Why Revolutions Fail

Why Revolutions Fail

GUEST POST from Greg Satell

I still remember the feeling of triumph I felt in the winter of 2005, in the aftermath of the Orange Revolution in Ukraine. During the fall, we readied ourselves for what proved to be a falsified election. In November, when the fraudulent results were announced, we took to the streets and the demonstrations lasted until new elections were called in January.

We had won, or so we thought. Our preferred candidate was elected and it seemed like a new era had dawned. Yet soon it became clear that things were not going well. Planned reforms stalled in a morass of corruption and incompetence. In 2010, Victor Yanukovych, the same man we marched against, rose to the presidency.

The pattern repeats with almost metronomic regularity. Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak was ousted in the Arab Spring, only to be replaced by the equally authoritarian Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. George W. Bush gave way to Barack Obama, who set the stage for Donald Trump. Revolutions sow the seeds for their own demise. We need to learn to break the cycle.

The Physics Of Change And The Power Of Shared Values

In Rules for Radicals, the legendary activist Saul Alinsky observed that every revolution inspires a counterrevolution. That is the physics of change. Every action provokes a reaction because, if an idea is important, it threatens the status quo, which never yields its power gracefully. If you seek to make change in the world, you can be sure that some people aren’t going to like it and will fight against it.

For example, President Bush’s support for a “Defense of Marriage Act” inspired then San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom to unilaterally begin performing weddings for gay and lesbian couples at City Hall, in what was termed the Winter of Love. 4,027 couples were married before their nuptials were annulled by the California Supreme Court a month later.

The backlash was fierce. Conservative groups swung into action to defend the “sanctity of marriage” and in 2008 were successful in placing Proposition 8, an amendment to the California Constitution that prohibited gay marriage, on the ballot. It was passed with a narrow majority of 52% of the electorate which, only further galvanized LGBTQ activists and led, eventually, to legalized gay marriage.

In our work helping organizations drive transformation, we find similar dynamics at play. Corporate revolutionaries tend to assume that once they get their budget approved or receive executive sponsorship, everything will go smoothly. The reality is that’s the point when things often get bogged down, because those who oppose change see that it has actually become possible and redouble their efforts to undermine it.

The Differentiation Trap

Many revolutionaries, corporate and otherwise, are frustrated marketers. They want to differentiate themselves in the marketplace of ideas through catchy slogans that “cut through.” It is by emphasizing difference that they seek to gin up enthusiasm among their most loyal supporters.

That was certainly true of LGBTQ activists, who marched through city streets shouting slogans like “We’re here, we’re queer and we’d like to say hello.” They led a different lifestyle and wanted to demand that their dignity be recognized. More recently, Black Lives Matter activists made calls to “defund the police,” which many found to be shocking and anarchistic.

Corporate change agents tend to fall into a similar trap. They rant on about “radical” innovation and “disruption,” ignoring the fact that few like to be radicalized or disrupted. Proponents of agile development methods often tout their manifesto, ignoring the fact many outside the agile community find the whole thing a bit weird and unsettling.

While emphasizing difference may excite people who are already on board, it is through shared values that you bring people in. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that the fight for LGBTQ rights began to gain traction when activists started focusing on family values. Innovation doesn’t succeed because it’s “radical,” but when it solves a meaningful problem. The value of Agile methods isn’t a manifesto, but the fact that they can improve performance.

Learning To Love Your Haters

Once you understand that shared values are key to driving change forward, it becomes clear that those who oppose the change you seek can help break the cycle of revolution and counter-revolution and beginning to drive change forward. That’s why you need to learn to love your haters.

By listening to people who hate your idea you can identify early flaws and fix them before it’s too late. Yet even more importantly they can help you identify shared values because they are trying to persuade many of the same people you are. Often, if not always, you can use their own arguments against them.

That’s exactly what happened in the fight for LGBTQ rights. The central argument against the movement was that the gay lifestyle was a threat to family values. So it was no accident that it prevailed on the basis of living in committed relationships and raising happy families. In a similar way, Black Lives Matter activists would do much better focusing on the shared value of safe neighborhoods that in a crusade against police officers.

To be clear, listening to your opposition doesn’t mean engaging directly with them. That’s a mistake Barack Obama made far too often. He would appear on Bill O’Reilly’s show on Fox News, only to be ridiculed as soon as he was off camera. He would have been much better off watching at home and using the bombastic TV host’s remarks for his own purposes.

Achieving Schwerpunkt

In the final analysis, the reason that most would-be revolutionaries fail is that they assume that the righteousness of their cause will save them. It will not. Injustice, inequity and ineffectiveness can thrive for decades and even centuries, far longer than a human lifespan. If you think that your idea will prevail simply because you believe in it you will be sorely disappointed.

Tough, important battles can only be won with good tactics, which is why successful change agents learn how to adopt the principle of Schwerpunkt. The idea is that instead of trying to defeat your enemy with overwhelming force generally, you want to deliver overwhelming force and win a decisive victory at a particular point of attack.

Thurgood Marshall did not seek to integrate all schools, at least not at first. He started with graduate schools, where the “separate but equal” argument was most vulnerable. More recently, Stop Hate For Profit attacked Facebook not by asking users to boycott, but focused on advertisers, who themselves were vulnerable to activist action.

Yet Schwerpunkt is a dynamic, not a static concept. You have to constantly innovate your approach as your opposition adapts to whatever success you may achieve. For example, the civil rights movement had its first successes with boycotts, but eventually moved on to sit-ins, “Freedom Rides,” community actions and eventually, mass marches.

The key to success wasn’t any particular tactic, leader or slogan but strategic flexibility. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what most movements lack. All too often they get caught up in a strategy and double down, because it feels good to believe in something, even if it’s a failure. They would rather make a point than make a real difference.

Successful revolutionaries, on the other hand, understand that power will not fall simply because you oppose it, but it will crumble if you bring those who support it over to your side. That’s why lasting change is always built on the common ground of shared values.

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

Subscribe to Human-Centered Change & Innovation WeeklySign up here to get Human-Centered Change & Innovation Weekly delivered to your inbox every week.

Posted in Change, Government, Leadership | Tagged | Leave a comment

The Lost Tribe of Medicine

The Lost Tribe of Medicine

GUEST POST from Arlen Meyers, M.D.

I can remember opening my medical school acceptance letter. I was, of course, excited to go down a lifelong career pathway, but also, felt joy at knowing that I was accepted into a tribe of international doctors that would welcome me anywhere in the world, who spoke a common language and had a common culture and ethos. A sense of community and belonging is important to mental health.

