Archive for the 'Organizational Development' Category

Aligning Personal and Organization Purpose

Alignment is when people are empowered to bring their passion and creative energy in support of organizational mission and vision.

© Aviv Shahar

Shanghai leadership workshop

The rewards of working with bright and passionate teams are manifold and the thrill of satisfaction in witnessing the team coming together with energy and excitement about the future they are creating is great.

Our work is to help remove the blockages that hold them back, liberate their ideas and talent and help align on a shared vision and strategy.

Miracles can be real. They occur when everyone in the organization shares a picture of the future they believe in, and converse from that future picture.

Here are two comments from the recent workshop we led in Shanghai with a global team.

The Golden Rule for Learning and Development Professionals

An excerpt from the teleconference: Overcoming Resistance – putting your goals and priorities to action and manifesting your life. In this excerpt we discuss the 90/10 Golden Rule of adults learning and development.

© Aviv Shahar

Best Practices: From Brainstorming To Mind-clustering

Mind-clustering is better than brainstorming. The brain likes to compare and contrast. The mind transcends and includes brain output and more.

Here are some best practices to help turn your brainstorming into mind-clustering. Whether what you seek is a future vision or strategic or innovation breakthrough apply and adapt these tips to optimize your session.

You are trying to:

  1. Download ideas.
  2. Generate insight.
  3. See the future.
  4. See yourselves in the future.
  5. Create the future. (To create the future we must first see it…)

Tips to help your process:

  1. Allow for iterative comments. You are not in the validating phase. Envisioning and creating the future is like sculpting. That’s why it’s iterative.
  2. Defer judgment / withhold criticism (of your own and of others’ ideas). This is not a proof of concept conversation.
  3. Avoid explanation of “why it will” or “why it won’t” work. Do not be defensive.
  4. Create a safe environment for half baked ideas.
  5. Welcome unusual/ wild ideas. Push boundaries.
  6. Enable different thinking styles by enabling different speeds:
    - Some prefer a few moments of quiet reflection.
    - Others think while speaking out loud.
    - Some create mind-maps
    - Others like metaphors
    - Some approach with reason
    - Others are intuitive and instinctive…
    - And some will draw pictures and more…
  7. Allow repetitions that build, develop and further ideas, combinations and connections.
  8. Include holistic and granular. Encourage thinking for the whole and include the specific, the granular function, role and viewpoint.
  9. Depersonalize. What you say is not kept against you or is attached to you. You are a conduit to ideas and thoughts. You have no need to defend or to own ideas that come through you.
  10. Allow for divergent ideas / views. Do not converge too early or seek harmony and agreement.

Here are helpful protocols for your brainstorming or better still mind-clustering:

  1. Encourage personal reflection time before the session.
  2. First brainstorm or mind-cluster the question. If you come to a few good questions prioritize and get focused on one question at a time. A clear question is the key to an impactful session.
  3. Capture other questions that show up in your session.
  4. Some sessions need an open ended question: “What is our future vision?” Others will get better impact with completing the statement: “Our end-state vision for 2015 is…”
  5. Allow for pauses of silent reflection to engage other parts of the brain and mind…  and encourage with: “And what else…”
  6. Participants contribute one element, idea per round. (And without lobbying explanation).
  7. Avoid using “I” to help depersonalize and disassociate ideas from the people expressing them
  8. One conversation at a time. One speaker at a time.
  9. Use brevity.
  10. Listen Actively. Be curious and open. Allow yourself to be surprised. Allow your mind to surprise you with new insights and ideas. Enjoy.

© Aviv Shahar

High Performing Teams & Open Ended Questions

Last week I worked with a brilliant team on a strategy for the 2012-13 horizons. They are the best in the world at what they do – the undisputed world champions.  You know you are dealing with champions because of what is present at the point of engagement and also because of what is not present. Here are some of the characteristics I observed and experienced with this team. They are…

  1. Focused on goals and on realizing the intended future state.
  2. Open in communication. Ready to challenge each other’s premise and ideas.
  3. High on value. Low on ego.
  4. Present in the moment. Fully engaged.
  5. Ready to speak their mind and to try new ways.
  6. Not defensive. Not political.
  7. Agile and ready to change and adapt.
  8. Fast to reframe problems as opportunities.
  9. Capable of active listening and intense ideation and collaboration.
  10. Committed to turn setbacks to learning and growth experiences.

