I have a passion for helping people adopt more effective ways of working so that they can be productive, successful and enjoy life. The way people, teams and organizations work is on the verge of a sea change. The technology that supports collaboration is here, in fact many of the tools have been available at low or no cost to most everyone for several years now, and they are getting better and better all the time. Personal productivity tools like Evernote, and free "teamware" such as Basecamp are ubiquitous on the web. As far as organizations go, it would be difficult to find one that hadn't already installed SharePoint or SalesForce Chatter or another collaborative suite. So why aren't we seeing more extensive use and results? Changing our behavior is tough, that's why! The tools are further along than our collective readiness for adopting new collaborative practices. We are stuck in a rut of meetings and emails, and need catalyts to help us seize the opportunities technology holds.
Internal collaboration (which is sometimes referred to as Enterprise Social Media) and change management have an interesting symbiotic relationship. Well orchestrated change planning is one of the biggest obstacles of collaboration. Conversely, collaboration is one of the most powerful tools there is for leading any change (think Arab Spring.) Organizations that get Collaboration implementations right, get a leg up on agility - the ability to thrive in our always changing environment. Adapting to new collaborative practices will soon be essential to keep up with all the other change that we are faced with.
For me, it's Nirvana as these two concepts, change and collaboration collide. It's basically impossible for me at this point to have a conversation with customers regarding one and not the other. Providing solutions of collaboration without change or vice versa is a formula for lack-luster performance. Business deliverables of today require speed, the ability to collect and synthesize information quickly, and practices that harness the collective power of employees. Peter Drucker forcasted it decades ago. Knowledge workers require a different toolset and operating system. It's here, now it's time to use them by adding some new tricks to our work playbook - Email and Meetings don't cut it anymore. The way we work will change, just as it did when email and the internet were introduced. The question is are you ready?
Prior to the Internet, we relied on fax documentation, overnight delivery and postal mail to communicate with teams outside of our direct reach. Can you imagine a company attempting to survive today using this out-dated mode of communications? The thought of relying on “Reply All” as a primary means of managing work is going to seem as ridiculous as faxing within the next several years. But right now, that's where most teams are stuck. They don't even see the possibility of any other way. Which brings us back to collaboration and change. The first step towards the future of work is introducing teams to the possibility, and little by little supporting them as they transition from old ineffective practices (like meetings oriented around status reports) and replace them with new practices.
Some possibilities to start with:
Project spaces that are one stop shopping for all the latest information
Tagging docs with several relevant categories instead of maintaining complicated file structures
Eliminating meetings that are just to provide information
Co-creating content in a simple wiki or other tool instead of ppt mania
Developing and collaboratively maintaining your groups best practices, and "how do I?s"
Leveraging profiles (LinkedIn, MyPage, etc) to make it easy for people with shared interests or complimentary skills and knowledge to find each other
I must admit, that I won't work on teams that haven't at least started down this path anymore. Once you work with internal collaboration tools, the waste and ineffeciency inherent in the old ways of working (and by that I mean email!) will drive you crazy! So come on, start talking with your team about small shifts that move you closer to modern practices of working. If you need help... or a push in the righ direction, join our conversation on twitter: #collabcatalyst, or learn more about how we can help you become a collaboration catalyst for your organization..
Most organizations today are seeking new ways to grow, improve efficiency and innovate for competitive advantage. Enterprise Social Media is a buzz word right now, referring to using web 2.0 technology within an organization to help increase collaboration - tapping the collective efforts of employees to achieve these fundamental business goals.
Any project with the word “enterprise” appears to be a bold move to shift an organization through the use of technology, but these projects often miss the mark. We need to embrace the lessons learned from failed Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) projects and large global implementations of the past decade. Lack of change management, business process re-engineering or sponsorship will bring down the best technology. Tools alone do not enable employees to work together more effectively. Focusing on business process, and all of the aspects of solid change management is critical for success.
