Archive for the ‘Change’ Category

Book Review: Turn the Ship Around

Monday, January 7, 2019

Control, competence and Clarity is the three-pronged approach former submarine commander David Marquet used to transform the US Nuclear Submarine Santa Fe into the most successful submarine in the US Navy. He tells this story in his 2012 book “Turn the Ship Around: A Trues Story of Turning Followers into Leaders”, published by Portfolio Penguin.

Marquet believed that every follower can be a leader, and that through them becoming leaders in their own right, the organisation would thrive and grow. His approach proved right and transformed the Santa Fe into a highly efficient and effective network of people. Divesting control, developing competence and providing clarity are the key components of this strategy.

Detailing how he implemented this when he took over command of the Santa Fe, Marquet provides a look into the inner workings of life on a submarine. The book is a great read with examples and stories that make the practical application of his ideas easy to see and readily apply into other workplace contexts.

What I particularly appreciated was the stories of things that did not work, and how these “failings” were part of the learning process.

The book is well written, organized well and flows easily. This book is now one of my favorites and I would recommend it to any leader looking to take their leadership to the next level.

Reviewed by Dr Warrick Long, Lecturer at Avondale Business School

Agile Leaders Do these Things

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

There is no doubt the rapid technological and social change we live with no means organisations must become agile to survive, let alone thrive. Unfortunately our organisational systems have not kept pace with this change, ad unless they are able to become agile and that can evolve to the changing environment, they will fail. A recently publish paper by McKinsey&Company (link here) address what is meant by an agile company, and what is needed to be a leader of one. The characteristics of an agile organisation are:

  • Have a ‘north star’ embodied across the organisation
  • Work through a network of small, empowered teams
  • Use rapid decision and learning cycles
  • Have a dynamic people model that ignites passion
  • Use next-generation-enabling technology

The paper provides some guidance as to what is needed from leaders t lead an agile organisation. It’s important to note that to do so means changing self before trying to change the organisation. The 5 practices required of an agile leader are:

  1. Pause to move faster – create space for clear judgment and original thinking.
  2. Embrace your ignorance – listen – and think – from a place of not knowing
  3. Radically re-frame the questions – unblock your existing mental model
  4. Set direction, not destination – rather than a fixed goal journey with clear direction
  5. Test your solutions – and yourself

I will leave it with you to read the article in its entirety to get the full meaning of these tips, and it is well worth the time to do so, as the article also deals with changing teams and organisations. But don’t forget, it all starts with changing self. And if the Avondale Business School (ABS) can do anything to help you with your change process, just contact Warrick Long at Warrick.long@avondale.edu.au or 02 49802168.

Organisational Change? – Don’t Forget The Employees

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

While many people thrive on change, there are also plenty of people (most?) who don’t relish the idea of another organisational restructure or “adjustment”. Change fatigue is a very real issue in workplaces. But some change is very necessary for the ongoing success of the business and so the issue becomes how to implement change is the most effective and successful way.

There are a number of resources available on change management (I personally like John Kotter’s approach in his book Leading Change). However, I recently came across a really succinct article on how to ensure employees are engaged and on board with organisational change. If comes from Morgan Galbraith and can be found by clicking here. Galbraith notes that almost one0thrid of employees don’t understand why changes are occurring in their workplace, which is a leading factor why command change transformations fail.

To help with the employee understanding, Galbraith notes four key factors leaders can take on board:

  1. Inspire people by presenting a compelling vision for the future.

Ensure you give a clear view of the path ahead, answering the questions of why the change is important, and how it will positively affect the organisation in the long-term.

  1. Keep employees informed by providing regular communication.

A hallmark of successful transformations is continual communication which is clear and consistent, and answers the question ‘what’s in it for me’ for employees. It is also important to communicate even when you don’t have all the answers.

  1. Empower leaders and managers to lead through change.

Successful transformations also happen because senior leaders model the behaviour changes. But for them to do so, you need to help them understand the fundamentals of change, including how to be an effective leader during that time.

  1. Find creative ways to involve employees in the change.

This is scary, but you need to solicit feedback and engage people in the process, which helps build ownership and makes them more likely to support the change.

The whole article is well worth reading (it only takes 6 minutes), and as noted by Galbraith, companies who are highly effective at change management are three and a half times more likely to significantly outperform industry peers. So remember to inspire, inform, empower and engage. Avondale Business School (ABS) can help you with your change management processes, to find out how, contact Warrick Long via Warrick.long@avondale.edu.au

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Tough Decisions? No Thanks!

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Making decisions has been an occupational hazard in most of my career choices, and frequently the choices were between outcomes that were going to upset different groups of people, irrespective of the choice. Not making a decision was not an option, so it was just a case of getting on and trying to minimize the negativity surrounding the decisions being made, and in the process I learned much about how to get people to accept tough decisions – usually through the mistakes I made in the process.

So when I recently came across an interesting article in HBR Online (read it here) about how to get people to accept tough decisions, I was quick to read it, and to lament not having had the benefit of it many years ago. David Maxwell, the author, refers to the observations of Alexander George, who studies US presidential decision-making, and noted two particular features of their processes:

  1. Uncertainty: Presidents never have the time or resources to fully understand all of the implications their decisions will have, and
  2. “Value Complexity”: the term used to explain that even the “best” decisions will harm some people and undermines values leaders would prefer to support.

