Tag Archives: agile

Rethinking Agility for the Post-Digital Age

Rethinking Agility for the Post-Digital Age

GUEST POST from Greg Satell

For the past 50 years, innovation has largely been driven by our ability to cram more transistors onto a silicon wafer. That’s what’s allowed us to double the power of our technology every two years or so and led to the continuous flow of new products and services streaming out of innovative organizations.

Perhaps not surprisingly, over the past few decades agility has become a defining competitive attribute. Because the fundamentals of digital technology have been so well understood, much of the value has shifted to applications and things like design and user experience. Yet that will change in the years ahead.

Over the next few decades we will struggle to adapt to a post-digital age and we will need to rethink old notions about agility. To win in this new era of innovation we will have to do far more than just move fast and break things. Rather, we will have to manage four profound shifts in the basis of competition that will challenge some of our most deeply held notions.

Shift 1: From Transistor-Based Computers to New Computing Architectures

In 1965, Intel’s Gordon Moore published a paper that established predicted Moore’s Law, the continuous doubling of transistors that can fit on an integrated circuit. With a constant stream of chips that were not only more powerful, but cheaper, successful firms would rapidly prototype and iterate to speed new applications to market.

Yet now Moore’s Law is ending. Despite the amazing ingenuity of engineers, the simple reality is that every technology eventually hits theoretical limits. The undeniable fact is that atoms are only so small and the speed of light is only so fast and that limits what we can do with transistors. To advance further, we will simply have to find a different way to compute things.

The two most promising candidates are quantum computing and neuromorphic chips, both of which are vastly different from digital computing, utilizing different logic and require different computer languages and algorithmic approaches than classical computers. The transition to these architectures won’t be seamless.

We will also use these architectures in much different ways. Quantum computers will be able to handle almost incomprehensible complexity, generating computing spaces larger than the number of atoms in the known universe. Neuromorphic chips are potentially millions of times more efficient than conventional chips and are much more effective with continuous streams of data, so may be well suited for edge computing and tasks like machine vision.

Shift 2: From Bits to Atoms

The 20th century saw two major waves of innovation. The first, dominated by electricity and internal combustion, revolutionized how we could manipulate the physical world. The second, driven by quantum physics, microbial science and computing, transformed how we could work with the microscopic and the virtual.

The past few decades have been dominated by the digital revolution and it seems like things have been moving very fast, but looks can be deceiving. If you walked into an average 1950s era household, you would see much that you would recognize, including home appliances, a TV and an automobile. On the other hand, if you had to live in a 1900’s era home, with no running water or electricity, you would struggle to survive.

The next era will combine aspects of both waves, essentially using bits to drive atoms. We’re building vast databases of genes and materials, cataloging highly specific aspects of the physical world. We are also using powerful machine learning algorithms to analyze these vast droves of data and derive insights. The revolution underway is so profound that it’s reshaping the scientific method.

In the years to come, new computing architectures are likely to accelerate this process. Simulating chemistry is one of the first applications being explored for quantum computers, which will help us build larger and more detailed databases. Neuromorphic technology will allow us to shift from the cloud to the edge, enabling factories to get much smarter.

The way we interface with the physical world is changing as well. New techniques such as CRISPR helps us edit genes at will. There is also an emerging revolution in materials science that will transform areas like energy and manufacturing. These trends are still somewhat nascent, but have truly transformative potential.

Shift 3: From Rapid Iteration to Exploration

Over the past 30 years, we’ve had the luxury of working with technologies we understand extremely well. Every generation of microchips opened vast new possibilities, but worked exactly the same way as the last generation, creating minimal switching costs. The main challenge was to design applications.

So it shouldn’t be surprising that rapid iteration emerged as a key strategy. When you understand the fundamental technology that underlies a product or service, you can move quickly, trying out nearly endless permutations until you arrive at an optimized solution. That’s often far more effective than a planned, deliberate approach.

Over the next decade or two, however, the challenge will be to advance technology that we don’t understand well at all. As noted above, quantum and neuromorphic computing are still in their nascent stages. Improvements in genomics and materials science are redefining the boundaries of those fields. There are also ethical issues involved with artificial intelligence and genomics that will require us to tread carefully.

So in the future, we will need to put greater emphasis on exploration to understand these new technologies and how they relate to our businesses. Instead of looking to disrupt markets, we will need to pursue grand challenges to solve fundamental problems. Most of all, it’s imperative to start early. By the time many of these technologies hit their stride, it will be too late to catch up.

Shift 4. From Hyper Competition to Mass Collaboration

The competitive environment we’ve become used to has been relatively simple. For each particular industry, there have been distinct ecosystems based on established fields of expertise. Competing firms raced to transform fairly undifferentiated inputs into highly differentiated products and services. You needed to move fast to get an edge.

This new era, on the other hand, will be one of mass collaboration in which government partners with academia and industry to explore new technologies in the pre competitive phase. For example, the Joint Center for Energy Storage Research combines the work of five national labs, a dozen or so academic institutions and hundreds of companies to develop advance batteries. Covid has redefined how scientists collaborate across institutional barriers.

Or consider the Manufacturing Institutes set up under the Obama administration. Focusing on everything from advanced fabrics to biopharmaceuticals, these allow companies to collaborate with government labs and top academics to develop the next generation of technologies. They also operate dozens of testing facilities to help bring new products to market faster.

I’ve visited some of these facilities and have had the opportunity to talk with executives from participating companies. What struck me was how palpable the excitement about the possibilities of this new era was. Agility for them didn’t mean learning to run faster down a chosen course, but to widen and deepen connections throughout a technological ecosystem.

Over the past few decades, we have largely been moving faster and faster down a predetermined path. Over the next few decades, however, we’ll increasingly need to explore multiple domains at once and combine them into something that produces value. We’ll need to learn how to go slower to deliver much larger impacts.

— Article courtesy of the Digital Tonto blog
— Image credit: Pixabay

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Why Most Corporate Mindset Programs Are a Waste of Time

What to Focus on Instead

Why Most Corporate Mindset Programs Are a Waste of Time

GUEST POST from Alain Thys

You may know that I’m hunting for a Transformation Algorithm

Its goal is to help us move beyond the >70% failure rate of corporate transformations and create transformative experiences for employees, customers and society. Ambitious? Moi?

