, calm environment populated with virtuous people. The world Machiavelli described is unpredictable, difficult, and shaped by self-interest”.

The author say that we can have sound plans and they can end badly, as well as bad plans can turn out good. What happens is simply beyond our control. Leaders are in a position where they rarely have unlimited freedom and resources, and they often have to make painful and difficult choices. “And a great many individuals and groups will pursue their own agendas, skilfully or clumsily, if not persuaded to do otherwise”.

Badaracco are talking about five practical questions in his writing  which can improve your odds in making sound judgements in challenging situations, even when your data is unclear or incomplete, opinions are divided and the answers are far from obvious.

-1 What are the net, net consequences of all my options ?

-2 What are my core obligations ?

-3 What will work in the world as it is ?

-4 Who are we ?

-5 What can I live with ?

These five questions are guidelines for helping to solve challenging and difficult problems in tough situations. All the questions must be answered according the author, to help come to a sound decision when dealing with a hard problem.

Looking back at the other article; How to bounce back from adversity, the authors are using the four lenses (control, impact, breadht and duration) in challenging situations for solving problems. However, in addition to these four lenses the authors are using what they call a resilience regimen. This is a reflexive approach to dealing with adversity. Here they explain; “By asking a series of pointed questions, managers can grasp their own and their direct reports’ habits of thought and help reframe negative events in productive ways. With the four lenses as a guide, they can learn to stop feeling paralyzed by crisis, respond with strength and creativity, and help their direct reports do the same.”

The resilience regimen, sketches their questions with a focus on specifying, visualizing and collaborating which clarifies each one of the four aspects of resilient thinking. Authors; ” Use these questions to replace negative responses with creative , resourceful ones, and get things done whatever the real or perceived obstacles”.

From; How to tackle your toughest decisions, Badaracco makes us aware of the heavy responsibility leadership is. When you are in the grey areas, your job as a leader isn’t finding solutions, you have to create them and relying on your judgement. Author; “As an executive I greatly respect once told me, We really want someone or some rule to tell us what to do. But sometimes there isn’t one, and you have to decide what the most relevant rules or principles are in this particular case”.

Let us take responsibilities and search for solutions in challenging situations.

Hope you find this reading interesting and useful.

Author, Inger Lise E Greger, Master of Science in Change Management

 

 

 

 

 

 

 





Human- Biases- In- Organisations.

20 10 2017

I find that when you open the door toward openness and transparency, a lot of people will follow you through.   Kirsten Gillibrand

“The more people can see what is happening – the good, the bad, the ugly – the more effective they are at deciding the appropriate ways of handling things”. (Ray Dalio)

Let’s take a look at one of many definitions of the meaning of bias; “A particular tendency, trend, inclination, feeling, or opinion, especially one that is preconceived or unreasoned: illegal bias against older job applicants; the magazines bias toward art rather than photography; our strong bias in favour of the idea”.

Bridgewater Associates founded by Ray Dalio in 1975, is the largest hedge fund in the world. Dalio’s philosophy consists of radical transparency into the company.

Dalio, got reactions from three of his top confidants that he was hurting the company by being too honest. His action to resolve this problem was to meet employees individually and find a solution through discussions on how to treat one another. His goal was to create a culture of sharing ideas without creating lasting conflict, as well as engaging employees in thoughtful disagreements.  From this article in Harvard Business Review; “Radical Transparency Can Reduce Bias – but Only If It’s Done Right, Francesca Gino is a professor at Harvard Business School, she gives us some examples through Dalio’s ideas and believes in openness and transparency.

Francesca refers to Dalio where he says; “I think the greatest tragedy of mankind is that people have ideas and opinions in their heads but don’t have a process for properly examining these ideas to find out what’s true. That creates a world of distortions. That’s relevant to what we do, and I think it’s relevant to all decision making. So when I say I believe in radical truth and radical transparency, all I mean is we take things that ordinarily people would hide and we put them on the the table, particularly mistakes, problems, and weaknesses. We put those on the table, and we look at them together. We don’t hide them.”

Here another interesting article; Outsmart Your Own Biases (Jack B. Soll, Katherine L. Milkman, and John W. Payne, Harvard Business Review). The authors gives us theirs view on biases and it’s challenges. “We are all susceptible to such biases, especially when we’re fatigued, stressed, or multitasking. Just think of a CEO who’s negotiating a merger while also under pressure from lawyers to decide on a plant closing from colleagues to manage layoffs. In situations like this, we’re mentally, emotionally, and physically spent. We cope by relying even more heavily on intuitive, system 1 judgements and less on careful reasoning. Decision making becomes faster and simpler, but quality often suffers”.

Let us take a closer look at the meaning of system 1 and system 2 thinking:

System 1 thinking; are associated with automatic judgements which stem from associations stored in our memories, you can choose to work logically with the information available. The authors makes us aware of the importance of system 1 thinking in critical situations and for surviving- “It’s what makes you swerve to avoid a car accident”. Authors; “But as psychologist Daniel Kahneman has shown, it’s also a common source of bias that can result in poor decision making, because our intuitions frequently lead us astray”.

System 2 thinking; “essentially, deliberate reasoning gone awry. Here the authors are talking about cognitive limitations, and an example of limitations can be laziness, and people may focus on the wrong things as well as failing to seek out relevant information”.

In Francesca’s article where she say that scientific evidence confirms Dalio’s belief ; “as human beings, we tend to evaluate information in a biased manner. For instance, we often fall prey to what psychologists and decision researchers call-confirmation bias: “the tendency to focus on evidence that confirms our beliefs and assumptions rather than looking for data that contradicts it”.

Francesca, says that such biases weakens our judgements as well as decisions.

When confronted with our biases, we have difficulties to listen to peoples feedback and learning from it, especially when it’s inconsistent with the way we view ourselves at work. Francesca; “We tend to strengthen bonds only with people who see our positive qualities. Why ? When others provide evidence that is inconsistent with how we view ourselves or our ideas, we find that information threatening. Our natural reaction is to remove the threat-which can mean dislocating from the source of the information”.

