Two years back, I read the story of Ilkka Paananen in Wired UK (link); still today it is an inspirational story on how to lead with motivation. After a failed endeavour, he started Supercell and within 6 years the company was valued over 10 billion US dollars. How did he do that?
In simple terms, he put the right team together and then created the best environment for the team to thrive. What is that best environment? Turn the organisational structure upside down and empower them to define everything that relates to the success of the company: the vision, how they work, where to put the focus... Full autonomy? Yes, provide the team with all the freedom and automatically they will also take over the responsibility, the ownership for the results. The success lies in motivation, the energy and the passion that you can observe in your teams.
So, what do I need to do as a leader? Create that environment! Create excitement, allow them to discover how to do things, hire a diverse team, be a coach, be passionate about the company - and be transparent.
What makes you a great leader?
Image Credit, Nick Wilson, WIRED UK
The current times create a lot of disruption and uncertainty. Many try to stick to old recipes and the old normal. Still, we know we are heading into a new normal, we are in the need to find new ways to be effective, profitable and valuable. This part of the journey can be daunting and paralysing. What can we do?
In situation of conflict, confusion, disorientation I always try to review the original objectives. What did we set out to achieve at the beginning? Often this purpose brings us back to the right direction and. Today can be an excellent time to review and reflect on the Collective Dream of our organisation. What was our vision at the start of your endeavour? What are our values? What do we as a team, as individuals stand for?
Why is this important in situations of uncertainty? Isn't it better pushing hard and running forward? Here are my thoughts around this:
This Harvard Business Review article confirmed my thoughts around this topic. We might want to rush and run forward, though we might only run in the wrong direction and waste a lot of energy. Allowing yourself a pause, reflect on your purpose and then accelerate in the right direction will give you confidence to create value for the people around you.
When will you invest in reflecting your collective dream?
A regional business unit had introduced a new strategy that set ambitious targets in various market segments. The leadership team launched many conversations with their teams in order to understand the new strategy. The functional heads (i.e. marketing, sales, R&D) encouraged their teams to discuss and define the path forward - with mixed results. Hive17 Consulting understood that the team members didn't yet feel empowered to act on this freedom; at the same time, the leadership team struggled to provide that autonomy.
Together, we planned a new workshop that build on the previous intervention. The new one-day event aimed at providing a structure that provided a safe environment to be creative and establish alignment between the functional heads and their team members. This workshop was based on the method of Objectives and Key Results (OKRs).
First, we split the group of about 45 managers from all functions into different 'virtual' teams. Each of these market segment teams had members from all key functions: marketing, sales, R&D, manufacturing and supply chain. Each team selected one of the functional head as a sponsor of their team. We did not introduce new reporting lines and the sponsors had the responsibility to give guidance and provide the strategic direction.
The teams then went through an exercise to define the objectives and key results for their market segment - jointly within the cross-functional team. At certain points in the journey, the sponsors joined their teams and they reviewed what the teams established. These OKRs were then used to provide the teams direction on where to focus their efforts. And they created transparency with the leadership team on the status of their activities.
This workshop allowed two things: the cross-functional teams were empowered and given the space to translate the strategy into tangible operational activities by themselves. And the functional leads had the opportunity to provide their feedback without interfering the thought process at an early stage, applying a coaching leadership style.
The regional leadership team was surprised with the results. The dialogue between them and the team members was constructive and they felt as part of the team. The autonomy of defining their own objectives created a strong team cohesion and engagement with these objectives. The teams were inspired and had a great motivation to push ahead with the new strategic focus in their daily work.
"If we keep doing the same thing, we keep getting the same results. In order to grow, we all need to start doing things differently!" - Regional Technical Director.
One of my core beliefs is Positive Leadership; I am supporting leaders to adopt a human-centric approach to drive operational excellence. And our recent study showed, that human-centric traits are accelerating innovation: Sustainable Innovation Requires a Solid Foundation.
Some leaders respond to me that they agree to this belief and at the same time fear that they are seen to be weak. Leaders are supposed to be strong, able to command people and need to make "tough decisions" - right? In today's world, uncertainty is accelerating and we can not rely on historic recipes; traditional leadership styles will not deliver fast and sustainable success. Based on a neuroscientific understanding, these leaders will prohibit creativity, stifle motivation and drain energy.
A human-centric personality trait is a strength for today's leaders. Empatic leaders will be able to give energy to people, they will be able instil intrinsic motivation. Giving teams a clear and meaningful direction is vital for long-lasting success. Removing the barriers to creativity and agility will lead to fast results. Be bold, follow your heart and mind, and avoid falling into old patterns.
Thank you Emmanuel, for our conversation that led to this insight.
