Posts Tagged ‘Organizational Development’

Business Transformation: Key “hard factors” that influence success!

Jun 21, 2016

I wrote in a previous post about why many change management initiative fail and made some suggestions as to what to do to swing the balance in favor of success.

If according to research, many transformation initiatives fail, operationally and from experience, I know that many do indeed succeed!

Reflecting on all the good practices I witnessed over the years at different organizations that contributed to transformation success, I started thinking about how to summarize all those best practices in a short post and in doing so, I came across an article first published in the HBR in 2005 on the subject and entitled « The Hard Side of Change Management » by Harold Sirkin, Perry Keenan and Alan Jackson (see HBR The Hard Side of Change Management).

In this article, the authors highlight some key « hard factors » that must be taken into account if change is to be managed successfully and I thought it useful to review the authors ideas here as a pragmatic way of summarizing many of the good practices I have used or come across in the past and that have helped me achieve success in the transformation projects I managed or was associated with in recent years.

Indeed, in their article, Sirkin et al. focus only on the “hard factors” contributing to change management success because in their opinion, if “Soft” issues are important for success, managing these aspects alone isn’t sufficient to implement transformation projects. For them, “Soft” factors don’t directly influence the outcomes of many change programs”.

The Best Way To Predict The Future Is To Create It sign on desert roadFor Sirkin et al, we should focus first on the “hard factors” because as they say, “if companies don’t pay attention to the “hard issues” first, transformation programs will break down before the soft elements come into play”. Whether you agree our not, it seems to me obvious that it is indeed critical to be alert to the importance of these hard factors as a “sine qua non” for leading change successfully.

Hard factors have three distinct characteristics:

  • First, companies are able to measure them in direct or indirect ways.
  • Second, companies can easily communicate their importance, both within and outside organizations.
  • Third, businesses are capable of influencing those elements quickly.

On the basis of research they performed on a panel of 225 companies, the authors established a consistent correlation between the outcomes of change programs and four specific hard factors:

  1. Duration
  2. Integrity
  3. Commitment
  4. Effort

They called these variables the DICE variables as they “could load them in favor of project success”.

The way organizations combine these four factors creates a continuum – from projects that are set up to succeed to those that are set up to fail. Let’s look at those four factors briefly and the different success drivers that these four factors generate if organizations focus sufficiently on them before project launch.


We are all anxious for projects that take too long to implement and we have all felt the pressure placed on trying to complete projects rapidly, the assumption being that the longer the project goes on, the more likely it is to fail.

Lots of reasons are given: possible loss of momentum, the window of opportunity may close, objectives may be forgotten, key supporters may leave, problems may accumulate. These indeed are very real risks and very good reasons for moving fast.

However, according to the authors’ research, a long project reviewed frequently is more likely to succeed than a short project that isn’t reviewed frequently and it really is the case of “Hurrying slowly”!

What is critical for project success indeed is not project life span but in fact the time between reviews!

What does this mean in terms of actionable success drivers?

D1: Companies must set formal project milestones reviews with clearly definedDemingkreis deliverables for each milestone and the project cannot move on to the next milestone if all the deliverables for that milestone have not been met.

If this is the case, the project team must work with the project sponsor to understand why, take the necessary corrective actions and learn from the experience to prevent problems from recurring later on.

D2: These milestone reviews must be formal meetings and the project team must provide in advance to the project review team (that includes the sponsor) a concise report of its progress and evidence that the deliverables have been met. Reviews should happen at least every 8 weeks and even more frequently for critical projects.

D3: Sponsors and project teams must have authority to address any issues blocking progress and must be empowered to take corrective actions, add extra or different resources or suggest a new direction.

So at least 3 key drivers that act on project duration in a positive way.


By performance integrity is meant the extent to which companies can rely on teams of managers, supervisors and staff to execute change projects successfully. Execution of course is key.

Change management projects are particularly complex and challenging and of course require highly skilled project leaders and team members capable of executing the plan.