In the other article the authors talk about risk taking and says; “Because most of us tend to be highly overconfident in our estimates, it’s important to ‘nudge’ ourselves to allow for risk and uncertainty”.

Further on Jack. Soll, Katherine L. Milkman, and John W. Payne suggests three methods that are especially useful; Make three estimates, use premortems and take on outside view:

The three methods in short.

The problem; Cognitive biases muddy our decision making. We rely too heavily on intuitive, automatic judgements, and even when we try to use reason, our logic is often lazy or flawed”.

The causes; “Instead of explaining risks and uncertainties, we seek closure-it’s much easier. This narrows our thinking about what could happen in the future, what our goals are, and how we might achieve them”.

The solution; “By knowing which biases tend to trip us up and using certain tricks and tools to outsmart them, we can broaden our thinking and make better choices”.

These three methods are useful and keeps you going in the right direction if wisely used.

Francesca says; “Through radical transparency, Dalio has encouraged a culture where people know it’s important to challenge one another’s views, regardless of rank, and do so regularly”. Here the author tells us that this approach will work if people discuss their ideas openly, even if you have to tell someone about their mistakes. Francesca; ” When transparency unveils our universal human biases, we are more likely to benefit as individuals. Our organisations will benefit as well”.

Both of these interesting articles illustrates how to handle biases as well as giving great advice on how to handle challenging  situations.

“Even the smartest people exhibit biases in their judgements and choices. It’s foolhardy to think we can overcome them through sheer will. But we can anticipate and outsmart them by nudging ourselves in the right direction when it’s time to make a call”. (Jack B. Soll, Katherine L. Milkman and John P. Payne)

Honest communication is built on truth and integrity and upon respect of the one for the other     Benjamin E. Mays

Source; Harvard Business Review

Author, Inger Lise E Greger/Master of Science in Change Management

 

 





The Challenge with Problem Solving

12 03 2017

We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them”        

–   Albert Einstein

In the January/February 2017 issue of Harvard Business Review, Thomas Wedell-Wedellsborg discusses the ever so important topic of problem solving.

Wedellsborg; “The problem is we often solve the wrong problems. Albert Einstein and Peter Drucker alike have discussed the difficulty of effective diagnosis. There are great frameworks for getting teams to attack true problems, but they’re often hard to do daily and on the fly”. (Ref; The secret to better problem solving-Sarah Green Carmichael)

Are you solving the right problems ?

That is the big question Wedellsborg is asking in this very interesting article.

He makes us aware that people tend to jump into solution-mode too quickly when faced with a problem, which means that they don’t really understand the problem they’re trying to solve. He continues by explaining that using a simpler framework, or root cause analysis as well as the 5 why’s questioning technique tend to get people digging deeper into an already defined problem, instead of reaching a new conclusion. He says that even though it can be useful, creative solutions frequently come from redefining the problem instead of getting stuck with the one you already have.

I came across both an interesting interview with Joseph L. Badaracco by Peter Bregman, as well as a whiteboard session (5 questions to help you make tough decisions) that introduces a new issue to problem solving, which is “grey area problems”; What do you do when there is no clear answer to your problem ? In his latest book; “Managing the Grey”; Five Timeless Questions for Resolving Your Toughest Problems at Work, Joseph L. Badaracco, the John Shad Professor of Business Ethics at Harvard Business School, posits five questions to help us solve “grey area” issues by getting the relevant information on the table.

Badaracco continues the interview by saying; “I think in most organisations, most people have a sense that the tough problems, the ones that keep them awake at night are the ones that are grey. I found this phrase, grey area problem, to resonate with just about anything”.

His background to these five questions were “interviewing” a lot of great thinkers over the ages and across cultural backgrounds. These ranged from philosophers to successful leaders, even artists and poets.

While doing this, he kept the question in mind of ‘what guidance could you get from these great thinkers ?’ which eventually ended up as these five sets of questions that are asked systematically to gradually weed out the solutions that are not relevant to all of them:

1)Consequence
2)Basic duties
3)What will work in the world as it is ?
4)Core Values of your organizations
5)What can I live with ?

Consequences

The first set of questions is regarding consequences. This starts off broad and looks at the full consequences of what your decision will affect. Who will gain something from it, who will lose something because of  and what will be the overall result of it ? Badaracco;“Often when we face these problems, and you’re under pressure in an organization, the risk and the tendency is to look for shorter-term consequences. But you’ve got to try as best you can, to look broadly and get a sense of what you can think the most likely consequences are and the most important”.

Basic duties

Second question is , okay, I’ve thought hard about the consequences, what are the basic human duties that I’ve got in this situation ?” A good set of consequences can be imagined by telling a lie, however, most people think that’s wrong. So it is important to consider that your decisions will affect other peoples lives and livelihoods, therefore think of what your duties are to these people, and take action from there.

What will working the world as it is ?

This is essentially a Machiavelli question, even though it can be found in writings of many great thinkers over time. The answer can more or less be divided into two parts: -it has to be something that is practical and likely to work, second part; You and your action has to be resilient, because we live in a turbulent, uncertain and political world. It is important to remember that the world is filled with people pursuing their own self-interests as well as goodhearted people doing what they can to make this world a better place. Therefore, the answer to this question has to take all of this into consideration, the response of people serving their own interests and people who are acting in good faith.

Core values of your organization

This question is about the values of your organization, not the ones that every organization has up on a wall, but the ones that people really care about. The ones that make them stay up at night and come into work on weekends. “These values are often implicit in stories that go through an organization of how the leaders, or the founders handle things when they got tough, and the stories are often somewhat inspiring”.

What can I live with ?