To get there, I’m walking around the problem.

Looking at it from all perspectives (Japan style). So without claiming expertise in any domain, I’m blending systems thinking with neuroscience, behavioral psychology, philosophy and my background in experience design. There’s even a little math (I couldn’t resist .

It’s a work in progress, but I’m getting there.

Meanwhile, here are some more thoughts as I put together the puzzle. The article starts a bit gloomy, but it ends more upbeat… I promise.

It’s all work in progress in which I’m still improving both language and content.
So don’t hold back on comments, compliments or corrections.

These days, every company wants to see a ‘mindset change’.

People need to be customer-centric. Digital. Agile. Sustainable. Innovative. More in love with the color blue. After all, the consultants, executive trainers and software vendors say this is the future. Not to mention Mark’s metaverse:

To make this happen, organizations unleash a barrage of initiatives

They do enthusiastic presentations. Introduce new KPIs and dashboards. Launch internal communication programs and training academies. Create new journey maps. Introduce AI. Get some fancy software.

Some even call me (obviously the smartest ones ).

At first, the signs are good.

After all, with enough pressure, you can get water to go uphill. Also, any decent third-party consultant or vendor will make sure that employees leave those workshops with a smile and some quick wins. Especially those that show progress in pretty graphs and numbers.

But then – one by one – the ‘old ways’ assert themselves

They raise dozens of practical, budgetary, emotional and IT concerns which are all valid and require the change program to be calibrated. After all, leaders need to be pragmatic. These thousand slight cuts erode the big transformative vision and expectations get lowered. Things might even become as they were.

#endofmindsetchange?

What if we were aiming at the wrong target?

If you look up mindset in a dictionary, you find it is a mental attitude or inclination. The combined set of assumptions, methods and notions with which each of us approaches problems and the world at large (our perspective). Something rooted in the way we view the world and our perception of reality (our paradigm).

This means that every mindset change is in fact a change in perspective or paradigm.

Let me illustrate with a consumer electronics company that wanted to go from product- to customer-centric value propositions. Digging deep, we found that from the engineer’s perspective, the requested mindset change meant letting go of their long held belief that as the world’s best technical experts they knew how to make the best products on the planet (and had the awards and accolades to prove it).

Instead, they had to embrace that the customer knew better what great looked like and their opinion didn’t matter as much as they thought.

If you’ve worked all your life to become that smart and esteemed technical expert, this is an existential pill to swallow. Especially if the only rationale from the top is that “our Net Promoter Score should improve”.

These shifts in perspective lurk in any transformation

Being agile means seeing that we live in a chaotic world where we can never really be sure of our best next step. True sustainability means accepting that there are limits to growth, also ours. Going digital means letting go of activities we have long considered to be uniquely human (ours?). Innovation requires unlearning the orthodoxies and beliefs we may have held since childhood. And so on.

For some people, these steps may be easy. But for most, they can challenge the core of who they are (even if they may not admit this to themselves).

Ignoring this deeper reality can doom your transformation from the start.

If the new KPIs, processes, systems and incentives you introduce do not match the worldview of the people you target, they will reject them. Sometimes they rebel. Sometimes they stand in the way without realizing it themselves. Either way, your culture will eat your strategy for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

So what to do instead?

Frustration

If you want mindset change, focus on the paradigm shift first.

Before you expect people to approach problems differently (mindset), work on the way they perceive these problems and their context. Clearly describe the required paradigm shift in a FROM… TO… statement and make it as compelling as possible. All while acknowledging the uncomfortable bits head on.

Then, give people opportunities to embrace this new narrative through experiential programs (remember: the old brain doesn’t do PowerPoint).

Once they see the world with fresh eyes, the mindset and changes will follow.

Or as my ultimate change guru Antoine de Saint-Exupéry used to say: “if you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.”

But always remember that your perception as a leader is flawed too.

When you say: ‘I want a mindset change’, you are actually saying: ‘I want you to see the world as I do’.

This is often a big ask, as chances are you live in a world that is more affluent, more educated and more informed (I won’t mention diversity … oops, I did). You probably have a different education, live in a different social media bubble and even shop in different stores. You may even have the freedom to make your own decisions.

Seeing life your way, may not be as easy for someone who has grown up, works and lives in a different context (no value judgment here, just observation).

Inversely, unless you’ve done their jobs and lived their lives, you will have difficulties to imagine the world through the eyes of your people. No matter how you try.

So before you talk about mindset change.

Understand and start from your people’s perspective and then expand it in the direction you propose. And if the gap between the two is too big, consider adapting your strategy.

Perhaps your world view and sense of possibility need an update too.

Image Credits: Pixabay

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Rise of the Evangelist

Chief Evangelist Braden Kelley

What is an evangelist?

When many people hear this term, their minds used to picture Billy Graham or Pat Robertson, but this is changing. Why?

Our perceptions of evangelists are transforming as the pace of change accelerates to construct a new reality faster than most human brains can process the changes.

This creates a chasm in understanding and change readiness that evangelists can help bridge in a number of different ways.

Let us look at what an evangelist really is…

Oxford Dictionaries say an evangelist is a “zealous advocate of something.”

Nine Innovation Roles EvangelistIn business, the evangelist is a role that any of us can take on (with varying levels of success). Evangelism is very important to innovation success, which is why the evangelist is one of The Nine Innovation Roles™. This is how I define this particular role:

“The Evangelists know how to educate people on what the idea is and help them understand it. Evangelists are great people to help build support for an idea internally, and also to help educate customers on its value.”

Notice at this point we are talking about an evangelist as a role that can be played by one or more people, and not as a job that one or more people hold. Evangelism normally will be a role and not a job, but there are inflection points where this must change.

Outside of an innovation context, evangelism often falls on the shoulders of CEOs, business owners and product managers within organizations. When the need for evangelism is small, this can work. But for most organizations, this is no longer the case.

When should you hire an evangelist?

