Set Clear Ground Rules for Your Virtual Team


All workplaces need ground rules, but they’re particularly important for remote work.

When a team is spread out among branch offices, coffee shops, and hotel lobbies, people may have wildly different ideas about what’s expected of them.

Make clear what kind of latitude and independence team members can expect, what resources will be available to them, and how much team members will be expected to travel.

If people work in different time zones, it’s critical to set ground rules around working hours, too. Managers should think about these questions:

  • What times of day are team members expected to be available?

  • How will you schedule meetings to accommodate each person?

  • What should people do if they find their responsibilities require them to work overtime or outside their scheduled hours?.

Giving the team this kind of guidance up front will help them work more effectively.

Trevor Lee

tblee@ceo-worldwide.com

http://www.ceo-worldwide.com

@trevorblee

Create an Ad Hoc Leadership Circle to Generate New Ideas


leadership-circle

When leaders need innovative ideas to grow their company, they often turn to their direct reports for guidance. But this group, by design, represents the current operating units and functions, which often have a status quo to defend.

So when you need creative thinking, try forming a leadership circle, a diverse, ad hoc team of 15–18 people from throughout the company who can work together for about six months.

The circle should focus on the future, not the past, and healthy debate should be encouraged. Within the circle, each member should hold equal status and should not feel that he or she is being asked to represent the point of view of accounting, sales, shipping, or whatever their home department is.

Most important, whatever ideas come out of a leadership circle should be handled in the same way they were generated: They should be rigorously and systematically discussed, debated, and explored.

Adapted from “To Seize the Future, Create a Leadership Circle,” by Joseph Pistrui

leadership-circle

Trevor Lee

tblee@ceo-worldwide.com

http://www.ceo-worldwide.com

@trevorblee

Successful Business Transformation


9 implementation principles that will guide you toward a successful transformation:

The problems facing every company are different. They largely depend on history, culture, capabilities, and information technology. However, the importance of vision and communication cannot be overestimated.


Therefore …

A clear vision of the tasks ahead and good communication skills will enable you to navigate around the most difficult obstacles and prevent the organization sliding back into its old habits. The following principles will guide you toward a successful transformation:

  1. Think like a revolutionary

  2. Build an urgent case for change and convince the board

  3. Establish a ‘guiding coalition’

  4. Create a compelling and coherent vision for change

  5. Communicate the vision

  6. Enable and encourage people to change

  7. Look for quick wins

  8. Work around the resistors

  9. Consolidate the gains and maintain the momentum

Ed: These are principals that form the core of my friends at the Beyond Budgeting Institute – bbrt.org – and form the business model of such diverse companies as AstraZeneca, Arla, Danfoss, Handelsbanken, HILTI, Lego, MAERSK, Michelin, Sodexo, SKF, Timpson, Volvo and many more.

But getting back to point number 2,

because it is crucial to discuss how we sell the case for change to the people that matter.

Who are the key ‘influencers’ that you need to convince?

In most companies, the two primary persons to convince will be the CEO and CFO. However, it is of great importance to engage the whole organization. I will get back to that later.

While the case for change might appear to be compelling to you, it can seem too vague and “in the future” for others.

Hard-pressed managers need more organizational change like a hold-in-the-head. Therefore, the reasons must be compelling and the case well prepared and presented.


So how do we convince key influencers?

Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. What will it involve?

  2. What are the costs and benefits?

  3. Which parts of the business are affected?

  4. Is this the only option?

  5. What evidence do we have that it will work?

  6. What are the risks?

  7. How long will it take?

  8. How will we know if we have succeeded or failed?

Addressing them objectively will strengthen your credibility and increase your chances of success even though these questions are difficult to answer. 


Remember …

One common pitfall of implementation is believing that the total transformation of the model can be driven by finance (or any other one function) alone, and failing to engage other parts of organization such as Human Resources or members of the management team.

