Archive for the ‘Change’ Category

Moving Boards From Good To Great

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

What does it take to move a good board to becoming a great board? A recent publication from the PWC governance Insights Center (read it here) provides a series of questions that guides you through this very process.

This excellent article is easy to read and provides great guidance and explanations as to what boards can do to address these questions.

The 9 questions are listed below, but the document expands on these so to get the maximum benefit, it is highly recommended you follow the link to the whole article.

  1. What skills or attributes are we missing?
  2. How well are our committees functioning?
  3. Do we have strong board and committee leadership?
  4. Are we getting our agenda right?
  5. How could our pre-meeting materials be improved?
  6. How effectively are we engaging with management?
  7. Are we making good use of executive sessions?
  8. Are we staying current?
  9. How do we get more value from our performance assessments?

Think about your board, and how you might use these questions to move from good to great. The Avondale Business School (ABS) can also help you and your board become greatt, simply contact Dr Warrick Long at Warrick.long@avondale.edu.au or 02 4980 2168.

Change Successfully

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

If it’s not one thing, it’s another – either technology is changing, structures are changing, or the economy, or all three at once, or something else again. So when leadership announces to employees another organizational change, is it any wonder there is usually a collective groan from change-fatigued workers who get defensive at the idea.

Patti Sanchez in her excellent article ‘The Secret to Leading Organizational Change is Empathy’, (read it here), addresses this touchy issue and offers leaders some sound advice: how information is communicated to employees during a change matters more then what information is communicated. Sanchez builds a strong case for communicating empathetically, while being honest enough to admit most leaders don’t know how.

Following are the headline three strategies leaders can implement to make the next change process smoother:

  1. Profile Your Audience at Every Stage: Take the time to identify the key groups of employees based on how they might feel about the proposed changes, then plan communications to address them accordingly. Typically they may be excited, frightened or even frustrated.
  2. Tell People What to Expect: so the more informed people are, the more they will be able to process the discomfort they may feel. While this should be a no-brainer, it seems to be a non-starter for most leaders. Trust your employees and just tell them what is going on.
  3. Involve Individuals at All Levels: Unless there is broad involvement, the change just won’t happen.

These look so common sense, and yet few leaders actually take the time to put them into practice, thus stymieing their transformation process. Do you think you could at least try these the next time you are involved in change? And the Avondale Business School (ABS) can help you with this, just contact Dr Warrick Long warrick.long@avondale.edu.au to find out how.

 

Unlocking Your Team’s Creativity

Monday, March 4, 2019

Creativity can be coached! A recent article by Rebecca Shambaugh (read it here) outlines both the importance of developing creativity in your teams, and some simple tips leaders can use to get the creative juices flowing.

The compelling argument to focus on creativity comes from Shambaugh’ s assertion that with the rate of rapid change in the market place, leaders cannot afford to rely on the ‘tried and true’ ideas that have bought them past success. Equally so, leaders cannot allow for their team to become complacent or overly ‘agreeable’.

Following is a very brief summary of the tips to stimulate creativity amongst teams, the article itself expands on these, and is well worth the read.

  • Avoid getting hemmed in by process. That is, an over reliance on rules may be stifling your team – try removing limitations of some procedural structures and set every one free.
  • Facilitate spaghetti throwing. While most companies and executives admit that unlocking creative potential is the key to economic growth, very few feel they can do this. Maybe it’s time to just try things and see what “sticks”. If you’ve created safe spaces for people to do so without recrimination, then you are unlocking the potential of healthy conflict and debate. Oh, and don’t micromanage!
  • Reveal “sticky floors”. Some team members feel they are not capable of being creative are limiting themselves. Use your leadership skills to offer coaching and support for such people to get them into the groove and getting a few easy wins to build their confidences and experience with creative success.
  • Encourage a growth mindset. People with a growth mindset appreciate that they will make mistakes, but these are opportunities to learn and grow, and gradually improve. To facilitate this, let your people know that they can fail, perfectionism is not the goal and learning is valued.

An interesting article that helps leaders develop creativity in their workplace, and hopefully move to the next level of success. And Avondale Business School (ABS) can help you do just that. Just contact Warrick Long to chat about how we can help. Warrick.long@avondale.edu.au or 02 4980 2168.

Too Scared to be Fearless?

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

While high-performance organisations are not as common as we would think, there is a common attribute amongst them – being a fearless organisation. Amy Edmondson, in a great article called ‘How Fearless Organisations Succeed’ (read it here), goes right to the heart of the matter and outlines the essential characteristics of being fearless.

A fearless organisation is one where employees have confidence to take risks, and where the organisation minimizes the fear people feel on the job. This provides psychological safety, where there is the belief it is safe to speak up when needed with relevant ideas, questions or concerns, without being shutdown is a gratuitous way. Employees respect and trust each other, and can be candid when needed.

Edmondson quotes a 2017 Gallup poll that notes only three in 1- employees agree with the statement that their opinions count at work. Do the opinions of your employees count at your work?

There are some caveats, which include noting that such a fearless organisation is not one where people agrees for the sake of it, or offer unconditional support for every idea. On the contrary, psychological safety enables candor and openness, and therefore, thrives in an environment of mutual respect.

So how do you create such an environment? The article offers three main things leaders can do:

  1. Set the stage. That is, get people on the same page, with common goals and a shared appreciation of what they are up against.
  2. Invite participation. This involves adopting a mindset of situational humility and engaging in proactive inquiry. No one want to take the risks of proposing ideas when the boss appears to think they know everything.
  3. Respond productively. This sort of a response is characterized by the tree elements of appreciation, destigmatizing failure, and sanctioning clear violations.

I recommend you read the entire article to get the details of these, but this is a good summary to hopefully inspire you to move your organisation towards being more fearless.

If you would like to find out how Avondale Business School can help your organisation become fearless, call or email Warrick Long on 02 4980 2168 or warrick.long@avondale.edu.au

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

.

 

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.