The final question is the most critical one, because whether you are running a big or small organization, you will, at some point, face a grey area problem. Badaracco says that:”The fifth question says, what can I live with ? In other words, what can you, as the decision-maker and as a manager and as a human being, live with ? What can you sleep with ? What do you think you can look back on ? You asked where the clarity comes from, and this is ultimately where the clarity comes from. It doesn’t come out of the analyses. It comes out of the decision”. The essence of this question is knowing that you could have narrowed something down to this very last question, however, if you are unable to live with the decision, it is definitely not the right one.

The idea behind all these questions is to be self-critical, and not get stuck in your own thinking but to try (to the best of your abilities) and see the possible solutions from other point of views and not just your own. And by answering them systematically, you will most likely reach one final, suitable solution.

Going back to the article in this issue of Harvard Business Review and Wedellsborg, he also introduces us to seven practices that can be useful in problem solving. He says that they can be used in one of two ways depending on the amount of time you have, and whether or not you are in control of the situation: Firstly, you could go through all of the seven practices, which takes about half an hour, or you can use a different method that can be especially useful when you are not in control of the situation. Here he says: “Perhaps a team member ambushes you in the hallway and you have only five minutes to help him or her rethink a problem. If so, simply select the one or two practices that seem most appropriate”. He continues by saying that even though a few minutes might seem like nothing, such short interventions could kick-start new ways of thinking, and thereby shifting the point of view of the problem. However, not all problems are that simple, and you might have to ‘reframe’ them several times before reaching the conclusion. He also recommends mastering this ‘5-minute version’ before starting on the main course, the full version with all seven practices.

The seven practices are as follows:

Establish legitimacy. In this first practice, Wedellsborg explains that reframing a problem can be very difficult if you are the only one in the room that understands the method. People who are driven by the desire to find solutions may look at your insistence on discussing the problem as counterproductive. “Your first job, therefore, is to establish the methods legitimacy with the group, creating the conversational space necessary to employ reframing”.

Bring outsiders into the discussion. This is the most helpful practise because when you bring in an outsider’s perspective, they will look at the organization and the problem with new eyes. The outsider will rethink the problem quickly and properly, according to Wedellsborg. “As research by Michael Tushman and many others have shown, the most useful input tends to come from people who understand but are not fully part of your world”. This is because outsiders are not there to solve problems, they are there to stimulate new thinking and to give the problem-solvers a new perspective. That’s why it is so important, when introducing an outsider into the conversation, to ask them to challenge the employees way of thinking and getting them focused on a new input instead of a solution.

Get peoples definitions in writing. Wedellsborg says that it is not uncommon for people to think that they have understood and agreed on a problem, only to discover down the line that they have completely different views on the issue. “For instance, a management team may agree that the company’s problem is  a lack of innovation. But if you ask each member to describe what’s wrong in a sentence or two, you will quickly see how framings differ”. All the employees may have the same idea of what the problem is, but not necessarily what’s causing it. In his example, the common problem was lack of innovation, however employees could have different views on the cause of it, for instance ‘lack of motivation’ or ‘not the right skill set’ etc. Therefore it could be a useful tool to have employees anonymously, send you or someone else, their interpretation of the problem in a sentence or two. Then putting all of these up on a board, to see how their mindset might differ.

Ask what’s missing. In this fourth practise, the author makes us aware of how we respond when faced with the description of a problem. He explains that people tend to get too focused on the small details, and therefore not notice what’s missing, an issue that can be rectified by specifically asking what has been left out. By doing so, someone can point out what is missing from the problem, and that could possibly be the boost that will help us resolve it.

Consider multiple categories. “Powerful change can come from transforming people’s perceptions of a problem. One way to trigger this kind of paradigm shift is to invite people to identify specifically what category of problems they think the group is facing. Is it an incentive problem ? An expectations problem ? An attitude problem ?” By highlighting the way that people are thinking about a problem-what the author calls metacognition or thinking about thinking-he makes us aware that it can be an effective tool to reframe the problem, especially in the case of sorting through written definitions that your coworkers have provided in advance.

Analyze positive exceptions. “To find additional problem framings, look to instances when the  problem did not occur, asking, ‘What was different about that situation ?’ Exploring such positive exceptions, sometimes called bright spots, can often uncover hidden factors who’s influence the group may not have considered”. In this paragraph, Wedellsborg highlights a different way to look at the problem. Rather than only focusing on the current problem and how to fix it, we can compare it to an instance where it did not happen. This can help us see how the circumstances have changed, which will make it a lot easier to either fix it or prevent it from happening again. Imagine that you forget your keys one day, and you dont want it to happen again the next day. By comparing the day you forgot your keys with one where you didn’t, it can help you analyse your problem better. The reason could be that you overslept and didn’t have enough time, you were distracted or anything else, but by doing so, you will indirectly find a possible solution to your problem.

Question the objective. In this final practice, the author talks about two people with conflicting interests-one wants the fresh air from an open window, while the other wants to avoid the draft. “Only when these hidden objectives are brought to light through the questions of a third person is the problem resolved-by opening a window in the next room”. By paying attention to all objectives and challenging them we can reframe the problem. It could be a change from teaching the employees a better skill set to boosting morale, or something entirely different, just by questioning everyones objective.

So, a new way of looking at problem solving is by having the right problem to begin with, as well as asking the right questions and having the right people involved. By looking at problem solving in this way, we can find solutions that not only benefit a few, but that will benefit the majority of people in an organization.

“A problem well put is half solved”       John Dewey

Author, Inger Lise E Greger, MSc Change Management

https://inger-lise.net/page/2/

 

 





Strategic Challenges.

1 06 2016

Strategy is about making choices, trade-offs; it’s about deliberately choosing to be different.        Michael Porter

In todays organizations change is necessary if you want to succeed in a tough world. However, we don’t like to change things and feel most comfortable when we are staying in the comfort zone. Leaders are aware of this problem and are prepared to cope with these challenges.