The time to cross over from evangelism as a role to evangelism as a job is when:

  1. The pace of internal change is accelerating faster than employees can grasp without help
  2. The pace of external change is accelerating faster than customers can understand without help
  3. Your company is facing disruption by new entrants or existing competitors
  4. You’re considering a digital transformation
  5. You’ve already embarked upon a digital transformation
  6. You’re using Agile in product development
  7. Your brand essence is being shifted by you or your customers
  8. You need a more human and personal presence in your marketing efforts to better connect with customers

When one or more of these conditions are true, you’ll find that it isn’t possible for CEOs, business owners and product owners to meet the needs for evangelism in the short spurts of time these people can dedicate to the necessary activities.

As highlighted by Agile Product Development’s presence in the list, organizations leveraging Agile to develop software-based products will find that their product managers are always engaged with the backlog with little time to focus on evangelism. They’re always focused on shipping something.

Some organizations will resist adding evangelists to their team, feeling that such a role is superfluous, but having one or more people focused on evangelism delivers value to the organization by executing a range of incredibly important activities, including:

  • Growing awareness
  • Building a community around the company and/or plugging the company into pre-existing external communities (potentially taking the brand to places it has never been before)
  • Generating interest
  • Working with customers and the marketing team to identify the stories that need to be told and the themes that need to be introduced and/or reinforced
  • Creating desire
  • Building and maintaining conversations with the community that cares about your products/services/brands
  • Engaging in an open and honest dialogue to help gather the voice of the customer
  • Facilitating action
  • Practicing a human-centered design mindset to continuously elicit needs and surface wants and desired outcomes

Depending on the size of the organization you may decide to have a single evangelist, or some larger organizations have more than one type of evangelist, including:

  1. Chief Evangelist
  2. Brand Evangelists
  3. Product Evangelists
  4. Service Evangelists
  5. Innovation Evangelists

This specialization occurs when the evangelism an organization needs become too big for one evangelist to handle. At that point a Chief Evangelist creates the evangelism strategy and manages the execution across the team of brand, product, service and other evangelism focus areas.

So what makes a good evangelist?

Evangelists arrive from a range of different job specialties, but key knowledge, skills and abilities include:

  • Empathetic
  • Passionate About the Company’s Mission, Products/Services, and Customers
  • Comfortable Public Speaker
  • Efficient and Effective Writer
  • Human-Centered Design Mindset
  • Experienced with Social Media, Audio and Video
  • Skilled Content Creator
  • Continuous Learner
  • Self-Directed and Comfortable with Ambiguity

… and ideally your chosen evangelists will already have some presence in the communities important to you, or the knowledge of how to establish a presence in these communities.

Customer buying journeys are notoriously unpredictable, meandering, long and non-linear. Evangelism is a critical part of helping to build relationships with potential buyers and increasing the chances that your brand will be top of mind when a non-buyer finally becomes a potential customer of your products or services.

It’s a long-term non-transactional investment, one that will pay dividends if you see the wisdom in making the expenditure.

Has your organization already invested in evangelists? What learnings would you like to share in the comments?

Are you ready for the evangelists to rise in your organization?

Or do you need help with evangelism? (contact me if you do)

Share the love!

p.s. I wrote a follow-up article for InnovationManagement.se that you might also enjoy — Increase Your Innovation Reputation and Velocity with an Innovation Evangelist


Accelerate your change and transformation success

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Join Me at the Virtual Change Management Summit 2017

Virtual Change Management Conference

On July 12, 2017 I will be speaking at Change Management Review’s Virtual Change Management Summit 2017™, a curated collection of brand new pre-recorded global webinars bringing thought leaders and senior practitioners in the change management profession together.

The purpose of the event is to help participants discover, learn, and reinforce how change management practices and principles are applied in today’s business world.

Click here for more information and to register for this outstanding event

Why is the Virtual Change Management Summit 2017™ important to change management professionals today?

Our profession is currently fragmented and formalizing at different rates across the globe resulting in confusion about how to take part in professional development for those who have just joined the profession and for those who are in the mid-range of their career as a change management practitioner. Aside from formal certification training, there really isn’t a tangible mode to learn more about what is going on and what works unless one attends a conference or an in-person seminar.

The Virtual Change Management Summit 2017™ is an inexpensive means for change management professionals to learn, grow, and understand the business world around them from the perspective of well known experts and senior change management practitioners.

(from the Change Management Review web site)

In addition to myself, the rest of the speaking lineup will include:

  • Theresa Moulton, Editor-in-Chief, Change Management Review™
  • Dr. Dean Ackerman and Dr. Linda Ackerman Anderson, Co-Founders, Being First Inc.
  • Tim Creasey, Chief Innovation Officer, Prosci
  • Jason Little, Agile Management Consultant, Coach and Trainer
  • Kimberlee Williams, President, Center for Strategy Realization
  • Linda Hoopes, President, Resilience Alliance

The title of my presentation will be:

The Future of Project Management is… Change!

… and I will be exploring the intersections and relationships between project management, innovation management, change management, lean, six sigma, agile, lean startup, and design thinking and how organizations can fundamentally transform how they plan and execute what matters most.

I hope you’ll join us on July 12th!
(or watch the sessions on demand after their scheduled times)

Click here for more information and to register for this outstanding event


Accelerate your change and transformation success

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Consulting Industry Being Attacked on Three Sides

Consulting Industry Being Attacked on Three Sides

The worlds of employment and business are becoming increasingly turbulent as the stability of the enterprise grows ever shorter, the loyalty of the enterprise to its people faces extinction, and the wealthy countries of the world stand at a precipice of overhanging debt. Increasingly intelligent digital technologies and mercurial customer expectations threaten both people and enterprise at every turn.

One would suppose that this would be an amazing time for consultancies, full of promise and opportunities. One would imagine that clients desperate for solutions that help them cope with these challenging times would be banging down the doors of consulting firms outbidding each other to the firm’s next client.

But that is not the reality…

Because, the same forces that are causing a feeling of disequilibrium for the firms that consultancies serve are also causing the same unease, trepidation and challenge for the consulting firms themselves.