Research has shown that when employees feel that they belong to a team or organization, they will not only tend to perform better, but also experience higher levels of engagement and well-being. But our feeling of belonging at work has become challenged over the past year as we’ve shifted away from in-person interactions and found ourselves relying on video calls and screen activities to stay connected.

Here is the painting I passed under on my way to class for the first two years at Jefferson Medical College (The Surgical Clinic of Professor Gross/ Thomas Eakins):

Jefferson Medical College

Here is a painting I passed in the halls at the University of Pennsylvania (The Agnew Clinic/ Thomas Eakins):

University of Pennsylvania

Here is the painting of William Osler I passed in the halls of Philadelphia General Hospital:

Philadelphia General Hospital

Here is portrait of Florence Sabin where I work now.

Florence Sabin

One of the preeminent medical and scientific minds of the early twentieth century, Dr. Florence Rena Sabin (1871–1953) was a public servant devoted to improving public health. As the first woman to receive a full professorship at Johns Hopkins University, Sabin was also a successful woman in the medical field at a time when the profession was still dominated by men. In addition to helping Colorado’s fight against polio and tuberculosis, Sabin championed legislation that created the State Health Department in 1947 and successfully lobbied for a variety of other public health improvements. She is regarded as one of the best scientists Colorado has ever produced, and her legacy is honored with a statue in the nation’s capital.

Patrick Hanlon, is his book “Primal Branding”, defines a brand as something people feel something about. He goes on to state that believing is belonging. When you are able to create brands, like the medical profession, that people believe in , you also create groups of people who feel that they belong.

Primal branding is about delivering the primal code. Unlike the four elements of the code in DNA, though, there are seven: the creation story, the creed, the icons, the rituals, pagans, the sacred words and the leader.

Researchers have lumped tribes into 5 stages:

The reality is something else. Unfortunately, in many ways, the medical tribe has become fractious and unaccepting. The results are burnout, depression, suicide, disenchantment and fragmentation of power.

Examples include:

1. Medical education and training that some have described as abusive
2. Turf wars
3. Jealousy, greed and resentment for those who want to upset the apple cart, potentially threatening the cash cow and status quo
4. Marginalizing disruptive doctors
5. Subconscious or implicit bias against colleagues based on race, gender or other factors.
6. Hostility between MD and non-MD “providers”
7. Pushback against scope of practice creep
8. Specialists v generalists
9. Grunts v physician executives and administrators
10. Conflicts in interprofessional relations and care teams.
11. Racism. Is your doctor a racist?
12. Gender pay gaps

Here are 10 reasons why doctors don’t play nice with others.

Plus, all doctors have multiple affiliations and are more engaged with some than others. For example, they have varying levels of engagement with their employer, their specialty association or their local, regional or national medical association. Most tend to go where they are treated best and drop or ignore the others. Mentors,sponsors,coaches and colleagues help with burnout.

Many of us recall with fondness, particularly those who have served in the military, those times we shared with “foxhole buddies” e.g residency training, project teams, shock and trauma units and circumstances, like following mass killings or natural disasters, when the community comes to together. Even the doctor’s lounge is a thing of the past because the real estate is “too valuable” and doughnuts and coffee costs too much.

In many places, doctors have lost their sense of community and attachment to the tribe. The dark underbelly of medicine has damaged the brand.

When was the last time you visited the Museum of Physician Happiness?

Some solutions are:

1. Physician leadership academies that emphasize monitored experiential learning throughout medical school and residency
2. Reform the toxic culture of medical education and residency
3. Hold department chairs and deans accountable
4. Empower physicians to regain control of their destiny
5. Save private practice
6. Regulate overreach of private equity and corporate consolidation
7. Physician innovation and entrepreneurship fellowships
8. Kill most MD/MBA programs
9. Demand interprofessional cooperation or coopetition
10. Teach doctors how to rebuild the medical brand

We should also show more appreciation for each other.

Doctors have lost their sense of belonging. They don’t need a therapist. They need an anthropologist.

Image Credit: Pixabay

Subscribe to Human-Centered Change & Innovation WeeklySign up here to get Human-Centered Change & Innovation Weekly delivered to your inbox every week.

Posted in culture | Tagged | 2 Comments

Transformation Insights

Future Always Wins

“The most damaging phrase in the language is, ‘We’ve always done it this way!”
Grace Murray Hopper

GUEST POST from Bruce Fairley

Nearly a century ago in 1923, General Motors made an evolutionary leap in car design with the chemical expertise of Dupont. Debuting the new Duco paint technology, they introduced consumers to a range of car colors, thus giving the Second Industrial Revolution more variety. This was antithetical to rival Henry Ford’s ‘keep it plain to make it rain’ approach. One car – one color was his contribution to humanity. But the robotic consistency that made Ford a legend also became his Achilles heel as glamor and luxury disrupted the auto business and he was dragged kicking and screaming into the future.

When people say ‘it’s lonely at the top’ – it’s not. It’s crowded with competition. In today’s Fourth Industrial Revolution – or Industry 4.0 – leaders that have the courage to change are able to do what some titans haven’t been able to do.

Pivot. Quickly.

Technological leaps have now advanced to an accelerated rate unprecedented in human history. Change is no longer a left curve surprise, but rather a constant evolution that offers both potentially great reward – and great risk. If growth doesn’t drive change – danger will. Visionary leaders navigate today’s ‘wild west’ landscape with an intelligent team approach. One that re-aligns technology to serve business goals rather than other way around.

But this is not a solo mission. Evolution thrives in collaboration, whether it’s upending an industry or upleveling a medium sized firm into a scalable trajectory. Optimizing the tech-business relationship takes multiple points of expertise and objective study. Where technology currently serves – and where it’s poised to strike is a critical question at the heart of any digital transformation worth undertaking. This may not be obvious at first glance. A previously valuable ‘built to last’ feature may now be hindering ‘built to evolve’ capabilities.

That is one reason why C-Suite leaders often turn to digital transformation firms such as The Narrative Group to fix the gap between their current technological resources and their ambitions. Just as GM partnered with Dupont to dazzle consumers nearly a hundred years ago, corporations that wish to present their best offer to the world need a similar confluence of five positive elements:

  • Collaboration Between Complementary Influencers
  • Creative and Analytical Engagement
  • Smart Use of Technology
  • Human Powered Learnability

And most importantly … The Willingness to Change Because the future always wins.

When I founded The Narrative Group, it was partly in response to this need for collaboration that I saw as critical to a corporation’s evolution. Going a step beyond ‘consulting’ to helping construct a corporation’s best future allows me to contribute to the safeguarding of that future for the many people that rely on a corporation’s healthy bottom line to build their own lives. Human potential is measured not only in outcome but also the way in which that outcome is achieved. Effective collaboration requires three key pillars that support an evolutionary leap:

  • Trust between the internal leadership team and the digital transformation firm hired to consult.
  • Transparency in the process from first contact through recommendations.
  • Trajectory in implementing recommendations in a way that maximizes the potential benefits.

