Bright spots in constant change

Not in the mood

…those 3 easy to remember, user friendly bright spots in the complexity of constant change:

1) Find out what works and do more of that
2) Stop doing what does not work ànd do something instead
3) Don’t fix what is not broken

A concrete application of the above is when you are open to ask for feedback or when you wish to coach yourself:

1) What can I do more of? What else could I do more often?
2) What should I stop doing and do instead?
3) What does not need to be changed? What else?


Inspired by a very fruitful day with international postdocs.

‘Vanaf het balkon, een korte afsluiting van de dag’

Volgt: feedback van een professor, deelnemer aan een leiderschapsprogramma.

Ik wil beginnen op talig niveau, omdat taal mijn vak is. Vandaag en gisteren ben ik me steeds bewuster geworden van de werkzaamheid van het daadwerkelijk benoemen van processen. Het talig maken. 

Via de handjes hebben we feedback leren geven, ik zie ze voor me: de rode hand als stopbord, de blauwe die aangeeft dat je mag doorrijden. In de toekomst voor blauw gaan. 

Peter gaf ons een beeld voor het doorwerken van processen. Zoals steentjes in het water die na ketsen. Meestal deden jongens dat. 

Ik leerde dat soft skills hard skills zijn. Ik leerde het woord ecosysteem te gebruiken voor mijn eigen werkomgeving. Door het woord ecosysteem bezie ik die omgeving anders, rijker. Ik leerde dat leiderschap te maken heeft met aannames (en die heb ik zelf heel veel). Ik leerde uit Nederland komend, waar ik nooit assertief genoeg was, dat assertief gedrag paradoxaal genoeg helend kan zijn, tegennatuurlijk handelen is dat ook en niet oog om oog tand om tand. (Want dan heeft straks niemand meer een oog over, zei Peter). Ik leerde te vragen: wat denk jij? 

Ik vind het heerlijk aapjes terug te zetten op de schouders waar ze horen en hoewel ik dol ben op dierentuinen is het raadzaam geen menagerie op mijn schouders te onderhouden. Ik leerde dat je kunt bekijken welk motortje aan het draaien is.  

Ik zag in dat ik bij eerdere problemen die ik in mijn carrière ben tegengekomen, met wat ik nu weet, anders zou hebben gehandeld. 

Ik genoot van het samen bouwen aan een hijskraan/toren, van het teamwork en voelde me weer kind. En daardoor realiseer ik me ook hoeveel dit soort trainingen steunen op inzichten uit de psychotherapie. We zijn allemaal mensen. Met onze kwetsbaarheden, verwachtingen, angsten en ja, we hebben een verleden en een onbewuste, dat ons soms parten speelt en soms juist inzichten geeft en vergezichten biedt. 

Nog een paar woorden:  klaagspier, marshmellowmanager, wish hand, balcony scene. Het moment dat je een stap naar boven zet, het metaniveau bereikt om zo tot een oplossing te komen. De balkonscène, niet voor een koningspaar, noch voor Romeo en Julia, maar om vanaf een hoger niveau naar interactie te kijken. Ik heb een gloednieuwe gereedschapskist, want ik heb woorden en beelden. En juist de ketsende stenen en het balkon maken alles aanschouwelijk.  

Ik vond de groep erg tof, wat een coöperatieve, slimme en aardige mensen. En tot slot, Peter, onze coach: dansend, geestig, zeer bevlogen en uitstekend van de tongriem gesneden. Je hebt zeer veel gegeven, dank je wel.

Everything you want

   

How people can perform better

1) Define clear and specific goals

Every day have 3 day goals

Have 3 medium-term goals
Have 3 long-term goals
Have 3 life-term goals
=> This forces you to prioritise instead of doing everything at once.

2) Avoid screen-sucking: e-mail = dopamine?

‘I just go check my e-mail’, and one hour later you find yourself still interacting with the screen.

=> Set a determined time to check mails, otherwise it’s like a jar of M&M’s that you can’t resist reaching for.
=> Every hour people spend about 20 minutes of dealing with unwanted interruptions. Do you want to be one of them?

3) Set your default response to: ‘Let me get back to you on that’

Most of us tend to be very generous too quickly. The next thing we know, we get overcommitted. We say ‘yes’ to too many things.

Maybe better at times: ‘I don’t have time to do your excellent project justice.’
=> Get yourself a first class ticket to the ‘no’ => cfr. the positive ‘no’ by William Ury from the Harvard Negotiation Project.

4) Never worry alone, get the facts, make a plan


=> Or: celebrate even the smallest successes or the tiniest progress. ‘Catch’ each other doing things better and better…! Be ‘progress detectives’ to each other. 
 
If something didn’t work out how you wanted, what will you be doing instead in the future? Have ungoing discussions about this. 

5) Cultivate lillies & get rid of leeches

Lillies: people and projects that are worth it. In order to have time for your lillies, you need to get rid of your leeches. The 2 main reasons why people can not get rid of their leeches are guilt and inertia.

Let someone else become a lilly for your leeches.
 