Author: Anders Olesen – Director, Beyond Budgeting Institute.  E-Mail: info@bbrt.org

transformation

Curated by Trevor Lee

tblee@ceo-worldwide.com

http://www.ceo-worldwide.com

@trevorblee

 

Experiential Discovery Learning


A guest post from Alan Matcham

Partner in Accelerance – Leadership for Business Performance

Bridging the knowing-doing gap

knowledge-2

Knowing is not the problem

Organisations are full of intellectually bright executives who have no trouble articulating a good game. Consequentially they produce an endless array of professional looking, well intentioned strategic plans, presentations, action lists, commitment statements and meeting minutes. The problem is that most, if not all, of these well intentioned initiatives fail to deliver on the majority of what they set out to achieve. This is known as; “The Knowing-Doing Gap.” The difference between what you know needs doing and what actually gets done.

Jeff Pfeffer the renowned Professor of Organisational Behaviour at Stanford Graduate School of Business and co-author of “The Knowing – Doing Gap” states it very clearly, “If you know by doing, there is no gap between what you know and what you do.”

Working with Executives over many years I have found there to be two constants in any effective learning or transformational experience. The first is the power of discovery and the second is the power of doing. Combined, these approaches have a significant impact in translating new insights into positive action. They are also inextricably linked because to discover you need to do and to do you need to discover.

This has huge implications for anyone involved in Executive Development. Designing interventions that make executives intellectually richer with more content, more concepts, more models, more theories and more plans runs the risk of fuelling the knowing-doing gap. On the other hand if you design interventions that are grounded in real business issues and learning by doing then the change that is sought will more likely be achieved.

Discovery & Doing

At its heart discovery is learning from the unorthodox and the unusual and appreciating there is learning in everything. It is about taking time to “walk in other worlds”, to get your hands dirty, to ask great questions, to let go, to see, to feel and to experience new, different and challenging perspectives and ways of doing things. In doing so the aim is to bring new and fresh insights to address an increasing array of highly complex and adaptive business challenges related to change, innovation, creativity, agility, collaboration and transformation

Organisations seeking to create a cadre of executives who will lead change, build a more innovative culture or transform their organisation in some fundamental way will not do so by seeking inspiration or insight from people in the same industry, with the same world view or with the same basic DNA. That approach inevitably leads to sameness not difference.

I go to a meeting with a group of managers who attended the programme. Met them earlier where they fired questions at me. Thought initially this programme was a bit weird.

What do visits to Salvation Army, eating in the dark with blind people and talking to researchers from Shell have to do with leading better in the bank? I was mistaken.

Entering and discovering a completely different world and to hear how motivated others are, how they take responsibility and innovate is an inspiration to think about your own role.

During the meeting today, I hear how participants take initiatives to break through their own ways of doing and realise concrete improvements. What triggers me most is that they do not talk about what others should do better, but what they themselves can do differently and better.”

Genuine quote

Chairman of a major European Bank – 2012

How and what to discover?

If you believe, as I do, that the ultimate aim of executive education is to help people think things through for themselves and their unique context then discovery should be at the core of any learning strategy. The role of the expert facilitator or programme director is to create the context within which discovery learning is optimised. This is achieved by encouraging a set of skills and behaviours which:

  • Develop curiosity

  • Develop the ability to ask great questions

  • Engage all the senses

  • Learn how to learn and find learning in everything.

  • Observe the world through different lenses

  • Experience and feel new or different emotions

  • Try new things through experimentation and testing

In my experience the most effective discovery experiences have tended to follow certain basic steps which are outlined below. Each step requires significant attention but perhaps none more than the actual execution of the experience itself. It is crucial that all participants play an active role and are fully engaged.

Over the years I have led many discovery experiences. Below are a few examples of what is possible and the learning that is available. All are based on genuine examples where the discovery experience has been tailored to specific learning objectives to help resolve specific business challenges.

The Discovery experience

The Learning

The Business Challenge or Issue

Junior school in rural China

Challenging the traditional system of learning

Culture change

Salvation Army in Holland

A cause worth serving, humility and compassion

Employee engagement.

Blind Community in Hong Kong

Overcoming adversity and working with all your senses

Collaboration, resilience and communication.