“Habits keep us doing what we always do. We resist being pushed in new directions that make no sense to us. We cling tenaciously to what we value and fear might be lost. To behave otherwise is somehow less than human”. (John P. Kotter)

From his book; ‘Accelerate’, John P. Kotter reveals how the best companies focus and align their people’s energy and urgency around what Kotter calls the Big Opportunity.

An organizations strategy is important for the business. A company’s strategy describes what to do to reach their goal and what choices to be made on it’s way.

Kotter; “Strategy is a term used loosely to mean high-level policies designed to help you successfully achieve your most important goals, or, in a competitive context, to help you win”.

Hierarchies is a challenge in organizations and if used wrong, creativity and innovation will be a challenge. Kotter; “Hierarchies with great management processes and good leaders on top are not built for leaping into a creative future. Innovation requires risks, people who are willing to think outside their boxes, perspectives from multiple silos, and more. Management-driven hierarchies are built to minimize risk and keep people in their boxes and silos. To change this more than incrementally is to fight a losing battle”.

Kotter present the dual operating system. The basic structure is self-explanatory with hierarchy on one side and network on the other side. Kotter explain; “The hierarchy part of the dual operating system differs from almost every other hierarchy today in one very important way. Much of the work ordinarily assigned to it that demands innovation, agility, difficult change, and big strategic initiatives executed quickly – challenges dumped on work streams, tiger teams, or strategy departments – has been shifted over to the network part”.

Here the author makes us aware that this system losen up and is better able to perform what it is meant to be and designed for. Because of the losing up effect you will be doing your job great as well as making incremental changes to then improve further efficiency, and because of this you are handling the strategic initiatives which also helps the company dealing with predictable adjustments like routine IT uppgrades.

The principles of a dual operating system:

-Many people driving important change, and from everywhere, not just the usual  few appointees. Kotter makes us aware that it all starts here. For more speed and agility to occure, a fundamentally different way of gathering information and decision making is needed as well as implementing decisions which have some strategic significance. Kotter; “You need more eyes to see, more brains to think, and more legs to act in order to accelerate. You need additional people with open mind and new eyes and additional good working relationships with others in order to be creative and innovate, from the insiders”.

-A “get-to” mindset, not a “have-to” one. Force is not an option if you want to achieve change. Inspiration is a better solution, and by giving people a choice where they feel they truly have permission to step forward and act is a better way. Kotter; “The desire to work with others for an important and exciting shared purpose, and the realistic possibility of doing so, are the key”.

-Action that is head and heart driven, not just head driven. People have feelings. Kotter; “You must also appeal to how people feel. As have all the great leaders throughout history, you must speak to the genuine and fundamental human desire to contribute to some bigger cause, to take a community or an organization into a better future”.

-Much more leadership, not just more management. In this system, the author talks about competent management. Leadership is needed as well as the guts of the engine are managerial processes. Kotter; “Yet in order to capitalize on unpredictable windows of opportunity which might open and close quickly, and to somehow spot and avoid unpredictable threats, the name of the game is leadership, and not from one larger-than -life executive”. The game is about vision, creativity, passion, inspiration, innovation, agility, opportunity, celebration, relationships, compensation and accountability to a plan.

-An inseparable partnership between the hierarchy and the network, not just an enhanced hierarchy. Kotter; “The two systems, network and hierarchy, work as one, with constant flow of information and activity between them-an approach that succeeds in part because the people essentially volunteering to work in the network already have jobs within the hierarchy”. Kotter, shows us that based on these principles, a dual system is different from that on the hierarchy side when it comes to the action. Kotter; “Because action within networks accelerates activity, especially strategically relevant activity, I call it’s basic processes the Accelerators“.

Kotter’s eight accelerators: 1) Create a sense of urgency around a big opportunity, 2) Build and evolve a guiding coallition, 3) Form a change vision and strategic initiatives, 4) Enlist a volunteer army, 5) Enable action by removing barriers, 6) Generate (and celebrate) short-term wins, 7) Sustain acceleration and number, 8) Institute change.

Let us take a closer look at Kotter’s accelerators:

1- Create a sense of urgency around a big opportunity. This accelerator is focused on creating as well as maintaining a strong sense of urgency among as many people as possible around a Big Opportunity an organization is facing. Kotter; “This is, in many ways, the secret sauce which allows behaviour to happen that many who have grown up in mature organizations would think impossible”.

2- Build and evolve a guiding coalition. In this accelerator, the urgency is to build the core of the network structure, which will evolve to take form into a stronger network later. People are eager and motivated from across the organization and they feel the urgency. Kotter; “These are individuals from all silos and levels who want to help you take on strategic challenges, deal with hyper-competitiveness, and win the Big Opportunity”. In this situation we can see people who want to lead as well as to be change agents. People are eager to work together in team and learn how to work effectively. People from different levels of silos gives effort to work well together. Kotter; “But under the right conditions – with urgency around a Big Opportunity as a crucial component – they will learn how to work together in a totally new way”.

3- Form a change vision and strategic initiatives. Here the guiding coalition clarifies the vision which fits a big strategic opportunity together with selecting strategic initiatives which moves you in the right direction toward the companies vision. Kotter; “When you first form a dual system, much of this, especially the initiatives, may already exist, created by the hierarchy’s leadership team. But the initiatives the nascent network side attacks first will be those that individuals in the guiding coalition have great passion to work on”.

4- Enlist a volunteer army. In the fourth accelerator, the author makes us aware that the guiding coalition together with others who wish to help and communicate information about the change vision and the strategic initiatives to the company, may lead to large numbers of people who are interested in buying into the whole flow of action.

5- Enable action by removing barriers. Kotter; “Much of the action here has to do with identifying and removing barriers which slow or stop strategically important activity”.

6- Generate (and celebrate) short-term wins. Kotter; “The sixth accelerator is about everyone on the network side helping to create an ongoing flow of strategically relevant wins, both big and very small”. The author say that the wins are possible for all the people in the entire organization and the importance of celebrating even if it is in small ways. Kotter; “These wins, and their celebration, can carry great psychological power and play a crucial role in building and sustaining a dual system”.

