Ideas and Insights


Successful change: driven by clear outcomes

Over the last twelve months the theme that has permeated most of our Ideas and Insight articles is change – approaches and pitfalls to successful change.

In the recently reviewed book, “Inclusive Leadership: the definitive guide to developing and executing an impactful diversity and inclusion strategy” again the message is clear – if initiatives such as developing and delivering a diversity and inclusion strategy are not placed within a change management frame – with clear and well thought out outcomes driving the change then the results will be sub-optimal at best, and complete failure at worst.

But, good change depends on clear outcomes.

In this short video Jill provides some timely tips and reminders about the nature and need for well-crafted outcomes.

Click here more information on well-formed outcomes from a previous post.

Jill Tideman

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Strong relationships fundamental to Eros organizations

In the organization dominated by the Eros archetype the ideal emotional climate is positive, supportive, free of risk and the highest value is intimacy. In its purest form the Eros organization has a structure which is entirely horizontal. Notions of hierarchy, or even of authority, have no place in its ideology. Nor have notions of role. It reached its zenith as an organizational form in the Western world in the 1960s. What holds the organization together is the intensity of the relationships between its members. The organization may have a sense of common purpose, may be productive in many ways, may have established ways of going about its work, but these are secondary to the satisfactions of relationship. People think more in terms of their relationships with the people, rather than their responsibility to the organization. Community is an end in itself. Mechanisms of control are absent and freedom is paramount. Read more…

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Inclusive leadership: ways to achieve diversity and inclusion

Inclusive Leadership: the definitive guide to developing and executing an impactful diversity and inclusion strategy by Charlotte Sweeney and Fleur Bothwick (Pearson Books, 2016)  is a book all leaders and aspiring leaders need in their personal library.

Cogent arguments and performance data identifying the real benefits to organizations of diverse are provided, with good tips on preparing a business case for such change. In addition, simple and clear distinctions for the concepts of equality, diversity and inclusion are made, and practical ways to think and act strategically to lead change for diversity and inclusion in workplaces are outlined. Read more…

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Antifragility

Nassim Taleb, best known for his book on Black Swan events (events that are typically random and are unexpected) has introduced a new word into the management and leadership lexicon – ANTIFRAGILE.

He starts with the deceptively simple proposition that the opposite of fragile is not robust. In his book of the same name he introduces the concept of the Antifragile.

The concept of fragility is very familiar to us. It applies to things that break when you strike or stretch them with a relatively small amount of force. Porcelain cups are fragile.

Things that do not break so easily when you apply force or stress to them we call strong or resilient, even robust. A cast-iron pan, for instance. This is familiar conceptual territory for most of us.

However, there is a third category here that is often overlooked. It includes those things that actually get stronger or improve when they are met with a stressor (up to a point). Illustratively, he points to safety in the airline industry that exists today due to crashes in the past. It is a safer way to travel because of past “breakages”, so to speak.

This antifragile property can be said to apply to living things generally, as in the famous aphorism ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’. For example, we are now beginning to realize just how much children who are raised in what we might call “dirty” environments (e.g. some parts of India) have much stronger immune systems than those raised in more sterile “western” world conditions. Strangely, we don’t really have a word for this property, this opposite of fragility. For Taleb, all complex systems (like societies, economic systems, businesses etc.) have, or must confront this property in some way. Read more…

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Mission impossible – engineered culture change

Tim Dalmau has often spoken about culture change being an oxymoron.  Download and read this paper to find out why!

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Promethean organizations – where only science and technology can deliver a better world

For the Greeks, Prometheus was the saviour of mankind and a god of science and technology.

Prometheus was the saviour of mankind quite specifically, because he did not much approve of womankind.

The Prometheus myth is a fantasy of setting people free from the power of the gods, of inevitable progress towards a better world, of gaining control over natural forces. It is a fantasy that has had enormous power in the history of Western civilization, especially in the past three hundred years. Indeed, civilization has come to be defined in terms of the gifts that Prometheus can bring: science, the machine and the better world that only they can deliver. This is a peculiarly masculine fantasy, for science and technology have been peculiarly male domains. Read more…

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Lead and Manage Change Masterclass, May 2-3, Adelaide

Tim Dalmau and Steve Zuieback will conduct a Masterclass in Adelaide for those in leadership who are asked to guide change or are adapting to changes. This change may range from the normal through the complex to the totally and previously unthinkable. It will be from  May 2 and 3, 2017 in Adelaide.

They will be conducting this Masterclass  for those who wish to be more effective in guiding and leading others to be part of a change. They may also be trying to understand the apparent increase in the scope, impact, rapidity and interconnectedness of all the changes sweeping the globe at the moment and their impact right down inside organizations.