Often, companies either don’t have enough “star performers” or senior managers don’t want to sacrifice their “stars” to change projects because they fear regular work will suffer. But success depends on allocating the best talent to the project and companies have to convince senior managers to free up their stars. So what can we do?

D4: Companies must accept to free up their “stars” while making sure that day-to-day operations don’t falter.

D5: Change initiatives need to be well led. Managing change means dealing with a wide range of activities, resources, pressures, unforeseen events and ensuring team cohesion

Initiative Definition Button Showing Leadership Resourcefulness And Action

and meeting deadlines. This means choosing carefully not only a “star performer” but that “star” must have the right project management skills.

Senior management must therefore choose carefully the project leader and the key members of the project team and a precondition for successful selection is defining in advance and publishing the criteria by which candidates will be evaluated.

Good project leaders should have the following skills:

  • Excellent problem solving skills
  • Results focused
  • Methodical while tolerating ambiguity
  • Possess organizational savvy
  • Accept accountability for decisions
  • Be highly motivated and self starting
  • Possess humility and not crave the limelight

D6: The project sponsor should take personal responsibility for selecting candidates based on these criteria and the senior executive team should agree the candidate selected. Senior managers demonstrate their commitment to the project by involving themselves directly in the recruitment of the project manager and team members.

I have often seen CEOs and senior executives become very involved in the recruitment process and each time, it has had a strong impact on project success.

Do What Is Right Not What Is Easy card with sky backgroundD7: Project leaders and key team members should have a clear mandate and this should be defined in a project mission statement and their objectives of course should be included in the annual appraisal process. Roles and responsibilities should be clear, expectations and deliverables should be clear and shared within the organization as quite often, the project will cut across organizational and functional responsibilities and therefore potential for conflict and resistance to change.

D8: Of course, it is not enough to recruit and appoint your project team. Companies must reward and recognize project leaders and teams when the project is successfully completed and ensure that the success feeds into the career management process of all concerned so that taking on the role of project leader is seen as a stepping stone to success and encourages “star performers” to see the role as one that will further their careers and not as a burden.

So at least 5 actionable drivers that impact positively on Performance Integrity and on project execution.


For Sirkin et al., companies need to obtain the commitment of two different groups of people if they want their change projects to take root:

  • the most influential executives (not necessarily the top titles)
  • The grass roots: people who must deal with the new systems, processes or ways of working.

D9: Concerning influential executives, senior managers must be seen to “walk the talk” and even when the senior managers feel they are doing so, quite often, this is not perceived so by the grass roots. So senior managers must communicate again, again and again and do three times as much as they would think is necessary.

Of course, senior managers must not only support the project but they must constantly explain the “Why” of the proposed change. There can be very many good reasons why senior managers don’t want to do this but it is always vital to communicate clearly on the reason for change and what it means for employees. So Communicate the “Why” constantly and it is always better to communicate too much than not enough.

Having said that, problems are often caused by inconsistent or confusing or contradictory messages coming from management and especially in tense situations, employees perceive these confusing messages as indicative of something hidden.

D10: So a lot of effort must be dedicated to preparing and sharing the communication with

Change Management Strategy

top and middle managers so that management from top to bottom can speak with one voice and align their messages so that one consistent message is delivered throughout the organization.

The authors stress that companies often underestimate the importance of middle managers and staff in driving change and often postpone communicating with them until very late. Delaying communication can create confusion and even alienate staff and so it is always vital to communicate early and involve middle managers and key staff.

D11: Companies should seek the support of middle managers and key staff by communicating early to them on the “Why” of the change and ensure the same message is understood and shared by all.

Finally, organizations often underestimate their ability to build staff support. Reaching out to staff can in fact turn them into change champions.

D12: Don’t hesitate to reach out to key staff early in the project if you want to offer them the chance to become change champions. Quite often, even if the change requires sacrifices and even los of jobs, staff can react positively if the changes are presented clearly and they are given a chance to voice their concerns.