This is part of a larger conversation that I enjoy having with clients and within my own team. I will elaborate on some of these points in future posts, but for now I hope I’ve sparked some reflection about the strength of character great leaders exhibit when they choose to master change rather than be blindsided by it.

If you’re a C-Suite leader that would like to discuss your corporation’s Industry 4.0 evolution and how to advance towards a best future outcome that aligns with your vision, reach out at:

connect@narrative-group.com

Looking forward to continuing the conversation…

Image Credit: The Narrative Group

Subscribe to Human-Centered Change & Innovation WeeklySign up here to get Human-Centered Change & Innovation Weekly delivered to your inbox every week.

Posted in Digital Transformation | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Taking Personal Responsibility – Seeing Self as Cause

Taking Personal Responsibility – Seeing Self as Cause

GUEST POST from Janet Sernack

In our last two blogs on Taking Personal Responsibility, we stated that when people aren’t taking personal responsibility, they cannot be accountable, they will fail in their jobs, and their teams, and fail to grow as individuals and as leaders. Taking personal responsibility is an especially crucial capability to develop self-awareness and self-regulation skills in the decade of both disruption and transformation. It all starts with seeing self as the cause of what happens to us, rather than baling it on the effects events and problems have on us! Where people can learn to recognize the structures at play in their lives and change them so that they can create what they really want to create in their lives, teams, or organizations.

In the last two blogs, we shared a range of tips for shifting people’s location, by creating a line of choice, to help them shift from being below the line and blaming others for their reactive response, to getting above the line quickly.  Through shifting their language from “you, they and them” to “I, we and us” and bravely disrupting and calling out people when they do slip below the line. How doing this allows people to also systemically shift across the maturity continuum, from dependence to independence and ultimately towards interdependence.

In a recent newsletter Otto Scharmer, from the Presencing Institute states “Between action and non-action there is a place. A portal into the unknown. But what are we each called to contribute to the vision of the emerging future? Perhaps these times are simply doorways into the heart of the storm, a necessary journey through the cycles of time required to create change”.

Creating the place – the sacred pause

When I made a significant career change from a design and marketing management consultant to becoming a corporate trainer, one of the core principles I was expected to teach to senior corporate managers and leaders was taking personal responsibility.

Little knowing, that at the end of the workshop, going back to my hotel room and beating myself up, for all of the “wrongs” in the delivery of the learning program, was totally out of integrity with this core principle.

Realising that when people say – those that teach need to learn, I had mistakenly thought that I had to take responsibility for enacting the small imperfections I had delivered during the day, by berating myself, making myself “wrong” and through below the line self-depreciation!

Where I perfectly acted out the harmful process of self-blame, rather than rationally assessing the impact of each small imperfection, shifting to being above the line where I could intentionally apply the sacred pause:

  • Hit my pause button to get present, accept my emotional state,
  • Connect with what really happened to unpack the reality of the situation and eliminate my distortions around it,
  • Check-in and acknowledge how I was truly feeling about what happened,
  • Acknowledge some of the many things that I had done really well,
  • Ask myself what is the outcome/result I want for participants next program?
  • Ask myself what can I really learn from this situation?
  • Consciously choose what to do differently the next time I ran the program.

I still often find myself struggling with creating the Sacred Space between Stimulus and Response and have noticed in my global coaching practice, that many of my well-intentioned clients struggle with this too.

The impact of the last two and a half years of working at home, alone, online, with minimal social interactions and contact, has caused many of them to languish in their reactivity, and for some of them, into drowning in a very full emotional boat, rather than riding the wave of disruptive change.

Being the creative cause

In our work at ImagineNation, whether we help people, leaders and teams adapt, innovate and grow through disruption, their ability to develop true self-awareness and be above the line is often the most valuable and fundamental skill set they develop.

It then enables us to make the distinction that creating is completely different from reacting or responding to the circumstances people find themselves in by applying the sacred pause.

When people shift towards seeing self as the cause they are able to create and co-create what they want in their lives, teams or organization by learning to create by creating, starting with asking the question:

  • What result do you want to create in your life?
  • What is the reality of your current situation?

This creates a state of tension, it is this tension that seeks resolution.

In his ground-breaking book The Path of Least Resistance Robert Fritz, goes on to describe and rank these desired results as “Fundamental Choices, Primary Choices, and Secondary Choices.”

Because there is one thing that we can all do right and is totally in our control – is to shift towards seeing self as the cause and make a set of conscious choices, with open hearts, minds, and wills, as to how we think, feel and choose to act.

“We are the creative force of our life, and through our own decisions rather than our conditions, if we carefully learn to do certain things, we can accomplish those goals.”

We all have the options and choices in taking responsibility, empowering ourselves and others to be imaginative and creative, and using the range of rapid changes, ongoing disruption, uncertainty, and the adverse pandemic consequences, as levers for shifting and controlling, the way we think, feel.

Benefits of seeing self as the cause and being above the line

Applying the sacred pause to make change choices in how we act – and being brave and bold in shifting across the maturity continuum, will help us to cultivate the creativity, interdependence, and systemic thinking we all need right now because it:

  • Helps people self-regulate their reactive emotional responses, be more open-hearted and emotionally agile, and helps develop psychologically safe work environments where people can collaborate and experiment, and fail without the fear of retribution or punishment.
  • Enables people to be more open-minded, imaginative, and curious and creates a safe space for continuous learning, maximizing diversity and inclusion, and proactive intentional change and transformation.
  • Promotes ownership of a problem or challenging situation and helps develop constructive and creative responses to problems and an ability to take intelligent actions.
  • Gives people an opportunity to impact positively on others and build empowered trusted and collaborative relationships.
  • Enables entrepreneurs and innovators to invent creative solutions and drive successful innovative outcomes.
  • Building the foundations for accountability, where people focus their locus of control on what they promise to deliver, enables them to be intrinsically motivated, and take smart risks on negotiating outcomes that they can be counted on for delivering.

Tips for seeing self as the cause and operating above the line

Taking personal responsibility and seeing self as the cause involves:

  • Acknowledging that “I/we had a role or contributed in some way, to the fact that this has not worked out the way “I/we wanted.”
  • Clarifying the outcome or result in you want from a specific situation or a problem.
  • Seeking alternatives and options for making intelligent choices and actions, and using the language of “I/we can” and “I/we will” to achieve the outcome.
  • Replacing avoiding, being cynical and argumentative, blaming, shaming, controlling, and complaining with courageous, compassionate, and creative language and acts of intention.
  • People become victors who operate from “self as cause” where they are empowered to be the creative forces in their own lives by making fundamental, primary, and secondary change choices.
  • Trust your inner knowing and deep wisdom that everything has a specific and definable cause and that each and every one of us has the freedom to choose how to respond to it.

