Thursday, February 13, 2014

Collaborations, Communications and Productive Working Relationships

Collaboration can be tricky.  For example, a multitude of communication factors impact the quality of collaboration. Below is a link to an excellent article with important insight into how lesser known aspects of communication impact the quality of collaboration, teamwork and work performance.  

From the Gallup Business Journal, Collaborating Means Communicating by Rodd Wagner and Gale Muller PhD, authors of Power of 2: How to Make the Most of your Partnerships at Work and in Life.

Even those persons who believe they experience good collaboration and communication are likely to discover fresh insights in last few sections on this page of the article.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Top 10 Reasons Coaching is Effective

coachCoaching -
1. adds what is needed, when it is needed
2. increases engagement by synchronizing development with learner readiness
3. works to successfully deliver real-world projects as education takes place
4. eliminates learning waste to deliver higher educational ROI
5. applies different learning approaches to accommodate different learning styles
6. grows capability organically to boost success in a specific environment
7. pays for itself by boosting performance immediately
8. is appreciated by employees, which leads to higher retention and lower recruitment costs
9. is flexible, always focusing on what is most important as circumstances change
10. optimizes the benefits of other forms of training
Coaching doesn’t replace the need for other educational methods; it enhances the results they deliver.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Don’t be an Answer-Man Super Hero

If you are a young, zealous technical person and you think the boss wsupermanants you to personally come up with the answers, you might want to know how my first boss set me straight:
  • I wasn’t supposed to work alone to come up with the answer by myself; I was supposed to orchestrate the development of an answer using the best expertise I could find for every aspect of the problem.
  • Any answer developed without engaging, and involving, the people who do the work was unworthy of my boss's time or attention.  The answer would not be adopted.    
  • Once an answer was developed on paper, I was to begin implementation by starting with a trial, pilot or prototype in a small area.  This approach enables stakeholders to be hands-on.  By enabling stakeholders to manipulate the changes and give them a thorough test, stakeholders are able to provide meaningful, well considered feedback. 
  • Next I was to take the feedback and feed it into the design of change in order to make adjustments. 
  • Finally I was to continually practice these cycles of testing feedback and design enhancement to increase the quality of change as the change advanced through every area where it is needed. 
My boss made it clear that by orchestrating the development of answers in this way, I would be giving the entire organization a chance to engage in the process of building high quality change.   

Upon reflecting on the excellent business results this process of development has produced time and again.  And upon reflecting on how it has impacted each organization where it has been persistently applied, I recognize now that my first boss understood how to transform organizational culture.  He understood that by carrying out, and being dedicated to, the process above, he could take an organization that struggled with change and transform it into one that excelled at change. 

My first boss understood the values and the behaviors that must become embedded in the organization in order to make the transformation last.  He knew these values had to be learned through a process of "learning by doing." He understood that in a culture that excels at change, there isn't any room for answer man superheroes.    

Friday, August 06, 2010

Excellent Lean Blog Post about Lean Culture

Check out Mark Graban’s post about how the CEO of Akron Children’s Hospital is building a true culture of continuous improvement.  Another Hospital CEO Talks Lean Culture

If you want to learn more about how to establish a company culture genuinely supportive of Lean, I recommend you read the full article appearing in the online periodical Smart Business Akron/Canton | August 2010  William Considine embraces Lean Six Sigma to improve Akron Children’s Hospital  From this article, I particularly like the following quote attributed to CEO Considine:

“You’ve got to believe in your people, you’ve got to trust your people, empower them, and you’re going to be blown away when you see what they come back with,” he says. “They’re going to show you improvements that you would never have thought about. They’re going to show you ways to be efficient that the high-stake consultants you could bring in wouldn’t be able to find. You just have to keep celebrating that.”