So at least 4 key drivers that impact on the Commitment of middle managers and staff in a positive way.


One important aspect too frequently neglected by organizations is that staff are already busy with their day to day tasks and if they are have to deal not only with their daily work but also with changes to systems or processes or tools, they will quite often not be able to cope and resistance to change ensues.

So an important effort must be made by project teams to calculate the extra work beyond existing responsibilities to introduce the change. The authors offer a figure of 10% as being an acceptable limit but of course this is only a guideline.

D13: Project leadership must be conscious of the impact of the extra work on staff, calculate the extra workload and limit the extra work to no more than10%.

Time management diagram

However, for employees already fully-loaded, companies must decide whether to take away some of the regular work from key employees participating in the transformation project or rid them of the discretionary or non-essential tasks. 

D14: Senior management should ensure key employees can offload unnecessary or non-essential tasks. This can be done by outsourcing non-essential tasks, bringing in interims or even postponing or cancelling such tasks.

In addition, companies can also review all the projects in the operating plan and assess which ones are critical for the transformation. This can mean delaying or rescheduling some projects to free up stars and key resources to focus on priority projects. If this happens, senior management should be mindful to explain clearly to the project teams impacted on the reasons for the change so that they remain committed and motivated.

D15: Senior management must be ready to look again at all the projects in the plan, reprioritize according to the critical impact of each project and reallocate key resources to the most critical projects if necessary.

So at least 3 actionable drivers that impact positively employee work load.

The authors go on to outline how they created a scoring system based on these 4 factors and that allows managers to predict the chances of project success.

This scoring system allows managers to categorize projects into one of three categories:

  • Win (the project statistically seem likely to succeed)
  • Worry (the project’s outcome is hard to predict)
  • Woe (the project outcome is totally unpredictable or fated for mediocrity or failure.

We won’t discuss here the details of the DICE scoring system. However, the authors tell us that the DICE Framework and scoring system has been used by the Boston Consulting Group to predict the outcomes and guide the execution of more than 1000 projects worldwide and they indicate three key advantages that I think are important in building the foundations of change management success:

  • Track projects: A scoring framework (DICE or any other) provides executives with an early warning system of potential problems in a transformation project because it gets senior management to review each project according to these four criteria and evaluate how effectively it has “allocated people, senior management time and other resources” to each project. As soon as a project shows poor scores, senior management is obligated to intervene and take the necessary steps to put the project back on course. It seems to me vital to build in to the change management process such an early warning system because it is always better to prevent than to cure and it’s no good closing the stable door if the horse has already bolted!!
  • Manage portfolio of projects: large transformation programs can often contain many different projects and if the portfolio of projects is not managed well, these tasks can end up competing for attention and resources. By deploying the DICE framework (or a similar framework) from the outset, senior management can identify problem projects in the portfolio, focus execution expertise and senior management attention where it is most needed rather than allow certain projects capture all the resources. In other words, senior executives can set certain critical projects up for success and work on the less critical projects in the “Worry” zone progressively to get them into the “Win” zone. Indeed, as the authors point out, “when companies are trying to overhaul themselves, they shouldn’t have all their projects in the Win zone. If they do, they are not ambitious enough and transformations should entail fundamental changes that stretch the organization.
  • Force Conversations: The authors point out that it is already difficult to get consensus from senior managers on what factors contribute most to ensuring transformation success and this applies even in an organization using the DICE Framework or some other similar way of predicting the outcomes of a transformation project. The real value of DICE is that it provides senior managers with a common framework to debate questions such as “Why do we see the project in different ways?” and “What can we agree to do to ensure the project will succeed?” Simply put, DICE provides senior managers with a common language and forces the right discussions to take place.

D16: So it seems to me important to define and implement a project portfolio scoring system (DICE or a similar system) that allows senior management to predict project success proactively as well as build a consensus through strong discussions on what actions are required to optimize the chances of those projects in the “Worry” or “Woe” zones.