Back to leadership basics

As Stephen Covey says, people need to deeply and honestly say “I am what I am today because of the choices I made yesterday” because it’s not what happens to us, it’s our reactive response to what happens that hurts us.

Being willing to step back, retreat, and reflect on the gap between the results you want, and the results you are getting all starts with stepping inward, backward, and forwards, using the sacred pause, to ask:

  • What happened? What were the key driving forces behind it?
  • How am I/we truly feeling about it?
  • What was my/our role in causing this situation, or result?
  • What can I/we learn from it?
  • What is the result/outcome I want to create in the future?
  • What can I/we then do to create it?

As a corporate trainer, consultant and coach, I found out the hard way that developing the self-awareness and self-regulation skills in taking personal responsibility and seeing self as the cause is the basis of the personal power and freedom that is so important to me, and almost everyone else I am currently interacting with.

It’s the foundation for transcending paralysis, overwhelm, and stuck-ness and activating our sense of agency to transform society and ourselves.

This is the third and final blog in a series of blogs on the theme of taking responsibility – going back to leadership basics. Read the previous two here:

Find out about our learning products and tools, including The Coach for Innovators, Leaders, and Teams Certified Program, a collaborative, intimate, and deeply personalized innovation coaching and learning program, supported by a global group of peers over 9-weeks, starting Tuesday, October 18, 2022. It is a blended and transformational change and learning program that will give you a deep understanding of the language, principles, and applications of an ecosystem focus,  human-centric approach, and emergent structure (Theory U) to innovation, and upskill people and teams and develop their future fitness, within your unique context.

Image credit: Pixabay

Subscribe to Human-Centered Change & Innovation WeeklySign up here to get Human-Centered Change & Innovation Weekly delivered to your inbox every week.

Posted in Change, collaboration, culture, Digital Transformation, education, Innovation, Leadership, Training | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Reducing Employee Churn During the Great Resignation

Reducing Employee Churn During the Great Resignation

For those of you struggling with your staffing levels or with finding talent during these exceedingly challenging times, I have exciting news to share!

My latest commissioned webinar is now available ON DEMAND:

Stop the Madness! How to reduce the risk of employee churn amid the Great Resignation

Synopsis from NICE CXone page:

It’s being called The Great Resignation: Millions of employees leaving their jobs every month! While the trend affects every industry, nowhere else is it felt more acutely than in contact centers. How do you keep agent churn from derailing your contact center?

Smart organizations know that it’s about more than salaries. Agents want work-life balance, and on the job, great tools and support to help them do their jobs well.

In this On-Demand webinar I explore what’s driving the Great Resignation and how to keep your agents engaged and satisfied.

Learn important strategies for keeping your agents from walking out the door:

  1. How giving agents purpose creates job satisfaction.
  2. How to create flexibility for agents to improve work-life balance.
  3. How to keep hybrid workforces connected and engaged.

Click here to access the webinar

I hope you enjoy it!

Please post any questions below in the comments.

There will be an accompanying white paper available soon.


NOTE: Commissioned thought leadership (articles, white papers, webinars, etc.) to accelerate a company’s sales and marketing efforts (including lead generation) is one of the services I provide in addition to the speeches and workshops I deliver as an innovation speaker.


Image credit: Pixabay

Subscribe to Human-Centered Change & Innovation WeeklySign up here to get Human-Centered Change & Innovation Weekly delivered to your inbox every week.

Posted in Headlines, Leadership, Management, Psychology | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Successful Asynchronous Collaboration

Asynchronous Collaboration

GUEST POST from Douglas Ferguson

The future of work is changing and with it the landscape of how we work. We are seeing remote and hybrid teams more often, and the way remote teams flourish might be different than we initially thought. The old way of collaborating required an immediacy that poses new issues for remote and hybrid work. Recreating the office remotely is not going to get you the results you are looking for. Asynchronous collaboration and management can truly unleash your team’s potential.

“There’s a different methodology for managing remote teams. And that’s actually the essence of what I looked at when I wrote this book over the last year and a half, which was saying to myself, no one really knows how to manage these remote teams. They simply just thought that it was just slapping Zoom and Slack and Microsoft Teams on top of what everyone does. And everyone goes home and works from their laptops. It’s completely different.”

Liam Martin, author of Running Remote

Remote teams have gone from 4% of the population, pre-covid, to 45% of the population today. This is a massive shift and assuming that the traditional in-person work practices of the past can translate into the remote environments of the present, is detrimental to both team health and company growth. There is a time for togetherness and connectedness, and there is a time for deep, focused work. Async communication is not the full story, with async collaboration we can communicate ‘in real time’ or synchronously, with more intention. This balance of asynchronous and synchronous work will unlock the potential for leaders looking to scale their enterprise and unleash their teams.

In order to understand asynchronous let’s start by defining synchronous, the old way of doing things.

What Is Synchronous

Synchronous communication happens in real-time; it is when at least two people are exchanging information at the same moment with each other. This can be in person or virtual; if you are a remote worker these moments are usually scheduled over Zoom. Synchronous communication is vital for keeping work human. When the balance of async and sync is off it becomes easier to forget that there is a living, breathing, person at the other end of your communication. Including moments of live interaction like storytelling, sharing fun facts, or even just casual check-in conversation allows us to connect with grace and build empathy for one another.

Examples of synchronous tools:

  • In-person meetings
  • Zoom or other video conferencing
  • Phone call
  • Coffee Break or water cooler conversations

Synchronous work should be a time to explore new ideas, a time when progressive moves can be discussed, and a time to develop relationships with your team. When we focus on trust and transparency in our asynchronous work, we allow space in our synchronous work for future planning and we are given the opportunity to be reminded that we are human, that connection, play, and psychological safety are critical to our wellbeing. The foundation of a healthy remote organizational culture is built on a balance of both sync and async work.

What Is Asynchronous

Asynchronous communication is any type of communication that has a lag between when information has been sent and when that information is received and processed by the recipient. This type of communication is not typically in person, and while it may sound a little disconnected from a human-centered mentality, the truth is, it can be an incredibly powerful tool for generative ideas and productivity.

