So far in this trail about agility, we talked about two major things: giving people direction based on our purpose and the value we can create to customers; and starting to experiment and continue to learn. Both are focusing on what we deliver and what we produce. All of this is only possible when one magic ingredient is present: the foundation of agility. Besides the delivery, our way of working is highly determining if we will be successful. Do you sometimes feel that your daily work feels like a constant fight, peers around you are not aligned, the processes and approvals are bottlenecks that slow you down?
In this episode, we talk about how we can create solid connections between people. Establishing alignment and transparency, and cultivating a safe environment where people can share their ideas and thoughts. A place where it feels like we are working together and pulling on the same string.
What portion of the delivery can we fully delegate to smaller teams and allow them to be self organising?
Your company sets aside a certain percentage of your work to be innovative. You and your peers are supposed to come up with the new big thing. And creativity simply doesn't strike. Improvements seem to be incremental. Your customers for a long time didn't experience that 'wow effect'. Something is wrong. And, you are not alone. Many companies come to Hive17 Consulting to seek for inspiration and creating a new spin to their operations.
Going down the same path will lead to the same destination.
One key element what we are offering is thinking out of the box. No, it is not enough that we at Hive17 are thinking out of the box. The teams we are supporting need to think out of the box! How are we facilitating this change? Three elements.
Creating a positive environment. This is important because our brain works more creatively when we are in a positive emotional state. New ideas flow and we are able to build on top of the ideas of others. Here we aim at creating a meaningful context, allow people to warm up; something that simply works better in person.
Use a new approach to problem solving. When you keep applying the same methodology, you might reach similar results. That's why we introduce new problem solving methodologies, for example design thinking. And if you are already using it, then it is a good idea to ask another person to facilitate through the journey.
Ask different people. Diversity sparks new ideas; when we open up our mind and our perspective, new solutions will flow. Important here is to put more efforts on customer centricity. Who are the groups of people you are creating value for? Going broad on this question and talking to representatives of these groups, is a good start.
How often do you feel that you and your teams are thinking out of the box?
Let's continue to talk about the principles of agility, today we look at how we can create value to our customers. I like to explain that our purpose is giving us meaning from within and is making us as a group unique. The second part that provides meaning in our work is that we are delivering exciting solutions to our customers. Both are directing us in our daily job and help us to make decisions along the journey.
Jump into this second podcast in collaboration with Tigerhall where we uncover the underlying principles of agile working. Practical examples will help you to start the transformation with your team.
Who are the groups of people you are creating value for?
Together with David Newton, we are organising a workshop series called CFOs Leading Business Intelligence. Last week, I talked about decision making in this context. The financial teams are very good at planning and analysing business data. And we need to understand that all these activities are directed at making better business decision and at the betterment of the business we are in.
When it comes to decision making, there are two main areas we aim to improve: speed & quality. How often do you experience delays in your decision making process? And, how confident are you that you are making decisions that are solid and considering all the data we have?
In my presentation and during the panel, we discuss to major elements: decision making bias and decision modelling. Please enjoy this recording.
Next week, we will conduct session for: Change Management. Please sign up with the link!
This article was originally posted in the GloCoach Blog.
Since the beginning of 2020 we learned that change can suddenly be omnipresent. Many companies struggled; some companies thrived due to the new business environment. And over the recent months there might be only a few companies that are not facing big challenges; if not from a business and financial perspective, then from an engagement and social point of view. How can we build an environment where we can thrive in all aspects of work and life?
Any transformation journey will experience resistance; that's is a normal behaviour. Important as a change manager is to identify these hurdles and design activities that nudge the adopters forward and create structures that reinforce the change. This will smoothen the journey to the future state.
Hi, do sometimes feel that day in and day out, for weeks and months, the only focus is on delivery, delivery, delivery. That's how many people feel these days. Still, that's not how we thrive. How can we create, how can we establish simple structures that lead to lasting change?
