Posts Tagged ‘Change’

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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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.

Open Offices and Closed Minds?

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

It is hard to remain objective on issues when all our technology is geared towards filtering the information we receive so that it reinforces our existing views. I became very aware of this when a recent article on the issues associated with open office plans came across my feeds. I eagerly read the article and felt a sense of satisfaction that it supported my own personal view that open office plans do not deliver on all that they promise. My introverted self felt comforted that I wasn’t an outlier in an extroverted world.

However, given that so many organisations are moving towards open plan offices, and that the financial investment is too big for them to not have considered the risk of getting it wrong, I felt I needed to consider the (uncomfortable) option that open office plans may actually work.

The advantages of open offices are typically noted as:

  • Encouraging spontaneous epiphanies amongst colleagues
  • Enhanced collaboration
  • Greater flexibility
  • More engaged and productive workforce

There are also challenges, as identified in a number of research studies about employee dissatisfaction with open office plans:

  • Noise and other distractions reduce productivity
  • Lack of personal space
  • Decreased team cohesion and satisfaction
  • Increased levels of sick leave

My search yielded a number of articles supporting the open office design, usually with the caveat that the organisation needs to be very strategic in how it is implemented, designed and the culture that grows from it. Other articles were tentative in their support, noting that it worked in limited circumstances, for example, for connected team projects. Other articles were clearly not supportive.

Interestingly, a number of articles noted that the decisions to move to open office designs were frequently made by leaders who retained private offices and were not aware of the issues and impacts of them.

So in the interests of fair play, listed below are a series of references to articles that discuss open office designs, some supportive and some not. Embedded in the articles are links to various research projects and reports that explore the consequences of open offices. But as for me, the idea of working in the midst of a crowd of extroverts causes me to break out in a cold sweat.

https://hbr.org/2018/01/sgc-research-when-moving-to-an-open-office-plan-pay-attention-to-how-your-employees-feel

https://www.newyorker.com/business/currency/the-open-office-trap

https://theconversation.com/open-plan-offices-can-actually-work-under-certain-conditions-89452

https://www.archdaily.com/884192/why-open-plan-offices-dont-work-and-some-alternatives-that-do

https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/313034

https://www.oxfordeconomics.com/when-the-walls-come-down

By: Warrick Long, Lecturer, Avondale Business School

What’s Keeping You Awake at Night?

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Sustainability and long term growth prospects are what’s keeping Australian company directors awake at night, according to the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD) Director Sentiment Index 2018 (Click here to access the report).

Other issues troubling the sleep of Australian directors include:

  • Structural change/changing business models
  • Corporate culture
  • Business reputation in the community
  • Data security

Do these issues resonate with you? What about the following trends identified in the report as having the biggest potential impacts:

  • Positive Impact:
    • Big data
    • Increased transparency
    • Automation
  • Negative Impact:
    • Mass retirement of older workers

Australian directors have a generally optimistic outlook for both the Australian and international economies, with NSW directors most optimistic for their state, and WA directors most pessimistic for theirs. While directors expect lower unemployment in the next 12 months, they also anticipate increases in inflation, wages and the ash interest rate over the same period. Growth is still expected, including an increase in profits. However, there is growing pessimism regarding the level of government red-tape and corporate reporting requirements.

Directors are also focusing more on corporate culture, with the three most significant ways of changing corporate culture being:

  • Regularly featuring culture on board and audit committee agendas
  • Capturing data on key cultural indicators
  • Communicating the ethical position of the board and business

As you reflect on your own business, are these issues similar or different to your own circumstance, and how these issues may impact your business. Most importantly, how prepared are you to face what is looming on the horizon. Avondale Business School is well-placed to help you position your organisation to ensure you enjoy 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

Machines Replacing Humans

Friday, September 23, 2016

AutomationAre you ready to be replaced by a machine? It is much closer than you think. A July 2016 article in McKinsey Quarterly (Read it here) reports on a major investigation undertaken by McKinsey to determine how much of each occupation automation could take over right now. At the moment, 45% of activities people are paid to do now could be automated.

However, while technical feasibility is a big factor, there are other factors to also consider, including:

  • The cost of developing and deploying;
  • The current supply and cost of labour;
  • Benefits beyond labour substitution – fewer errors, better quality, etc.
  • Regulatory and social-acceptance issues (are we really ready for a robot to perform routine surgery on us?)

The reality is also that it is more technically feasible to automate predictable physical activities than unpredictable ones (e.g. assembly line welding versus raising outdoor animals). Interestingly, though, it is not manufacturing that has the highest potential for automation, instead, it is accommodation and food services, with its routine activities of preparing, cooking and serving food, clean-up, preparing beverages, and more.

Another area that can have high rates of automation is in the middle-skill jobs, that include data collection and processing. This is where one-third of workplace time is spent and has great potential across all jobs. But in the financial services sector, it takes up on average 43% of a worker’s time and is ripe for automating.

Activities with a low potential for automation are typically those that involve managing and directing people, or where expertise is applied to decision making, planning or creative work. Humans also still need to determine proper goals, interpret results and provide common sense checks for solution. And the sector with the lowest technical feasibility of automation is education, as the essence of teaching is deep expertise and complex interactions with other people.

The article concludes with a very interesting point – the majority of the benefits of automation may come not from reducing labour costs but from raising productivity through fewer errors, higher output, and improved quality, safety and speed.

Are you ready for the future? 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