Examples of Asynchronous tools:

With the proper tools in place, your team’s communication can be fast, accurate, and informative.  Asynchronous tools are also an excellent option for remote and hybrid groups dispersed over time zones because they provide both flexibility and a permanent record of ideas, decisions, and discussions. When teams are encouraged to prepare asynchronously before a synchronous meeting, you will find more time for deep exploration of topics, ideas, and discovery when you meet.

Async Collaboration

Slack, emails, and even text are asynchronous communication tools, but slack and texting have a high sense of immediacy. There is an expectation of short response times, and this can be habitual, or cultural. These tools are also not well suited for dynamic, adaptive, or shifting conversations. Take, for example, the email thread from hell. Someone sends an email with 5 points, the first person responds to the fifth point, but not the others. The second person responds, and it is unclear if they are responding to the first responder or one of the other five points, and so on….

Synchronous work happens in the moment meaning it is faster, more dynamic, and has active, present participation. Asynchronous communication happens over time, meaning work is produced at the pace of the individual and allows for uninterrupted deep focus.

Collaboration is key. Digital whiteboard tools like MURAL can be used in both synchronous and asynchronous work, allowing the full team to generate ideas, brainstorm, and collaborate on creative solutions in and out of meetings.

Asynchronous collaboration allows leaders and teams can stay connected and flourish without falling into predictability and rote communication. With asynchronous communication comes automation: higher velocity work with lower failures and improved productivity certainly sounds like the winning ticket for a successful business, but too much automation can begin to feel robotic. Studies show that human connection is key to employee engagement and retention, so organic thought processes and collaboration are as critical as improved efficiency to unleashing your team.

“Over 60% of leaders said that communicating values is a significant challenge within organizational culture, and 28% said misalignment in values is the challenge. Respondents also identified significant challenges in the areas of DEI initiatives, distributed teams (55%), and lack of company-wide cohesion (55%).”

Work Now Report

The world of work as we know it is at a tipping point. As a natural result of changes long-in-the-making and then expedited during the pandemic, the state of work now and work in the future is forever different.

Asynchronous collaboration rather than just communication in a remote setting allows for a new level of cohesion. With collaboration through tools like MURAL, we are able to interact in real-time, generate solutions to problems with immediacy, and when we do enter a meeting we do so with intention and ability to get the work done.

Our Asynchronous Collaboration Tools

  • MURAL – This digital whiteboard allows for asynchronous collaboration that is in no way lacking creativity or innovation. Our team uses MURAL to collectively share ideas, designs, and prototypes. We also use MURAL to guide our weekly meetings. With MURAL, we can collaborate with the full team in real-time.
  • Loom – Our team utilizes this screen recording tool to ask questions, give detailed answers, and share new features. As you record your screen, you can get explain issues thoroughly and be able to recall the videos at any time. This means you have a database of Q and A that can be accessed at any point.
  • Figma – When designing new assets this tool is key to remote collaboration between design, marketing, and engineering departments. With real-time messaging, stunning design tools, and the ability to share working boards, design work can get done between departments with efficiency and speed.

Facilitated Asynchronous Collaboration

Asynchronous Collaboration incorporates facilitation at every encounter, and it requires a deep understanding of how remote employees optimally work.  . Remote-first companies understand remote operations, and there are important lessons that companies new to remote, or hybrid, can pull from organizations that have been running remote long before the pandemic.

There are elements of facilitation in all of our remote interactions, and often teams who are new to the remote landscape struggle to implement best practices across their teams. Liam Martin, co-founder of Time Doctor and co-organizer of Running Remote, takes on this challenge daily. Coming from a small community of people that know how to work remotely effectively has forced them to reevaluate asynchronous management. According to Liam we need to be able to manage teams without necessarily interacting face-to-face with them.

“Whenever you require immediacy of response from an individual inside of your organization, you believe that you’re speeding things up, but in reality, you’re simply speeding yourself up, but you’re slowing down the organization because you’re creating a culture in which people have to disconnect from their deep work.”

Liam Martin, author of Running Remote

The fact is that if you allow your team these moments of deep focus, the results are going to be a lot of really great work completed in a much shorter amount of time.

If you are seeking efficient structures to change the way your remote team works, the facilitators at Voltage Control understand the intricacies of remote work, design thinking, and much more to help your team discover their potential. Contact us today for a custom fit growth strategy that will help your business, your team, and yourself reach new levels of productivity.

Article originally appeared at VoltageControl.com

Image credit: Pixabay

Subscribe to Human-Centered Change & Innovation WeeklySign up here to get Human-Centered Change & Innovation Weekly delivered to your inbox every week.

Posted in Leadership | Leave a comment

Technology Was Supposed to Solve Our Problems, Instead, They Got Worse

Technology Was Supposed to Solve Our Problems, Instead, They Got Worse

GUEST POST from Greg Satell

Techno-optimism may have reached its zenith in 2011, when Marc Andreessen declared that software was eating the world. Back then, it seemed that anything rooted in the physical world was doomed to decline while geeky engineers banging out endless lines of code would own the future and everything in it.

Yet as Derek Thompson pointed out in The Atlantic, the euphoria of Andreessen and his Silicon Valley brethren seems to have been misplaced. A rash of former unicorns have seen their value plummet, while WeWork saw its IPO self-destruct. Today, even Internet giants like Amazon seem to be investing more in atoms than they do in bits.

We were promised a new economy of increasing returns, but statistics show a very different story. Over the past 30 years wages have stagnated while productivity growth has slowed to a crawl. At the same time, costs for things like education and healthcare have skyrocketed. What is perhaps most disturbing is how many of our most basic problems have gotten worse.

1. Extreme Inequality

The digital revolution was supposed to be a democratizing force, increasing access to information and competition while breaking the institutional monopoly on power. Yet just the opposite seems to have happened, with a relatively small global elite grabbing more money and more influence.

Consider market consolidation. An analysis published in the Harvard Business Review showed that from airlines to hospitals to beer, market share is increasingly concentrated in just a handful of firms. A more expansive study of 900 industries conducted by The Economist found that two thirds have become more dominated by larger players. In fact, almost everywhere you look markets are weakening.

Perhaps not surprisingly, we see the same trends in households as we do with businesses. The OECD reports that income inequality is at its highest level in over 50 years. Even in emerging markets, where millions have been lifted out of poverty, most of the benefits have gone to a small few.

While inequality may seem abstract, the consequences of it are concrete and stark. Social mobility has been declining in America for decades, transforming the “land of opportunity” into what is increasingly a caste system. The stresses to our societies have also contributed to a global rise in authoritarian populism.

2. Hunger

Since the 1950s, the Green Revolution has transformed agriculture around the world, dramatically reducing hunger in places like Asia, Africa and South America. More recently, advances in gene editing promise what may be an even greater increase in productivity that has the potential to outpace projected population growth.