Digital transformations are in everybody's mind and talk - the topic of the decade, I would almost call it. And multiple studies are quoted that 70% of them have failed. Is it because we set the wrong targets? Do these initiatives fail because leaders are not committed? Can we achieve success while applying the same processes and methods of the past?
On my side, I like to think of transformations in a different way. Instead of leading people from a situation A to a situation B, I suggest to enable the teams to define and achieve their own change - perpetually as a continuous journey. The based principle in my experience to achieve sustainable and fast success for transformations is intrinsic motivation - with two core elements.
Frame - the first key element provides two things to the team members: a direction and boundaries. There are many names and input for this frame: vision, dream, values, strategy, beliefs... All of them are contributing to ensure that our people are putting their efforts on the right things, established in a collective and positive way.
Empowerment - the second key element allows the people to act fast within the defined frame. The main goal of empowerment is to remove barriers and facilitate speed in achieving the collective dream. This is achieved by providing our people with an autonomy of responsibility which means allowing people to experiment, fail and learn. As a result, we will strengthen creativity and agility - contributing value in a short period of time.
This frame and empowerment is a structure which is best achieved by starting with small steps. First, creating a safe environment to get used to this new way of operating. Team members and leaders alike need to experience the benefits, define how this works best for them and enjoy the journey. Then we can expand this new operating model to more, bigger and exciting challenges.
Where do you see success in digital transformation?
My fellow transformation practitioner, Kamales Lardi, published an article sharing her views on the challenges that occur when executing a digital transformation strategy - Digital Transformation: How to develop strategy under uncertainty. A great list for leaders to understand how we can contribute to successful initiatives. And it made me thought, can we even give it another spin, make leaders bolder?
#1 Create a Confident Leadership Team
#2 Thrive in Uncertainty
#3 Create a Frame for Fast Results
#4 Create a Human-centric Organisation
#5 Implement a Structure that Strengthens Creativity and Agility
Am I the bottleneck to our business success?
How do you translate your vision into action?
Do I appreciate the creativity and insights of all people in our organisation?
Beside reading a lot of Science-Fiction books (inspiration to think far far out of the box) and Wired UK (for the latest tech trends), I am also following McKinsey for their solid insights into the business world. And they have this series of Five-Fifty which are great in today's fast paced world; and this one is about change: Five Fifty: The changeable organization.
Yes, we need to change; and yes, we are afraid and resist change. Still I believe that in order to "manage" change, we need to enable our people and our organisation to define the change and then be excited about it. Here is what the research of McKinsey tells us about this.
How do you prepare for exciting digital transformations?
* Organizational health: A fast track to performance improvement
You heard it enough: a clear vision, a meaningful purpose, a comprehensive strategy is the foundation for a successful business. And why is this so important? I share here an alternative and simple idea.
Today we often observe that teams and entire organisations are pushed to achieve some financial targets - and they all rush, putting a lot of effort to reach these objectives. Is everyone running in the same direction? Are they joining their efforts to create a larger momentum?
In this context, "collective dreams" might be superior to typical lagging indicators:
Where do you success with your collective dreams?
In order to be successful in an environment where change and disruption are accelerating, we need to significantly speed up the way we work. Though, success is not achieved with rushing; greater velocity can be achieved with reflection on doing the right thing - slowdown to speedup. Sustainable success is based on creating a frame, empowering people and facilitating intrinsic motivation.
Where do you see these elements in your organisation?
This article is an excellent summary on how to be an inspiring leader and apply a coaching style. And, in my experience these five points are applicable for all of us, not only millenials.
Do you thrive while being micromanaged and kept in the dark of the big picture? Do we feel great by being exploited for the task at hand and standing in front of a huge obstacle? Aren't we all in for a long-term career across multiple organisations (and open to join an old boss)?
Let's make leadership easier for us leaders and us team members:
1. Provide structure and sharpen their focus
2. Create opportunities for growth
3. Encourage ‘quick wins’
4. Foster an environment for learning
5. Give opportunities to bolster their CVs
How to Coach Millennials
The first time I saw this video (The 7 Habits) I felt so... confirmed, I think. In my experience in the business and as a father I can only attest and share many stories about how we better pull people to their success than push.
Yes, you can put people under pressure and they deliver what you want - until you let go of the pressure. If you want to create a drive in people and then they run with their own energy, isn't this a more sustainable and actually effortless approach? I think in theory this is called an eco-systematic approach; dealing with the context of a situation in a more human-centric way (yes, I need to read more about this).
How can you pull people and create an inner drive? First of all, patience. Then, here some tips:
* agree together on a meaningful purpose and on how the result will look like
* provide freedom on how to reach the result
* engage in frequent coaching conversations; ask how does it go, what are the concerns, repeat the purpose
* hey, and why not join them on their quest, on the same level - just because it is fun
What are your experiences in this field?