Developing strategy is about delineating a series of plausible future states, creating options and aligning a course of action. Our “Hot Seats Exploration” process helps us accelerate the conversation, create high engagement and rapid prototyping of ideas.  In this exercise we guide the conversation through divergence and then convergence phases as the object we explore comes into focus.  We shift from expanding the range of ideas and options (divergence) to aligning on a preferred course of action (convergence).

In the divergence phase we practice framing open-ended questions. I was asked this week: “What is the difference between HOW and WHAT questions?” Here is a simple way to think about it:

  1. HOW promotes prescriptive answers. WHAT promotes explorative responses.
  2. When you are in (A) and seeking to arrive to a KNOWN end-state (B) – use HOW questions: How do we get from A to B?
  3. When you are in (A) and are seeking to discover a new UNKNOWN end-state (B) – use WHAT questions: What opportunities are available to us in a new end state B?
  4. Language is important. Your words, your narrative invoke images. Images create feelings that impact the brain chemistry and state of mind of the people you engage. When you ask: “How can we extract value?” you invoke the image of a dentist (extract). When you reframe the question to “What value capture opportunities are available for us?” you evoke the image of a fisherman (capture). Dentists and Fishermen bring up a very different set of associations in our unconscious mind where creativity and innovation comes into the picture.

High performing teams are adaptive. They are capable of holding open-ended conversations, ready to coalesce and agree on a course of action and are committed to follow through and execute. Thank you.

© Aviv Shahar

The Next Frontier For Leadership Development – The Vitruvian Insight

Most of the currently available training methods in businesses are accented on brain learning. This is evident in the rampant usage of four-quadrant frameworks. There are dozens of strategies based on the four quadrants, the ‘important/urgent’ being one of the most popularized. Many of these are useful but are limited because they miss the insight communicated by The Vitruvian Man drawn by Leonaro da Vinci. Namely, that the human soul is five-fold as expressed by five fingers, five senses, five extensions of the body and so on. The Vitruvian insight points to the five-fold information processing and learning of the human.

By analogy, the human is a radio-set designed to process and interpret five dimensions of intelligence which is codified by the colors: Green, Yellow, Blue, Red and White. Soul learning is five-fold.  It goes beyond brain learning (four-fold) and creates faster, deeper and more sustainable results. So many of the intractable problems witnessed in organizations today and in the world at large are a symptom of brain fixation on outdated systems.  The next frontier of learning and development design is in reintegrating the five dimensions of intelligence. Together with our network of colleagues, we have been for three decades on the forefront of developing advanced coaching modalities to help professionals meet 21st century challenges and thrive. The Ten Faces of Leadership is one aspect of this body of work, which has helped create breakthrough results in Fortune 100 companies around the world.  This body of work also includes:
* The five color intelligences
* The leader coach and the five steps of coaching
* The five colors of learning and process inclinations
* The five emotions (higher and lower)
* Overcoming the five resistances
* The five elements of resilience
And more.
© Aviv Shahar

Unhappiness Epidemic At Work

The Economist writes this week in Hating What You Do about the epidemic of unhappiness at work. It claims “the most obvious reason for the rise in unhappiness is the recession, which is destroying jobs at a startling rate and spreading anxiety throughout the workforce. But the recession is also highlighting longer-term problems.”

We find the analysis superficial and narrow minded. The recession is a big trigger for anxiety but not the cause for unhappiness. Unhappiness is an expression of multiple factors and currents in the lives of people. These include:

  1. Loss of the sense of control
  2. Unpreparedness to adjust one’s expectations
  3. Inability to cope with change and adapt through transitions
  4. A sense of disenfranchisement, isolation and lack of support
  5. Energetic depletion
  6. Chemical imbalance
  7. Loneliness, alienation and missing companionship and intimacy
  8. Inability to connect with and impact your environment (work, social, culture…)
  9. Loss of autonomy and the sense of dignity
  10. Spiritual deprivation and hunger for meaning and significance

Happy teams and happy organizations are able to integrate and foster the five Ps. In addition to Profit they benefit and help: People, Planet, Progress and Purpose.

© Aviv Shahar

Mission, Vision & Purpose

Mission describes what ‘business’ you are in. It says what you do, who you do it with, and who you do it for.

A Vision is a compelling description of the future and of what you want to become in the future. It is something that excites you and causes you to become mission-ized. It is an inspirational and aspiration-al description of where you want to be.

Purpose is the reason to embark on the journey, the driving power to act on your mission. It is what your vision means to you and what it makes possible.