Creating and reciting poetry in Singapore

Everyone has capability and talent. Building leadership confidence

Effective communication and meaning making.

Playing Jazz and Blues in Chicago

Creativity and team work as well as fun

Interdependencies and team work. Joy in work.

Prisoner reform group in Holland

Changing deep seated behaviours and potential in everyone

Behavioural change and business transformation.

Monastery and meditation in Europe

How to reflect and be in the moment. Self awareness

Finding time to think and reflect rather than just do.

High end restaurant in Vietnam

Discipline, clarity of role, all one team and client insight.

Customer intimacy

Children’s charity for those out of mainstream education in UK

Engagement, trust, compassion and meaning

Personal and team transformation

In conclusion

Knowing is not enough and knowing more is not enough, the translation into doing is everything if meaningful change is to be achieved. Doing and knowing should not be mutually exclusive and the most effective executive programmes understand this and design in these critical attributes.

About the author:

Alan Matcham (alan.matcham@btinternet.com): Is an internationally experienced executive development programme director, facilitator and educator. A passion for making work fit for people and people fit for work. His expertise is focused on Leadership and Management transformation, working to release the untapped potential in all employees. He has a record of enabling public and private sector organisations rise to the complex challenges of the 21st century.

Curated by Trevor Lee

tblee@ceo-worldwide.com

http://www.ceo-worldwide.com

@trevorblee

Reward Your Team for Learning


Many jobs require people to continually develop new skills. As a manager, you should be less worried with what people know and more concerned about whether they’re able to learn.

But it’s not enough to hire curious, adaptable people; you also have to reward them for learning. When your employees have increased their knowledge and their value to the company, provide them with new and challenging opportunities.

  • Promote people only when they’ve acquired sufficient expertise in other jobs in the organization, not just their own. Or you could give awards for individuals who organize events or activities to promote learnability in the company (running internal conferences, bringing external speakers, or circulating information that nurtures people’s curiosity).

  • Reward simpler habits, too, like writing a blog, sharing articles on social media, or recommending books and movies.

Adapted from “It’s the Company’s Job to Help Employees Learn,” by Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic and Mara Swan

reward-3

Trevor Lee

tblee@ceo-worldwide.com

http://www.ceo-worldwide.com

@trevorblee

 

Knowing if Executive Education really works


A guest post co-authored by Alan Matcham and Tim Coburn who are partners at Accelerance.co. Developing leaders who drive business performance using advanced and engaging learning principles.

Introduction

The holy grail of most organisations offering executive education interventions is knowing and justifying if they really work. Reflecting on what traditionally happens this paper sets out to propose a more imaginative and relevant way of tracking the success (or not) of executive education interventions. We suggest the focus needs to be more on what is learnt not how people feel and more in tune with the means of design not just the ends.

A recent McKinsey report; “Why Leadership Development Programmes Fail”, highlighted the following research findings:

  • US companies spend almost $14 billion annually on leadership development.
  • Customised leadership development offerings from top business schools can reach $150,000 a person.
  • 500 executives ranked their top three human-capital priorities; leadership development was included as both a current and a future priority.
  • Only 7 percent of senior managers polled by a UK business school think that their companies develop global leaders effectively
  • Around 30 percent of US companies admit they lack enough leaders with the right capabilities.

Professor Jeff Pfeffer of Stanford University in his article; “Getting beyond the BS of leadership literature”, states the US spend could actually be as much as $50bn. He goes on to say that;”Leaders aren’t doing a good job for themselves or their workplaces, and things don’t seem to be improving.”

From this evidence, a conscientious Leadership Development professional may be perfectly entitled to conclude that investing in Leadership Development Programmes and interventions is an expensive waste of time and money with questionable returns.

The counter argument is that whilst the cost of Executive Education may appear high, the cost of Executive ignorance is significantly higher. That doesn’t however negate the need for the pursuit of more helpful, relevant and accurate measures of success.