These are some very practical and actionable items that lay the foundations for change management success because not only do they ensure the main building blocks are in place but also because they contribute to helping senior management and project transformation teams have the necessary discussions that help them predict success rather than simply focusing on what went wrong.

It could be said that these drivers don’t necessarily guarantee success. In my view, they may not guarantee success but success is certainly inhibited if they are not implemented at project launch.

In my view, it is clear that every transformation project needs to be founded on “hard factors” that include:

  • A strong senior management sponsor that communicates constantly on the reason and goals of the change project.
  • A competent, results focused project manager.
  • A competent, motivated and engaged team.
  • Reward and recognition for successful projects teams.
  • Middle managers and staff that understand the reasons for change and have the opportunity to participate in the decision making phase and not only in the execution phase.
  • A project schedule, milestones and defined deliverables at each milestone.
  • A formal review for each milestone by senior executives.
  • Project managers empowered to take corrective action when things go wrong.
  • A limit on the extra work expected of key players who have the possibility to offload or even postpone unnecessary tasks.
  • A “project success predictability” scoring system (DICE or other such system) that forces discussions amongst senior management on how to predict future success (rather than focusing on what went wrong) and on what actions to take to manage projects from “Woe” to “Worry” to “Win”.

And as JFK once said,“all of this doesn’t happen, it has to be made to happen”.

make it happen text write on paper

What do you think?

Driving higher engagement – 6 rules for Smart simplicity

Jan 26, 2014

“Things should be made as simple as possible, but not any simpler”. Albert Einstein

Why is productivity in some organizations so disappointing? Despite all the innovations in technology and all the investment in training and developing employees and managers to adapt to more and more complex organizations, why does it appear (and statistics would seem to bear this out) that a significant number of workers are disengaged from their jobs and feel unhappy at work?

In his insightful presentation, Yves Morieux gives his views on the main drivers of employee disengagement. More than that, he offers 6 simple rules for driving employee engagement and higher productivity.

For Morieux, traditional approaches on how to engage employees to be more productive have up to now focused on two main management pillars:

  • the “Hard” pillar which seeks to improve productivity by working on structures, processes, systems, statistics, KPIs,…
  • the “Soft” pillar which seeks to work on the interpersonal communication and personal relationships, the traits and personalities of the individuals in order to help them adapt their personalities to the constraints of the organization

Many companies spend large amounts of money on reengineering their structures, processes and systems in order try to drive higher productivity and engagement and/or on training their managers and employees to adapt to these new structures, processes, systems.

But for Morieux, these two pillars of management are obsolete and are even counterproductive. Why?

All organizations are becoming more and more complex and by trying to improve engagement using one or both of these two traditional management pillars (work the structure and train the people to adapt), they in fact only add on more complexity.  Rather, they add on layers of “complicatedness” to an already complex environment.

For example, in the car industry, a drive to reduce repair time led to the creation of a specific “repairability” requirement which in turn led to the creation of a specific “repairability” function, the role of which was to align design engineers to repairability objectives. This inevitably led to the creation of a specific “repairability process“, a “repairability scorecard” and “repairability KPIs “to measure engineering  alignment to process objectives. But when one considers that there were 25 other competing functions each with its own process, scorecard and KPIs, very quickly one realizes how complicated it was for the engineers concerned to comply meaningfully with so many competing constraints and requirements and for “Mr Reliability” to impact positively on the “repairability” issue in a meaningful way.

The inevitable result is that rather than improving productivity, such a traditional approach only complicates things by adding extra layers of administration, back office work and non added value tasks. Costs are higher for zero results.

The secret for Morieux lies in not drawing additional boxes with complicated reporting lines or adding on extra organizational layers. It lies, as he says, in understanding the “interplay“, the connections and cooperation required between functions to deliver the required result. In simple terms, what is key is how the parts “cooperate” or should “cooperate“. As Morieux points out, “every time people cooperate, they use less resources and not more“.