7- Sustain acceleration. In this stage, accelerator 7 keeps the entire system moving. All the energy is focused on new opportunities and challenges and the people find a motor to help all the other. Kotter; “Accelerators keep going, as needed, like spark plugs and cylinders in a car’s engine. It is the opposite of a one-and-done approach and mindset”.

8- Institute change. Accelerator 8 helps institutionalize the wins as well as integrating the wins into the hierarchy’s processes, procedures, systems, and behavior- in effect, here you are also helping to infuse the changes into the culture of the organization. Kotter; “When this happens with more and more changes, there is a cumulative effect. After a few years, such action drives the whole dual system approach into an organization’s very DNA”.

From this article; The Greatest Barriers to Growth, According to Executives (Harvard Business Review, by Chris Zook) the author tells us that the greatest barriers in organizations lies inside their own four walls. Zook; “It’s a common story in business today. Eighty-five percent of executives say that the greatest barriers to achieving their growth objectives lie inside their own four walls, according to research by Bain & Company. In the largest companies, this rises to 94 percent of executives who believe that their most difficult challenges are internal, not external”.

Zook describes five ways that bureaucracy distorts behavior in your organization; The first one is, distortion of speed:  Zook; “Young, founder-led companies often set the speed in their competitive arenas-speed to recognize the need to change, interpret how, decide on what, and react. Young insurgents whose speed allows them to get ‘inside’ of the decision cycle of a large, slow incumbent competitor can reap an enormous advantage”.

Distortion of motive: Tells us that young organizations has no place to hide and in this situation the founder knows everything. Zook makes us aware that the meritocracy may flourish when things are transparent. Zook; “Yet, as companies grow, promotions fall in line with corporate processes, complex ‘balanced’ scorecards of performance, and regression to the mean”.

Distortion of time: The author is in this case talking about the executives self-awareness. Here the management teams need to look into the use of their time as well as the use of their money which they have to be very careful about. In this case you can start with three questions: How much time do they spend with top customers?  How much time do they spend with high potential employees?  How much time do they spend on solving the firm’s top five challenges? Zook say that if they honestly ask these questions themselves, you will soon see the first step to take.

Distortion of decisions: The author suggests to start your assault on the decision distortions of bureaucracy with your five or ten most important types of decisions. Zook; “Map out how they are really made and how many people are involved. Then attack what will emerge clearly as obvious root causes of distortion: decisions that should be pushed to the front line with a few vital guiding principles, decisions that should have many fewer people involved, and decisions where it’s unclear who actually decides”.

Distortion of information: Zook illustrates that the information is better remembered in small companies as well as the intimacy and ground knowledge are second nature. “Yet, as companies grow this becomes increasingly difficult”. More thoughts from Zook; “But there are other, simpler ways to renew this aspect of a founder’s mentality and its connection to the front line. We have seen management teams benefit greatly from setting up ways for them to ‘drop in’ on customer calls, or call-centre service discussions.

Difficulties mastered are opportunities won       Winston Churchill

Strategic challenges are important for companies to succeed.

Author, Inger Lise E Greger, MSc in Change Management

https://inger-lise.net/page/2/

 

 

 





Winning Leaders Transform Organisation’s To Success

5 03 2016

Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.    Benjamin Franklin

Winning organisations has strong leaders who sees the potential in their peoples strength. A key-element is teaching. “The ultimate test of success for an organisation is not whether it can win today but whether it can keep winning tomorrow and the day after. Therefore, the ultimate test for a leader is not whether he or she makes smart decisions and takes decisive action, but whether he or she teaches others to be leaders and and builds an organisation that can sustain its success even when he or she is not around”. (Noel M. Tichy, The Leadership Engine, 2007)

Tichy, learns us how to practise our knowledge and share it with our colleagues to make them shine and become wise leaders. He tells us that that teaching and learning are inextricably interwoven aspects of leadership. Leaders who are eager to motivate employees are capable of getting things done through others by changing peoples mindsets which will lead and energise them to action. Tichy; “Successful leadership must accomplish this through ideas and values, not through coercion or Machiavellian manipulation.”

Winning organisations offer lots of management training programs as well as career development. However, the programs doesn’t cover the more critical leadership skills. Tichy, makes us aware that the essence of real leadership is to handle changing situations and to motivate others to act in an appropriate way. “Leadership reflects a persons mindset and his or her approach to the world. Even though these intangible qualities are extremely difficult to teach, winning organisations are remarkably successful at it. And that is because their most senior executives, their most proficient and talented leaders, as well as all of their front-line subordinates, are personally involved in the teaching “.

“Teaching is at the heart of leading.” Leading is not about commanding compliance and dictating people, and giving orders. The main goal for the leader is to make people see situations as they really are. People need to be aware of what kind of responsibility they need to take. When people know how to take responsibility, they will act in ways that lead to the best for the organisation. Tichy; “Whether it is teaching something as simple as what concrete tasks need to take precedence over others this week, or something complex as how to make good decisions, teaching is how ideas and values get transmitted. Therefore, in order to be a leader at any level of an organisation, a person must be a teacher. Simply put, if you aren’t teaching, you aren’t leading”.

In this interesting article: The Best Leaders Are Constant Learners (Harvard Business Review, author Kenneth Mikkelsen and Harold Jarche, 2015) makes us aware of the importance of being learners. Authors; “We live in a world that increasingly requires what psychologist Howard Gardner calls searchlight intelligence. That is, the ability to connect the dots between people and ideas, where others see no possible connection. An informed perspective is more important than ever in order to anticipate what comes next and succeed in emerging futures”. There are many digital tools today which makes it possible to help people to learn as well as share knowledge. “Tools are important, but mastery in a digital age is only achieved if you know how to establish trust, respect, and relevance in human networks”.

