Change management, innovation, leadership

As you can imagine, I spend a fair amount of time keeping up with changes and challenges faced by industry and business in the fields of change management and innovation. So I’m constantly on the lookout for information and news that may impact behaviour and best practice across organisations.

Here’s a pick of what I’ve been attracted to this week:

Change Management

In particular, the C-suite are not successfully managing and communicating change, with less than a third (30 percent) of employees saying that changes are well-implemented at their organisation. The 2014 Towers Watson …

Click here for the latest news and events from Clearvision and our partners. As the software change management experts we’ll also share industry news.

… in the early (April–July) or late (August–November) dry season. This fact has driven the prevailing approach to fire management in northern Australia – that of extensive early dry season burning to pre-empt intense late dry season fires. … Although such a shift in fire season is thought to be good for biodiversity, including mammals, there may be more insidious changes that have taken place. For example, retired Kakadu ranger Greg Miles has suggested that a …

This year in the Fixes column, we’ve looked at 60 or so ways that people are trying to change the world. Some of these projects are successful, some partially successful, some are failing in ways we can learn from, and some …

Innovation News

Speaking at the Sustainable Innovation Forum, at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Lima, SABMiller Peru managing director Fernando Zavala stressed the increasing risks water scarcity poses to business and society, while also talking about the economic, social and environmental be… … and investing in water security in the region. Stay Up-to-Date On Environmental Management, Energy & Sustainability News with EL’s Free Daily Newsletter …

In the sixth and last of a series of articles focused on Innovation Culture, the focus is on a process called Market Intelligence (MI). … Verification of knowledge demands for strategic marketing decisions – Through a series of methodological approaches, as focus groups with managers and decision-makers, delphi sessions, specialist forums, etc. typical strategic marketing decisions are mapped and the main knowledge applied for its precise conclusion are evaluated.

Good Morning Innovation Pioneers from London,. The Internet has … Innovation will not longer be optional! … They will need to innovate before their businesses hit the top of the lifecycle. … Sign up for Innovation News blog.

Cisco’s $6 billion annual R&D expense, supported by over 25,000 engineers, has a proven track record of bringing innovation to our customers and partners around the world. …. News in recent years has focused on abuses of the patent system – against which we continue to fight hard — by those whose business model consists of buying weak patents, stretching the interpretation as far as possible, resisting reexamination of those patents and leveraging litigation …

Where My Words Have Travelled

publish around the place from time to time. Here’s the latest:

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are the subject of a lot debate in the blogosphere. Will they be a disruptive technology for universities? Will they take over the trainer’s job in corporate organizations?

From a higher education perspective, it’s easy to see the selling point for students

In 1987 Paul O’Neill became the CEO of Alcoa. Taking over the helm of a company usually means making grand statements about finances, about cutting costs, and change the investment priorities. But what O’Neill did at his first investor press conference was a little different.

To improve productivity in organizations you need only get leaders out in the field

The controversial Koch brothers wrote a book called the Science of Success (2007). I don’t recommend you read it as it’s one of those books that successful people write where they think they were successful because of these management techniques, whereas it’s more likely that because they were successful they could try out these management techniques (fads of the day?).

According to the ASTD’s 2013 State of the Industry Report, U.S. organizations spent $164.2 billion on employee learning and development in 2012. The report does a good job of categorizing and classifying expenditure. But what about ROI? How can managers structure training to ensure a positive ROI?

How often have you rolled out a new IT project that failed to deliver the desired benefits? Most projects fail to deliver benefits because of poor change management. Little to no attention is paid to the people side.

From the Vault

We all make mistakes. We are, after all, only human. But some mistakes are more common than others, and knowing those common mistakes and pitfalls can make a big difference.

Here I look at the five common mistakes salespeople make, explain why they’re so detrimental to the sales process, and discuss how to avoid and overcome them.

There are plenty of executives in today’s business world that become so wrapped up in the day-to-day economics of organisation management that they have an overly biased internal point of view. The executive is a forward thinker, with a strategy for the future, but the latest problems cause focus to divert.