The fact is that the consulting industry is being attacked on three sides:

  1. Increasingly Available Intellectual Property
  2. Internal Consultants
  3. Artificial Intelligence

Let’s look at each threat in turn:

1. Increasingly Available Intellectual Property

In my last article, “Thought Leadership Builds Firm Value”, I wrote about the importance of thought leadership in today’s digital age and its role in helping to drive inbound sales leads.

Hiring a consultancy, even for a small project, is a big expenditure for most companies, something that requires several levels of approval before the project can begin. Given that, company employees take to the Internet to build their consideration set and to do their research into how each company thinks and who seems to be the leader in the space where they need help. For help with building an innovation or digital transformation strategy or process, often they find me.

The way that company employees find the companies they will include in their consideration set, and the individual (or firm) they will ultimately hire, is by finding and evaluating thought leadership created by consultants like myself who are good at creating frameworks and other tools aimed at simplifying complex concepts (referred to as eminence by some firms).

Because the discovery and evaluation of thought leadership by potential customers is a key way that independent consultants and advisory firms attract new business, and because it is easier than ever to create and share thought leadership while simultaneously becoming an increasingly important factor in the buying process, independent consultants and advisory firms are creating more pieces of thought leadership and eminence than ever before.

On the plus side, thought leadership and eminence help independent consultants and advisory firms to win business. The down side however is that in much the same way that kids in Hawaii have learned how to become professional surfers by watching YouTube videos, as advisory firms create more thought leadership and make it publicly available to win new business, they also stand to lose an accelerating amount of new business as well. The reason is that the proliferation of eminence and thought leadership will inevitably lead to:

  1. Increasing numbers of line managers feeling that they know enough to tackle the challenge themselves that they might have otherwise outsourced to a consulting firm
  2. Increasing numbers of senior leaders deciding that someone inside their company could spin up and lead an internal consulting group

2. Internal Consultants

Let’s face it, whether we like it or not, an increasing number of senior leaders are becoming fed up with spending $500/hr on newly minted MBA’s from McKinsey, Bain, BCG, etc. when they could hire them on full-time for $75-100/hr by taking one of their promising senior leaders and having them spin up an internal consulting group.

Many companies have already created internal consulting groups to handle the bulk of their strategic project work in order to either:

  1. Save money
  2. Increase responsiveness
  3. Increase speed to market
  4. Keep the knowledge gained from such projects readily accessible
  5. Create and retain a competitive advantage

For me, reason number five is potentially the most compelling reason because it is impossible to expect any large consulting firm to unlearn the insights they acquire on one consulting project and not leverage them on a subsequent project with a competitor somewhere down the line. Doing projects with your competitors is how a great deal of industry expertise is gained by large consultancies, and this expertise is one of the primary reasons that managers hire a consulting firm.

3. Artificial Intelligence

Roboadvisors, chatbots, and other implementations of artificial intelligence have captured people’s imaginations and led to both an increase in the number of articles written about artificial intelligence, but also in the practical implementations of artificial intelligence. People are becoming increasing comfortable with artificial intelligence thanks to the recommendation engines on Amazon and Netflix and IBM Watson’s appearance on the game show Jeopardy and battles against chess grandmasters.

But what does consulting have to fear from artificial intelligence?

In the short run, maybe not a lot. But, in the grander scheme of things, over time enterprising technology vendors will inevitably build upon publicly available artificial intelligence frameworks made publicly available by companies like Microsoft and Google (who are seeking to increase the sale of cloud services) to automate some of the tasks that recently minted undergraduate analysts or Indians perform now for the large consulting firms.

Conclusion

These are challenging times for independent consultants as they respond to these attacks from three sides. Only time will tell how quickly and how broadly artificial intelligence (AI) threatens the core business of consultancies. The internal consultancy threat is real and growing in scope and threat. What may have started in Project and Portfolio Management (PPM), Six Sigma, Lean and Agile practices in some organizations, is quickly expanding into other Operational Excellence areas and even into Innovation, Digital Transformation, and traditional Strategy. Increasingly available intellectual property poses a Catch-22 for consultancies as a refusal to participate in the creation of eminence and thought leadership will lead to less business in the short-term, but doing so will certainly over time lead to an overall reduction in the size of the market for consulting services. Some consultancies are responding by diversifying their service offerings, attempting to create consulting superstores. What will be your response to this attack from three sides?

Build a Common Language of Innovation

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The Eight Change Mindsets

“While there is risk to change, just like with innovation, there is often potentially more risk associated with doing nothing.” – Braden Kelley

The Eight Change MindsetsIf your organization is seeking to create a continuous change capability, it must have a strong focus on increasing its organizational agility.

As you use the Change Planning Toolkit™ to kick off your next project or your next change initiative, keep thinking about what the minimum viable progress (MVP) might be in order to maintain momentum. This is very similar to the idea of a minimum viable product, a key lean startup concept popularized by Eric Ries, author of the bestselling book, The Lean Startup.

Minimum viable progress means that for change initiatives and projects to be successful, it is mandatory to have a successful planning session where strong buy-in is achieved at the start. It is equally important at all stages of the process to show a level of progress sufficient to maintain the momentum and support for the project or change initiative you worked so hard to achieve at the start.

This is where the agile principles highlighted later in this article come into play. The goal of our change or project planning efforts should be not just to prototype what the change might look like, but to also build a plan that breaks up the work into a cadence the organization can cope with and successfully implement into a new standard operating procedure. Many thought leaders extol the virtues of quick wins, but I believe structuring your project or change effort into a series of similarly sized sprints will give you a sustainable flow of wins (and thus momentum) throughout all of the transitions that will lead to success. In the end, momentum wins.

Quick Wins versus Momentum

One of the ways to create sustainable momentum is to take an agile approach to change and to segment your overall change effort into a series of work packages that you can properly staff, execute, and celebrate. Many projects and change efforts get off to a roaring start, achieve a few quick wins, but stall when longer, more substantial pieces of the work must be completed, often with only limited communication and little visible progress.

The change initiative then begins to lose the support of key stakeholders (and potentially resources) as members of the change leadership team begin to lose enthusiasm, break solidarity, and withdraw support. This dooms the effort, preventing it from ever being completed as intended.

