Encouraging synchronized eye-rolls and harmonized groans


One challenge when training managers is how to get away from the same tired old messages about encouraging self-organization and collaboration without inducing synchronized eye-rolls in tandem with a harmony of groans. The words have lost their potency.

I stumbled upon a simple exercise that might work.

Suppose the goal is to develop your employees into self-organizing and accountable teams. Ask instead:

How can I get my employees to be completely dependent on me and irresponsible?

Have your managers generate a list. (Trust me, the ideas will flow). Then, have them re-phrase the list into the opposite of what’s on the list. Here is what it might look like.

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Just a stale way to deal with the new. 🙂

If you’ve tried this, please share your results!

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CoP – How to get one up and running


Communities of Practice are a solid way to help experts in their field stay on top of the latest in their domains. They also help managers and leaders create a collaborative learning culture.

A CoP is a forum where experts meet together on a periodic schedule to share and learn from each other. It can be a one hour event every other week or from time to time, a mini-conference using an open space or trade show format.

I like to see managers or leaders shepherd or curate CoPs. A CoP needs care, feeding, and leadership to get off the ground and remain useful. The best CoPs I’ve experienced have the following characteristics: Continue reading

How’s this for a change vision?


“Our vision is to become a firm that pays the very lowest wages possible, charges the highest prices the market will bear, and divides the spoils between stockholders and executives, mostly the latter.”

Does that get you excited about…

  1. Coming to work?
  2. Doing business with this company?

This sample, from John Kotter‘s Leading Change is a reminder that for a vision to work, it has to be seen as something that everyone can get excited about–all stakeholders. And it has to be bold enough to drive people out of their comfort zone, and provide enough focus and targets to make business as usual uncomfortably impossible.

Read about a great example of a vision here.

What does your favorite vision of the future read like? Good or bad?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Engagement, passion – the big WHY.


Only one in five employees are fully engaged. (Deloitte’s Center for the Edge: The Shift Index).

I personally view this video as a warning; the perils of over-rotating on a left-brained, rational approach to life, which removes context, meaning, and the big WHY of what we do.  Passion and vision are largely missing in the world of work, and when they do exist in doses that are sufficient to stir our emotions, we often fail to realize their potential. We don’t connect the WHY with the HOW and the WHAT.

The intuitive mind is a sacred gift…and the rational mind is a faithful servant. – Albert Einstein.

We need both, not only to survive, but to thrive.

 

Deliberate Practice – the Leadership Kata


A kata is a set of actions that are assembled in sequence to help you train your mind and body to perform with precision, proper form, and to help you develop muscle memory so that these forms are available to you without thinking. The word “kata” comes from the martial arts. At the Agile2011 conference there was a tutorial titled “The Agile Leadership Kata: Discovering the Practice of Leadership” by Tom Perry. We applied the kata to the practice of leadership. Slides form the session can be found here.

Stephen Denning refers to leadership communication as performance art. All performance requires practice. Katas are a practice tool. Why bother? As a leader, why does it mater if I practice? If my current set of leadership tools are working, do I really need to develop new ones?

Continue reading

Leadership and Process Principles for Agile Finance


I’ve been reading “Implementing Beyond Budgeting” by Bjarte Bogsnes. Finance is sometimes a neglected area in terms of Agile Transformation and Bogsnes’s book offers rock-solid advice. The first element is the set of leadership and process principles.There are 6 of each:

Leadership:

  1. Customers. Focus everyone on improving customer outcomes, not on hierarchical relationships.
  2. Organization. Organize as a network of lean, accountable teams, not around centralized functions.
  3. Responsibility. Enable everyone to act and think like a leader, not merely follow the plan.
  4. Autonomy. Give teams the freedom and capability to act; do not micromanage them.
  5. Values. Govern through a few clear values, goals, and boundaries, not detailed rules and budgets.

Process:

  1. Goals. Set relative goals for continuous improvement; do not negotiate fixed performance contracts.
  2. Rewards. Reward shared success based on relative performance, not in meeting fixed targets.
  3. Planning. Make planning a continuous and inclusive process, not a top-down annual event.
  4. Controls. Base controls on relative indicators and trends, not on variances against the plan.
  5. Resources. Make resources available as needed, not through annual budget allocations.
  6. Coordination. Coordinate interactions dynamically, not through annual planning cycles.

These are difficult principles to live by without trust, transparency and simplicity in your organization. Adopting these principles takes time and effort, and a rather gargantuan mind shift. Eventually you’d want them all, but if you had to start somewhere, which principles would start acting on tomorrow?

Can we apply Pareto to the budgeting process, focusing on the top 20% of financial decisions and issues aligned with the Product Backlog?

Decisions on what to STOP doing are as important as the decision on what to START doing. Are you making the hard calls? Can you apply Pareto to both decision types? What will we fund? What will we kill?

More to follow on this topic in a future post.