The impact of the increase in agricultural productivity cannot be overstated. In fact, studies have shown that as hunger subsides, economic activity increases while both mortality and fertility decrease. When people don’t have to struggle to take care of basic needs, their ambition and creativity can be unleashed.

The story in the United States, however, is starkly different. Research by the USDA finds that 11.1% of US households are food insecure. Another study revealed that about half of students on college campuses experience food insecurity. If that sounds bad, a study by Brookings suggests that the problem has gotten far worse during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The truth is that these days hunger is much more of a policy problem than it is an economic problem. Science and technology have made it possible to produce more than enough food to feed everyone on the planet, even in desperately poor countries. The reason that people go hungry on America’s streets is simply because we let it happen.

3. Falling life expectancy

Around the same time as the Green Revolution was beginning to alleviate hunger in developing countries, we entered a golden age of antibiotics. After penicillin became commercially available in 1945 the floodgates opened and scientists uncovered dozens of compounds that could fight infection. Millions of lives were saved.

Starting in the 1970s, we started to make serious headway in heart disease, leading to a miraculous decline in death from heart attacks and strokes. At the same time, due to advances in cancer treatment such as targeted therapies and immunotherapy cancer survivability has soared. In fact, medical science had advanced so much that some serious people believe that immortality is within reach.

Yet in America, things are going the other way. Life expectancy has been declining for years, largely due to “deaths of despair” due to drugs, alcohol and suicide. Anxiety and depression are rising to epidemic levels. Healthcare costs continue to explode while the number of uninsured continues to rise. If history is any guide, we can only expect these trends to continue.

So although technology has made it possible for us to live longer, healthier lives, we find ourselves living shorter, more miserable lives.

Revealing and Building Anew

In a 1954 essay, The Question Concerning Technology the German philosopher Martin Heidegger described technology as akin to art, in that it reveals truths about the nature of the world, brings them forth and puts them to some specific use. In the process, human nature and its capacity for good and evil is also revealed.

He gives the example of a hydroelectric dam, which reveals the energy of a river and puts it to use making electricity. In much the same sense, scientists don’t “create,” miracle cures as much as they uncover truths about human biology and leverage that knowledge to improve health. It’s a subtle, but very important distinction.

Yet in another essay, Building Dwelling Thinking, he explains that building also plays an important role, because to build for the world, we first must understand what it means to live in it. The revealing power of technology forces us to rethink old truths and reimagine new societal norms. That, more than anything else, is where the challenges lie. Miracle cures, for example, do little for those without health insurance.

We are now nearing the end of the digital age and entering a new era of innovation which will likely be more impactful than anything we’ve seen since the rise of electricity and internal combustion a century ago. This, in turn, will initiate a new cycle of revealing and building that will be as challenging as anything humanity has ever faced.

Prognosticators and futurists try to predict what will happen through some combination of extrapolation and supposition, but the truth is the future will most be shaped by the choices we make. We could have chosen to make our society more equal, healthier and happier, but did not. We can, of course, choose differently. The future will be revealed in what we choose to build.

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

Subscribe to Human-Centered Change & Innovation WeeklySign up here to get Human-Centered Change & Innovation Weekly delivered to your inbox every week.

Posted in Change, Technology | Leave a comment

Future of Global Physician Entrepreneurship

Future of Global Physician Entrepreneurship

GUEST POST from Arlen Meyers, M.D.

What’s your definition of entrepreneurship? Here’s the conventional one.

Mine is that physician entrepreneurship is the physician pursuit of opportunity under volatile, uncertain ,complex and ambiguous (VUCA) conditions with the goal of creating user defined value through the deployment of innovation using a VAST business model.

There are many myths about entrepreneurs. Here are some about physician entrepreneurs.

The life science innovation roadmap is risky, expensive and time consuming. To be successful, bioentrepreneurs whether healthcare professionals, scientists, engineers, investors or service providers, need to work as a team with their organizations to overcome the multiple hurdles taking their ideas to the market and patients. The process is neither linear nor predictable and outcomes are never guaranteed. In addition, because of global macroeconomic conditions, investors are unwilling to gamble on unproven technologies in a more hostile regulatory and legal environment. Consequently, commercializing bioscience discoveries is becoming more and more difficult. However, innovators still thrive. Where are some of these exciting business opportunities for bioentrepreneurs?

An initial understanding of the changes happening in international systems is the first step in identifying potential market opportunities. Here are but a few:

  1. Major and continual healthcare policy reforms
  2. Migration away from fee for service payment
  3. Consumerization, commoditization, internationalization, customization and digitization of care.
  4. Changing from a sick care system to a preventive and wellness system
  5. Defined benefit to defined contribution health insurance coverage
  6. Rightsizing the healthcare workforce
  7. Do it yourself medicine (DIY)
  8. Mobile and digical (physical and digital) care delivery models
  9. The growth of employed physicians
  10. Innovation management systems and increasing attention to health entrepreneurship.
  11. Increasing demand for high touch care
  12. Increasing discontinuity of cares changing quickly. All of these changes present biomedical and healthcare entrepreneurs opportunities to create new products, services, models and platforms. Patients are taking more control of funding and contributing to basic and clinical research using the internet and social media continues to play a bigger and bigger role in healthcare marketing and delivery.
  13. Demographic and economic changes and social mobility
  14. Closing the digital divide
  15. The impact of the 4th industrial revolution

Take opportunities in AIntrepreneurship, for example, in India, China, MENA and Africa

The drivers of physician international entrepreneurship include:

  1. Fear: Doctors are afraid they will suffer the professional, personal and economic consequences if they don’t adapt to change
  2. Greed: Physician incomes are threatened by innovation and new business models
  3. Necessity: Most doctors in industrialized countries have a relatively high standard of living. They did not bother themselves with innovation or entrepreneurship because they didn’t have to.
  4. The innovation imperative: The pace of change has accelerated and markets and employers are demanding more with less
  5. Generational demands: Medical students and residents are questioning their career decisions and demanding that schools provide them with the innovation and entrepreneurship education and training knowledge, skills and attitudes they need to thrive after graduation and throughout their careers
  6. The shifting doctor-patient relationship: Technology and DIY medicine is disintermediating doctors and fundamentally altering the doctor-patient relationship
  7. Resources: The internet, local ecosystems, acclerators and access to early stage capital has made it easier to start a business or develop an idea. People are connecting to the global economy.
  8. Portfolio careers: The sick care gig economy is growing and the future of work is changing. Fewer are committing to one lifetime career or job, including clinical medicine
  9. Opportunities: With change, comes opportunities and those few doctors with an entrepreneurial mindset are actively pursuing them. The opportunities in health entrepreneurship are sizable and physician entrepreneurs are increasing well positioned to capitalize on them.
  10. Culture: The culture of medicine is changing and encouraging creativity and innovation
  11. Politics: Access to quality care at an affordable price is in high demand as middle classes grow in developing countries. Not providing it leads to social upheaval and political instability.
  12. Budget deficits: The demand for care is almost infinite. However, the supply is limited. Consequently, policy makers and markets are looking for ways to improve outcomes at a lower cost through the deployment of innovation.
  13. Youth unemployment: Restless unemployed, educated citizens are demanding jobs and ways to use their talents.
  14. Economic development: Innovation and entrepreneurship is fuel that that feeds the engines of economic development in emerging economies. like Africa.
  15. Globalization: People, money and technology go where they are treated best, regardless of location.

