Thank you for visiting. Please go to www.evolvingstrategies.com for my future blog posts.
Thank you for visiting. Please go to www.evolvingstrategies.com for my future blog posts.
On a recent trip to London, I hopped in a taxi for an hour-long ride from Heathrow to my hotel. After I informed the driver of my destination, he turned back and said, "You have an American accent. Are you American?"
"Yes," I responded, thinking that I really have a 'southern American' accent.
He then made a pretty bold generalization about the culture I came from.
It was raining. I was a bit tired. I weighed my willingness to engage in a conversation. As I considered ignoring the comment I thought, "I should be able to do this. I should be able to talk to someone with a strong opinion even if I don't fully agree."
As this challenge took shape in my mind, I found myself more interested in a dialogue. I had no intention of trying to change his mind, but I thought, "Here's a guy who wants to be heard. And if there's hope for the world it's only if people like him and me can disagree in a respectful way." With this moral mission in mind, I responded.
"Not too worried about your tip, I take it?" I bantered and smiled at his eyes in the mirror.
He broke into a broad grin, then continued, saying that he loved Americans. Again, though, he reiterated some strong generalizations.
His voice got louder and his face redder the more he spoke. I began to wonder if I should just nod and smile or if I should really engage. I returned to my conviction that we can find peaceful ways of disagreeing. At one point in what turned into a five-minute monologue, I patted the back of his seat to interrupt him.
"Hey, my friend. May I ask you a question?"
He looked into the rear view mirror and paused. "Sure. This is your taxi at the moment."
"You know, I am from the United States and don't get as much contact as I'd like with people who have a whole different experience than I do. I am interested in hearing your views. And I may agree with some of them but disagree with others. Are you interested in mine, too, or should I just hear you out?"
"Oh, no," he practically crooned. "I want a debate!"
"Okay, then how about this. You take the first five minutes and then I get the next five. At the end, I don't care if we both agree on everything or not, but I'm guessing we might both be a little smarter. How is that?"
He laughed heartily, turned to face me full on and said, "That is a deal."
I don't know that my taxi-driver friend ended up seeing the world any differently when we were done with that ride, but I did. Not that my opinions were profoundly altered, but they were tested in a way I was grateful for. Most importantly, I was encouraged to discover that dialogue was possible with someone who held strong views and who seemed initially uninterested in anything but a monologue.
This is what I've found to be helpful in such a controversial conversation. And be prepared: during organizational change, you can expect many such conversations.
1. Talk about how you'll talk. If you're having a one-sided conversation but would like a dialogue, and it's not going that way, stop the conversation and come to agreement about ground rules. You can do this in a respectful way by letting the person know you are interested in their views and want to continue the conversation. Then ask for time boundaries, or lower volume, or whatever (less pen tapping, eye-rolling) will help you engage in a healthier way.
2. Check your motives. Be sure your interest in the conversation is sincere. If you just want a chance to demonstrate the perfection of your own opinions, expect the same from the other person. Fair is fair. But if you want dialogue, be sure you are open to new information or perspectives. If you are sincerely interested in getting smarter not just looking smart, you'll behave in ways that will invite the same from the other person.
3. Encourage disagreement. We've learned a startling truth about dialogue. People are okay with you expressing even strongly held views so long as you are equally genuine in your invitation of their disagreement. Before sharing your opinions, make a statement like, "You know, I've got a strong opinion on this. I've thought a great deal about it and read pretty widely, and I'd like to tell you my point of view. Then, at the end, if you see holes in it, or if you have new information I don't have, I hope you'll challenge me with it. I want to learn from your view in any way I can." This sincere invitation takes the fighting wind out of others' sails. They realize they don't have to beat you over the head with their opinions because you're asking for them!
4. Never miss a chance to agree. Finally, don't go for efficiency. When we agree on 50 percent of a topic and disagree on 50 percent we tend to move quickly to the disagreements because those are what interest us most. And besides, life is short, so why not start with the fight, right? Wrong. If you want worthwhile dialogue, take the time to listen for points on which you agree. Point them out. Confirm them. Then—and only then—move to the areas of disagreement. When you do this you reaffirm that your goal is not to win, it's to learn.
I hope these ideas are useful to you as you engage with others. Developing mutual purpose and mutual respect can happen one conversation at a time.
“Leaders do not avoid, repress, or deny conflict, but rather see it as an opportunity.”