Momentum beats quick wins, and engaging in a more visual, collaborative, agile change planning method like the one described in my book Charting Change will lead you to more successful change efforts because these methods can help you maintain momentum. The Agile Change Management Kanban is a useful tool that toolkit buyers can leverage to visualize and track change effort progress.

Building and Maintaining Momentum

There are many different reasons why people will do the right thing to help you build and maintain the momentum for your change initiative and to help you achieve sustained, collective momentum. The key to building and maintaining momentum is to understand and harness the different mindsets that cause people to choose change; these include:

1. Mover ’n’ Shaker

  • give these people the chance to be first

2. Thrill Seeker

  • these people like to try new things and experiment

3. Mission-Driven

  • these people need reasons to believe

4. Action-Oriented

  • these people just want to know what needs to be done

5. Expert-Minded

  • teach these people how to do it, and they will seek mastery

6. Reward-Hungry

  • these people want recognition for adopting the change

7. Team Player

  • these people are happy to help if you show them why the change will be helpful

8. Teacher

  • show these people how to get others to choose change

Change leaders and project managers should read through this list and imagine what might happen if you don’t address any of these mindsets in your change plan. In doing so, you might find yourself quickly identifying eight potential explanations for why people may be resisting your change effort. If any of these mindsets are playing out in the negative, then you must try and identify ways to turn these individuals back toward the positive as you work through the different phases of change.

Please include attribution to BradenKelley.com with this graphic.
Embed code available below (click here to request a PDF download)
Eight Change Mindsets Infographic

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(click here to request a PDF download)

Bringing More Elements of Agile to Change

As you begin to move from the widespread chaos-driven change management model (“we do it differently every time”) to using the concepts presented in my book Charting Change and reinforced through the use of the Change Planning Toolkit™ to spread the knowledge of how to use the collaborative, visual change planning process, you will crave a more coordinated approach to change readiness evaluation. Instead of looking at change readiness on a case-by-case basis for each individual project or change initiative, you will quickly find yourself considering the use of a more agile approach to managing change readiness. You may begin asking yourself these ten (10) questions:

  1. Is it possible to have a change backlog?
  2. Do we need a burndown chart to measure how quickly we are burning through our backlog?
  3. Is it necessary to begin prioritizing the change backlog in order to phase in change into different parts of the organization at a pace each part can absorb?
  4. Should we carve up our change initiatives into a predictable series of sprints with a regular cadence?
  5. How long should our change sprints be?
  6. How much of the change initiative can the organization absorb at any one time in order to maintain forward momentum?
  7. Is there a need for periods of settling in (scheduled periods of equilibrium) between change sprints?
  8. Is there a need for the status of various projects and change initiatives to be visible throughout the organization?
  9. Is there a need for a business architect to build a business capability heatmap that highlights the amount of change impacting different business capabilities?
  10. Do you have a business capability map? Do you have business architects in your organization?

If your organization is trying to become more capable of continuous change, then answering many of these questions in the affirmative and taking appropriate action will result in an accelerated change planning capability and faster change absorption.

An Appropriate Pace of Change

For your change effort to be a success you need to find the appropriate pace of change. Finding the right pace of change is very similar to trying to fly an airplane: Go too slow and your change effort will stall. Go too fast and you will face an increasing amount of resistance, potentially depleting the support for your change faster than expected.

In many cases, using up the energy for change too fast may prevent you from reaching your intended destination. One other danger of trying to change too fast, especially if you are trying to run too many change initiatives (or projects) at the same time in the same areas of the company, is that you may run into issues of change saturation.

The key for you as change leader is to identify a regular cadence for your change initiative (or project) that is comfortable for the organization as a whole. That cadence must be slow enough so that the incremental change can be readily adopted and absorbed but fast enough so that your positive forward momentum, executive sponsorship, and overall support are maintained. The pacing and the approach must ultimately help enlist the broader organization in the change effort by reducing feelings of uncertainty, reinforcing that the change is a team effort, and accumulating reasons to believe in the change outcomes and so that people choose change.

Finally, you must have a plan for harnessing each of the eight change mindsets in your organization and leveraging them to advance your change effort, otherwise these mindsets will occupy themselves in negative ways and actively resist your change initiative or project. So, harness these mindsets, leverage the infographic and link back to this article using the embed code, and get yourself a copy of the #2 new release on Amazon for Organizational Change, my new book – Charting Change.

Thank you for your support and Amazon reviews are always appreciated! 🙂

Get the PDF version of the Eight Change Mindsets framework:

Eight Change Mindsets to Harness for Success PDF

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Increasing Organizational Agility

Increasing Organizational AgilityCompanies seeking to cope with the pace of accelerating change are looking for ways to go faster, and managers in non-technical disciplines have become increasingly infatuated with the Agile Software Development methodology and many are finding ways to adapt parts of it to create agile change or agile marketing or other such things. Sure agility sounds like a good thing and sure agile marketing sounds like it must be better than regular marketing, but is it?

What is agility really?

According to Dictionary.com, agility is:

“The power of moving quickly and easily; nimbleness”
OR
“The ability to think and draw conclusions quickly; intellectual acuity”

When it comes to a business context, I however prefer to define agility a bit more simply, a bit more concisely. Agility, or organizational agility in our case, is:

“How quickly an organization can change directions”

Many people, especially in an organizational or commercial context, get confused between agility and flexibility. They are NOT the same thing.

Agile vs. Flexible

Organizational agility is about how quickly an organization can change directions, while flexibility in an organization gives it the ability to do different things with the same resources, often by purchasing more flexible equipment (at a higher price) or by training people to do more than one thing (resulting in higher training costs) or by hiring people that are skilled at more than one thing (higher salary/benefit costs). Flexibility definitely has its benefits (being able to shift resources among purposes) but it also has costs like the ones mentioned above, and probably more importantly, flexibility usually decreases the efficiency of systems.

Fixedness on the other hand, reduces variability, allows you to focus on the things that do vary and get really good at executing all aspects of a system, including the acquisition of the very best tools and technology to perform each particular function. But, as you can imagine, fixedness has its downside too. If a human resource goes down due to illness or a piece of production equipment breaks, potentially, the whole system grinds to a halt.