Conversely, when functions don’t cooperate, they always need “more time, more systems, more processes, more teams….which means higher costs. 

But who pays for this?

Not the shareholders. Not the customers. Individual employees must eventually pay by overcompensating for the lack of functional cooperation  through higher effort and this inevitably leads to burn out, stress, disenchantment and disengagement.

Faced with such productivity problems, the “Hard” management pillar seeks to add on extra boxes to the “organizational skeleton”. The “Soft” pillar believes that if functions  like one another and fit better together, this will solve the problem. But in fact, the result is often the opposite because to maintain the relationship, functions will seek to add on extra organizational layers expecting these extra layers to resolve the conflicts or deliver the tough trade offs required which they don’t want to address themselves  for fear of endangering relationships.

These two approaches are therefore obsolete in a complex organization because they only generate unnecessary complicatedness and Morieux offers instead 6 key rules for smart simplicity :

Rule 1: understand what people really do.

We need to go beyond the job descriptions and the organization charts and understand what others really do operationally so that we know how different functions depend on and interact with one another. The designer should understand the consequences of his design for the customer services team and for the repair teams before he commits a design and generates costs further down the line.

Rule 2: we need to reinforce the role and powers of the  integrators.

Integrators are not middle offices but managers who must  “have an interest in and be empowered to make others cooperate“. How do you empower managers? Firstly, by removing unnecessary organizational layers. When you have too many management layers, you have more and more managers who are  “too far removed from the action” and who need “KPIs and score cards” to see reality.  What they see is not reality but a proxy of reality. Secondly,  you also need to simplify the management rules because the bigger and more complex an organization becomes, the more you must give discretionary power to managers to solve their problems at their level. Quite often, we do the contrary and we end up by creating huge systems of rules which freezes initiative and drains local managers of responsibility. That doesn’t mean that there shouldn’t be rules but it is vital to ensure that the rule book is lean and that managers can act effectively and quickly.

Rule 3: Increase the quantity of power to everyone

If you want more employees to take initiatives and “engage” more with the organization, you must give more power to everyone so that they feel they can use their initiative and intelligence to good effect and that they have all the cards in their hands to make a difference. Only then will they be ready to take risks and really seek to cooperate meaningfully with others.

Rule 4: Create a shadow of the future

You must expose employees to the consequences of their actions by constantly creating feedback loops, thereby creating a shadow of the future.  This is what the car industry did when they told  design engineers that they would move to the after sales service three years on so that they would have to live with the consequences of their own designs. If you empower more people, you must also ensure that these empowered people get effective feedback on their actions so that they are constantly  adapting their behaviors to organizational expectations and can clearly link their actions and organizational results.

 Rule 5: Increase reciprocity

This means “removing the buffers that make functions self-sufficient”. There is too much dysfunctional self sufficiency in organizations, largely fed by increased organizational layers and sub layers. Remove these unnecessary layers and interfaces which interfere with meaningful cooperation and we will encourage greater productivity. Above all, seek to design your organization in a way that creates interdependencies between functions so that only cooperation can deliver the required result.

Rule 6: Reward those who cooperate, blame those who don’t cooperate

Rather than promoting a culture that blames failure, we should promote a culture that rewards cooperation and blames non-cooperation. Morieux cites the CEO of Lego who believes  that “blame is not for failure, blame is for not helping or not asking for help“. This indeed changes everything because it encourages us to be transparent and to cooperate.

These 6 rules have profound consequences for organizational design, for finance policies, for human resource management in complex organizations. Above all, if we implement these 6 simple rules, we will manage complexity without being paralyzed by complicatedness. We will create more value at lower cost. We will simultaneously improve performance and job satisfaction because we will have removed the root cause that hinders both : “complicatedness“. This is the real challenge facing all leaders of complex organizations.