Warren Bennis (1925 – ), American scholar, writer
Bridging the gap between organizational factions is a tough challenge — but one that most leaders face when leading organizational change. Here are four steps for bringing disparate parties together:
1. Get consensus on the problem. Avoid getting into the solution right away since it's likely the source of the disagreement. Ask what success will look like a year from now. Test assumptions about what needs to be accomplished. Then, use these initial discussions to bring people together around a compelling goal while leaving open how it will be achieved.
2. Identify multiple solutions. Bring the group together to brainstorm ideas. Encourage all ideas without judgment or analysis.
3. Assign cross-faction teams to assess solutions to help break down divisions while laying out the benefits and costs of each solution.
4. Get quick wins. Take one or two of the ideas developed by the teams and implement them right away. These shared successes will build momentum for future collaboration.
There are likely other dynamics that constrain bipartisan collaboration during organizational change. These simple steps might not always be possible in highly polarized environments…but they are worth a try.
Adapted from Ron Ashkenas and the Harvard Business Review.
"I don't want to get to the end of my life and find that I lived just the length of it. I want to have lived the width of it as well."
Diane Ackerman, (1948 - ) Illinois-born poet, essayist, naturalist
Today is my birthday, so I won't write too much as I just want to go enjoy the time with the people I live, work, learn and play with.
When thinking about the impacts an organizational change may have, look not only up and down (direct reports, bosses) but also across the organization. People often forget to consider the many tentacles that groups may have with other groups, divisions, business units, clients, suppliers, etc., and a change may impact them as well.
Develop a Stakeholder Analysis as part of the planning stage of the organizational change you are considering. This analysis is simply taking a step back and thinking about which individuals and teams may be impacted by a change, how they will be impacted and what workneeds to be done to prepare them for the change (i.e. training, communications, coaching, process redesign, technology shifts, job performance expectations.) You can create a simple chart to map out this information, and build it out with additional context - timeline, key messages - as your planning progresses.
Have a great day.
Leaders need to be sure they are exercising their situational awareness for what today's quickly changing business landscape means to them, their teams and their organizations.
Here are three questions to help you face the challenge of change:
1. Do you see opportunities others don't? Change breeds opportunity. Don't out-compete your rivals; reinvent the rules of the game by finding new opportunities first. Therein lies the fun.
2. Can your clients live without you? Options constantly evolve. If your products and services aren't indispensable, clients are likely to move on.
3. Are you learning as fast as the world is changing? As a leader, you absolutely cannot afford to stop learning. Seek out ways to evolve and be humble enough to know you do not always have the answer.
Adapted from William C. Taylor, co-founder of Fast Company magazine and coauthor of Mavericks at Work: Why The Most Original Minds In Business Win
You will find peace not by trying to escape your problems, but by confronting them courageously. You will find peace not in denial, but in victory.” J. Donald Walters (1926 - ), Romanian author, lecturer, composer
Expect to see a wide range of interesting behaviors during an organizational change. Some behaviors will be productive, and other behaviors won't be. What matters most is having a plan in place on how you want to handle various behaviors.
For instance, when someone shows up late to a meeting or makes a comment that makes you uncomfortable, it can be difficult to decide if it's a big enough deal to address or if you should let it go. In such situations, try using the "rule of three."
Action - The Rule of Three
This simple rule can both help you determine what's worth raising and hold you back from jumping on every single issue.
Stay tuned for more 'Rule of Three' applications when leading and managing organizational change effectively.
Adapted from Peter Bregman.
Ability is of little account without opportunity. -Napoleon
If you've got the ability, I've got the opportunity. My company has been engaged to deliver this analysis for the company, and I’m looking forward to delivering. If you or your potential candidates have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me via the information noted below. Thank you, Sandy
Sandra M. Schwan | Evolving Strategies, LLC
1660 N. LaSalle Street, Suite 3011 | Chicago, IL 60614
office 312.337.8442 | mobile 312.371.7263
Helping People and Organizations Learn, Change and Perform
Information Technology (IT) Capability Consultant
This role will report to the HR Business Partner for Client’s North America Finance team, who will be the primary client.
· Client’s North America Information Technology (IT) group, including Canada and the USA (circa 600 FTE).
· All grades below IT Executive Team.
Role Outcomes / Deliverables
· Program design and plan to deliver end to end Capability Build within IT.
· Future state IT capability requirements defined by function and role.
· Current state capability gap analysis by function and role.
· Define future generic roles across IT.