Click here for additional information

Dates and locations

May 2 and 3, 2017

The Monastery Function Center,
15 Cross Road,
Glen Osmond SA 4068
Tel: +61 8 8338 8700

Click here to register today!

If you have any queries regarding registration please email tim@dalmau.com or phone +61 41 997 1777

Fee $1795 

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Who should I involve in change?

This is a complex question to which there is no simple answer. So much depends on the individual situation, the nature of the change and the context in which it is unfolding. But there is one constant in most situations that involve large numbers of employees, an established company history and a range of sub-cultures …

Many will recognize the diagram below, developed originally by Everett Rogers (2003) and popularized by Malcolm Gladwell in the Tipping Point. It provides an explanation for how new ideas or innovations get embraced, at times with viral speed. This work has been backed-up by extensive research and examples, and although originating in the field of agricultural innovation in the Mid-West of the US more than 60 years ago, has been found to still be valid today in those settings described above.

Despite perhaps its familiarity and its simplicity it is important to draw the parallels and its relevance to leading change in organizations, and the value of some simple models never wane.

 

 

With respect to the diffusion of new ideas or innovation, Everett and others found at any one time there were groups of ‘like types’ of people in the population, community or indeed in organizations, who could be identified as having similar characteristics or ‘personality’ in relation to their propensity to adopt or resist new ideas, that is, to embrace change.

The characteristics that the like types share is as follows,

Innovators

The adoption of new ideas (change) begins with the very few (approximately 2.5%) who have vision and imagination

Early adopters

Tend to leap in when the benefit of the change becomes apparent. They are quick to make connections and the competitive edge of a new idea motivates them. They like to be seen at the leading edge and through their often-high social profile spread the word quickly. They make up about 13.5% of the population. They tend to have a great deal of respect and credibility in the eyes of those who follow them to the right of the bell curve.

Early majority

These require more ‘proof’ of the benefits that the new idea or change will bring and are seen as pragmatists and more moderately progressive. To them the new idea needs to be user friendly and not high risk.

Late majority

Are more conservative and definitely don’t like risk but they will follow new ideas eventually to be seen to ‘fit in’.

Everett says that each of these segments, early and late majority comprise about 34% each of the population.

Laggards

Are risk adverse and tend to fear any sort of change, making up the final 16% of the population.

The value of enthusiasts in organizations

If we call enthusiasts those who are either innovators and/or early adopters. The links between these enthusiasts and new ideas, and their role in bringing about change in organizations is obvious.

Enthusiasts by their very interest and engagement with the change itself bring the “early majority” with them. Engaging with this group directly inevitably triggers unnecessarily complex reactions and defensive routines. So, too, with the late adopters. Whereas, getting the backing of the enthusiasts tends to entice the interest of the early majority and they, in turn, bring the late majority with them.

Enthusiasts come in all shapes and sizes and live in many different parts of organizations. They are not confined to specific job roles.

The challenge for a change leader is to identify these people, and offer them strong face-to-face support in taking up change. They are enthusiastic to trial new ways and you can learn from their feedback. However, they need opportunity to show what they are doing and are motivated by kudos. Not only are they role models but some of them can make excellent coaches and mentors as the change process evolves.

Jill Tideman

 

 

 

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Ares organizations – the positives and negatives

 

Some time back I introduced archetypal patterns of organizational culture and behavior through the pantheon of the classical Greek gods.

You can find these earlier articles in our Resources. There are still more from the pantheon worthy of introduction and in recent times I have been reminded by one client organization of the Ares organizational type.

Organizational archetypes

By way of reminder and context, in my book with Bernie Neville, Olympus Inc we sought to present some windows through which we can view organizational dynamics, and from these find doorways to enter the life of organizations in order to influence them.

One of the windows we chose was unconscious processes and how they influence human behavior. Understanding the power of the unconscious owes much to the research and thinking of Freud and Jung. We pointed to the ways in which our thoughts and actions are shaped by energies that are totally outside our awareness.

Organizational behavior, like individual behavior, is archetypally patterned. In Jungian psychology, archetypal patterns are understood as manifestations of collective unconscious processes. In our experience we are struck by evidence of recurring patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving that are evident in the behavior of organizations, but often outside the awareness of those inside the organization.

High energy and challenge – hallmarks of the Ares organization

We would be wrong to over-simplify the god Ares with the pathology of warfare. The positive side of Ares must not be overlooked. Ares is the god of energy, of vehemence, of conflict, of activism, of challenge, of fire in the belly and fire in the eyes. He may be emotionally immature and inclined to act without thinking. When he gets too carried away he can be enormously destructive. Yet we cannot live a human life without him. We must honor him as we do the other gods. Without him we have no passion.