The consequences of these two factors are that people “…dither, delay, and defer, when we need to act”.

To combat these paralyzing conditions, Maxwell explores both the issues and then suggests some things that can be done to minimize their impacts. I’ll leave you to read more about the issues, but below I summarize the mitigating strategies you can employ:

Overcoming Uncertainty:

  • Assess the situation
  • Don’t get stuck
  • Add others’ perspectives
  • Try a test run
  • Take a step

Overcoming Value Complexity:

  • Make your intentions clear
  • Mitigate or compensate for the harm
  • Minimize the maximum harm
  • Recognize sacrifices

Again, the article expands on these points, and it is well worth reading in its entirety (it is about a 2 minute read).

Tough decisions need to be made, whether in the employment or personal context, and having some understanding of what is going on and how to mitigate the impact is very valuable. And the Avondale Business School (ABS) is eager to assist you in whatever way we can to help build your leadership and business. Simply email Warrick.long@avondale.edu.au or call on 02 4980 2168.

The Upside of Addressing the Downside of Technology

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Digital and mobile technologies give – but they also take away. Leaders of organisations need to play an active role in designing workplaces that encourage the adoption of healthy technology habits. Such is the thrust of a recent paper entitle ‘Positive Technology’ (read it here) by Deloitte.

This paper alerts leaders to the down-side of technology, warning about the potential perils of workplace digital technology. Some of the key dangers identified include:

  • Constant streams of messages resulting in a deteriorating of the individual’s ability to adequately process information;
  • The ease of creating virtual meetings making it too easy to include more people, and thus create opportunities for days of endless meetings; and
  • The unhealthy use of workplace technology which has seen increasing instances of poor sleep, anxiety and depression amoung employees; and

A very positive aspect of this report is the inclusion of suggestions for employers to address these issues. A few examples of these include:

  • Using available data of employee usage patterns to help individuals better understand and regulate their use of technology;
  • Incorporating ‘nudge’ strategies into workflow processes and applications to help break technology addiction;
  • Ensuring that the organisations leaders openly display healthy and balanced technology habits.

The article is an important contribution to current discussions on the role of technology in the workplace, where the speed of technology adoption and change is outpacing effective workplace practices and culture. By being reminded of this issue, we are now in a position to choose to care for our employees more than we care about technology.

You can contact the Avondale Business School if you would like more information on how we can help you with this, or any other business issue. ABS@avondale.edu.au

The Importance of Urgency

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

How do you become and maintain leadership in your industry when your industry is changing so constantly? McKinsey&Company report that the average large firm reorganizes every two to three years, and the average reorganization takes more than 18 months to implement! How can an organisation focus on strategy when reorganization seems to dominate?

In their article entitled ‘Organising for the age of Urgency’ (click here to read), Aaron De Smet and Chris Gagnon of McKinsey&Company report that companies still need to change, but argue there is another way than to enter the endless cycle of reorganisations. They identify that companies that are successful adopt more radical approaches, and become more responsive, more flexible, and shift decision-making to the front-line, (or “edge”). Based on their observations, they have developed an organisational outline of what the most successful organisations have adopted, and shown in the following diagram:

The key areas identified is that urgency must become the single biggest imperative for the company. The default for organisations is to fall behind competitors, and to succeed, companies must move qui8ckly. Jeff Bezos of Amazon asserts that companies need to adopt high-velocity thinking, using 70% of the information they wish they had to make decisions. It is also important to use emergent strategy and leadership, which the authors compare to improvisational jazz, where all the players improvise and are empowered to adapt. Successful companies also try new things, accept failure, learn from that, and try again.

Agility is the second component of the model, which means being willing and able to shift quickly to reshape the business. This includes creating a flatter organisation and moving away from title/rank having total control. Decisions are instead made in real-time by those that are in the moment at the front-line.

Capability is the third element, and includes creating a workforce who are able to adapt and integrate with new technology. It also embraces and continual learning, which includes learning being personalized for employees so they can act more urgently and improve effectiveness. The leadership model is also transformed by being less about control and more about influence, decreasing the need for many positions of formal authority.

The last of the model components is identity. Successful organisations need to have stable processes, tasks and roles. This includes having a simple but consistent series of process across the entire organisation. It is also important to have a purpose that inspires employees, one which leaders model. Employees thrive where they are part of an organisation that creates real value.

Creating an organisation that embraces urgency, coupled with agility, capability and identity does away with the need for constant reorganization and reactive strategies. Instead, as noted I the article, “you’ve got an organisation that can play fast and long”. A highly recommended read for people who really want their organisation to succeed.

Workforce of the Future

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

‘Competition for the right talent is fierce. And ‘talent’ no longer means the same as ten years ago; many of the roles, skills and job titles of tomorrow are unknown to us today”.