In this series, we introduced the four knowledge areas of the CPC change management methodology. These themes provide guidance on what to consider in your change activities.
My name is Tim Wieringa and I'm a change management practitioner here in Singapore.
Today, we talk about institutionalisation. In this dimension, we are looking for underlying structures and we're looking for nudges which are reinforcing the change, reinforcing the future state. People, easily fall back to old habits. How can we prevent this from happening?
Best to explain this with an example. About a year ago, I was exactly observing this single focus on delivery, and people around me were struggling a lot. In an agile transformation project, we wanted to allow the people to go through that change in a more sustainable way. The teams were using OKRs and we wanted to use this artefact to create a structure to think in different ways. Beside objectives for deliverables, we overall wanted to introduce two new objectives; one around learning with experiments and another one looking at the way of working. We then encourage the teams to define their own key results, which are contributing to these objectives. This gave the people the necessary permission to look at these two areas and started to improve and the delivery of the change.
In a transformation journey, we need to continuously look out for this resistance and see how people feel about the change. Often, small notches allow people to reflect on the overall purpose of the change and define their own journey.
Thank you for listening. Please click on the link below to learn more about how to become a Certified Associate in Change Management. And stay tuned for the next episode.
We often talk about high-performing teams and trying to find recipes of success. In this context, it is important to look beyond short-term gains and work with establishing a platform for lasting success. At Hive17 Consulting, we like to look at different drivers for change:
How can we establish a solid human connection?
One important element of establishing healthy relationships is trust - an understanding that we can rely on each other. Trust is typically between two individuals. In order to cultivate trust within a group of people we need to create a safe environment. We then want to look at what is psychological safety and how to establish such a place. And there is no easy path to achieve this.
First of all, how is it not done. During my advisory and coaching activities, I have observed a number of teams and supported them to create a positive, collaborative environment. With one group of people, I observed something interesting. When the regular group was meeting, they had a open, respectful conversation and were easily able to bring issues on the table and then solve them. Then, a new person joined these conversations and immediately that openness was gone; the original group was not comfortable to speak up. This shows that each individual in a group is contributing to that safe space. And one thing is clear: stating that this is a safe space is not creating psychological safety!
Laura Delizonna, from Stanford University, shares here how we can increase psychological safety in our team:
In order to creating lasting success, you need your team to be creative, you need them to feel comfortable to experiment and possibly "fail" (learn is the better word). Removing negative barriers created by lack of safety allows to build on the knowledge, experience and intelligence from everyone in the room.
How are you building a high-performing team?
Source: High-Performing Teams Need Psychological Safety. Here’s How to Create It, Harvard Business Review, August 2017
Resistance during a transformation journey can build up at any time, at any part of your organisation. Two elements are vital to overcome barriers: keep positive engagement high and develop the right skills. Both elements will increase confidence and therefore smoothen the path to the future state.
Hi, when we start a transformation program, we are pretty excited about what is coming. How excited are the adopters? Often, they don't feel ready and well equipped for their upcoming change. How can be then accelerate the confidence and the capabilities in our adopters?
In this series, we introduced the four knowledge areas of the CPC change management methodology. These themes guide us on what to consider in our change activities.
My name is Tim Wieringa and I am a change management practitioner here in Singapore.
Today, we talk about engagement and enabling. This knowledge area is targeted at two things: the motivation and the ability of the adopters; the people we want to guide to the future state.
Let me illustrate this with an example. About a year ago, I was supporting several teams in an agile transformation. They conducted regular pulse surveys and unfortunately, the psychological safety score was pretty low. One specific leader shared with me that the motivation was very low and the team members' behaviour was very reactive. We addressed this with a small self-organization program which was very impactful to drive ownership, priority setting and proactive behaviour; essential qualities for an agile team.
With this case study, we understand that the change journey is individual, and we need to feel the pulse of the adopters on where resistance is building up. And address them at the root. This might be a simple skills program or the broader aspects of the transformation.