Some organizations are completely dominated by Ares. They operate within a macho ideology in which conflict is relished for its own sake, any sign of subtlety or sensitivity is viewed with suspicion or contempt and relationships are entirely competitive. People enjoy kicking each other around the office. The ‘manly’ virtues of toughness and courage are extolled; any sort of softness is despised. The organization’s heroes are those who crash through obstacles rather than negotiate their way around them.

Many people cannot tolerate the Ares culture, but the Ares energy has much to recommend it.

The Ares organization is full of challenge and excitement. Conflict is not suppressed or avoided but is welcomed and even enjoyed. Arguments are valued. Management and staff revel in each other’s energy. The organization acknowledges people’s need to resist, to assert their right not to be pushed around, and if they want something they know that they can fight for it. They know also that they don’t have to concern themselves about offending sensitive personalities, because people who can’t take the heat don’t stay around. Intellectual subtleties may be neglected, and the delight in fighting for fighting’s sake may lead to some unfortunate decisions, but there is real engagement in what is going on. Ares is often mistaken, but never boring. He does not care too much what is done, as long as it is done energetically.

Ares has little interest in the future and little ability to plan for it. Like Aphrodite, he is focused on immediate experience. He may get so engaged in the fight that he forgets what the fight is about. The Ares organization may experience a lot of excitement and expend a lot of energy yet produce very little. At his best Ares is a mover and energizer who makes things happen. At his worst he is a bully and blusterer for whom the obvious solution to any problem is the random application of violence. The Ares organization may manifest the best and worst of him together.

The Ares organization often has the atmosphere of the men’s locker room, and Ares often dominates the culture of sports clubs. Military organizations will have an Ares culture, as will any organization dedicated to activism – political, environmental or social. Sales and marketing are areas where Ares energy may be prominent, for this god reveals himself in the ethos of competition. Women are not necessarily excluded from Ares organizations and many women enjoy working in an Ares culture. Like the Demeter culture Ares culture is affective. There is no shame in expressing emotions, but the emotions expressed are very different from those of Demeter or Eros. It is also diffuse; there is not much concern to distinguish task from task, role from role, work from play, thinking from feeling or public space from private space. All seem to be blended in passionate action. The Ares energy in an organization is oriented towards immediate experience. If the organization does have a long-term orientation, it gets it from one of the other gods, probably Zeus or Prometheus.

Ares in the crisis of growth

It has been said that a crisis is thought of as a situation that has within it both great danger and great potential.

A number of client organizations come to mind as exemplifying the Ares archetype and living through periods of both great potential and great risk. They have some common characteristics …. each company started off as a private venture among a group of individuals. In every case, one of these had many of the characteristics of the god Hermes  – the entrepreneurial spirit, the deal making spirit, and immense flexibility. This person’s vision and flexibility combined with the group’s Ares energy meant the venture was very successful. Each crisis was met with positive, aggressive energy, cunning and ingenuity. Each company flourished and in due course was listed on the relevant stock exchange.

The Hermes vision of growth, wealth and success combined with the energy, challenge, strong aggressive thrust into new markets, processes and products would surely be theirs.

But alas this aspiration is not as easy to achieve as simply listing the company. There are many complex and dangerous waters to navigate before the company reaches smooth sailing.

Along with such listings come obligations, processes, regulations and structures such as boards, governance and compliance – things quite alien to the spirit of Ares.

Let us be clear, the success of these startup ventures was due largely to Ares’ energy and Hermes’ ingenuity. Upon listing, other gods need a seat at the table, e.g. Apollo for order and organization, Prometheus for systems and processes, Zeus to bring direction and strength, Eros to connect people together in collaborative effort, Demeter  to protect employees and make the environment safe. Healthy, viable and complex companies need the positive energies of many gods at the table to grow and prosper.

This is often a difficult transition for the Ares dominated organization to work through. No longer can we be a band of brothers waging the good fight, scaling the heights, snatching life from the jaws of death, and slaying demons at every turn. The deep and strong culture, the vibrant energy of delivery, achievement and action, the almost unconscious embrace of the next crisis … these characteristics were so vital to the success of the four companies I have in mind, but also represent severe limitations to their growth and future success unless complemented by the energies, perspectives and contributions of other gods. How each company navigates these tensions will determine whether they really do achieve success and growth.

 

Tim Dalmau

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Leading and managing change: embracing the unthinkable and unforeseen

Leading and managing change: embracing the unthinkable and unforeseen

Tim Dalmau and Steve Zuieback will conduct a Masterclass in Adelaide for those in leadership who are asked to guide change or are adapting to changes. This change may range from the normal through the complex to the totally and previously unthinkable. It will be from  May 2 and 3, 2017 in Adelaide.

They will be conducting this Masterclass  for those who wish to be more effective in guiding and leading others to be part of a change. They may also be trying to understand the apparent increase in the scope, impact, rapidity and interconnectedness of all the changes sweeping the globe at the moment and their impact right down inside organizations. Read more…

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