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/

 

 

 

 

 

 





Leaders Will To Simplify.

19 02 2015

Simplicity, simplicity ———        Henry David Thoreau

Complexity makes us confused, but simplicity makes us released.

We are all in the same boat and has a need to understand things without complications; a job, a paper, a loan, colleagues, a leader, communication and so on. The question is why we complicate things.

Alan Siegel and Irene Etzkorn has written the book; Simple, and conquering the crisis of complexity.

Authors; “A crisis of complexity has escalated to a critical point where a decision must be made. We either relinquish the power to understand and control what affects us, or we fight for a better, simpler way to conduct our daily affairs and our commercial transactions”.

Simplicity and clarity goes hand-in-hand, and has a clear intent that easily and quickly conveys its purpose of use.  Authors; ” With even greater magnification, you find that it’s about essence – cutting to what matters, delivering substantive content that seems to speak to an audience of one”.

The authors make us aware of the importance of removing barriers, both inside the company as well as removing barriers that separates the company from the outside world. This form of simplification requires breaking down walls inside the company.

A culture of simplicity seems to blossom in open cultures. People are able to communicate openly, both with insiders as well as those outside the company.

Authors; “Something has changed recently, however. People have begun to fight as never before for clarity, transparency, and fairness in their dealings with business and government. More and more are becoming simplicity warriors – without the need for a Nader-like leader. They’re doing it themselves, armed only with social media and a healthy sense of outrage”.

Those of us who has been in situations of receiving too much confusion for too long, are ready for a simplicity movement. Authors; “One of the great misconceptions about the complexity crisis is the belief that the people who made things so complicated – the bureaucrats, the technocrats, the lawyers – are the only ones who can get us out of this mess. But if we wait for help from those who’ve developed and fostered the confusion, we may be waiting a long time”.

Here the authors makes us aware of some important key-elements to use in simplifying:

-we can transform the way we do business

-we can reinvent the everyday practices and process plagued by complexity.

From his book; “On becoming a Leader”, Warren Bennis, has some interesting views on simplicity; “The universe may not be very complex, but it is, nevertheless, complex. And as I mentioned earlier, the social laws are more complex and less certain than the natural ones. But despite the complexity, we cannot stand still. We must continue to swing from tree to tree, although the trees may be ideas, and we may be using axons instead of arms to make the connections. We might want to take Alfred North Whitehead’s advice here; “Seek simplicity, then distrust it”.

Bennis is also saying that our culture is in need of more right-brain qualities like the needs to be more intuitive, conceptual, synthesizing and artistic.

Bennis; “In any corporation, managers serve as the left brain and the research and development staff serves as the right brain, but the CEO must combine both, must have both administrative and imaginative gifts. One of the reasons that so few corporate executives have successfully made the leap from capable manager to successful leader is that the corporate culture, along with society as a whole, recognizes and rewards left brain accomplishments and tends to discount right-brain achievements. Bottom – line thinking is a manifestation of left-brain dominance. Habits are born in the left brain and unmade in the right”.

When we connect with people, we have to speak their languages. Jargons are often used in companies and government where they speak in a language they understand and you don’t.

Siegel and Etzkorn; “This isn’t necessarily intentional, organizations get accustomed to using a kind of insider shorthand to communicate among themselves – no harm there. The problem occurs when internal jargon finds its way into external communication, which it inevitably and increasingly does. When this happens, companies are in effect talking to themselves in public”.

Here the authors makes us aware that the use of jargon is an important example of lack of empathy in cases when you fail to consider the frame of reference in how your message will be received.

Authors; “As a result, important messages can become lost in translation, making it impossible to reach across lines, connect, and collaborate”.

The authors, is questioning if a company is capable of transforming itself so that simplicity becomes part of its DNA. “The mission statement is only the beginning. Companies that embrace simplification must make sure that all of their communications and processes measure up to the highest standards of clarity”.

Here, the authors includes internal communication as well as the importance of external communication.

Back to Bennis; No leader sets out to be a leader. People set out to live their lives, expressing themselves fully. When that expression is of value, they become leaders”.

Bennis, makes us aware of how important it is to become yourself, to use yourself completely including your skills, gifts and energies if you want to make your vision manifest.

“So strike hard, try everything, do everything, render everything, and become the person you are capable of being”.

Hope is a waking dream——–-Aristotle

Written by

Inger Lise E Greger/MSc Change Management

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








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