Thank you for listening and click on the link below to learn more about how to become a Certified Associated in Change Management, and stay tuned for the next episode.
The imagination of the future state is guiding the adopters during the change journey. When we formulate this impact as a collective activity, we can create a better understanding among a wider group of people. And as a result, achieve a stronger impact in people's daily work.
Hi, do you sometimes feel that you are very clear about the impact of your change; and all you get are empty faces and no concrete actions? How can you establish a collective idea of a meaningful and desirable impact of your change initiative?
In this series, we want to introduce the four knowledge areas of the CPC change management methodology. These themes are guiding you on what to focus on in your change activities.
My name is Tim Wieringa and I'm a change management practitioner here in Singapore.
Today, we talk about impact, and impact is more than a generic purpose. Here it is important that the individuals are understanding on what this is all about. We need to find a story that fits the different audiences.
A few years back, I supported this regional leadership team and they wanted to embed a new strategy. The reporting senior managers understood the general concepts of this strategy but were a little bit amiss on how does it impact their daily work. We then organised a workshop, where we took these senior managers in different teams and allowed them to think about, to reformulate the strategy in their own words, in the context of their responsibility. And we also encouraged them to define their own objectives. The quality and the practicality of the results, really impressed the regional leadership team.
When you impose your strategy from the top, it is almost natural to get resistance. In order to have success, you need to allow each individual to digest and translate the impact, the formulation of the impact in their own words. What is essentially in the end, is the end result; that your new direction is embedded in people's daily work.
Thank you for listening. Please click on the link below to learn more on how you can become a Certified Associate in Change Management. And stay tuned for the next episode.
In change management, we want to guide or lead the people that are impacted by the new solution from where they are today to the new future state. We call this the knowledge are 'Leadership'. Learn more what that means in practice!
Hi, do sometimes feel that change is a burden on one person's shoulder. It doesn't need to be like that. And how can we build a support organisation for our change activities?
In this series, we want to talk about the four knowledge areas of the CPC Change Management methodology. These themes are guiding us in what to consider in our change efforts.
My name is Tim Wieringa and I am a change management practitioner here in Singapore.
Today, we want to talk about leadership. And, with leadership we don't mean the senior leaders and sponsors. Leadership here represents the group of people which are leading the adaptors from where they are today to the future state. It's a lot more than the sponsors and the change team.
Let me explain leadership with an example. A few years back, I was supporting a global chemicals company in introducing an SAP module for new product introductions. Here, we took a novel approach; we introduced about 20 communities, which were responsible to guide and engage with the relevant people that were impacted by the project. This allowed us to identify the change agents and influencers and easily reach out to over 300 people.
Successful change happens on an individual, personal level. And that's why we need to have a larger group of influencers and change agents. They are able to address the individual needs of the adaptors, and they are supporting the change team and the sponsors. These groups of people together are forming the leadership in a transformation journey.
Thank you for listening. Please click on the link below to learn more on how to become a Certified Associate in Change Management. And stay tuned for the next episode.
The SkillsFuture organisation is doing an excellent job, supporting the development of the workforce in Singapore. They have recently launched a set of Critical Core Skills that are vital for all of us to thrive in a business environment that is rapidly changing in terms of technology and human interaction.
The sixteen competencies are grouped in the following three areas:
As a change management practitioner, I am delivering programs that are developing and embedding skills that allow change initiatives to succeed. Are you simply installing a change? How can you ensure that you realise the expected benefits of the transformation program? With this background, I want to share here how change management skills are supporting the critical skills above.
At the core of change is the human side of doing business; how we interact with others. We want to understand the people around us; only then can we overcome resistance and make the new solutions work for them. This is the foundation to make transformation initiatives a success. We learn to understand how people react, how we can influence and engage people. And most importantly, how we can create value in the ecosystem.