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Motivational Power of Confident Problem Management

Executives that take on big initiatives have big expectations for results.  Big initiatives are typically cross-functional with a lot of different perspectives and mindsets in play, not to mention the many different personalities that are certain to be involved.
When an experienced change leader accepts responsibility for guiding this kind of journey to a safe and successful conclusion, the leader knows there are going to be bumps in the road. Fortunately when the change leader has the support of an organization with the capability for skillfully solving the types of problems likely to arise, the leader enjoys the advantage of positive employee behaviors needed to make he big change initiative into a success.   To  manage the focus of the organization and keep it squarely on the path to success, expert leaders jump into action when an problem arises.  The following summary explains how the leader pitches-in to maintain a proper focus:

Make a fast appraisal of potential for harmMC900231833
  • Investigate: conduct an objective inquiry to collect  the facts and various perspectives on the problem.
  • Measure: ascertain the immediate scope and scale of the issue.  
  • Futurize*: analyze the forward risk and determine the potential damage and the speed at which it could spread.
Act with appropriate energy and authority
  • Respond: produce a plan for intervention to make the right things happen within the timeframe that minimizes risk and maximizes success  
  • Communicate: list the groups that need to be involved and decide what information needs to be provided to each group, then manage the delivery of information to minimize unnecessary communications that may waste time or cause a distraction what groups need to know about the issue and who needs to be involved to get it solved.  selecting what each group needs to know in order to feel as confident as possible that the right people are applying the right approach to the problem.
Show that as the leader, you are ready to answer for the quality of response and the result
  • Solve: take personal responsibility for knowing that the right people are on each aspect of the problem.  Stay vigilant to spot difficulty and shepherd additional expertise to where it is needed.  Apply an accountability mindset form the first mention of the problem and be confident that the capability is onboard or within reach to squash the problem quickly, even if the worst case scenario is realized.
  • Update: scan and collect information to keep those closest to the problem, and those who have the biggest stake in the outcome, fully informed. Selectively manage any additional communications to limit visibility of the problem in areas where visibility is not warranted.  Do this to minimize wasteful “fretting” behaviors – worrying, speculating, gossiping, spinning.  
  • Validate: verify the success of the problem resolution from the perspectives of all the groups involved in solving the issue or with a stake in the outcome. 
Understand that during times of change, the organizations eyes are on the change leader.  The organization observes the change leader's behavior to continuously calibrate its confidence against the quality of leader's response to the problems that arise.  With this in mind, it’s not easy to do all of the above in a way that truly inspires continuous confidence throughout the organization.  At the same time, experienced change leaders know its worth the time and energy to develop the right people for the job. These leaders know that where organizations are confident in their ability to successfully manage through the difficulties of major undertakings the leader is sure to find a fresh supply of willingness to take on accountability for making each new change initiative into a story of success.   
* “Yes, of course I made that word up. That’s what I love about the English language; people just make up words as they go along.”

Friday, July 09, 2010

Natural Team Motivations

Here is a list of some motivations for contributing to change that people bring to work each day.

The desire to:
  • eliminate hassle from the job
  • gain new knowledge and stay current in their area of expertise
  • build new skills to maintain job security even as things change 
  • get recognized as qualified for a promotion 
  • feel good about making a difference to the company, or to coworkers, or to a larger  community
  • gain the sense of satisfaction that comes from improving quality for customers 
  • feel the sense of reward that comes from being respected by peers
  • feel the sense of pride that comes from having the boss and other business leaders say "job well done"  
Tapping into a wider scope of motivations increases participation rates which leads to a greater likelihood of achieving outstanding success.  How? When specific set of change tactics is selected for the ability to serve a broad range of motivations, a larger number of individuals become engaged in the effort to make the change successful. The increase in participation puts more information, knowledge and energy into the change effort.  This provides for increased refinement of change plans, actions and ultimately the design of the change that takes place.  This increase in refinement increases precision and boosts performance.  Change is more successful.   

Next week: keep motivations high even when problems crop up along the way.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Great Lean Thinking in Entrepreneurial Innovation

Wordle: Lean Method Variation
The following posts discuss how Lean principles are being applied in creative areas – business startups and product development.  
Parallels between “Lean Startups” and “Adaptive Design” by Mark Graban, the Lean Blog
Four myths about the Lean Startup by Eric Ries, Lessons Learned  
image above from