So, as you can imagine, increased organizational agility is achieved by establishing the right balance between flexibility and fixedness.

The Organizational Agility Framework

I have captured this principle below in the Organizational Agility Framework:

Organizational Agility Framework


Click to access this framework as a scalable 11″x17″ PDF download
(Tooklit purchasers also get access to the Organizational Agility Worksheet)

The Organizational Agility Framework helps organizations:

  • Adapt to changing environmental conditions
  • Stretch existing resources and the organization itself to do new things in new ways
  • Enable faster change inside the organization and faster adoption by customers
  • Evolve profitable customer relationships to keep the organization strong and vibrant

The Organizational Agility Framework (and corresponding worksheet in the Change Planning Toolkit™) also helps you ask two key questions:

  1. Where can we stretch our existing resources and the organization itself to do new things in new ways?
  2. What should we keep the same to enable faster change inside the organization and faster adoption by customers?

Flexibility vs. Fixedness

Too much Flexibility and it will take too long to make decisions and changes.

Too much Fixedness and you will suffer from organizational rigidity.

Companies seeking increased organizational agility and an improved ability to cope with the accelerating pace of change and ever-evolving customer expectations must seek to strike that optimal balance between fixedness (so you can go fast) and flexibility (so you can quickly adapt to changing customer needs).

Can your organization find the right balance?

More on digital transformation and organizational agility soon, so stay tuned!

In the meantime, please get yourself a copy of Charting Change as a hardcover (or ebook) and get your free downloads from the Change Planning Toolkit™ (or go ahead and purchase a license now).

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Conference Wrapup – Change Management 2015

Change Management 2015

Recently I had the opportunity to attend the Association of Change Management Professionals’ (ACMP®) annual conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, titled appropriately Change Management 2015. The event represented a convening of nearly 1,000 change management professionals from around the globe, including countries as geographically dispersed as Qatar and Australia, but with the bulk of the attendees being from the United States, Canada, and Australia.

Nearly 1,000 attendees is a pretty decent size, much bigger than any innovation event that I’ve ever been to, but this larger number of attendees is quite small when you consider the number of people serving in official or unofficial change management roles around the world (either as employees or consultants), or when compared to the number of project managers (estimated at 16.5 million people around the world) and potentially as many as 1.5 million six sigma black belts and green belts sprinkled around the world.

Meanwhile, a couple of the leading training organizations in the change management space have trained just short of 100,000 people in the principles of change management.

If you agree that proactively managing change in organizations is at least as important as the practice of Six Sigma, and potentially as important as project management, that means that as the pace and importance of change continues to gather steam, there could be the need to train between 1.4 million and 16.4 million change management professionals in the next few years.

Professionalizing the Change Management Profession

One of the things that occured at the conference was the highlighting of the ACMP Standard for Change Management™ and the new ACMP Qualified Education Provider™ (QEP™) program. Both of these are steps along the way to building momentum for a change management certification that the ACMP® hopes will become the gold standard for people worldwide to highlight that they have the skills knoweldge, and experience to be recognized as a Certified Change Management Professional™ (CCMP™).

Kicking it off with Dan Pink

The opening keynote at the event was delivered by Dan Pink, author of ‘Drive’ and several other books. Much of his speech was about the societal impacts of the greater availability of information that we enjoy today, and how that will also affect our ability to sell, to influence, and to affect change. In sales, it used to be that the seller nearly always had more information than the buyer, that is rarely the case any more. Because of this shift in information availability, experts are being called on more to be a curator of information than as a way to access information. Dan highlighted how nearly everything that we do in business involves sales and change, yet business schools and MBA programs teach neither sales nor change (they might teach a course on leadership if you’re lucky). And if the ABC’s of sales used to be “Always Be Closing” then the new ABC’s of sales are Attunement, Buoyancy and Clarity.

One interesting personal productivity insight that Dan shared was the idea that asking yourself questions before doing something is a better preparation method than positive self talk. Another was how by reducing your feelings of personal power before going into a conversation can actually increase your effectiveness at getting people to do something. And finally, consider these points related to change:

  • Context is more important than the individual
  • When engaging people for change, it’s very important to use the audience’s language not yours
  • Instead of focusing on changing people’s minds, focus on making it easy for people to do something
  • When information goes down easier it is more likely to stick (rhyming, distillation, etc.)

The IBM Research Perspective

There was a great quote from Hilary Bland of IBM at the conference that illustrates the necessary future direction and importance of change management:

“The ability to anticipate, manage and capitalize on pervasive change is often the difference between market leadership and extinction.”

Between IBM’s research study in 2008 and their followup study in 2014, they’ve seen a shift from organizations managing change on projects to organizations increasingly focusing on enterprise transformation. While the 2008 study examined how organizations manage change and gained practical knowledge, the 2014 study gained insights into the new environment of continuous transformation & the attributes of organizations that are highly successful in managing change.

One of the findings from IBM’s 2014 study was that 74% of respondents are concerned employees are not fully prepared to adapt to an increasingly digital work environment. This sentiment also manifests in the finding that only 20% of organizations successfully deliver on more than 75% of their projects.

And while the digital revolution provides new opportunities to lead change – bottom-up, top-down, sideways – the fact is that 87% of the IBM study respondents stated that not enough focus is currently placed on change management in critical projects and that only 44% of high performance change organizations understand change benefits – Scary!

On final interesting tidbit from the 2014 IBM Research findings – In 2008 only 20% of surveyed companies were using internal resources to manage change projects, but this number is 84% now – highlighting a perceived need for companies to build their own internal change management capability instead of relying on consultants.

Here is a link to the latest IBM study ‘Making Change Work 2014’ – https://ibm.biz/BdRV9y

Gearing Up for Change – A Case Study

Columbia Sportswear shared several learnings from the change management components of their SAP upgrade, including:

  • Success comes not from just saying things multiple times but doing things multiple times
  • We had to stress that company success is determined by the quality of and access to data
  • Initially we were given a tiny training budget, so we went out and got data to build support for an increase
  • We used learnings from a previous failure to build support for our new approach
  • Our first steps were to capture tribal knowledge, map processes, and write standard operating procedures (SOP’s)
  • We then trained execs in our change methodology and did monthly change surveys to
  • We won support from senior management to bring in long term temporary employees to free up our super users to participate in the project. This was a priority!
  • Focus was key! The company had to say “We’re going to do this upgrade, make/sell products, and nothing else!” – and then of course remind people…
  • We had to get creative in our communications, both in terms of building new communication channels and creative messaging, but also we had to work really hard not to talk about the system being changed, but instead focus on how this was a company evolution.