Change management frameworks provide a simple structure that allows us connecting the dots and to think critically. Who is impacted by the change program? Who can be an influencer? Change frameworks enable us to collaborate and discover new insights. With these inspirations we can derive innovative solutions that fit into the larger ecosystem.
When we learn about transformations, we also discover that change journeys are about continuous change. The business ecosystem is constantly moving forward and we need to keep moving within it - stay relevant. With this, we develop behaviours and mindsets that is not only open to change; we discover how we can thrive in change.
How can you get started? Become a Certified Associate in Change Management with our hybrid program that is credible, holistic and hands-on.
Source: Critical Core Skills, Skillsfuture Singapore
Did you know that about 26% of the change initiatives are failing? Most probably you did. And this statistic is quite sobering. And you might very well be deep in a transformative initiative and things take too long, and the impacted people are not sharing the same enthusiasm as you. Yes, this is normal.
The good news is, there are clear ways how to improve your odds to over 70%! How? With a clear and structured change management practice in your organisation. Key success factors are:
Curious to learn more about a structured and hands-on approach to change management? We have launched a program for Certified Associates in Change Management.
Hive17 Consulting is excited to announce the partnership between CPC Consulting and TUV Rheinland to bring a new change management certification to Singapore and Southeast Asia. These two partners have been offering the programs in Germany and China and now decided to expand their regional reach.
Change is a constant in today's times - we are all on journeys to capture new markets and innovating our value proposition to our customers. How successful are your transformation initiatives? Do you have the feeling that the adoption takes too much time? What is your recipe against low motivation and high resistance?
The certification program designed by CPC Consulting is successfully combining a broad view across different methodologies and distilling these into their own clearly structured and hands-on approach. Hive17 Consulting is endorsing the CPC methodology not only based on its simplicity; we also support the hybrid learning path: the program is structured in three tiers, as a combination of asynchronous online learning and synchronous classroom workshops.
What do you think about these programs? Who in your organisation network might be interested as well? Please spread out the exciting news to interested friends.
End of last year, in the context of an agile transformation in a global financial institution, we delivered a series of design thinking trainings to a global audience. The sessions introduced the people-centric problem solving methodology, shared some case studies, and allowed the participants to practice some of the tools. After the program, we checked in with the teams and observed that they didn't take up design thinking in their practice.
How often did you observe that your training efforts have little impact on people's daily work? What can we add to bring the excitement from the training back to work? In my experience, this is an essential step for success.
At the bank, we selected a few teams that were excited about design thinking and willing to explore ways how they can overcome barriers and adopt the new principles and tools in their daily work. Typical barriers were a strong focus on delivery, very limited perceived time for other activities, a feeling that there was not much room for creativity. On top of this, the team also needed to build confidence with the methodology itself.
So, the journey began. Two important things we laid down from the start: everyone in the team is committed; what we are doing is relevant for daily work. We reviewed the deliverables for the quarter and based on that, the team identified areas where the team required a better understanding what the customers needed. Based on this, we started an iterative process to identify the best ways bring design thinking into people's daily work. Here are some of the lessons learnt:
One way we reduced the number of tools was the way we looked at the journey map. This became the key canvas to collect information during the inspiration phase. The map included the personas, the process steps, the needs and tools required, and the insights via a mood curve. These journey maps started with a broad scope and later we narrowed them down to a small scope which reflected the current activities. We used them first to collect information from within the extended team and then showed them to groups of customers (internal stakeholders) to validate assumptions and gain further insights.
While it took time to find a good way to bring design thinking methods into people's daily work, the team appreciated that we have cultivated a customer-centric mindset and provided a path to regularly interact with the customers. This allowed the teams to build deliverables that are much closer to the need of the customers and create more value. Now the initial efforts are shared to other teams and the seed is passed along.
What is your experience to cultivate customer-centricity in your teams?
Image source: Ideo U.