Mikkelsen and Jarche also talks about the importance of learning in changing society’s; “Reinvention and relevance in the 21st century instead draw on our ability to adjust our way of thinking, learning, doing and being. Leaders that stay on top of society’s changes do so by being receptive and able to learn. In a time where the half-life of any skill is about five years, leaders bear a responsibility to renew their perspective in order to secure the relevance of their organisation”. The authors say that we need leaders who offers learning as well as master fast learning themselves. “If work is learning and learning is the work, then leadership should be all about enabling learning”.

What is leadership?  It is a particular kind of decision-making-decisions a leader makes in guiding and motivating a group of people in responding to a group of people in responding to a particular set of circumstances. The circumstances may be immediate or they may be something the leader foresees in the future, but in either cases, there are choices to be made. ( My blog, What has the “Renewed Darwinian Theory” and The Four Drive Theory” to do with leadership ?)

Back to Mikkelsen and Jarche and their view on sensing; “Sense is how we personalise information and use it. Sensing includes reflection and putting into practise what we learn”. The authors makes us aware that this process is based on critical thinking based on weaving together our thoughts, experiences as well as impressions and feelings  where we make meaning of them. They suggest that by writing a blog post or writing down ideas we contextualize and reinforce our learning.

Francis P. Cholle has written the book; The Intuitive Compass. He illustrates how we can develop intuitive intelligence to navigate the natural tension that exists between reason and instinct. Cholle, describes four tenets of intuitive intelligence; thinking holistically, thinking paradoxically, noticing the unusual and leading by influence. Cholle; “By engaging in each, we can enrich our experience and understanding of personal and business issues that arise, and when we use all four, our capacity for innovation can grow tremendously”. (My blog, The intuitive leader)

Cholle, tells us that if we want to succeed in todays business world, leaders need to innovate, be open to embrace change and create new business approaches.

Noticing the unusual is one of the tenets and includes paying attention outwardly by seeing whats around us or we can pay attention inwardly by feeling whats inside us. We can choose to receive information in two ways, one of them is what makes logical sense, the other one is paying attention beyond the logical sense of what we can contemplate. (My blog, The intuitive leader)

In this article; 4 Ways to Become a Better Learner (Harvard Business Review by Monique Valcour,2015) the author talks about learning agility; “learning agility is the capacity for rapid, continuous learning from experiences. Agile learners are good at making connections across experiences and they’re able to let go of perspectives or approaches that are no longer useful- in other words, they can unlearn things when novel solutions are required. People with this mindset tend to be oriented toward learning goals and open to new experiences. They experiment, seek feedback, and reflect systematically”.

Many leaders are afraid of moving out of their comfort zone as well as missing out on key learning opportunities. In her article, Valcour talks about a research done by David Peterson (Director of executive coaching and leadership at Google)  which is based on steps to take to enhance your learning agility:

Ask for feedback. “Think of one or more people who interacted with you or observed your performance on a given task”. Make them aware of your interest in knowing how you did, and what you could improve for your next task.

Experiment with new approaches or behaviors. “To identify new behaviors for testing, Peterson recommends reflecting on a challenge you’re facing and asking yourself questions such as ‘What’s one thing I could do to change the outcome of the situation? And what will I do differently in the future’?

Look for connections across seemingly unrelated areas.

Peterson, suggest that we choose a domain we are good at and have expertise in, this domain has to be unrelated to your work. The key- element is to apply that knowledge to your current challenge. “Borrowing these principles, Peterson realized that he could extend his mastery of leadership development by seeking out a wide variety of leaders to coach, comparing leaders to each other on various qualities, and discussing leaders with other experts”.

Make time for reflection.

Reflecting on your work is important and boosts your learning significantly. Valcour; “To ensure continuous progress, get into the habit of asking yourself questions like ‘What have I learned from this experience’? and ‘What  turned out differently than I expected’?

Valcour, makes us aware that practicing these steps will help us to extract full learning from our experiences.

Let us take a look at Tichy’s thoughts about learning from experiences; “Winning leaders consciously think about their experiences . They roll them over in their minds, analyze them and draw lessons from them”. He makes us aware of how constantly leaders updates and refine their views as they get new knowledge and experiences. Tichy; “And they store them in the form of stories that they use not only to guide their own decisions and actions, but also to teach and lead others. When you hear leaders talk about their lives, you learn their teachable points of view”.

A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.           John C. Maxwell

Author

Inger Lise E Greger, MSc in Change Management

https://inger-lise.net/page/2/

 

 

 

 

 

 





Leadership And The Act Of Influencing and Inspiring Others.

31 10 2015

Leadership is influence.     ——- John C. Maxwell

Transformative and resilient leaders has according to Brené Brown three things in common; “First, they recognise the central role that relationships and story play in culture and strategy, and they stay curious about their own emotions, thoughts, and behaviours. Second, they understand and stay curious about how emotions, thoughts, and behaviours are connected in the people they lead, and how those factors affect relationships and perception. And, third, they have the ability and willingness to lean in to discomfort and vulnerability”. (Rising strong 2015, Brené Brown)

As a leader you are in a unique position to make people interested in their work. A leader’s role among other things is to make your workers interested and inspired. We influence others most of the time in our life, both in public as well as in the private atmosphere. Some common examples are when we are making a presentation, nodding our heads, sharing our ideas with a colleague or customer or shaking hands.

Terry R Bacon, has written the book; Elements of Influence, where he demystifies all the fundamentals of influence, and gives us the basics we need to know (if we are of interest) to generate more positive outcomes both in the organisations as well as in the private life.

‘Influence is the art of getting others to take your lead – to believe, think in a way you want them to believe, think in a way you want them to think, or do something you want them to do’

Can you become better in influencing other ? Everybody can be better at influencing, however it depends on how you choose to look at the world, and if you are open to alternative ways of seeing the world and accept other peoples meanings and opinions, this should help you on your way. Bacon; “Most people do not naturally excel at influencing, in part because influencing effectively requires a great deal of adaptability, perceptiveness, and insight into other people, and in part because influence has cultural variations, and we learn to influence almost exclusively from within our own cultural lens”.