Why do so many companies die prematurely? 4 key factors

Nov 29, 2009

In his book “The Living Company” first published in 1997, a former senior executive of Shell, Arie de Geus, asked one simple question: why do so many companies die prematurely? A key contributor to business strategy at Shell, de Geus was investigating how to diversify the activities of Shell, knowing that its core business, petroleum,  in the long term would disappear. When he investigated what other companies were doing to ensure their long term future, he was startled to discover that there were few companies of the size of Shell who had the same or a longer lifespan.

The figures presented by de Geus on the subject of company longevity are indeed depressing. The average life expectancy of a multinational company  is between 40 & 50 years. One third of companies listed in the 1970 Fortune 500 had vanished by 1983. Human beings at least in the developed world now enjoy a life expectancy of 75 years and more yet companies have a mortality rate which is much higher. Indeed, if large companies can somehow hope to survive at least 40 to 50 years, this figure falls dramtically if you consider all companies big and small. De Geus quotes a study performed in Holland where the life expectancy of all firms investigated was calculated as 12,5 years!

The current crisis with the failures of institutions such as Lehmann Brothers (initially founded in 1853!) and the virtual bankruptcy of General Motors  makes the question of company mortality rates all the more relevant today.

When you consider all the social misery that such high levels of corporate mortality bring, it seems important to try to understand why so many companies fail and why some seem to survive despite all the political, social and economic upheavals around them. So why do so many companies fail? For de Geus, the reason is that their managers focus on the economic aspects of producing goods and services and they forget that their organization’s true nature is that of a community of humans!

Some companies nevertheless indeed last hundreds of years and de Geus gives examples such as DuPont, Kodak, Sumitomo, Mitsui and Daimaru. In France, Saint-Gobain has been around since 1665! So if you want to understand what is the secret to corporate longevity, study those large companies which have the longest lifespan to see what secrets they share.

De Geus identified 40 companies who were as large as Shell and older. After much analysis, he identified 4 key factors shared by all companies with a long lifespan:

  1. Longlived companies were sensitive to their environments and constantly adapted to societal changes around them.
  2. Long-lived companies were cohesive with a strong sense of identity. No matter how diversified they were, their employees felt they were all part of one single entity. It would appear that strong employee links is essential to survival in times of change.
  3. Longlived companies were tolerant and did not try to dominate or impose a centralized control throughout the organization.
  4. Longlived companies were conservative in financing, were frugal and did not risk their capital gratuitously. They managed cashflow wisely to maintain flexibility and independence.

What does this mean for managers running businesses who are fighting to deliver short-term results while guaranteeing the future?

De Geus defines the 4 factors in the following ways:

  1. sensitivity to the environment represents a company’s ability to learn and adapt
  2. cohesion and identity concerns a company’s ability to build a community and a persona for itself
  3. tolerance means the ability of an organization to build constructive relationships with other entities within and outside itself.
  4. conservative financing means the ability to govern its own growth and evolution effectively.

These 4 basic components: leaning to adapt, building a community with a shared purpose, building constructive relationships and being able to govern one own’s growth form a set of organizing principles of managerial behaviour and represent the critical aspects of the work of any manager who wants his or her company to survive and thrive for the long term.

But these 4 components can only flourish if we operate a paradigm shift and change the way we think of a company. For de Geus, a company is a living entity and not just a machine built to deliver products and services or satisfy customer or shareholders.

Anyone who has worked in a business would not be surprised with such a view of an organization. Organizations need to learn, all have an identity, all seek to guarantee their coherence, all build relationships with other entities and all grow and develop until they eventually die.

Considering a company as a living entity has important implications for answering another key question: what are companies for? According to the dominant paradigm in business, a company’s purpose is to deliver products and services, to serve customers and deliver ROI to shareholders.

De Geus anwers this question in a far more provocative way. A company, like all living entities, exists for its own survival and improvement : to fulfill its potential and to become as great as it can be. Just like a human being who doesn’t exist solely for his/her job or his/her career but seeks to survive and thrive, to realize his/her potential.

Profit, return on investment are a means to an end but not the end in itself. The end in itself for a company is simply to grow and thrive.