Back when I was working in Europe, I had my tradition to be in the office over Christmas. Undistracted and focussed working time - that is what I was seeking. And I experienced in these weeks that I was able to complete a lot more work in the 5-6 hours at my desk. And here I am reading the scientific evidence of that:
“Research indicates that five hours is about the maximum that most of us can concentrate hard on something,” says Alex Pang, founder of Silicon Valley consultancy Strategy and Rest.
Some companies have tried to reduce their working time down to 5 or 6 hours a day and saw productivity improvements. And the employees enjoyed the additional free time. A perfect balance. And yes, when we focus on work and remove distractions, we able to find a flow that allows us to get more done in less time. My experience is confirming this; when I am blocking 2 hours for a specific task, I am able to create a lot more results than if I am forced to split that into several 30 minutes slots.
Though, it is not all sunshine with the 5-hour workday idea. The increase in productivity will not lead to additional output overall. The new productivity level will not translate into an 8-hour workday. Some managers might wish so. Companies also observed that the stress levels increased. Employees felt pressured to squeeze everything they have done in eight hours before in their new five hour period. This is not always easy and creates tension.
And, in the long run companies observed that connections between the employees and relationships started to deteriorate. There is no time for a joint coffee or lunch break. That's how I felt in my empty office during the Christmas break: great to get things done; though, now I need to discuss my ideas with my peers and get inspired by them.
This leads to another element that is essential for lasting success in a complex ecosystem: randomness. We need time to ponder and tinker; these watercooler conversations often spark new ideas. Idle time is one key ingredient to creativity. That is how we are solving problems.
One final question: do we need to tell people how long and when they are working? I prefer to give people freedom and autonomy to choose their time for work. Instead, let's focus on the achievements which we aspire in our group:
It is great to know that our productive time is limited to five hours a day. Let's use this fact to reduce the pressure from people. Let them choose their preferred ideal working time. And let's start to focus on what really matters.
How will you use these ideas in your team?
Source: The perfect number of hours to work every day? Five, WIRED, June 2021
At Hive17 Consulting we took our experience and evolved a model that identifies key ingredients that make teams successful in an environment that is ever-changing and complex - in short chaotic. We call these the four pillars of the wheel of antifragility: purpose, customer value, experimentation and relationships.
Each of these include important goals that support success. Though these goals can be contradicting; for example, if the team members have a singular focus on pleasing the customers, then the team spirit might be jeopardised. There is no set of actions that simply improve all four goals at the same time. Therefore, it is important to advance the four pillars in a balanced way. For example, focus on creating value for the customers based on strong team bonds.
While the pillars are based on solid research, our model is created through empiric knowledge. And, we continuously benchmark it to other concepts, thoughts and research, to make sure we are on the right track and further evolve our practice. The other day, I was reading this article "So What is Agile Really About?", in my eyes a great summary of the key principles for agility (which are in itself based on continuous innovation). Here are these 7 principles and how I see them supporting antifragility.
Where do you see the key elements of an agile organisation? What have you observed that makes teams successful in an uncertain and complex environment?
Source: So What is Agile Really About?, Barry Overeem, Scrum.org
In one of the projects I am supporting, we are going through regular activities to define and review objectives and key results. In this context, the difference between output and outcome is emphasised. Outputs are defined as features the team can develop, like a information dashboard. Outcomes are defined as business value the teams can impact, for example customer insights. In this context, the teams should focus more on the business outcome; they create more meaning for the customers and also for the team members themselves.
While this distinction as a concept is good, I feel that in practice it is sometimes difficult to grasp that distinction. In the example above, we can argue that customer insights are an output, and the outcome is the new solutions we can create based on the insight. That's why, I want to suggest that we are going deeper in discovering and defining our goals.
In problem solving, I often apply the method of the Five Whys to better understand and comprehend an issue, a challenge, an opportunity at hand. Based on the these whys, we can discover root causes and explore a wider range of reasons how we can address the problem. This helps us to find better solutions and opportunities that were not obvious at the beginning.