Today, I have a very quick Friday Share. What is the foundation to be successful?
1) follow your dreams, values and beliefs
2) have an authentic relationship with yourself and the people and things around you
Thank you Jags Burhm for our insightful conversation today!
Happy Friday to all
"The Value of Everything"
Everybody is talking about innovation and yes, it is a critical components for the sustainable success of companies - and entire societies.
This article (long read) shares the experience of successful innovation in a larger scale - how governments can push creativity and successful new solutions for cities, provinces, countries - large scale. And the result:
>> Innovation is driven by a mission <<
In detail this means:
* let's be bold and inspirational
* aim at high ambitions that are risky
* define clear timelines and results
* connect people across silos
* give research teams autonomy and allow them to experiment
How are you applying these points in your team / lab?
This economist has a plan to fix capitalism. It's time we all listened
Linkage has organized a great event earlier this year and shared here their insights.
1) Be authentic
2) Leadership requires intention
3) Collaboration is key
4) Look to your own "Success Circle"
5) Seek out your opposite
6) Never stop learning
Do we need more inspiring people that can give us direction and at the same time provide space to others to grow? I do believe so...
What are your favourite leadership traits?
6 Leadership Truths from Learning Teams at Linkage’s Global Institute for Leadership Development (GILD) 2019
Last week, the community of Design Thinking professionals met in Singapore. On Friday, we discussed how culture can be influenced and how Design Thinking might support transformation - very interesting question...
I have started to use Design Thinking in order to cultivate customer value focus, agility and cross-silo collaboration. With great success.
Another thought we developed is around intrinsic motivation. Design Thinking facilitates:
* a clear definition of challenges that supports purpose;
* autonomy due to the focus on empathy (button up thinking)
* the iterative prototyping allows mastery (getting closer and closer to the customer needs)
How do you see the connection between transformation and design thinking?
"Instead of forcing change, create an environment where change can happen"
What is the difference between Efficient and Effective?
This is a very illustrative video that shows how difficult it is to shoot for short-term efficiency. In my eyes, effectiveness means I am creating a platform that enables to deliver excellent results in a sustainable way - again and again.
How do you create this platform of excellence?
> agree on a purpose, an ambition, common results
> provide autonomy on how to reach these results
> engage in frequent conversations and enable a smooth journey
> join them in their quest, support as a participant
How do you see this happening in your work?
FranklinCovey: the Win-win Agreement
“This is what transformation is about: Giving people a purpose, connecting them to the right people across different silos, and engage them, motivate them and make it fun.”
For our third podcast episode of #LostInTransformation, we sat down with Tim Wieringa, internal consultant for innovation and collaboration at Huntsman. What are the 3 most important challenges when managing change? And how long does it take to change people’s mindsets and routines? Tim opens up about facilitating a move from Command & Control towards Facilitate & Guide, shares his tips on introducing new behaviors in companies, and talks about the role of culture and trust in reaching business goals. Tune in now to find out more:
How can you stay positive every day? For me it is about getting energy from within:
* know and live your values
* be mindful
* stay fit.
Starting a sunny Friday after an early morning gym session...
How do you stay positive?
As a change management professional you sometimes get asked about gamification. A question that is... interesting. When people talk about gamification, they often mean badges, leaderboards, levels... Then I ask myself, what keeps me in the game (for me, mainly sports)? Beating my personal record. That's it; not the medals, not the competitors, not the cheering crowd.
I think this is very much what mastery is about; we want to become better and better in a certain subject matter.
If we want to sustainably transform people, one important aspect in my eyes is to understand how people are motivated from within. Let the people define their own KPIs; allow them to identify an area where they want to become a master. And they will define the change and they will push it forward.
What are your experiences?
Pull intrinsic transformation! Instead of pushing change to people.
This week, me and my colleague had a very insightful conversation about how to lead people through change. The question is, how can we prepare people for upcoming change.
Can we really get people ready for change? Or will they always fear it?
I suggest a different path of thought. Let the people discover and design their own transformation journey. Create motivation and excitement for a new strategy and then allow them to run towards these goals. As a leader you might only focus on removing the barriers.
In this sense, I believe that true success can be reached by creating a meaningful purpose, facilitating cross-silo collaboration and cultivating a willingness to experiment.
Where do you see the leading indicators for success?
Motivation is more sustainable when it comes from within - from people's heart and mind. Intrinsic Motivation gives us three simple handles:
1. Purpose - awaken the passion and show the long-term direction; let's aim at something that we care about
2. Autonomy - allow the people to use their experience and brains to decide how we can achieve this common purpose
3. Mastery - aspirations to become an expert is a third driver that makes people excited
Adapted from Drive, Daniel Pink
Tim is a change practitioner in the area of innovation and excellence. He is working with teams to accelerate innovation, collaboration and agility.