Experiencing living in many different cultures during childhood, makes us more humble and understandable towards people in other cultures. Bacon; “Influencing effectively requires an adaptive mindset, and influencing effectively across cultures require a global mindset. To some extent, a global mindset is a product of your psychology, your willingness to accept others as they are instead of wishing them to be more like yourself. And it is a product of both self-acceptance and acceptance of others”.

Kraut et al, has some insights about establishing a strong culture; “Culture is intended to do what other aspects of the leading role do for individuals and small groups, encourage the best efforts of people, by aligning their interests with the needs of the organisation. In contrast to decision – making as a form of controlling, culture is decision shaping as a form of leading”. (My blog; Organizational Culture, 2014)

Bacon; “What works in Mexico may not work as well in Malaysia, just as the openness and informality typical in Australia, even in business settings, may not be as acceptable in Germany or the Netherlands (In fact, it could cause suspicion). Influence effectiveness depends in part on the conventions, values, and beliefs prevalent in every culture”.

As a leader, the way you choose to influence other people can make a big difference, both in positive ways as in negative ways. Bacon, tells us that leaders lead by mobilising people. They inspire them to follow, and show them the possibilities as well as motivates them to realise those possibilities. Bacon; “They energise and focus people in ways that fulfil their dreams, give them a sense of purpose, and leave them with a profound sense of accomplishment when the work is done”. Bacon, makes us aware that leaders encourage new ways of looking at situations, and by doing so, they give people the words and the courage to make those new ways their own. Bacon; “The best leaders are teachers, mentors, and role models – and they accomplish the vast majority of their work through influence, not authority”.

James Borg, illustrates skills with good magicians who are masters in loosely called people skills. Why ? They had to persuade their audience. First the audience’s attention, second they would use the ‘right’ wordslisten carefully to any volunteers and make them remember the things they wanted them to remember. The magician would work out the type of person they were dealing with, and observe the body language and get the trust from the audience. This is a great demonstration of people skills in action. (From my blog: The Art of Persuasion)

Ethical influence is without forcing, and authority and the person being influenced is open to the influence and has a choice and right to say yes or no.

Bad and unethical influence happens by people with no scruples, and is destructive. Bacon; “Throughout human history, tyrants, dictators, and thugs have known that people can control others and impose their will – sometimes over millions of people – through force, brutality, intimidation, and murder. In The Prince, Machiavelli said that it is better to be feared than loved, if you cannot be both.

Dark – side influence tactics take away people’s legitimate right to say no, force them to comply with something contrary to their wishes or best interests. mislead them, or make them act when they would otherwise choose not to.

Leonardo Da Vinci astutely observed that the average person looks without seeing, listens without hearing, touches without feeling, eat without tasting, moves without physical awareness, inhales without awareness of odour or fragnance, and talks without thinking. (From my blog; The Art of Persuasion)

Here Da Vinci gives us a wake-up call, and makes us aware of the importance of taking care of each other.

Inspiration is a key-element in leading people, as well as conveying energy and enthusiasm. Bacon; “Dull lethargic speakers leave people unengaged and unconvinced. To light a fire, you need some spark. It’s extraordinary that listening makes such a difference, too. Great and inspirational leaders are good listeners as well as great speakers”. No doubt, effective listening is how masters of inspirational appeals develop their insight into what others value, and knowing what others value enables them to appeal to the right ones.

In recent years, social scientists led by Todd Trash, have demystified the phenomenon of inspiration; “At its core, inspiration is what happens when a person feels stimulated to bring some new idea to life after becoming spontaneously aware of new possibilities”. (Harvard business review; You don’t need charisma to be inspiring, 2015)

Bacon makes us aware that leadership has changed, earlier leadership may have been about commanding and controlling, but not anymore. “Leaders don’t accomplish their goals by directing others to perform tasks, and they don’t inspire engagement and commitment by using the heavy hammer of power. Instead they articulate values and vision, appeal to those values in their communications, model the behaviours they want others to embody, and teach others how to accomplish the goals”.

Leaders need to act as good role models or as a teacher, coach, or counsellor. Bacon; “The skills most closely correlated with effective modelling reinforce the importance of teaching and coaching: Supporting and encouraging others, taking the initiative to show others how to do things, building rapport and trust, speaking conversationally, showing genuine interest in others, logical reasoning, behaving self-confidently, and listening”.

What lies behind you and what lies in front of you, pales in comparison to what lies inside of you.   ——Ralph Waldo Emerson

Author; Inger Lise E Greger, MSc Change Management

https://inger-lise.net/page/2/





Leader’s Courage To Be Vulnerable

7 08 2015

””We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face…..we must do that which we think we cannot”  –  Eleanor Roosevelt

There are two main ways in which leaders wear masks. Some conceal their perceived inadequacies and flaws behind the polished facade we have come to expect of ‘great’ leaders, a bit like the Phantom from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s epic musical The Phantom of the Opera. Others take on a new persona at work that they feel is necessary for success, much like Jim Carrey’s character Stanley Ipkiss in the movie The Mask who transforms into a flamboyant green superhero. Both types of mask undermine trust and effectiveness. They also create inner conflict, as leaders struggle to align their work and home lives.(Harvard Business Review, 2013, Leaders, Drop Your Mask’s)

‘Daring Greatly'(Brené Brown, 2012) is an interesting book and a warning about the danger of pursuing certainty and control above all. Dr. Brené Brown, makes us aware of and dispels the cultural myth that vulnerability is weakness and argues that it is, in truth, our most accurate measure of courage. Daring greatly is not about winning or losing. Brown; “It’s about courage. In a world where scarcity and shame dominate and feeling afraid has become second nature, vulnerability is subversive. Uncomfortable. It’s even a little dangerous at times. And without question, putting ourselves out there means there’s a far greater risk of feeling hurt”.