We have seen organizations deploy enterprise SharePoint, Twitter, and Linked In-like solutions across their global footprint. Objectives may vary, but in the end most companies are trying to provide tools to improve productivity and innovation. What is often missing is the process, behaviors and sponsorship necessary to shift an organization to the new norms of communication. The shift required is as significant as the introduction of e-mail over 20 years ago. Organizations changed their mode of communication from written memos and voice conversations to electronic messages. Now we must shift from email and meetings to a more diverse set of interactive tool that will support today's business environment of rapid change and information overload.
People, process, and technology are the key ingredients to optimizing enterprise social media efforts. Collaboration tools need purpose, and people must buy-in to the productivity and efficiency gains. Let's stop talking about the technology and spend more time leading our organizations through a process to implement an enterprise collaboration strategy by transforming behaviors and making targeted improvements to business process.
We would love to hear your experiences and perceptions with this powerful tool-set, please share your comments below.
We are presenting at the NJ Organization Development Sharing Day this week. The Annual Sharing Day was established to engage our professional community, share practical knowledge, and reveal some of the top trends in our profession. The goals of the event also include cultivating local talent and thought leadership through the NJOD Learning Community.
To get ready, everyone at ColemanEnnis decided to re-work some of our existing marketing materials.
Here’s the situation we faced (which you can relate with):
- Fast approaching deadline,
- A need to co-create and coordinate across support roles, like our thought leaders, writer, designers and printers, and
- At times, differences of opinion that needed to be worked through -- because we are all very passionate about what we do
There are two online collaboration tools that proved essential in this task, tools that we use every day:
If you haven’t used either of these applications, we definitely recommend checking them out. Basecamp® is essentially a project team room with file share, calendaring and a task list. What I like the most is that you can have a discussion thread in the task list; it’s a fantastic feature that lets us see the progress, history and discussions around action items.
The second vital tool for us is Joinme.com® is a web sharing and audio conference tool that lets us hop online, look at things together and talk things through at the right points in a project. Thanks to these tools, we were able to work collaboratively to achieve our goal, even against the clock.
We are constantly working collaboratively. Our project rooms and web sharing tools have become a virtual framework, allowing us to individually bring our best ideas and talent, without getting lost in a sea of e-mails or tied up in meeting gridlock. These are the very same benefits we urge our clients to capitalize on…Just like the old adage about “eating your own dog food,” only better, we’re “drinking our own champagne” by working collaboratively every day.
Are you planning to attend NJOD’S Annual Sharing Day?
Look for us! We’d love to hear about one of your favorite collaboration tools. And if you cannot attend the event you can always join in the conversation on Twitter. Just use the #collabcatalyst hashtag.
Image from erusyako.wordpress.com 10.8.2011
Usually when I am working with leaders - the tomorrow we are working on is long term. "How can we transform this organization over the next 2 years?" "How do we create a high performing team?" "How can we be more competitive, add more value to ensure our viability?"
Together we build long term plans to move the people and the organization to that vision via change plans, strategic roadmaps, organization and individual development.
But given the conversations I have had recently with leaders, and the crazy business environment we have been in for 2011, it strikes me that it is a good time to focus on tomorrow - literally. We are a week into 4th quarter as I write this. What is it that you have committed to getting done by the end of the year? Where are you with that? Has progress and interest slowed down on your critical initiative as the year went on? Is your team engaged and working on all cylinders? Have other projects, requests and work slowed you down?
Take some time to reflect- then take action. What is important for you to accomplish by the end of 2010? You have about 10 weeks. What can you do TOMORROW to:
Need help getting momentum? Contact me. Together we'll get things moving so that you can Seize Tomorrow.
I was working with one of my customers this week, and he made an observation about the change readiness of his group. It triggered me to reflect - It has been years since I used a change readiness assessment! There was a time when it was one of my standard practices, I would work with clients on the assessment, and we would actually have a conversation about whether to go/no-go with the change. That was back in the day when change was more episodic, and it was realistic to postpone change or not do it at all.