In his article; “The Corporate Leadership Landscape”, Tim Coburn highlights the complex contextual environment today’s Executives have to operate in. There is no doubt they live in a world where the shelf life of knowledge is getting shorter and shorter and the need to learn continuously is a must, not a nice to have. If Executives are to remain valuable and valued resourceful humans, they need to focus on the complex not the repetitive, the unknown not the known, and increasingly on the future not today because “today” is being standardised, outsourced, automated and digitised.

From the evidence, a conscientious Leadership Development professional may be perfectly entitled to conclude that investing in Leadership Development Programmes and interventions is an expensive waste of time and money with questionable returns.

Whichever report you choose to read there is little doubt that Executive Development is crucially important. The growing dilemma facing all those responsible for Executive Development is how do we know if our investment will provide the value and returns we seek? The answer of course is that there is no simple answer! Having said that we would like to show that there are many surrogates which can help point the way and, when taken in the round, provide strong evidence for progress.

The Purpose of Executive Education

Given the challenges faced by the leaders of today’s companies, we believe the sole purpose of executive education should be to enable executives to learn and learn how to learn, and in doing so apply that to improving themselves and their organisations.

For individual leaders, the ability to learn has already been identified as the strongest factor in determining their potential to succeed. And for organisations, the ability to adapt and change has become so obviously critical to their survival.

The Traditional Approach

The most widely used method of measuring the effectiveness of Executive Education Programmes, is the classic “Happy Sheet”, or delegate feedback form. These are designed to gather feedback on the quality of content, speakers, learning experiences, the venue and administrative support. Using a combination of closed (rating scale) and open questions, delegates are asked to evaluate and report on their experience.

The fundamental design flaw and perhaps unintended consequence of this sort of measurement mechanism is that it invariably forces Executives to make one dimensional judgements of; good/bad, yes/no, like/don’t like and not make more valuable self-reflections on their own learning experience and feelings.

If the purpose of executive education is to create people with the ability to learn how to learn then reinforcing such a judgemental approach is damaging and counterproductive to that aim.

The evaluation of a delegates learning experience is crucial but in doing so, we should be asking questions with a known correlation to an improvement of thinking and behaviour in job performance, like some of those identified by ABDI’s research:

  • Were the personal and collective objectives achieved? (effectiveness)

  • Was the content relevant to your role? (relevance)

  • Do you have an implementable action plan to apply your new insights? (action plan)

  • Were you challenged and supported in relation to your individual and collective assumptions? (insights)

  • Would you recommend this programme to colleagues? (willingness to recommend)

As useful as these questions are however, we believe they only go part of the way in addressing the real purpose of executive education.

A Different Perspective

Given the emphasis on learning – as well as the emphasis on improving performance – knowing if Executive Education Programmes work becomes a function of both means and ends. By means we refer to the underpinning pedagogical and design principles and processes of any intervention. The way a programme is designed will dictate whether ‘learning to learn’ and ‘improving yourself and your organisation’ actually happens.

The design principles we believe in ensure we address the purpose of executive education as we see it. In doing so, they also provide an alternative set of measurement criteria that can be used for evaluating impact. These principles include:

  • The importance of working on real issues – identifying real business challenges allows teams to anchor their learning in “doing” and to produce outputs that may be adopted in the business. The goal is to apply new insights and learning in the creation and delivery of well structured projects with clear measures of success that will change the business.

Measure: The number and quality of projects worked on. Also did the programme help to address and resolve real business issues effectively with imaginative solutions based on new insights?

  • Co creation and the involvement of senior leaders/sponsors in the design and delivery – this facilitates a significant degree of ownership and intimacy with the programme and its delegates allowing line manager and sponsors to see change in behaviour and thinking over time.

Measure: Were senior leaders engaged and involved in shaping the programme? How were their needs and perspectives considered? How were senior leaders and sponsors supporting delegates before, during and after the intervention? What changes did sponsors see in delegates?

  • Live testing and experimentation – the translation of insight and ideas into action under experimental conditions is not only a way of understanding if new ideas will work but also another reference point for “ends” and the number of ideas generated, experiments undertaken and new ideas implemented.