The implications of defining a company’s purpose in this way for managers and management practice are fundamental and far-reaching. If we accept that the purpose of a company is simply to survive and thrive, then the priorities in managing such a company are very different to those set forth by the champions of the dominant paradigm which sees a company’s purpose only as to deliver short term results.

Those companies with the longest life span would seem to have understood that their real purpose was to survive and thrive in the long term and they consequently managed their businesses around that goal.  In the present crisis, with so many companies going to the wall, it would be well worth rediscovering the views of Arie de Geus and investigating more deeply how we can benefit from the lessons and management best practices of the tercentenarian companies who put the sense of community first.

For more information, read Arie de Geus,  “The living company, Growth, learning and longevity in business“,  1997

arie de geus on organizational change

Transform your managers into leaders if you want to transform your organization effectively

Oct 17, 2009

The current economic crisis has accelerated the need for companies to transform their organizations radically and urgently  and many organizations have embarked on significant transformation programs in order to become more flexible, leaner, more proactive, more cost effective, etc.

Quite often, organizations might be tempted to consider their workforce as the obstacles to successful transformation and frequently one hears or witnesses managers complaining how the workforce is not willing or able to transform itself to meet the challenges of moving to a new business model.

But what if the obstacle is not the workforce but the style of management which is the true blocker?

This is where understanding the difference between leadership and management is key to understanding what may be the true cause of any blockage to successful transformation.

When you set out the differences between management an leadership, you understand that to transform your organization, you have to move from a model centred on “managing” people to a model centred on “leading” people”. This is especially the case if your organization employs significant numbers of “knowledge workers” who have high expectations in terms of understanding the vision and goals of the organization, how they can contribute to these goals, what responsibility they have to drive these goals, how they can develop their skills and continue to learn to be able to meet the new challenges that a continuously changing environment.

This is not to say that leadership should replace management. Both go hand in hand. The manager’s job is to plan, organize and coordinate. The leader’s job is to inspire and motivate. However, it is important to understand the difference because this is a first necessary step in being able to adopt the most effective approach when leading transformational change. You can’t manage transformation, you must lead transformation.

Here are some other key differences between management and leadership:

  1. The manager administers; the leader innovates.
  2. The manager is a copy; the leader is an original
  3. The manager focuses on systems and structure; the leader focuses on people
  4. The manager relies on control; the leader inspires trust
  5. The manager has a short-term view, the leader has a long-range perspective
  6. The manager asks how and when; the leader asks what and why
  7. The manager has his or her eye on the bottom line; the leader’s eye is on the horizon
  8. The manager imitates; the leader originates
  9. The manager  accepts the status quo; the leader challenges it
  10. The manager is the classic good soldier; the leader is his own person
  11. the manager does things right; the leader does the right thing.

In the classical Taylorian world of work, there were many managers and few leaders and the difference between the two was easy to make. A team leader on the production line didn’t need to give too much time or thought to what he had to do or how he had to manage the people producing the parts on the production line. His job was to follow orders, organize the work, assign the right people to the tasks, coordinate the results and ensure the job done done. In other words, he focused on being efficient.

In our new, crisis-driven, knowledge based economy, where value creation depends on the knowledge people have and how they mobilize that knowledge, contributors are no longer simple cogs in a machine. In such  a world, management and leadership are not so easily separated. Individual contributors look to their managers not just to assign them a task but to give them a purpose. To get the best out of their people, managers must not only maximize efficiency but develop skills, talent and inspire results. Managers must not only seek to do things right but seek to do the right things right and this can only be achieved if knowledge workers are empowered, have a sense of ownership for their job and can contribute to decisions in an appropriate way.

As Peter Drucker explains so clearly in his book “The effective executive“, the advent of the knowledge worker means that you no longer “manage” people. Your job is to “lead” people. Your job is not to squeeze people like lemons until they can produce no more but to make them more productive and effective so that they continue to grow in their jobs, learn new skills and knowledge and continuously adapt to their changing environment.