A caveat: too many lillies can become a leech! What and who do you give your priorities to? See nr 1….
 

Source: http://bit.ly/1fXTMa4 

What’s the first strategy you want to work on? What inspiration has this given you? What will you start doing – doing more of – avoid doing?

Stretching goals

The Strategic Plan is Dead. Long Live Strategy.

In today’s fast-changing world, why freeze your strategic thinking in a five-year plan?

Take a moment and read these two words: strategic plan. Now close your eyes and picture one. If what comes up is a thick binder, gathering dust on a shelf next to other thick binders from five and ten years past, you’re not alone. We believe that a better understanding of the history of strategy and what caused the demise of binder-bound strategic planning can point the way to re-inventing strategy for the world we live in today. It is important to remember that strategy’s roots are military. Military strategy focuses on setting objectives, collecting intelligence, and then using that intelligence to make informed decisions about how to achieve your objectives—take that hill, cut this supply line.

Historically, the battlefield was a place where you could count on a few constants:

  • The past was a good predictor of the future. There were years or decades between meaningful shifts in the basic variables, such as the power of a soldier’s weapons or the range of aircraft.
  • Good data was scarce and hard to come by. Scouts and spies had to risk their lives to find and relay information, and had to be ever on the lookout for enemy deception.
  • Lines of communication were unreliable at best. Small numbers of clear directives were a tactical imperative.

Not surprisingly, after a couple of millennia, military strategy became well adapted to these constraints.

After World War II, when military strategy came into the business world as strategic planning, so did these constraints. As a result, strategic planners focused on predicting the future based on historic trend lines; invested heavily in gathering all available data; and produced a small number of directives issued from the top, for the rest of the organization to execute.

This approach to strategic planning was a reasonably good fit for much of the business world from the fifties through the eighties. But with the rise of high-tech tools and increased globalization in the nineties, the world began to change, and now it looks quite different indeed. The future is no longer reasonably predictable based on the past—in fact, it is liable to be startlingly different. Good data is easy to access and cheap to acquire. Communication is rapid, indiscriminate, and constant.

The world has become a more turbulent place, where anyone with a new idea can put it into action before you can say ‘startup’ and launch widespread movements with a single Tweet. This has left organizational leaders with a real problem, since the trusted, traditional approach to strategic planning is based on assumptions that no longer hold. The static strategic plan is dead.

This has led to increasingly polarized attitudes about the value of having a strategy at all. Some leaders are valiantly trying to save strategic planning by urging us to focus even more on rigorous data analysis. Others deny the value of strategy, arguing that organizations need agility above all else (an attitude that famed strategist Roger Martin reports hearing with increasing frequency).

We think that what is necessary today is a strategy that breaks free of static plans to be adaptive and directive, that emphasizes learning and control, and that reclaims the value of strategic thinking for the world that now surrounds us. Martin acknowledged this point at the Skoll World Forum in 2010 when he said: ‘Every model is wrong and every strategy is wrong. Strategy in a way helps you learn what is ‘righter’. People think you can prove a strategy in advance. You can’t.’

The approach we developed in working with our clients at Monitor Institute is what we call adaptive strategy. We create a roadmap of the terrain that lies before an organization and develop a set of navigational tools, realizing that there will be many different options for reaching the destination. If necessary, the destination itself may shift based on what we learn along the way.

Creating strategies that are truly adaptive requires that we give up on many long-held assumptions. As the complexity of our physical and social systems make the world more unpredictable, we have to abandon our focus on predictions and shift into rapid prototyping and experimentation so that we learn quickly about what actually works. With data now ubiquitous, we have to give up our claim to expertise in data collection and move into pattern recognition so that we know what data is worth our attention. We also know that simple directives from the top are frequently neither necessary nor helpful. We instead find ways to delegate authority, get information directly from the front lines, and make decisions based on a real-time understanding of what’s happening on the ground. Instead of the old approach of ‘making a plan and sticking to it,’ which led to centralized strategic planning around fixed time horizons, we believe in ‘setting a direction and testing to it,’  treating the whole organization as a team that is experimenting its way to success.

This approach wouldn’t surprise anyone in the world of current military strategy. Recent generations of military thinkers have long since moved beyond the traditional approach, most notably famed fighter pilot John Boyd. He saw strategy as a continuous mental loop that ran from observe to orient to decide and finally to act, returning immediately to further observation. By adopting his mindset (with a particular emphasis on the two O’s, given our turbulent context), we can get much better at making strategy a self-correcting series of intentional experiments.

To provide structure to this fluid approach, we focus on answering a series of four interrelated questions about the organization’s strategic direction: what vision you want to pursue, how you will make a difference, how you will succeed, and what capabilities it will take to get there.

The skills and mindset for today’s strategic planning will come from continuously asking ourselves these questions about our organizations, programs, and initiatives. Once we accept Dwight D. Eisenhower’s sage advice that ‘Plans are useless, but planning is everything,’ we will be ready to adapt to whatever curveballs the twenty-first century sees fit to throw.

Source: Dana O’Donovan and Noah Rimland Flower, Stanford SOCIAL INNOVATION Review