Welcome All!

If you do not adapt, if you do not learn, you will wither, you will die.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Questions to ask when faced with change

Change management is popular and there are numerous books, talks, blog posts and what not dedicated to this topic. In this post I choose to alert you to questions, that, when considered thoughtfully, will help you lead and manage change more successfully. Some of the questions you find below may seem obvious or strange. Regardless I ask you to reflect on them all and to ask others to reflect on them with you.

Note: Some of these questions stem from Wally Bock's blog, writing on Decision Making on March 17, 2016

Please ask yourself:
What’s the story of the problem?
Why do we want to solve the problem?
What do we know for sure?
How do we know this?
What are we assuming?
What purpose are our assumptions serving?
What is it that we are leaving un-discussed?
Why are we doing it this way?
What do we not know?
What’s a similar situation?
Who are the stakeholders and what are their needs?
What happens if we do nothing and things remain as they are?
What can be my first step to better deal with what is coming?
Are we often coming to the same kind of conclusions?
Who can I consult to get a completely different perspective?
Which excuses for underperformance make perfect sense to me?
What am I doing to give voice to unstated agendas, whispered concerns?
How can I best mine wisdom from previous experiences here or elsewhere?

Let me add a Jack Welch question:
What would I do differently if I had just been hired for the job?

In closing, a Charles Duhigg question:
Is how our organization or team functions truly the best course of action or did it develop simply because that’s the way it’s always been done?
(From his book The Power of Habit)

Friday, April 15, 2016

The Courage to Doubt

If you could take a ‘Courage and Doubt Test’ just like you can take an intelligent test like the WISC-IV or a personality test like the Myers Briggs, how would you score on this Courage and Doubt test? How would you score on items such as:

The courage to take risks and possibly make mistakes
The courage to choose and not choose something else
The courage to let go of total control
The courage to truly delegate
The courage to be vulnerable
The courage to doubt yourself and show it

Lets zoom in on the latter: your ability (and willingness!) to doubt yourself. What is your outlook on doubt? Is it a sign of weakness, a sign of strength, both, neither? Does it depend on your position with the company, on the setting that you’re operating in, or does it depend on whether you’re meeting with your own team or with the organization’s top management?

If you believe that doubt undermines your authority and influence, you probably go to great length to eliminate or suppress doubt. This can lead to dogmatism and intolerance towards people who raise concerns, towards team members voicing uncomfortable questions, and towards people who simply have a different perspective from yours.

What is your outlook on doubt? Maybe you believe that doubt is a useful third eye. Maybe you realize that doubt puts a brake on overreliance on set ways of thinking, deciding, and doing. If this is you, you will likely embrace doubting thoughts because you realize doubt helps you take a step back, it helps you look at a situation from a different perspective, and it makes you wonder what the devil’s advocate has to say. Doubting your assumptions and thinking patterns helps you reduce self-deception, cognitive bias, and fossilization of your thinking.

No, you do not want to be paralyzed by excessive and insistent doubt, yet giving doubt a voice keeps you open-minded, fresh, less judgmental, and flexible.

Friday, April 1, 2016

An Ordinary Day in a Leader’s Life

You will be frustrated
And so you should
Because that’s what happens
When you consult contrarians.

You will be impatient
And so you should
Because you’ll have to listen more
Than you’re inclined or deem necessary.

You will be surprised
And so you should
Because the people you lead
Are full of biases, fears, and needs.

You will be uncomfortable
And so you should
Because a leader leads
Into difficult and unknown territory.

You will be embarrassed
And so you should
Because you too make mistakes
Which you have to acknowledge and share.

You will be insecure
And so you should
Because there are many business uncertainties
And unexpected twists and turns.

You, leader, will have to keep learning
Because what worked last month
Or in your previous job or context
Often does not work here, now, tomorrow.