The future of physician entrepreneurship is measured by progress in four domains: educationpracticeresearch and impact. Unfortunately, each part of the physician innovation value chain is highly resistant to change and subject to multiple barriers to dissemination and implementation. We have made progress in all, but, the results are unevenly distributed.

The future of international physician entrepreneurship will be punctuated by:

  • The coherence of disparate technologies from diverse industries other than sickcare
  • Increasing transdisciplinary and international dependencies and collaboration
  • Educational reform in health professional, public health, bioengineering and computer science programs
  • Significant regulatory, legal, economic, ethical and societal issues
  • Generational, social and demographic variations in dissemination and implementation
  • An evolving global IT cybernervous system and interoperability
  • More difficult trust, privacy and security barriers
  • A high touch backlash against high tech
  • The rise of patient sickcare entrepreneurship
  • A slow migration to healthcare from sickcare

That said, this is the golden age of physician entrepreneurship, as reflected by the record number of applicants to US medical schools, the number of doctors pursuing non-clinical careers or side gigs, the ever increasing number of biomedical and clinical ecosystems, inclusion of digital health, business of medicine and entrepreneurship education and training in medical and graduate schools and the results and impact of entrepreneurs during the COVID pandemic.

Physician medical practice entrepreneurs, technopreneurs, intrapreneurs, social entrepreneurs, philanthropreneurs, edupreneurs and others are changing the world and the movement is spreading rapidly. Fortunately, despite efforts to the contrary, there is no vaccine to stop it.

Image credit: Unsplash

Subscribe to Human-Centered Change & Innovation WeeklySign up here to get Human-Centered Change & Innovation Weekly delivered to your inbox every week.

Posted in Entrepreneurship, Healthcare | Leave a comment

Harnessing the Dragons of your Imagination for Innovation

Harnessing the Dragons of your Imagination for Innovation

The harder I try not to think of myself as an artist, the stronger I’m pulled back to the idea that even if my art is a little different than traditional drawing, painting, photography, music, dance and other traditional arts, that it is still art.

Today’s article was inspired by a Lex Fridman podcast interview with the lead singer of Imagine Dragons – Dan Reynolds.

Dan is a Mormon, a musician, one of nine children, a father, and a surprisingly humble and astute person. All of these things are relevant because who we are as a person is the result of every facet of ourselves today, and in our upbringing. Our art comes from our experience and our empathetic connections to the experiences of others. While Dan is a musician, he is also an artist, and artists can and should learn from all different types of artists.

At the heart of every kind of art is truth, but more about that later.

“After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.” — Aldous Huxley

In this article I will highlight what I took away from the interview and some of the great music they Lex and Dan discussed, but feel free to jump in and watch the conversation at any point:

The most important takeaways from the interview are these:

  1. People have really good bullshit detectors
  2. You must authentically feel something, and your audience must feel it too
  3. Having a source of honest feedback is critical to progressing your art

Let’s now look at each of these and relate them from music to innovation:

1. People have really good bullshit detectors

In the interview Dan contrasts their success with two different records “Bet My Life” and “Believer” – which both did well – but “Believer” out-streamed “Bet My Life” by 10x.

Here is “Bet My Life” from YouTube with its 160 Million views on YouTube:

And “Believer” with its 2.2 Billion views on YouTube:

Okay, maybe that’s a bit more than 10x, but Dan when asked about what went wrong with “Bet My Life” he admitted that they produced the song themselves and that they took what was originally a stripped-down song and over-produced it – costing the song some of its authenticity in the process.

If we cross over to innovation on this topic, in the past I’ve written that Veracity is Required for Innovation Success.

Yes, innovation is an art.

Here are some key thoughts from this article on the importance of truth to innovation:

“Fail to identify a solution with real innovation veracity and you are likely to miss potential elements of optimal value creation, you will likely struggle to make its value accessible, and there is a greater likelihood that you will fail to properly translate the value of the solution for your customers.

So, taken another way, the search for innovation success is a search for truth. You must therefore unlock the inner truths of your intended customers (think unmet needs or jobs-to-be-done), you must search in areas that your intended customers will feel are true for your brand, and areas that feel true to employees given the company’s mission and values. When your pursuit of innovation centers around truth and when you commit to a focused effort to increase your innovation capability – and to pursue Innovation Excellence – then and only then do you have your best chance at innovation success.”

2. You must authentically feel something, and your audience must feel it too

In innovation we often talk about how it takes 100+ ideas to find 10 projects worth investing time and money in, and from those 10 projects – if you’re lucky – you might have one show promise as a potential innovation.

In the Lex Fridman interview Dan Reynolds revealed that he writes about 100 songs a year and from those perhaps 10 might get recorded. Dan started as a drummer, and while voice is often as seen as the melody of a song, his vocals are in part driven by a percussion mindset. For innovation we like to speak about bringing different mindsets and perspectives to increase the chances of finding something meaningful.

Speaking of feeling and authenticity, Dan tells a story in the interview about how they were working on an album with famous record producer Rick Rubin and listened to a song that Dan believed in, but after hearing it he told Dan “I don’t believe you.”

The path to adoption is through belief…

Some of the songs they listened to in regard to ‘feeling it’, included Harry Nilsson’s “Without You”:

Cat Stevens’ “Father and Son”:

And Harry Chapin’s “Cat’s in the Cradle”:

Identifying whether you are transmitting authentic feelings or not is very difficult. We’ve already spoken about the importance of veracity, and if we build on that using something I wrote about in my article That’s Innovation with Two V’s, leveraging information from the movie A Good American, about how the following three components can help you identify signals and drive the transformation of DATA into INTELLIGENCE (or innovation veracity in our context):

  1. Volume – in order to derive meaningful conclusions you need a lot of data inputs, in this case, lots of idea fragments (ideas come later)
  2. Variety – multiple perspectives are necessary to avoid blind spots and increase the potential for connecting idea fragments
  3. Velocity – volume by itself is not enough, momentum is important too. You have to keep Stoking Your Innovation Bonfire

3. Having a source of honest feedback is critical to progressing your art

Making art that resonates with others is incredibly different. It is easy to get lost in our own perspective.