Rather than being daunted by this finding by PWC in their report “Workforce of the Future”, PWC provide some excellent scenarios of what 2030 may look like, and what organisations should be planning in order to prepare. The reports is based on a survey of 10,000 business leaders globally. (click on the image to access the full report).

PWC identified five megatrends, or forces, that are shaping the future. These megatrends are:

  • Technological breakthroughs;
  • Demographic shifts, that is, the changing size, distribution and age profile of the world’s population;
  • Rapid urbanization, which involves the significant increase in the world’s population moving to live in cities;
  • Shifts in global economic power, between developed and developing countries;
  • Resource scarcity and climate change.

Rather than extrapolate these into one potential future, PWC consider four scenarios (or ‘worlds’) based on varying degrees of fluidity between collectivism and individualism, and business fragmentation and corporate integration. These scenarios recognise that there are multiple potential outcomes possible, and that organisations need to ensure they are thinking about a range of futures, rather than betting everything on just one possible alternative. The outcomes of this extrapolation into 2030 are:

  • The Yellow World, where humans come first
  • The Red World, where innovation rules
  • The Green World, where companies care
  • The Blue World, where corporate is king

The one common thread throughout each scenario is the rise of automation and the implications of robotics and artificial intelligence (AI), which will result in a massive reclassification and rebalancing of work.

While providing helpful recommendations for individuals and society as a whole, the report also suggests a few things organisations can also do to position themselves for whatever future unfolds:

  • Recognise that linear predictions don’t cut it – there are multiple and emerging visions of the future;
  • Make decisions based on purpose and values;
  • Embrace technology as a force for good;
  • Focus on humans and the humane.

This is an excellent and informative report that is easy to read, yet challenging. Leaders looking into the future would do well to consider this report and how their organisation is preparing for an uncertain, but different, future. And Avondale Business School is excited to be able to partner with you to achieve success.

The CEOs Role in Leading Transformation

Sunday, December 18, 2016

TransformationPrevious ABS blogs have highlighted the processes involved in organisational transformations and change management. However, until recently, none of the research or articles looked in detail at the role the CEO of an organisation should play in this process.

The management consulting and research company McKinsey&Co have published just such an article based on their extensive research and experience in this area (read it here). While allowing for the vast differences in organisations and the particular uniqueness of each one, they have distilled four key functions that together are what leads to the CEO playing a successful role in a transformation. While providing just a summary, the entire article is worth the read. These roles are:

  1. Making the transformation meaningful
    • Adopting a personal approach
    • Openly engaging others
    • Spotlighting success
  2. Role-modelling desired mind-sets and behaviour
    • Transforming yourself
    • Taking symbolic action
  3. Building a strong and committed top team
    • Assessing and acting
    • Investing team time
  4. Relentlessly pursuing impact
    • Rolling up your sleeves
    • Holding leaders accountable

Committing to these actions more often than not sees the CEO play an important part in a successful transformation. Thinking about your role as a CEO, or your CEO, how many of these actions would you say are happening?

Strategic IT Predictions – 2017 And Beyond

Sunday, November 20, 2016

It PredictionsIn October Daryl Plummer of Gartner delivered their 10 strategic predictions for the next 3 – 5 years. These guys are worth listening to, they have a 78% accuracy rate!

A summary of the predictions can be found in an article by Neal Weinberg (find it here) and is well worth the short amount of time it will take to read. Some of them could be major game-changers for all business, and as business leaders, you need to be aware of what is looming. How prepared are you for these? A very small sample of the predictions follow, if you want to know them all, you will have to follow the link to the full article.

  1. By 2020, 100 million consumers will shop in virtual reality
  2. By 2020, 30% of web browsing sessions will be done without a screen
  3. By 2020, algorithms will alter behaviour of billions of global workers in a positive way
  4. By 2022, the Internet of Things will save consumers and businesses $1 trillion a year
  5. By 2020, 40% of employees can cut healthcare costs by wearing a fitness tracker.

If you would like further information on how Avondale Business School can help your organisation, contact Warrick Long:

E: Warrick.long@avondale.edu.au

P: 02 4980 2168

Accounting is Dead! Long Live Accounting!

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Accounting TrendsAccounting has been around for thousands of years, albeit in differing guises. As the society around it has changed, so has accounting. We no longer record information on clay tablets via hieroglyphics, and have even recognised that calculators are more useful than an abacus. But that doesn’t mean accounting should not keep on changing.

In a recent article by Rob Nixon (read it here) he points out three trends happening right now in accounting that will change the way accounting functions. While Nixon expands on these points in his article, in summary they are:

  1. Cloud computing – 24/7 access to real time data. Accountants can move from number-cruncher to information analyst
  2. Providing solutions – sending information to clients and stakeholders via newsletters, videos etc to keep them connected and informed.
  3. Data analytics – big data means loads of information that can supplement the traditional income statement, balance sheet and cash flow statement. The opportunity now exists for deeper analysis of trends and risks.

Accounting is changing, has changed, and we need to adapt to ensure we can meet the opportunities and challenges of this brave new world.

If you would like further information on how Avondale Business School can help your organisation, contact Warrick Long:

E: Warrick.long@avondale.edu.au

P: 02 4980 2168