Seven Traits That Make A Manager Stand Out As A Change Leader

Seven Traits That Make A Manager Stand Out As A Change Leader

In a world that is constantly changing, businesses need to continually adapt and change to keep pace. The corporate world is littered with examples of once-great companies that became complacent, lost focus, and ultimately failed (think Kodak, One.Tel, Kmart, and the entire British car manufacturing and shipbuilding industries in the 1970s). Change is (probably) the deciding factor between success and failure: it’s why the most successful people are those that continue to develop professionally throughout their career, adding new skills and capabilities to ensure they remain competitive in the jobs market.

Continual change is not a natural state, though. People prefer the status quo: it provides basis for reference and a ‘comfort zone’ in which to operate. Continual change as a concept, however, can and should provide its own basis of success. It is the job of change leaders to instil a philosophy of continual change within an organisation. But what makes good change leaders?

Having studied some of the best in the world ­– people like Lou Gerstner, Jack Welch, Denise Morrison, and Ian McLeod among them – there are seven distinct personality traits that have made them great change leaders. If you want to identify the change leaders within your organisation, finding those managers that exhibit these characteristics will provide a springboard to continuous change and long-term success.

1 Change leaders are emotionally stable

Nerves and anxiousness restrict ability to deal with existing circumstances and take advantage of future opportunities. Anxiety usually results in either a defensive, withdrawn approach, or a no-holds-barred attack reaction: flight or fight. Both are destructive in the continual change context, preventing effective change and damaging people nearby. The best change leaders work on an even emotional plain, receptive to opportunity and able to react constructively.

2 Change leaders are people of action

Change does not happen without action. Change leaders have energy, enthusiasm, and foresight. They are able to see the vision of the future and feel the rewards of progress.

3 Change leaders are confident

Continuous change does not happen without confidence in actions. Change, by its very nature, is risky: it involves walking into the unknown and coping with any number of as yet undiscovered issues and problems. Success cannot be achieved without belief that it will be achieved. This positivity rubs off on a change leader’s people: confidence breeds confidence.

4 Change leaders are open to ideas

A closed mind produces closed responses. A manager who is open to possibilities, willing to explore how something may work or work better, is one who is open to the possibility of change and not locked into routine. You’ll find the best change leaders are those willing to explore different perspectives and ideas, and creative in thought processes.

5 Change leaders are not risk-averse

Change leaders are willing to accept and take risks, but not without it being measured. They accept the risk of uncertainty, but will plan to mitigate risks as far as possible. They will measure success against risk when deciding to take action. They also understand that the greatest risk may be to do nothing.

6 Change leaders are able to prioritise

Change leaders will assess and prioritise issues and opportunities. They’ll prioritise labour and needs, as well as time and resource. They spot opportunity, take risk to profit from that opportunity, and mitigate risk partly by prioritising within the scope of the identified opportunity.

7 Change leaders are visionaries

Vision encompasses every one of the six traits above. Some might argue that as such it is not a trait in itself. I disagree: vision to see opportunity of a situation and of people is a way of thinking, and as such I include as a personality trait.

Pack your organisation with great change leaders

Benefitting from continual change requires an organisation to ‘give itself’ to its change leaders. These leaders will promote change from within, enthusing your people to see opportunity and grasp it with both hands. They will make sure your organisation moves forward and doesn’t stop moving forward not only by envisioning the future themselves, but also by creating visionaries within their teams.

Here are five things you can do to ensure your organisation is one of continual change and not at a complacent standstill:

  • Hire people who exhibit emotional stability and remain calm under pressure.
  • Hire energetic people, who are enthusiastic about future opportunity.
  • Hire people who will take risks, but will accept the responsibility of measuring those risks first.
  • Hire people who have a diverse range of skills and interests.
  • Provide an environment where creative thinking is encouraged and applauded. Encourage the sharing of experiences, successes and failures. Make work a learning experience as well as a ‘doing’ experience.

Continual change is a state begun by change leaders and empowered by corporate culture.

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Five Step Strategy to Ensure Your Team Embraces Your Change Program

Five Step Strategy to Ensure Your Team Embraces Your Change Program

With the New Year fast approaching, many organisations will have begun to plan for the next 12 months. There will be objectives for growth or consolidation, marketing initiatives, innovation of product lines, repositioning and refocussing of divisional or departmental responsibilities, etc. If your organisation is contemplating new initiatives for 2015, it will necessarily involve the initiation of a change program.