Not so any more! Change is continuous in today's competitive marketplace. Whether your organization is change ready or not is probably irrelevant, since most change is a mandate not a choice at this point. My approach has evolved from asking the question of whether the organization is ready to change, to getting right to the work of building agile, change ready teams.
All that said, the fundamentals remain the same. The key questions that were included in change readiness assessments, are the key components to get to work on now for any organization.
- A shared vision that employees at all levels understand, value, and work toward
- Culture of listening, transparency, openness
- Strong and effective people development and communication practices
- Clear strategic planning, goal and expectation setting
- Employees understand internal business and external market forces and trends
- Employees are aware of why change is important
- Real teamwork and collaboration exists within and between work units
- Culture of accountability
- High level of trust between leaders and employees.
- Employees feel a sense of urgency or need for change
- The number of change initiatives currently underway feels manageable by employees who are most affected by any change
- Experience navigating or leading change
- Employees have confidence in their manager’s ability to successfully guide them through the change and transition to a new way of working
Successful leaders know the importance of getting to work NOW on these elements, so when a specific change does appear - the team is prepared and moves through it quickly and productively. This is the essence of having an agile, high performing team that can produce competitive advantage in today's global marketplace.
Like many of the best things in life, trust really is free. Doing without it, however, will cost you dearly, especially in business. What’s at stake is productivity, innovation, and ultimately, profits.
High functioning teams share goals that drive day-to-day activities. Their mutual self-interest greases the wheels of collaboration, but trust is the solid ground they ride on. Capitalizing on their energy and motivation so your team is productive requires that they collaborate freely, and for that, people need to trust each other.
Trust is based on a history of honest relationships. Do people at your company talk directly to a person when they have an issue with them or just complain about that person to someone else? Teams are subtly strengthened or gradually divided by the way simple, everyday differences are communicated.
Unified teams have integrity, demonstrating honesty through actions. Having integrity means that what an individual says and what they actually do are consistent with each other. Can your team count on one another to do what they say they will do?
Teams that operate in the absence of trust are guarded, and by necessity more cautious about everything they say and do. Communication becomes a way to defend and protect oneself, avoiding risk rather than reaching for results. The consequence for your business is more of the status quo, instead of the collaborative risk-taking that exemplifies off-the-charts growth.
Harnessing their inspiration and creativity depends on employees being able to trust each other and their managers. Groups innovate when they are comfortable sharing ideas, exploring “What if…?” and can rely on each other to keep the process moving. They need to feel safe discussing “what’s not working” in the context of exploring ways to make it better. If ideas are often met with cynicism and viewed as a waste of time (“Don’t bother, it’ll never be considered”), you may be missing out on great contributions. Are individuals viewed with respect for taking the initiative to pitch ideas, regardless of the outcome?
The answers to these questions are a good indicator of whether your company is already recognized as a creative industry leader or one that follows trends set by more innovative competitors. When trust levels are high, so is the potential that the talented people you’ve hired will coalesce to become a powerful team.
We work with our clients at many different levels to build an atmosphere of trust in their organization. Crucial interpersonal skills such as personal accountability and effective communication are essential, as well as understanding team norms, behavior styles and motivators. Contact us for more information.
This post written by our colleagues at TTI
Working in a knowledge economy, it's all about the people — work gets done through people. Therefore, successful leaders must have effective practices and methods for helping people adapt to new ways of work. One fundamental in this domain of action is for leaders to understand the difference between change and transitions;
- Change is an external event — an action or decision either planned or unplanned — that impacts us as individuals.
- Transition, on the other hand, is the psychological internal reorientation that we go through in order to come to terms with change.