The Culture Question

There were several good culture questions and comments that came up from various sessions, including:

  • When it comes to culture change, you have to define which parts of the culture you’re going to retain too.
  • Findings from IBM’s study on making change work… 1. Lead at all levels 2. Make change matter 3. Build the muscle
  • People at IBM got social really fast around the topic of change because managers were looking at profiles and who was contributing
  • Engagement = Communication + Co-creation
  • Successful change efforts blend effective approaches to the task side and the people side
  • Pace of change is both a driver for change management and a resistor
  • Accountability key to embedding your change into normal operations
  • People hate being off plan. They will want to tell people about the green behind the red. Consider only allowing people time with the boss to discuss yellow/red projects and how the boss can help, instead of making people feel like they have to be green.
  • When change saturation exists, consider having cross-functional resource conversations to look for solutions.
  • “Change has to start by doing less” -Lisa Bodell
  • “Change Leaders should keep these three things in mind – Ask killer questions, Reverse assumptions, and Kill a stupid rule” – Lisa Bodell

Learning as it Relates to Change

There was a great session at the Conference with Christine Cox, PhD. looking at breakthroughs in organizational learning. Some of the key takeaways included:

  • People who multitask (or who sit next to multitaskers during lectures) exhibit lower comprehension
  • Memory can be improved by relating learning to yourself
  • To harness emotion for better learning you want to tap into people’s emotions without overactivating them
  • People strongly remember moments where they made connections and generated those connections or insight
  • Learning is also increased when the right social elements are added
  • Give people opportunity to share what they’ve learned and reflect on its self-relevance
  • Spacing is also important for learning. No cramming!
  • 12 hour learning spacing that includes a night’s sleep helps comprehension more than 12 hours of spacing during waking hours
  • Instructional design should perhaps shift from content delivery to creating the space for insight
  • Incorporating some forms of generation into the learning situation – like polls, guided reflection, writing answers, explaining to another, hearing from another – can increase retention

All Trains Change for Change

Carmen Bianco, the President of the Manhattan Transit Authority (MTA) discussed how our world is changing and how the MTA has to focus on technology, strategy and culture. One of the big questions the MTA is grapplin with is:

How can we get more technology underground so that we can get more train cars per hour moving through the system?

The MTA is ordering 1,000 new train cars and growth is causing them to explore how they can change their culture to be more customer-focused and how they can move more train cars per hour and how they can get more people into each train car. Carmen’s initial focus on culture change has been on top executives so that the middle of the organization knows they’re serious. For change to filter all of the way down, the alignment and commitment has to work its way down. Carmen feels that if he can get everyone on his team to be that good boss, that’s a home run because it effects countless numbers of people. Carmen has also instituted no meeting days at MTA where he requires managers to get out with their employees and then do a debrief with him at the end of the day.

Carmen spoke about the challenge they face with 44% of executives and 41% of operating supervisors becoming pension eligible soon. The potential retirement of 44% of managers next year is both a risk and an opportunity to culture change progress. He spoke about how just when it seemed like he wasn’t changing the culture, the super storm came and provided a galvanizing opportunity. He marveled as he watched the MTA perform with the customer in mind (even sacrificing sleep). He feels blessed to have a phenomenal group of employees who have come up with ideas like FastTrack, where we had 900 employees working in the same area. At first citizens and the media ridiculed the idea, but now people are asking ‘When are you bringing this to my neighborhood?’ The creation of FastTrack reminded me of that scene in the Apollo 13 movie. It’s a good idea to keep that Apollo 13 scene ‘What do you have?’ in mind for constraint-focused brainstorming.

A Whirlwind Tour of Change

The Nike and Peoplefirm session highlighted the importance of communication strategies and creativity in change. PG&E and BeingFirst highlighted how building a change capability within an organization takes time (within PG&E it has taken 2 1/2 years just to START). Year 1 at PG&E may have focused on a lot of change leadership training, but year 2 has to be more about demonstrating results. An internal change group can act as middleware translator between consultants and the organization on a range of projects. Change saturation was discussed many times at the conference, and PG&E talked about how they monitor it at a workgroup level, monitoring what initiatives are effecting different workgroups. In the Marriott session it was highlighted that the most used change tools at Marriott include change overview, stakeholder analysis and communication plan. Chris Churchill and Paul O’Keeffe of Accenture spoke about Agile Change Management and the importance of integrating your change process into your Aigle process, including your task wall or kanban wall process.

Finally, closing keynote speaker Lisa Bodell offered these Eight Statements for Change that she advises organizations work to answer in the affirmative:

  1. People in our organization actively think about pushing boundaries and use trends
  2. Our employees are comfortable asking provocative questions
  3. People think on their feet
  4. People see it through
  5. We are Looking forward 5-10 years
  6. We constantly push for continual improvement
  7. We purposefully hire diverse teams
  8. We look at adjacencies and distant companies and apply best practices

The conference definitely was a whirlwind, and I’d like to thank the Change Management 2015 conference organizers for inviting me to cover the event for the Innovation Excellence audience. Hopefully they’ll have me back as a speaker next year at Change Management 2016 in Grapevine, Texas.

In 2016 my new change management content site will be in full swing and my second book for Palgrave Macmillan (@PalgraveBiz) comes out in January 2016 to highlight the best practices and next practices of organizational change and introduces the new collaborative, visual change planning toolkit. I’ve got some great guest experts lined up as contributors and am finalizing the final few sponsors and contributors in the next couple of months (along with the manuscript), so stay tuned!


Accelerate your change and transformation success

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Innovation Keynote and Change Planning Workshop Special

January Innovation and Change Planning Toolkit Special

To kickoff January with a bang I thought I would make a special offer to companies and event organizers who would like to get an excellent innovation keynote for their company or event attendees AND get a jump on your competitors by getting trained on how to use my new collaborative, visual change planning toolkit before they do.