I think, we can apply the same method for goals, objectives and key results. We want to better understand why we are creating a specific feature. And if we are not going far enough with that understanding, we are limiting our solution horizon and constraining the meaning and purpose for the teams. On the other hand, we want to motivate and engage ourselves and the people around us.
The next time we are defining our goals and OKRs, let's ask the team what is the outcome that comes next - 5 times. For example: more customer insights > new solutions that create more customer value > more co-creation together with the customer > better solutions for the larger ecosystem.
The benefits of the Five Whys for goals are a) identify better solutions, b) create meaning & purpose, and c) cultivate more team engagement.
How do you see you can apply the five whys for your objectives?
During my career I conducted many workshops to develop capabilities. And, I also participated in excellent training workshops. Of extremely high quality. And all of them had one thing in common: the change that occurs to our own daily work after the workshops is minimal.
Since a few years, I also had the honour to coach - guiding people to discover themselves and to apply new routines to their work lives. This is the change we want to see in people. Though, coaching is highly intensive and simply not scalable.
Last year, I started to work with a few teams here in Singapore to develop solutions that are closer to what their customers want. We started with design thinking training sessions which - no surprise - resulted in no change in their daily work. Then we started to play around with different interventions - as a team, as individuals. Slowly we can observe that new habits are forming and the mindsets are shifting.
Training versus Coaching? With this short article, I want to suggest to take a hybrid approach and combine both practices. The aim is to develop new leadership capabilities and cultivate new routines that enable teams and individuals to create lasting success. We can join the benefits of both and add other elements to it. Here is what I suggest:
How do you see that we can combine different practices? What are your experiences with this hybrid approach?
The uncertain times we are living in made one thing clear: we need to innovate! In order to stay successful in our businesses we need to find new ways to create value to our customers, our operations face new challenges we need to address, and our employees require environments that keep them healthy, nimble and engaged. Small improvements will not suffice - in many areas we need to go back to the drawing board.
How can I, as a leader, deal with this accelerated necessity for change? How am I able to control innovation across all corners of our organisation? Let me pose another question: why do I need to control innovation from the centre? Successful, lasting solution might be better identified and implemented at the front - they will be achieved faster and create more value. Then the question is: how can I enable and facilitate innovation at the front?
Many people talk about innovation and how to achieve this. Though, there is one trait that is often overlooked and I see it as a essential foundation for innovation and a successful business: Critical Thinking - the objective analysis and evaluation of an issue in order to form a judgement. This will allow the organisation to identify where we can create value, to deeper understand the challenges, and to make better decision to explore the future.
Bruce Eckfeldt, in this Inc article Want to Improve Your Leadership Skills? Focus on Critical Thinking, introduces five levers to drive critical thinking. In my words:
These five elements give us leaders ideas on the mindsets and skills we want to develop in our people. Based on critical thinking, we will be able to delegate control to make decision, to experiment, to find solutions. Are you courageous enough?
Image credit: Getty Images
Here is a conviction of mine, I have been sharing before. In an environment that is complex and continuously changing (who is denying now that we are in this kind of world?), we need to understand how we can create value and we need to act fast.
Who knows best how we can create value? The people at the front. The sales people that talk to the customers, the people that are running through the process steps, the people that are delivering the packages to the doorstep.
How can we act faster? If we allow the people at the front make the decision that will make their work smoother, easier and then creating more value.
As a logic consequence, we leader should let go of control and handover decision making power to the people that are best equipped to control their (part of the) boat. And still, I can observe many leaders struggling with this. Struggling to let go.
One aspect: what else is my purpose of my role? This is answered very easily: provide direction, remove bottlenecks, allocate resources, and create a work environment that is motivating. This is already a lot of work when done properly. So, let's free up some time and give the controls to others.