The key to successfully navigating your organization through transition is knowing how the three phases impact individuals. William Bridges authored the book "Managing Transitions" and describes the process in detail. The first phase of transition marks an ending and is characterized by confusion, resistance and loss. The second phase — the neutral zone — is where opportunity exists because you can help individuals open up to a new way of thinking, stretch their skills and welcome innovative ideas. In the third phase — the new beginning — individuals need support, reminders, measurements and rewards to be successful.
Bridges wrote about the "Four Ps" leaders need to communicate for success. In my practice advising leaders who are driving any type of organizational change (and who isn't these days?) I find investing the time to design and craft key messages around these four elements is a critical success factor.
Purpose - Describe why you are making the change
Picture - Describe what the future will look like
Plan - Describe the steps you need to take to get there
Part -Describe the part you need the specific employee to play; specify your requests
Give it a go! The architecture of the Four Ps makes for an excellent 20 minute leadership talk. Make sure you also have the 2 minute version of the Four P's ready at hand to use any time. That's my litmus test of whether leaders and managers are ready to lead - whether or not they have command of the two minute version and can tailor it appropriately.
For more about Bridges and his work on transitions you can visit his website. If you need a partner in building your Four Ps and managing the transition process - contact us for a consultation.
Carpe Manana, Seize Tomorrow!
One of my favorite things to do when waiting for a customer in their office is browse their book shelves. It gives me a great sense for the models and theories that they already have in their head, which gives us a good foundation for shared understanding. It's also a great opportunity for my own learning!
Yesterday I was in a new customer's office and came across "The Fifith Discipline Fieldbook" by Peter Senge. I have seen Peter speak and read the original book years ago, but had not come across this particular version. My customer was generous enough to lend it to me.
Peter made famous the concepts of "systems thinking" and a "learning organization" just as we were coming out of the industrial age into the age of the knowledge worker. I was browsing through the text (as the author encourages) and found some very valuable and timeless insights and models. Some are almost a natural part of our collective consciousness, and some are concepts that clearly we are still struggling with in businesses of all sizes.
One chapter restated that the core of having a learning organization is based upon five "learning disciplines" - lifelong programs of study and practice. As I read it, I thought to myself: "for all my exposure to these concepts and familiarity with the book, I can't name the Five Disciplines" (I would love to hear from all of you masters that CAN!)
For those of us that need a refresher, or who have never been exposed to the key disciplines, here they are:
1. Personal Mastery - learning to expand our personal capacity to create the results we most desire
2. Mental Models - reflecting upon, continually clarifying and improving our internal pictures of the world, and seeing how they shape our actions and decisions
3. Shared vision - building a sense of comitment in a group by developing shared images of the future we seek to create
4. Team learning - transforming conversational and collective thinking so that groups of people can create ability greater than te sum of individual talents
5. Systems thinking- a way of thinking and communicating about the forces and interrelationships that shape the behavior of systems.
So here is my question. Are you a learning organizaition? Do you embody these disciplines as a leader? Do you promote and build the structure so that your team and business meets the criteria for a learning organization?
It is clear in these times, more than it was when the book was written, having a "learning organization" is critical for agility, competitive advantage, and even survival.
Please click here to read more from Senge's website, and make a commitment to take action on at least one of these ideas. If you need a little help getting started, just contact us!
Change is continuous these days. The environment is changing, the market is changing, how work gets done is changing, our customers are changing, and so on. To be successful we must all make time to reflect on what we need to do differently to be successful in our new situation.
For years I have used a simple framework of START/STOP/MODIFY to help business leaders and their teams get specific about how they must adapt for future success. It is an essential practice for business leaders. Use this model for your own self-reflection, or lead a conversation using these questions with your team.
STOP - Make sure you begin with STOP first, most of us are over-committed. Unless we thoughtfully rethink what we are not going to do, we can't add anything new.
- What are we doing now that no longer adds value, is no longer necessary or effective?
- What are we doing that actually is derailing us from our objectives?
- What is stopping us from stopping? (habit, something outside our control, just need new thinking?)
