Getting change right begins with getting scale right. Two examples. In organizations, solutions attempted at the level of the organization doesn't create meaningful and sustainable change at the level of teams. Global problems cannot be impacted in meaningful or sustainable ways by nations.
When we embark on any new project, the unknowns exceed the knowns. What changes through the pathway are the kinds of unknowns and knowns we have to work with. These are unknowns and knowns relative to resources, expectations, strategies, influences, costs, risks, consequences and potentials.
Because of the ubiquity of change multiplied by our capacity for learning, creativity and agility, the number of our unknowns can ebb and flow without direct correlation to our knowns.
No amount or specificity of commitments we make about outcomes and timelines has the power to prevent the natural emergence and evolution of unknowns in a project. That's why in our Agile Canvas process, due dates indicate how long we are committed to working on specific desired outcomes, not our guaranteed prediction of when something is actually possible. We can work to any date, but we are always working with the unknown-known ratio tipped in favor of unknowns.
Why the vast majority of projects worldwide fail to deliver on time, on target and on budget is because the process is based on assumptions rather than questions. Only a question-based process has the greatest chance to succeed.
Even the most superficial scan of industries over the past century is a narrative about industry transformations. These transformations weren't necessarily the domain of industry giants or geniuses. Some of the most significant came from industry newbies and outliers.
Perhaps the most salient factor for the most significant is that they didn't just want to improve their business. They dreamt of doing things that were industry changing. In so many examples, countless people benefited from this dream in countless ways.
Most of us don't get regular feedback. When we get feedback it is not always useful, particularly when completely critical, agenda driven or not representative. No feedback is the worst because it creates the void filled in by assumptions that can be more wrong than right.
This is why it's vital for teams to create tested agreements on the when, what, how and why of feedback. When we see how people use feedback, it better informs our own ability to share useful feedback.
In its most simple form, useful feedback is timely, accurate, confidence and commpassion building and actionable.
This is an important question, a question of many assumptions about the real value of degrees in team performance. Especially older degrees, and in industries where information, knowledge and innovations regularly churn. It's the question of the kinds of character strengths that don't come with degrees of any kind or level. It's the question of how we assess the whole person of candidates for positions and promotions.
Any organization that gets to the point where anyone questions the integrity of communications in any media is an organization just around the corner from complete implosion. In a question-based culture, reality, in the form of data and only impeccably true narratives, matters more than ever. Leaders and teams only succeed when communication currencies have transparent trustworthiness. Not even small violations are tolerated. Not even a hint of "fake" anything is acceptable.
Teams move at the speed of trust. Trust thrives on the impeccability of everyone's word. A leader's tenure ends at the point any leader makes undeliverable promises. Everything is at risk when assumptions can't be and aren't questioned. Creativity is at risk when dissent is alienated and punished. It is no coincidence that the best organizations are also those with highest integrity.
An organization is an abstraction. It is a concept symbolic of the network of teams that produce what we say "the organization" produces. Trying to change the abstraction of "the organization" fails because you can't change an abstraction. Actual change doesn't happen at the level of abstraction. It happens at the level of teams. Change happens one team at a time. It is team-specific.
That's why it works. The collective performance and loyalty of a network of teams gets to the next level because each of these networked teams get to their next higher levels of team performance and loyalty. In this context, change is always social, not bureaucratic. It comes from shared power and responsibility rather than a two-class system of power and responsibility haves and have-nots. People only support, align with and become inspired by the change they create together.
Many organizations are still defining engagement as how satisfied people are with how they feel treated by their boss. This is a complex issue, beginning with how professionally, personally and socially unprepared many people are for their promotions to leadership positions.
The real gold in opportunity space here is not a call for better bosses, but for better connected teams. Teams have far more opportunities and resources than even decent bosses to help people feel valued and engaged. Teams can learn more by sharing more together than they could from their bosses. Getting engagement right is getting the culture of team connections right.
Caring for each other at work means making it more possible for everyone to feel valued. When people feel valued, they show up wanting to be as valuable as possible.
The purpose of dreaming of what we want possible is inspiration. Dreams are not constrained as such to what we consider realistic necessarily. The best dreams are unreasonable. An unreasonable future inspires more than anything.
Sometimes leaders want personal attention to their learning questions. In ways workshops and webinars cannot, coaching makes the process specific to the leader's strengths, passions, learning questions and use contexts.
This personalized approach is optimal for learning focused on complex habits like facilitating cultur growth in teams, storytelling, managing feedback and mindfulness. The commitment of time past single events makes the growth of new habits more possible. The creative partnership between those in the process brings about transformation of presence and perspective.
The only job description anyone needs is exceptionally simple: Notice what needs to be done and do it. It's the intersection of mindfulness, initiative and collaboration. It becomes optimally possible in a decent social technology environment with tools such as Trello or Asana, Google Drive and Slack, or whatever the latest iterations of these functionalities,
The key to successful acquisitions, as many fail, is getting cultures to align. Strategic alignments are only as strong as culture alignments. Culture alignment doesn't happen with top down imperatives. It can't be commanded. It needs to be cultivated, one team at a time. The only culture that matters to performance and loyalty is team culture,
Creating connections at work is not a luxury. It's not a distraction from work. It's what makes work better because it's what makes people smarter together. This means having shared physical and virtual spaces for anytime sharing and working out loud.
We're mapping the current and potential connections among people on teams because the quality of their performance and loyalty equals the quality of their connections together. Among the factors we map are:
- How many dreams, priorties and strengths are shared
- How many agreements are shared
- How many learning questions and success stories and resources are shared
- How many decisions, plans and innovations are shared
- How many updates are shared
In social learning, people share: learning questions, answers, resources and support in a shared virtual environment. Learning becomes:
Learning relevance and retention is many times more possible when learning is based on people’s live learning questions in their work in contrast to expert-based learning pushed to them
Shared learning allows for new learning beyond designed courses, to include new use cases, contexts, challenges, changes and applications
When supported by virtual social technologies, anyone can access any posted learning and resources anywhere, anytime, not just when enrolled in formal courses
Social learning engages a broad range of internal expertise and resources to address emerging and shared learning questions
When learning is shared, people become more connected and aligned in their performance and growth
Ongoing learning beyond coursework supports the shift from skills to habits in core performance competencies
Teams are the fundamental units of success and growth in organizations. The two prime metrics of teams are team performance and loyalty. Performance is making progress. Loyalty is feeling valued.
To get to new levels of performance and loyalty, teams must learn how to connect in new ways. When people become better connected, they make more progress and feel more valued. Team performance and loyalty is the new P&L. When we pay attention to that, organizations thrive both in times of certainty and uncertainty.
The most important part of understanding markets is to not operate from assumptions. Markets are multi-dimensional, with people who prefer consistency and others who want innovation. Each has early and later adoptors. They are as influenced by factors outside our industry as within it. They shift and change over time and we do well when we are responsive and proactive in relation to them.
Leadership doesn't need to be restricted to superior positions. It can simply by a matter of being one who asks better questions in planning, problem solving and decision conversations. Better questions are often new questions, questions that opens new perspectives, questions that open consideration of new options and alternatives, questions that provoke new vistas of learning and new dreams.
Until teams use group text tools like Slack, email seems like a rational approach to communication, even as it is ideal to create fragmentation, isolation and non-transparency. When some people resist group text, it is logically because email prevents them from the rigors of transpanecy, inclusion, initiative and collaboration. We gave to teach people how to work with these qualities for it to work.