Purpose answers – why you do it – why you want to get there.

Mission answers – what you do to get there and with whom.

Vision answers – where you want to be, what it looks like when you get there, and how the world is different because of it.

© Aviv Shahar

The Executive Rule & The “Middle Line”

CEOs and GMs ask me: can you help us increase revenue and improve the top line? Can you help cut cost and improve the bottom line?

My answer is, “yes! We can help you grow your top line! And we can improve your bottom line too!”

“How?” they ask. “It’s simple. We will help you improve your top line and your bottom line by focusing on your point of leverage­, your middle line.

In a challenging environment, leaders create breakthroughs or crash. For company leaders, the next worst thing to facing a tough business environment is creating their own lethal downward spiral. Unfortunately, that is exactly what some leaders are doing right now, destroying their business rapidly. No one wants to fly into the ground, but good pilots make terrible mistakes. How do I know? I have seen it. In this environment, leaders who are not aware of the impact of incongruent communication increase the damage by creating stress, fear and disengagement in their teams. In the desire or need to increase productivity they produce hyper-active or frozen environments, both leading to catastrophic productivity loss.

The carpenter’s rule is – “Take care of the edges and the middle will take care of itself.” The executive rule is opposite – “Take care of the core (the middle) and the bottom line will take care of itself.”

Your core is your middle line. The middle line hides your breakthrough potential to dramatically improve your top and bottom lines. In our rapid “mid-line workshop”, we ask: how are you in “the middle”? How are you in “the middle” with your people? How you are in “the middle” with your clients? How well are your people coping and managing in these challenging times? Do you bring out the best in people or are they more stressed and anxious around you? Do you help clients with their greatest source of pain? Do they know how to make the most of your products and services?

We are the experts of the mid-line. We help you focus on the great multipliers of your business – the key leverage points that generate results, grow your top line and improve your bottom line. Here are six mid-line factors that determine organizational and business results: great leaders and teams:

1. Cultivate relationships of trust
2. Develop creative solutions
3. Produce rapid alignment
4. Build leadership capabilities
5. Create effective execution
6. Generate energy and commitment

If you are absolutely serious about helping your teams raise the bar and turn challenges to opportunities – if you are committed to realize your goals call or write us to find out about a “mid-line inventory” and a rapid “mid-line workshop” for your team or entire organization. This innovative discovery workshop customized for your team will generate rapid results to help you improve your top and bottom line. We work with you to discover the best solution for your teams and business. The workshop can help you:

* Realign activities to capitalize on new opportunities.
* Free up and repurpose resources.
* Accelerate go-to-market strategy.
* Clarify decision rights, roles, responsibilities and objectives.
* Create rapid alignment and collaboration.

The “mid-line workshop” can be customized for large and small groups for half-day sessions or a series of shorter sessions. We’ll work with you to adapt the optimal format for your needs. And yes, we will improve your top and bottom line!
© Aviv Shahar

Stretch Goals For 21st Century Management

Gary Hamel framed on HBR a list of 25 challenges for 21st century management strategies. Here is the comment I posted with suggested additional challenges:

Thank you, Gary. This is a great list! The fulcrum of the 25 points is number 11. “Dramatically reduce the pull of the past.” May I suggest reframing the challenge to say – “Be ready to engage in a newly emerging future, free of the limitations of the past.” In that sense it becomes the pivot point and the context for the other 24 challenges.

Here are five elements to add to the list of 25 management challenges for the 21st century:

26. Help integrate the multi-generational society at work and in life. Facilitate the emergence of a new multi-generational partnership vitally needed to meet organizational, national and global challenges. We need each other’s help and contribution. This will help ease the engagement of the young (22-32) and redefine the participation of the elderly (70-95).

27. Facilitate the emergence of new role models and images of success. Cultivate and encourage new heroes and heroines—champions that integrate and embody these challenges in their own practice and innovation.

28. Reframe the imperatives and the relationships of the short, mid and long terms. Create a system that incentives long term sustainable results to help free up the organization from the dictatorship of the short term (quarterly earnings). (Expand the context of your 14th point.)

29. Redefine economic value, its expression and service. Facilitate practices that integrate the professional and the personal, passion and competence, where whole-person, whole-leader, whole-community, whole-society can be exercised and expressed with the support of market economy.

30. Facilitate the evolution of an innovative learning and development function. Discover and support new developmental frameworks and processes to help individuals and teams realize greatness and act on opportunities to fashion their collective future.

© Aviv Shahar

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