This will be a great way to help innovation, change and project managers build strong momentum and results early in 2015.

Here is the offer:

Stoking Your Innovation BonfireBook me between January 21 and March 31, 2015 for either a:

  • 60-90 minute Innovation Keynote
  • 2-4 hour Innovation Workshop
  • 1 Day Innovation Masterclass

… and your attendees will at no additional charge:

  1. Be one of the first groups to get their hands on my revolutionary collaborative, visual change planning toolkit
  2. Get a 1 Day Workshop focused on organizational change and how to use the change planning toolkit

Buy an innovation keynote and get a full-day change planning toolkit workshop for free!

What could be better than that?

Book Braden Kelley for your event

P.S. If you missed my recent webinar ‘Innovation is All About Change’, click here and use PASSCODE 1515 to access the FREE recording (link expired).


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Are you competing at cloud speed?

Are you competing at cloud speed?We live in an era of constant, accelerating change, and the only organizations that are equipped to keep pace are those that are capable of competing at cloud speed. Does trading out packaged software installed on your own servers for the cloud-based versions offered by your vendor accelerate your organization to cloud speed?

Sorry, no.

So what the heck is cloud speed anyways?

Competing at cloud speed is a goal that every organization should have, and it requires learning fast not failing fast, it involves creating the flexibility to adapt to trends that spread globally faster than ever before, to respond to competition from unexpected sources, and provides a potential antidote to decreasing corporate lifespans.

Accelerating to cloud speed requires your organization to operate under a series of principles that make it both FAST and agile.

Going FAST (the Right Way)

In the experience of Gordon Tredgold, creator of the FAST Approach to Leadership, we usually end up doing either the wrong job or a poor job in an organization because of a lack of focus or accountability, as a result of work has that’s been made overly complex, or because transparency doesn’t exist across the organization.

The FAST Approach to Leadership attempts to address these concerns by answering the What, Who, How and How Far questions related to the task, service or project that is to be delivered (or goal to be achieved). The following four areas make up the letters of the FAST Approach to Leadership and its FAST acronym:

  1. FOCUS is about the WHAT, what we’re doing, what is our objective, and what does success look like.
  2. ACCOUNTABILITY is about the WHO, who is going to do the work, who will be accountable and how will we hold them accountable.
  3. SIMPLICITY is about the HOW, what is the solution, how are we planning to deliver success. Is our solution simple or have we over complicated it.
  4. TRANSPARENCY is about How Far, How Far we have come and How Far we have to go in order to be successful, it’s also about our honesty about our progress and capability.

Focus and Accountability help to ensure that we are getting the right job done, increasing our effectiveness.

Simplicity and Transparency help to ensure that we do a good job.

The objective of FAST Leadership is to ensure that we do the right job, well, each and every time.

Becoming Agile

According to a recent Forrester report titled Business Agility Starts With Your People, a digital business requires an organization to be able to both sense and execute on change, and Craig Le Clair of Forrester outlined a set of ten dimensions that define the digital business, grouped by market, organization and process:

Market Dimensions

1. Channel Integration – Information sharing and cross-channel experiences

2. Market Responsiveness – Customer knowledge and rapid access to resources

Organization Dimensions

3. Knowledge Dissemination – Broader sharing and flatter organizations

4. Digital Psychology – Trend awareness and digital skill sets

5. Change Management – Embracing change and embedded change management

Process Dimensions

6. Business Intelligence – Information management and distributed analytics

7. Infrastructure Elasticity – Cloud awareness and the embrace of cloud options

8. Process Architecture – Process skills and core system independence

9. Software Innovation – Real-time experience and incremental development

10. Sourcing and Supply Chain – Agile sourcing processes and supply chain flexing skills

People looking for a shortcut might hone in on the Process Dimension named Infrastructure Elasticity because it contains a mention of the word cloud and think that this dimension is the secret to competing at cloud speed, but by itself it is not. Forrester’s research showed that the relative performance of an organization along the Infrastructure Elasticity dimension was not a predictor of organizational success, but instead an enabler of improved performance along other dimensions. Craig Le Clair found that greater business agility comes not just from increased Infrastructure Elasticity, but from consciously utilizing that increase to achieve other improvements, such as an improved Digital Psychology or increased Knowledge Dissemination.

Competing at Cloud Speed

When we think about the cloud, what makes it incredibly powerful for organizations is that it breaks down walls. The cloud makes it possible to quickly get people in different departments, geographies, and even organizations collaborating together using a range of cloud-based tools to achieve business goals. When the cloud is viewed not as a solution, but as an enabler of multiple business agility improvements, and a foundation for the principles of FAST Leadership (focus, accountability, simplicity and transparency), we can finally begin competing at cloud speed.

Competing at cloud speed will help improve the velocity of:

  1. Information flow inside and outside the organization
  2. Decision making and commitment
  3. Resource re-deployment
  4. Channel and customer feedback on course corrections

Competing at cloud speed means putting systems in place that quickly capture the voice of the customer, and broadcast it widely and deeply enough into the organization. It means putting the processes and decision-making tools in place to allow leadership to adapt their strategy, redeploy resources and spin up new cross-border and cross-boundary project teams to full productivity faster than the competition in order to capitalize on changes in customer wants and needs.

Are you competing at cloud speed?

Join Inc. 100 and #1 Leadership Expert, Gordon Tredgold, formerly Head of Service Delivery at Henkel, for a simple approach to improve your operational performance live during our expert webinar on October 8 or register for the OnDemand recording.

Sources:

  1. http://www.theleadershiphub.com/blogs/fast-leadership-0
  2. http://solutions.forrester.com/business-agility/improve-your-business-agility-187UW-2434YQ.html
  3. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/article/20140914015150-649711-don-t-fail-fast-learn-fast
  4. http://www.business-strategy-innovation.com/Voice-of-the-Customer-White-Paper.pdf

NOTE: This article was written for Intuit Quickbase’s The Fast Track but disappeared off the web so I brought it back here


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