How to let go? Are there any easy steps? Last week I was introduced to some of the backgrounds of Theory U - a concept that gives new insights how we can tap into collective capacities. When looking at the left side of the U, there are some clear steps that lead to letting go. Here they are in my own words:
Minimise judgement - judging actions as good or bad prevents us from seeing behind the actions and blocks the understanding of the Why people have done a certain activity. When we open our minds, we start to be curious and can see with fresh eyes.
Bring ourselves on the same level - if we think we are better than others, this will block the learning process (the same if you think you are worse than others). Stop critique and cynicism and come down from our high horses. Then we will be able to open our hearts and sense the environment around us.
Let us guide from others - as long as we still want to steer the ship by ourselves, we will not discover the potential in our peers. Let go of our fears and open our will, and totally new possibilities will be unleashed.
What holds you back from letting go? How did you feel when you actually achieved it?
While I am partnering with teams to allow them to become stronger, faster and successful in competitive, complex and ever-changing business environments, I often take out the tool of Objectives and Key Results (OKRs). When implemented correctly, they allow teams to get aligned into a common direction, to focus on what needs to be done now, and to create transparency on where we are and where we want to shift resources. When handled carelessly, then the implementation can also lead to frustration and disengagement.
Where as a leader do I need to be careful with when implementing OKRs?
When I am implementing OKRs, I put a lot of focus on defining them with autonomy in the team. There are a number of external elements that give direction to the team, for example the company vision, market developments, customers' needs & insight and so on. Then, it is up to the team how they want to define and formulate the objectives they want to aim at in the long term. And, then identify the key results they want to achieve in the next three months. The team is in the driver seat and is in constant communication with their leaders to create alignment. In my observation, this process has proven to be highly motivating and meaningful to the teams.
We heard many times that goals need to be specific, and yes, for the short-term key results it is important to bring clarity on the work we want to engage in now. At the same time, making the objectives too specific can act as a barrier to exploring alternative ways to reach the north star.
Ambitious targets are a two-sided sword. And recently in my work I see that teams are simply exhausted and demotivated because they don't see how they can possibly achieve their OKRs. I often explain teams that they better travel light on their journey (with a smaller set of key results) and when these are completed, they can look a their backlog and "load" new key results. If their backpack is too heavy, it will slow them down. In this sense, it is good enough to aim at 70-80% achievement of the key results - something that I have read in the original description of OKRs (re:work).
People are inherently ambitious with the right purpose guiding them. Targets don't need to be ambitious.
Tracking and scoring OKRs is also a delicate path. Here the clear intention is creating transparency and input to decide where to allocate resources for the next month. This review step is intended to create breathing space and reflection on where we are on the journey. There needs to be a level of trust between the different parties to make the review process smooth. When no trust exists, this activity will end up in frustrating micromanagement.
Thanks to the Corporate Rebels to inspire this reflection with their article The Dark Side Of OKRs (And Why We Should Care).
What are the pitfalls you have been observing when introducing OKR?
Since about a decade, we talked about a business environment that is constantly changing, complex and exposing our company to disruption. The year 2020 showed us, how real this can be for any business and for our entire life. Over the last five years, I have developed a framework which I think allows us, our teams, and our company to create a platform for lasting success. A conversation yesterday motivated me to share this here again.
The volatile business environment we are in, requires an important revelation: if we continue doing the same thing, we will be getting the same results. So, we need to try new things. Then, the main question is: who should define these experiments? Who should be in control of bringing our business forward? As a change management practitioner, I suggest two dimensions which are highly important to our leadership.
Direction - How often do we define a new strategy and after some time realise that our business is still running in the same way? In my experience, the bottleneck is not the understanding of what the strategy is; rather, there is a lack of understanding and persistence on how this new strategy is impacting everybody's daily work. Here we need alignment and transparency to define and implement the collective dream.
Acceleration - In a next step, there are more barriers for success: who is coming up with the crazy ideas? Only big bets will make us move forward over time. And, implementing big bets seems to be a daunting endeavour like climbing the Mount Everest. Here we need experimentation, focus, safe working environment, cross-silo collaboration, etc in order to innovate and to excel.