Transforming an organization is an enormous challenge because it means:

  • innovating and creating new ways of doing things and working together
  • building the road as you go and supporting people to follow you on the journey
  • trusting your people because trust generates commitment and loyalty
  • building a long term perspective, looking to the horizon and ensuring followers key their eye on the horizon
  • Being constantly able to explain what and why because meaning is key to motivation
  • Building from scratch which is always harder than doing things as they have always been done
  • Challenging the status quo and rocking the boat
  • Moving from requiring simple execution to inviting contribution and commitment
  • Delegating effectively because you can’t control everything, you can’t manage everything and you need others to take responsibility
  • Team work horizontally and vertically
  • Negotiating win-win
  • Less rules, more self-regulation
  • Lead by example and walk the talk
  • Taking risk and accepting failure
  • Developing a no-blame culture

You cannot achieve all of these by simply managing people and requiring them simply to execute. To get all of these, your management model has also to transform itself.

As Albert Einstein said, you can’t solve a problem using the logic that caused the problem in the first place and many of the problems blocking effective organizational change today such as poor commitment by employees, lack of skills, lack of responsibility, disengagement, organizational inertia, poor team work, etc. are caused by a failure to realize that the management model continues to be  “management-centric” when it should be “leadership-centric“.

To summarize, it may be  a platitude to say so but if you want to transform your organization, you must first transform your managers and help them move from “managing people” to “managing and leading” people and that if they will continue to manage, they must above all become leaders.

When you do this, you will have your transformation champions capable of leading transformation effectively in your organization.

Some leadership quotes

One World, One Team – Leading teams effectively in a global environment

Jan 11, 2009

Managing diversity: the real challenge
Hello all. This blog is dedicated to understanding how to lead teams more effectively in a global environment. Business is more and more global and many executives face the challenge of leading teams over different geographies and time zones with team members from different cultures, speaking different languages, with different mindsets, values and expectations. All of these differences can cause divergence if we let them do so. However, where there is a will, there is a way and with the right effort and energy, these differences can be transformed into drivers of convergence and this diversity can be valued for what it is: a source of wealth and increased skills, knowledge and know-how.

This diversity makes life very challenging and very interesting indeed. Project leaders need many different skills to be able to build the convergence necessary to achieve the desired results.

Our purpose is to explore the challenges of leading globally and define a framework to help all get the best out of their global teams. In our opinion, these challenges involve the following themes:

Change management which becomes more challenging when the change must be implemented in culturally diverse organisations
Talent Management: again, developing talent across geographically spread organisations brings particular challenges
Engagement: how can global leaders develop the engagement of culturally diverse teams with different mindsets?
Human Factors: what strategies need to be adopted to develop flexible leadership behaviiours which are inclusive of he human factors which impact on building a On Team culture
Leadership: what are the leadership skills which are required to manage in complex and ambiguous environments?
Creativity: how can leaders and employees develop their creativity to manage the complexity of working in fuzzy organisations?
Cultural diversity: how can leaders and team members transcend the challenges diversity brings to build inclusive teams positive to diversity?

Visitors can explore the right hand menu to discover more on ideas and best practices on these subjects.

Building relationships
In our view, global teams will only be effective if project leaders and team members create a common vision and purpose, agree on shared objectives and build together the trust in one another to get things done according to the agreed deadlines. This means building strong relationships amongst all project team members on the basis of the belief that all share one fundamental characteristic: the will to succeed together. This means all team members sharing the idea that all can contribute to success and that success will only be achieved through trust and respect.

So many things conspire against global teams: language, time, geography, culture,.. However, all the more reason to think of all the different ways of transcending these differences so that the reasons for succeeding far outweigh the reasons for failing.

We’re open to tips, suggestions, articles, lessons learned, best practices from all those who have worked in a global environment and who wish to share their knowledge and experience with fellow global journeymen.

Joseph Noone

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