Measure: Did the programme include live testing and experimentation? How many experiments, new ideas or new ways of working were tested as a result of the programme?

  • Emotional engagement and reflection – Effective learning is a function of the level of both intellectual as well as emotional engagement. Facilitating interventions such as learning sets allows the delegates to connect at both an intellectual and deeply emotional level. Peer to peer interaction identifies reference points of change from the moment the learning sets start to the moment they finish. Providing ample time for reflection also allows delegates to record their thoughts, feelings, impressions and emotions before a programme starts and again at the end. This can be captured using interview techniques or video recordings.

Measure: Did the programme allow the development of learning relationships that enabled the development of thoughts and feelings as part of the learning journey? Were qualitative observations captured before, during and after the intervention to assess “shift”?

  • Asking and enquiring, not telling – programmes designed to actively engage delegates in the learning process and not transmit knowledge have the opportunity to both see engagement in action and also measure levels of engagement throughout the intervention.

Measure: Did the programme encourage and enable inquiry-led learning driven by participant curiosity? How did that process work (for the delegates) and how did the quality of questioning change individually and collectively over the life of the intervention and beyond? How did the proportion of time shift over the life of the intervention from “transmit” to “converse”?

  • Creating “thirsty learners” – programmes that help delegates learn how to learn have a greater probability of getting feedback from line managers and colleagues in both a formal or informal context. Delegates who are comfortable actively seeking feedback as part of a learning process receive more insight in regard to their own performance.

Measure: Did the programme enable the improvement of your ability to learn that you will be able to transfer and apply in your job? What was the level of active feedback seeking during and post the intervention?

  • Moving away from your comfort zone – delegates invariably learn more from what is unusual or unorthodox to them compared to staying with the familiar. This can be both an extremely rewarding but also very uncomfortable experience (hence the view we hold of avoiding questions which reference a good/bad experience). Learning through discovery and exploring new perspectives is one of the most powerful ways of helping leaders reframe their views.

Measure: identifying the specific insights that came from any discovery experience. How many new insights were generated? How relevant might they be to helping move forward your personal and business challenges?

In Conclusion

The list of design principles referenced is by no means exhaustive and is only a sample of those we use to construct and deliver our work. When executive education is designed with principles like these, traditional “happy sheet” questions become less helpful when seeking to find out if a programme has achieved its real purpose. Given the importance of Executive Development to the future of every business it’s important we move away from simplistic and often misleading measurement methods and adopt a more holistic view of what can be measured based on more enlightened design principles and practices.

education-4

 

About the authors: 

Alan Matcham – Alan’s passion is to make work fit for people and people fit for work. His experience is focused on Leadership and Management transformation and working to release the untapped potential in all employees.

Tim Coburn – Tim has a special interest in the learning process particularly the way leaders use language, conversation and stories to engage and motivate teams to improve corporate performance. His career has included global culture change roles with the BBC, Motorola, Rolls-Royce and Serco PLC.

Curated by Trevor Lee

International Resourcing Director

tblee@ceo-worldwide.com

http://www.ceo-worldwide.com

@trevorblee

Good Listeners Ask Good Questions


 

Some people equate good listening with sitting silently, nodding, making eye contact, and, when the speaker is done, paraphrasing what you heard.

But these things are only part of what makes someone feel that you heard them.

The best listeners go deeper by trying to understand the substance of what the other person is saying. Doing this requires that you ask questions to clarify your understanding and push the other person to better articulate their position, examine any assumptions they’re making, and see the issues in new light. You should also try to empathize with and validate any emotions the speaker is conveying.

Once you’ve made sure the person feels supported, you can offer some thoughts and ideas about the topic that could be useful to the other person.

Just be careful not to high-jack the conversation so that you or your agenda becomes the subject of the discussion.

Adapted from “What Great Listeners Actually Do,” by Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman

Trevor Lee

tblee@ceo-worldwide.com

http://www.ceo-worldwide.com

@trevorblee