How are you able to trigger the change in your company culture to achieve this platform for lasting success? Please reach out to me to exchange thoughts.
You start your day and in your calendar you only see this large brick wall of back-to-back meetings. The expression, "Sorry guys, have to drop for the next meeting" is only getting too familiar. On a Monday evening you feel that you have already exhausted your week's energy. Work life feels like rushing from pole to pole, and the target is not to drown - at least not too deep.
What is the result of that? We feel we are running on a treadmill and not getting anywhere. We lose sight of the big picture, of the purpose that we intended to achieve. We are less capable of being empathic and compassionate. And there seems to be no time to grow the people around us and ourselves.
Growth means innovation, and innovation can only happen with creativity. For this we need a mind that is receptive for new impulses. And for this we need space - physical and mental space. We need to slow down.
The speed comes then with new focus on doing the right things, minimising wasted efforts, and combining different ideas to new solutions. We suddenly can identify barriers that we never identified as such. And we can create a more positive, meaningful, and enjoyable environment.
This Wall Street Journal article - How Being More Productive Starts With Doing Nothing - gives some ideas how to take a break and create mental space.
What are your ways to slowing down? How do you experience the speeding up?
After about 12 months of working from home, we finally open up more to go back to work in the office. In fact, I observe more and more managers and companies demanding their employees to come back. They want their teams to be more accessible, easy to reach.
This reminded me of studies from the late naughts around the financial crisis that highlighted that one of the biggest cause of stress at work are distractions - a instant message popping up, the e-mail notifications, and the boss asking important questions. All the while you were trying to focus on designing a new solution for your customer (here a summary). Not much has changed since then. Distractions are preventing us from being productive and deliver high quality work.
This study from ETHZ in Switzerland confirms this in a 2020 study: Workplace interruptions lead to physical stress. The people that got interrupted tested with twice as much cortisol than the other group. It is time to rethink how we are productive in our job.
A few weeks back, a friend of mine, Sebastian, shared with me his future office ideas. Their new office will be very simple and serve two functions. A social space for people to connect informally, share a cup of coffee and ideas, and host small functions after work for networking. A collaborative area will be dedicated to working together on projects, host client workshops, and connect people to brainstorm and be creative. "I can't image my people to be back in the office to send e-mails or write reports", he said.
This approach resonates with me a lot: different activities in our job require different environments. Sometimes we want to collaborate and meet people; sometimes, we want to focus and be free of interruptions. One is best when we physically meet in an office; the other can easily be done at home (or another quiet place). And who is best to make the decision where to work? As leaders, let's give people the choice where and when to work.
How does this resonate to you? What does it take to give your employees control over where and when they work? Are they mature enough to decide when it is best to work in the office?
About two years ago, I stumbled across #slowdowntospeedup and this tag line represented a few things that I stand for. Today, this slogan is more relevant than ever. I observe people around me burning out, many peers feel huge pressure to deliver, and many organisations stopped their strategic planning cycles. Just yesterday, a person shared with me that they wished to find 3 hours in their calendar to focus on some work. Does that sound familiar?
This WIRED article - How Slack ruined work - illustrates how the always-on culture is destroying the flow in our work. The various messaging tools we are using, combined with the a high expectation to immediately respond, has created a constant source of distraction. This leads to stress and a feeling of being overwhelmed. It is time to stop - to slow down.
Why do I think slowing down will speed us up? Here three thoughts:
Ok, great - I want to slow down. How can I start? First of all, this is a journey and will take a while. A journey during which we will learn a lot. Keeping this in mind, I suggest create a weekly block in your calendar of 2-3 hours. This big rock is for yourself - for activities outside of your daily work. Enjoy this time off.
What else can you do to slow down and balance your life?
Tim is a change practitioner in the area of innovation and excellence. He is working with teams to accelerate innovation, collaboration and agility.