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” – African Proverb

It is incredibly important as an artist, as an innovator, that you find a group of trusted voices to allow you to accelerate the development of your art – or your innovation. Science experienced an incredible acceleration in the private clubs of London in the 1600’s, impressionist art experienced an amazing acceleration in the south of France in the 1800’s – because of the rapid exchange of ideas and feedback.

For Dan Reynolds, one of those trusted voices is his father, he also has one of his brothers as the band’s manager, another brother as their lawyer, and brings in external voices to help with the production of their records – people like Rick Rubin.

Listening to your trusted external voices can help you see where you’re falling short. There is a great quote in the interview above regarding Dan’s realization around the sometimes-uncomfortable role of a famous person in society.

“By not saying anything, I was saying everything.” – Dan Reynolds
(re: LGBTQ issues at the time)

It is only from being open to receiving feedback that we can learn anything. And when it comes to art, when it comes to Optimizing Innovation Resonance:

To achieve and maintain innovation resonance, you must nurture a commitment to learning fast, both during the innovation development process and after the launch of a potential innovation. You must maintain a laser focus on how you are creating value, helping people access that value, and translating that value for people so they can understand how your potential innovation may fit into their lives. So, do you have processes in place as part of your innovation methodology for measuring and evolving solutions in place to help you get to innovation resonance?

And to help reduce the tyranny of the innovation hero and to encourage innovation collaboration, I created the Nine Innovation Roles:

  1. Revolutionary
  2. Conscript
  3. Connector
  4. Artist
  5. Customer Champion
  6. Troubleshooter
  7. Judge
  8. Magic Maker
  9. Evangelist

… to make a place for everyone in innovation.

Conclusion

There is a reason this blog is called Human-Centered Change & Innovation. The reason is that when it comes to change, innovation and transformation, the people side of all three is everything.

To be successful, you must consider “the other.”

You must engage with “the other.”

You must understand “the other.”

This requires empathy, this requires veracity, and when you bring empathy and veracity together, you have a chance at achieving resonance.

All types of art and innovation require empathy, veracity, and resonance for success.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the interview, the music, and the conversation.

I hope all of this will help you slay your dragons, imagine a future where you are connecting more fully with your audience, and creating something amazing.

Keep innovating!

Subscribe to Human-Centered Change & Innovation WeeklySign up here to get Human-Centered Change & Innovation Weekly delivered to your inbox every week.

Posted in Innovation | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

It is Easier to Change People than to Change People

It is Easier to Change People than to Change People

GUEST POST from Annette Franz

The work that we do as customer experience professionals can often be summed up as change management – or change leadership. One of the key and critical parts of this change management effort is to ensure we have executive commitment for the work that lies ahead. As a matter of fact, in an article I wrote a couple months ago about some research that GetFeedback had released, I noted these findings:

Respondents shared what degree executives were invested in CX efforts, how much, and to what end. When executives invest in customer experience, brands are three times more likely to yield return on investment (ROI) than those who don’t have that commitment from executives.

So their commitment is important. (Their ROI will come!) It ensures that you get the resources – human, capital, financial, time, etc. – needed to move forward successfully with your transformation work. They should express commitment (to the CX team and to the company) that the entire executive team is all in and that they’ve accepted that building a customer-centric organization means we’re building a winning organization.

But what if that commitment is lacking? What if you’re executives don’t get it? What if every plea to explain why transforming the culture, the employee experience, and the customer experience lands on deaf ears? What if some get it and some don’t?

Let’s think about this…

Years ago, I had an interesting conversation with James Lawther about executives and their lack of understanding regarding their critical roles in the transformation and the importance of their commitment. He had commented on a post about executives “not getting it” with this: “In which case, rather than trying to change your executive, wouldn’t you be better moving on and changing your executive instead?” I was recently reminded of his comment when I saw the quote, “It’s easier to change people than to change people.”

Perhaps, sometimes we just need new executives. Sadly, those who get it are few and far between. It’s one of the reasons I wrote Built to Win, i.e., to inspire leaders to think differently about customer-centricity and building a winning organization through deliberately designing a customer-centric culture – from the top.

Back to the conversation with James. We weren’t too far off on this thinking, this idea of changing executives. Geoffrey Moore (author of Crossing the Chasm and Zone to Win) published an article on LinkedIn last month titled, Three Easy Mistakes to Make, which he actually referred to as compromises leaders shouldn’t make as the business grows and matures or evolves. One of those mistakes was this: Adjusting your organizational model to fit your people instead of the other way around. He writes:

People who have been with the team for a long time often feel entitled to the next promotion in their career path, and because we have all worked together during this time, we can feel obligated to accommodate them. Now, when your industry is not being disrupted, experience does matter, so promoting from within is often a good strategy. But when disruption strikes, organizations need to change, often dramatically, and the new leaders need to be grounded in the emerging paradigm. That is, they have to make quick decisions with little data based on pattern recognition and then course-correct them as the data comes in. If the person in place does not have that pattern recognition, if instead, they have to learn the new system even as they are in the midst of operating it, decision-making slows down dramatically, and an agile approach becomes impossible. For times like this, you need to bring in someone who already has the mindset needed to play the new hand. You already know that what got you here won’t get you there. Just remember that applies to people as well.

Why would you do that? Why wouldn’t you make sure you’ve got the right people on the bus to ensure success, to ensure that the organizational model (and, of course, in this case, I’m thinking about building out your customer-centric culture) has every chance to flourish? Why would you, instead, keep the same people to build a different organization, especially those who constantly say, “But we’ve always done it this way. This is how we do things here.”

I prefer to say, “Nothing changes if nothing changes.” Either the thinking has to change or the people have to change.

As Geoffrey says, “For times like this, you need to bring in someone who already has the mindset needed to play the new hand. You already know that what got you here won’t get you there. Just remember that applies to people as well.”

Maybe some of the up-and-coming leaders will bring a fresh perspective and find my open letter to CEOs an affirmation, as in, “No need to tell me all of that once, much less twice!” Be that person with the mindset to play the new hand. Or be the person who gets replaced.

People change over the years, and that changes situations for good and for bad. ~ Bobby Knight

This article originally appeared on CX Journey

Image credit: Pixabay

Subscribe to Human-Centered Change & Innovation WeeklySign up here to get Human-Centered Change & Innovation Weekly delivered to your inbox every week.

Posted in Change, Psychology | Leave a comment