An important management’s task is according the writers of the book; The Drucker Difference, to develop people in a way that make them able to perform in an extraordinary way. “In Concept of the Corporation, Drucker wrote that ‘the most successful and the most durable institutions employ managers who induce  in their members an intellectual and moral growth beyond a man’s original capacities”. This end is embodied in Drucker’s very definition of leadership; “leadership is the lifting of a person’s vision to higher sights, the raising of a person’s performance to a higher standard, and the building of a person’s personality beyond its normal limitations”. (The Drucker Difference, what the World’s Greatest Management Thinker Means to Today’s Business Leaders,2010)

Going back to Brown and Daring Greatly. The author informs us that vulnerability isn’t good or bad, nor a dark emotion, nor is it always a light or positive experience. Brown; “Vulnerability is the core of all emotions and feelings. To feel is to be vulnerable. To believe vulnerability is weakness is to believe that feeling is weakness”.

Brown say that vulnerability is the core , the heart, the centre, of meaningful human experiences. Experiencing vulnerability is not a choice, we can choose how we would like to respond when confronted with uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure.

“When you fail, make sure that you don’t dwell on it. Fail fast, learn everything you can, and move on”. From her book ; The Mountain Within, Herta Von Stiegel has some interesting thoughts and makes us aware that it’s tempting to suffer and get too involved in the mire of failure. Stiegel; “Give failure it’s proper role in your mind, a place to dwell briefly, learn and reflect, and move on”. Uncertainties is always a challenge , either we like it or not. Stiegel; “The future is all about surprises. Expecting them is half the battle. Being ready for the unexpected is the other half. But how can you be ready for something that you don’t or can’t see coming ?” Stiegel shows us the importance of releasing yesterdays or even an hour ago’s attachment. (Berta Von Stiegel, The Mountain Within)( from my Blog)

Back to Brown and where she makes us aware of some very persuasive leadership research which supports the idea of asking for support is critical, as well as that vulnerability and courage are contagious. The author refers to an article (Harvard Business Review, 2011) Authors of this article (Peter Fuda and Richard Badham) is using series of metaphors to explore how leaders spark and sustain change. ” One of the metaphors is the snowball. The snowball starts rolling when a leader is willing to be vulnerable with his or her subordinates. Their research shows that this act of vulnerability is predictably perceived as courageous by team members and inspires others to follow suit”.

Shame is a painful feeling. Brown; “A sense of worthiness inspires us to be vulnerable, share openly, and preserve. Shame keeps us small, resentful, and afraid. In shame-prone cultures, where parents, leaders, and administrators consciously or unconsciously encourage people to connect their self-worth to what they produce, I see disengagement, blame, gossip, stagnation, favouritism, and a total death of creativity and innovation”.

To be open and honest includes among other things; the painful truth and standing up for what’s right, where keeping promises is of huge importance and proves that we can be trusted to uphold commitments and lead as a good example. From their book (Moral Intelligence, Doug Lennic/Fred Kiel)  say; “When leaders betray confidences, they lose more than respect of their work associates. They also dry up valuable sources of information because their employees and colleagues learn to withhold sensitive information from a loose-lipped leader.” (Ingerleg’s blog)

When Brown talks about shame resilience, she explains that it is a strategy for protecting our connection with both ourselves and our connections with the people we care about.

Brown’s four elements of shame resilience:

1) Recognizing Shame and Understanding Its Triggers. Here it is important to physically recognize and feel your way through it when you are in the grips of shame. You can ask yourselves questions like; what is the triggers ? What are my feelings physically ? Are there a way through it ?

2) Practicing Critical Awareness. Here it is important to be aware of the signs that are driving you to shame, and are the messages realistic or attainable ? Are you in pressure of what other people want from you, or is it what you want to be ?

3) Reaching out. Brown;” Are you owning and sharing your story ? We can’t experience empathy if we’re not connecting.”

4) Speaking Shame. Brown; “Are you talking about how you feel and asking for what you need when you feel shame ?”

These four steps can be used in different order and they will always ultimately lead to empathy and healing.

Leaders need to re-humanize education and work in order to reignite creativity, innovation and learning. Brown; “This means understanding how scarcity is affecting the way we lead and work, learning how to engage with vulnerability, and recognizing and combating shame”.

Shame and blame are disruptive in organizations. Showing respect and dignity of individuals should be of the highest values. Brown; “There is no leading by fear”. In an organizational culture where respect is of high value, there is no room for shame and blame and it won’t work as management style. Brown; “We can’t control the behavior of individuals, however, we can cultivate organizational cultures where behaviors are not tolerated and people are held accountable for protecting what matters most: human beings”.

Organizations need creativity and innovation as well as engaged learning to solve complex issues. Brown; “We can’t afford to let our discomfort with the topic of shame get in the way of recognizing and combating it in our schools and workplaces”.

Browns four best strategies for building shame resilient organizations:

1) Leaders who are supportive and willing to arrange honest conversations about shame as well as cultivating shame resilient cultures.

2) Brown; “Facilitating a conscientious effort to see where shame might be functioning in the organization and how it might even be creeping into the way we engage with our co-workers and students”.

3) Normalizing is according to Brown a critical shame resilience strategy where leaders and managers are helping their people to know what to expect. You can ask these questions; What is the common struggles and how to deal with them and what you have experienced ?

4) Brown; “Training all employees on the differences between shame and guilt, and teaching them how to give and receive feedback in a way that fosters growth and engagement”.

Giving feedback is everything, without feedback there can’t be any transformative change. Brown; “A daring greatly culture is a culture of honest, constructive, and engaged feedback”.

“Difficulties mastered are opportunities won.”   – Winston Churchill

Author, Inger Lise E Greger MSc Change Management

https://inger-lise.net/page/2/








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