There are four leadership concepts that can double the chances that your agile transformation will be effective. They are:

  1.   Behavior – The values you exhibit through behavior matter more than those you only espouse in words.
  2.    Goal – Goals define where the transformation is going.  
  1.    Self-Awareness – Agile leaders must be self-aware. Self-awareness is having a clear perception of your personality, including strengths, weaknesses, thoughts, beliefs, motivation, and emotions. Building on the understanding of self allows a leader to understand other people. Self-awareness is a first step for leaders to put their own baggage aside and to support others.  Change in the workplace is difficult. Being good at conflict management and exposing issues is important for leadership when leading change, but if a leader not good at understanding his or her own cognitive and emotional biases it will be difficult for the wannabe leader to connect with those around him or her and for others to follow. The linkage between self-awareness and transformational leadership is not merely pop psychology.  In recent years the academic literature has empirically established the relationship between self-awareness and transformational leadership.

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Sign - Door Blocked!

A locked door is a sign of resistance.

Over the years I have collected a set of questions that are useful to determine whether resistance is festering below the surfaces or is raging out of control (whether obvious or not).  They are a mixture of closed-ended questions, open-ended questions and questions that elicit stories.   A sample of questions that I ask managers and leaders include:

Questions to Leaders or Managers (more…)

Resistance to the heat is futile!

Organizational change is a common, almost ubiquitous, feature in today’s business world. Change is known under many monikers, from transformation to creative destruction, and the variety of names is a portent to the one constant in any organizational change: resistance. Resistance is defined by Changing Minds as the action taken by individuals and groups when they perceive the change that is occurring as a threat to them.  Resisters come in many forms, including: * these are listed from the most problematic to least.

Naysayers – There are those in most organizations that have never met an idea or change that they like.  Naysayers will go out of their way (perhaps even habitually) to express negative or pessimistic views.  Naysayers don’t need a specific reason to be negative or pessimistic . . . they just are.  Naysayers are typically a cancer on an organization and need to be removed.

Enemies – Organizations are political environments.  Every change has to have a sponsor and there are often factions within the organization that are actively or passively struggling against the sponsor and her/her ideas.  Change programs are often large and important enough that a failure can severely negatively impact a career.  Leveraging the appropriate change sponsor is often needed to ensure that the proper pressure is provided to dampen internal political objections.

Indirect or Passive Aggressive Resister – The great O’Jay’s song “Back Stabbers” illustrated this form of resistance perfectly.  


(They smile in your face)
All the time they want to take your place
The back stabbers (back stabbers) (AZLyrics)

Use public commitments or public signing events to get the indirect or passive aggressive resistor to commit to the change even more openly.  Your goal is to increase the price they pay for resisting behind your back.

My Way or The Highway Resisters – This class of resister is not anti-change; rather they are for change if they are championing the idea and against if it is someone else’s idea.  Find a way to incorporate this type of resister into defining or implementing the change.  If they accept the role they will have to accept at least partial ownership of the change.

Committed to Current State Resisters – One the statements most often heard when discussing change is “we always do it this way.” There are many reasons people might be committed to the current process, ranging from fear of change in the organization’s social order, to lack of personal competence.  Diagnose the reason for the resistance and determine if the reason can be addressed.  People in this camp will be fairly easy to identify (they generally are not trying to hide), and can be leveraged to find the holes in new processes. Just be ready to hear why what is being proposed is not what is done today.

Not Convinced – This class of resister is often a reflection of a change program that has poorly communicated the rationale for a change and/or the WIIFM (what’s in it for me) component of change management. People truly in the “not convinced” category can be converted by personal interaction and communication.  Do not assume that communication and change management programs tailored to convince people will work for everyone. Say things many ways and many times!

While the Borg might believe that resistance is futile, no one has told the population of most organizations.  Resistance is inevitable.  Recognizing why it is happening starts by understanding who is resisting, but then has to get into the weeds.  The big idea here is that knowing the type of resistance you are facing is just step one of tackling a longer and more difficult problem.

A significant amount of transformation and leadership literature centers on establishing or changing the culture centered on values. Instant problem.  According to the Harvard Business Review online article on organizational culture (May 2013)  “there is little consensus on what organizational culture actually is.” There are two common threads in the definition of organizational culture; definitions that center on value, and definitions that center on behaviors. Many change leaders espouse value-centric definitions.  This decision causes them to focus their efforts on changing values in order to change the culture. These change programs are immediately starting in a difficult position. Values are amorphous.  Every individual interprets specific values differently.  For example, I asked several friends to define creativity.  Each person had a different definition.  Some of the differences were more than mere nuances.  Our individual interpretations would make the outcome of embracing the value of creativity unpredictable.  The variability of how we interpret values make it difficult create a common vision and then elicit a common outcome. Diversity makes this issue even more problematic.   As someone schooled in the need for measurement and feedback, the lack of a clear definition makes monitoring and measuring a change in the values at best difficult and often outside of the expertise of most internal measurement groups.  Without a clear definition and without a mechanism for monitoring change, talking about values is merely window dressing. (more…)

The Science of Successful Organizational Change

The Science of Successful Organizational Change

 

This week Steven dives into Chapter 4 of Paul Gibbons’ book The Science of Successful Organizational Change.  This chapter has provided me several sleepless nights considering the difference complicated and complex systems.  Understanding the difference is important making change happen, stick and work!  Remember to use the link in the essay to buy a copy of the book to support the author, the podcast, and the blog!   – Tom

 

Week 6 —

Welcome to week-6 of the re-read of Paul Gibbons book “The Science of Successful Organizational Change” (get your copy).  We tackle the C and A in VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity) this week.

Chapter 4 – Decision Making in Complex and Ambiguous Environments

Complex environments require different decision-making tools than complicated environments.

Gibbons references David Snowden (Welsh scholar) classification of systems … (more…)

The Science of Successful Organizational Change

The Science of Successful Organizational Change

 

This week Steven dives into Part 2 of Paul Gibbons’ book The Science of Successful Organizational Change.  In today’s entry, we cover the introduction to Part 2 in which Gibbon’s takes us down the path of strategy and uncertainty.  Remember to use the link in the essay to buy a copy of the book to support the author, the podcast, and the blog!   – Tom

Week 5 —

This week we enter Part II of Paul Gibbons book “The Science of Successful Organizational Change” (get your copy).  Unlike Part I which consisted chapter 2, Part II consists of chapters 3 through 5.

Part II Change Strategy

Gibbons explains the difference between strategy and tactics – “strategy properly focuses on goals and not how to deliver those goals” (p. 71) (more…)

The Science of Successful Organizational Change

The Science of Successful Organizational Change

This week Steven dives into Part 1 of Paul Gibbons’ book The Science of Successful Organizational Change.  In today’s entry, we cover the introduction to Part 1 in which Gibbon’s tells us that we live in a world of volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity (VUCA)  and in Chapter 2, that we have to transition from change fragility to change-agility.  Remember to use the link in the essay to buy a copy of the book to support the author, the podcast, and the blog!   – Tom

Week 4…

It is a VUCA world for the week-4 re-read of Paul Gibbons book “The Science of Successful Organizational Change” (get your copy), as we look at the Part I introduction to Change-Agility and chapter 2 “From Change Fragility to Change-Agility”.

Part I Introduction to Change-Agility

We are living in a business world of Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity (VUCA).  However, Gibbons points out every generation can relate to the VUCA concept due to the “availability bias” – overweighting what is in front of us (more about cognitive biases in chapter 5). (more…)