A business’s New Year’s resolutions are even more onerous than an individual’s self-promise to lose weight, stop drinking, or quit smoking. One thing is for certain, though: organisational change can be every bit as problematic as personal change. In fact, a change program at work often leads to greater individual emotional response. When an individual tackles their own resolutions, they do so with the absolute knowledge of the aims and potential benefits of their personal change program. This creates energy for success (though sadly this energy is commonly soon lost). Here I look at a five step strategy that all organisations can use to focus personal energy on organisational change.

How to tackle the complexity of organisational change

All change is complex − that’s a fact. Your change program may not appear complicated to you and your change management team, but to those who haven’t been involved in high-level discussions, the reasons for change and the methods of achieving the required change may be obscure. Understanding this to be the case is the first need of change management: only then can any negativity toward change be tackled.

Step 1: Explain the vision of change

At some time, change leaders will discuss the change program with staff. The worst way to do this is to tell people about the change and what is required of individuals and teams. Explanation of change is the first step in engendering engagement in the change process, and how a change program is explained from the outset will affect its effectiveness:

  • Paint a picture of the future. Make this exciting and show the benefits to individuals.
  • Create a link between the organisational change and the organisation’s ambitions and goals.
  • Break down into more detailed explanations, and evidence targets with real world stories and examples of the effect on everyday operations.

This is the point at which energy for change will begin to become evident.

Step 2: Claim buy-in to change

Having achieved initial energy at step 1, a more intimate approach is needed to raise these energy levels. Team meetings can be used to discuss aims and objectives, though it is important to ensure these discussions involve everyone: once more it is about making people feel involved in the change program rather than subjects of it.

Good change leaders will also use these meetings to observe how their people react and interact. Some people will appear more involved than others. Less extrovert employees may seem less tuned into the change. These people may need a more personal one-on-one approach: always consider spending time with more personal face-to-face meetings to allow more private discussion of individual fears.

Step 3: Actively encourage feedback when making change

Be open to feedback and suggestions, and act upon the best. Ensure that these suggestions are discussed in team meetings, with pros and cons discussed: when people know their ideas are taken seriously they will be more forthcoming with them. Remember, too, that your people are the ones who work at the coalface every day, and are therefore the people who understand how processes work and how customers interact with your business.

Change leaders have to be careful during this phase: always remain unbiased and never ridicule suggestions made: doing so will immediately cut off feedback and energise negative feelings toward change. You may be surprised at how effective this step is at engendering optimism and enthusiasm for a change project: people will want to be involved, and when they understand that their contribution is valued then they become a part of the change itself.

Step 4: Identify influencers of change

Throughout steps 1 to 3, change leaders need to watch for influencers of change. These are likely to fall into two broad categories: those who understand the ‘why’ and those who understand the ‘how’. ‘Why’ people can be used to create enthusiasm for change, and ‘how’ people will want to be involved in deeper planning of the route to change.

Step 5: Tackle resistance to your change program

In an ideal world, this step would be unnecessary. However, the vast majority of organisations with which I’ve worked find a residual ‘hard-core’ of resistance to change survives even the best-laid plans of change leaders. Even though the majority have, by now, accepted the need for and benefits of the organisational change, a few may dig their heels in and refuse to budge. This is a little like the voices in the head of a person trying to quit smoking telling them that, ‘one won’t hurt.’

This is the step at which the best change leaders come to show their real value. They will identify individuals’ personalities, and convince resistors that change is the right approach for them as individuals as well as for the organisation and their work colleagues. Change leaders will need to consider how best to persuade resistors: logical people will respond well to factual, evidenced arguments, while relationship people will be more concerned with how change affects colleagues, customers, suppliers, etc.

Wrapping up change after Christmas

The change message needs to be delivered to the team and individuals.

Just as we all learn differently, so too do we all react differently to change. Some people are ‘big picture’, while others are detail focussed. Emotions run high during periods of change, and the art of explaining and enthusing is one of the change leader’s most important qualities. In order to achieve effective organisational change, understand that negative energy toward change is natural while enthusiasm for change is engineered. Allow negative energy to work to your advantage by encouraging feedback and discussion, to reduce the impact of resistors to change.

While your people are the ultimate key to creating effective change, change leaders are the key to creating effective people. In my next article I will discuss the seven traits that make a manager stand out as a change leader.

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