- BRAINSTORM practices, actions or behaviors, eg: STOP having meetings without a clear agenda, STOP chasing prospects that are not qualified, STOP doing admin work that could be delegated, STOP breaking commitments to each other.
- What new actions or practices do we need to start?
- Have we had good ideas in the past that never were adopted as ongoing practices?
- What new practices can we invent that will help us add value to our customers?
- Consider the ROI of the new practices in terms of time, energy, money and value returned.
- Hone the list down to a vital few and commit to adopting them.
- What actions, practices, behaviors do we need to modify?
- What are we doing that works well... and what can we do to tweek the practice for higher performance or return?
- What best practices can we adopt from things that others are already doing?
- Where can technology help do something even more effectively?
- Where are there opportunities for process improvement?
These are the essential questions to ask. If you are doing it with your team, be sure to have a bit of conversation, allow for some individual reflection, and then come back to some commitments and document them. If you are doing it on your own, give yourself space for reflection, then find a colleague, coach, or a peer advisor to help your thinking and keep you accountable.
Of course, this exercise is useless unless you know where you are going and have defined a vision, objectives and strategies for yourself and your team - We can help you with that! Contact us today to learn more about leading change and creating high performance teams.
In fair weather and good markets, sometimes just drifting through the marketplace produces good results like new opportunities, revenue growth and profits. You don't need me to tell you that in these times if you are not navigating your business through rigorous strategic planning - you are likely to crash on the rocks. Here are key elements of leading your business, organization or career through these rough waters:
1. Develop and communicate your vision. As a leader, your destination is your vision- your direction and focus. It must be grounded in what you are trying to achieve and the most important concerns you need to take care of both personally and from a business perspective. You must communicate your vision and keep it very visible in front of you and your team, or in busy, trying, crazy times we live in...you will lose sight of it. Vision is what motivates us and mobilizes us into effective action. Navigating is making your everyday decisions with your vision in mind. Can you describe your vision in 2 minutes in a clear and compelling way? if not, this is where you need to start.
2. Identify the key internal and external factors that have an important affect on reaching your destination. You must make assessments about your situation to make good decisions about which course to take. SWOT is an easy framework to use to capture and consider key internal factors (strengths and weaknesses) and external factors (opportunities and threats.) Of all the strategic planning practices, SWOT requires the most outside perspective. As a business leader, it is impossible to see and interpret everything that is going on, and our psychology can get in the way of making well grounded assessments. Use employees, colleagues, customers, peers and coaches to thoroughly lay out your SWOT. Think of it as the chart for your navigation- a clear document which starts to point out the possible routes you could take given your situation and the hazards to be avoided. A thorough SWOT demands a rich understanding of employee competencies, your market, economics, technology, legislation and competition. By evaluating your SWOT you determine how to best utilize your assets, avoid threats, and identify the areas where you can build unique competitive advantage for the future.
3. Make a Plan, AND a Plan B! We all know how to plan, I think this just comes down to how much rigor we are willing to put into the practice. One of my TAB colleagues often notes that many of us put more time into planning our vacations than planning for our businesses:) Yes, planning takes time and energy on the front end. Having worked with hundreds of different business leaders in different situations, I know that it also pays off in the end with well coordinated, successful and effective action. A plan includes the who, what, where, why and how of navigating to your destination. Most importantly, it requires insights into the interim situations that are critical to achieving any goal. Business is complex and multi-faceted. Executing the strategies that gain us competitive advantage requires more than simple action. Navigating our course requires a bit of reverse engineering - determining the goals along the way that serve as a launching point for the next goal.
Over the past year it has also become clear that one plan is not enough. Business leaders must have a plan for the most likely scenario, and a backup plan as well. Your "Plan B" must also be well thought out and include a path to another satisfactory destination (even if it's not preferred.)
These three steps will get you on your way. I find once I help a business leader become a navigator using these steps, a new sense of control, peace, resolve and optimism follows. There is still work to do to make it happen...but I'll leave that for a future blog!