· IT capability build strategy developed and agreed with IT Senior Leadership Team, to include sourcing strategy.
· IT talent strategy developed and agreed with Senior Leadership Team (linked in with capability build strategy).
· Learning paths developed for generic IT roles. (Appropriate training solutions identified and where necessary brief for new training to be built)
· 2010/11 Learning and Development (L&D) road map/plan for IT (incorporating academies and skill soft roll out plan).
· Client Human Resources (HR) capability build through knowledge transfer to internal Change Consultants and L&D Consultants.
· Upon exiting Client, the program activity should be set up to enable the internal Client resource to successfully execute the plan.
· Use external knowledge and approaches, but incorporating existing Client processes where available. E.g. Talking Talent and Capability Toolkit.
· Capability requirements should be defined in line with the ongoing Organization Design activity. Including the identification of generic IT roles. Utilizing aligned Change Consultancy resource.
· Capability build and talent strategy to incorporate options around what capability the client will retain, grow or buy. The option to buy should consider ongoing outsourcing and Global Service Provider discussions.
· In building learning paths and development solutions existing academy solutions should be used as far as possible. Where new learning solutions are required these should be scoped and brokered with L&D for design and development.
· External consultant has accountability for the overall program delivery and will co-ordinate and program manage the internal resource effort. This should include aligning work, coaching and supporting in such a way as to engender knowledge transfer and learning for the aligned HR resource.
· Linking in with consultants in other areas of client’s North America business undertaking capability assessment and development activity to share learning and approach. Also to identify synergies and opportunities to avoid duplication.
The timeline will be set as part of the initial program planning process, but broadly will be as follows;
Program scoping and planning
Future Capability Requirements definition
April / May
Capability Gap analysis
Capability build/ sourcing strategy development
Learning paths development
Learning solutions brief development
External consultant exit
New learning solutions created
Capability development/ sourcing strategy implemented
TBC – in line with OD roll out plans
· Extensive knowledge of defining and building organizational and team capabilities.
· Strong program / project management capability.
· L&D / change consultancy background.
· Ability to engage with and quickly build rapport and credibility with senior stakeholders.
· Previous experience and knowledge of IT capabilities.
Here are some other details that I thought you all might find helpful in thinking about potential candidates:
· Immediate start date for three months for the right candidate, with the high likelihood to extend the contract to help with the design and delivery of the recommendations
· % of time onsite: full-time mostly
· Rate: Commensurate with candidate experience and match to opportunity specs
· Where the project is currently: Needing to kick off
· Client location: Downtown Chicago
· This consultant will be staffed through Evolving Strategies LLC, who is working with the client in other areas
"Opportunities? They are all around us. There is power lying latent everywhere, waiting for the observant eye to discover it."
Orison Swett Marden, (1850-1924), American writer and founder of Success magazine
When going through an organizational change, you may be unhappy, fed up, and tempted to leave your job. Instead of dashing for the door, take a deep breath and consider these three reasons to stay where you are — at least for the moment:
1. Relationships matter more than money. When weighing your options, don't forget the value of the network you have now. You may think you can find a job that will pay you more, but you will be leaving behind a wealth of relationships.
2. It's less urgent than you think. Strategically plan your next career move instead of running away. Job seekers who are desperate to get out of a job tend to do less research about potential employers.
3. You're likelyoverestimating yourself. Before you leave, take the time to do a realistic assessment of what you have to offer. Research shows that most job seekers overestimate their skills and prospects.
As an alternative strategy to dashing for the door, how about choosing one core skill that you are interested in developing and decide to use the organizational change to grow that skill?
Adapted from Managing Yourself: "Five Ways to Bungle a Job Change by Boris Groysberg and Robin Abrahams,"Harvard Business Review, January - Feburary 2010
"Women hold up half the sky."
A Short Film by Directors Marisa Tomei and Lisa Leone
Watch the pages of “Half the Sky” come to life onscreen as the film “Woineshet” chronicles the struggles of a poor Ethiopian girl who ultimately triumphs over sexual violence and discrimination. As a teenager from a small village in Ethiopia, Woineshet and her family bravely fought against brutal local traditions of rape and forced marriage. You’re sure to be moved by part documentary, part adaptation of Woineshet’s inspirational story.
This one-night event is March 4 at 7:30 pm at theaters across the United States. Click here to find a theater near you. If you are interested in attending and you live in the Chicagoland area, please join us as we look to fill the Evanston theater. We have a block of tickets available to share.