The Grumpy Ones

Our team leader in New York, Graham Bobby, is a Brit who maintains a private blog. 
Here is a link  to a recent entry on the subject of employee satisfaction.

This blog offers a personal take on the discussion of what employers have a right to expect from their staff in terms of mood and attitude. Most would accept that affability was a reasonable requirement for customer facing staff, but there is a case to be made for a positive attitude to be expected from all staff.

grumpy person

It is one thing to expect a positive attitude and to recruit based on that expectation, but companies can also help themselves by taking actions to create a positive atmosphere, and here many fail. Bullying, hypocrisy and poor role modelling all contribute to poor employee satisfaction; some leaders also lazily assume that staff will share their own preferences. Many use engagement surveys, but these can be superficial and employees in many firms have become cynical after years of surveys followed by no meaningful action.

Satisfaction drives mood and attitude, and improving satisfaction offers significant business benefits. So there is real value in really listening to staff, and at a granular level. Synthetron offers a proven, cost-effective way to achieve this.

Full article here: http://grahambobby.blogspot.be/2016/10/the-grumpy-ones.html

Synthetron works with the crowd at CSW Global

Synthetron works with the crowd at CSW Global

Synthetron CEO Joanne Celens caught audience’ interest as she addressed the tricky topic of how to make sure crowds are wise not foolish.

 

info chart

 

The group that came along to the follow-up workshop were intrigued to hear us say that the 6 C’s model of Employee Engagement wasn’t our own idea. We explained that like all Synthetron conclusions it was based on our grounded theory approach – using what we have heard from thousands of employees over the last few years.

We know what things matter because we have heard them over and over again.

Click here to see the model, which is work in progress we are happy to share, and see how your last employee engagement scored against this crowdsourced checklist. Maybe you are ready to try a new approach and level up your employee engagement to improve your score – and of course your organizational effectiveness since that is always the end goal. We’d love to discuss that with you!

Contact Us

Click here to watch our CEO Joanne Celens talk about “how to make sure you get the wisdom from your crowd”

Continuity AND Transformation

Continuity AND Transformation

How to nurture the mindset for change

We might be said to be creatures of habit. But that doesn’t mean we always avoid change. In fact, change is part of our daily life. The most important aspect of implementing change in an organisation is to take the temperature first. How do the organisation’s stakeholders, including its staff and customers feel? One can then look for effective methodologies and focus on the key element of change – the people.

Major changes to one’s environment (e.g. changes to roles/processes/systems/incentives/etc.) can cause people to feel/think that they are no longer “in control”. Also, people fear loss when their environment changes (including potentially losing established work relationships with co-workers when roles and/or processes change).The more people can feel in control, the less resistance the change program is likely to encounter. This is where engagement via honest two-way-communication comes into play.

https://www.thinglink.com/scene/748525267814711298?buttonSource=viewLimits

Based on many studies and our own experience we know that generally people want to change, to improve. However, in companies change projects often assume that something is wrong with the company and employees. It can be more productive to notice what is currently working (continuity) at the outset of the change effort. Honoring the past (success, achievements, structure) and present (what is working now), as well as identifying further improvements to what is already good can boost efforts. We can forget that change does not mean things are bad (although that’s usually the case). Improvement might be from bad to good, but it can also be from good to better. Nurturing the mindset for change – building willingness rather than resistance – can be a more successful approach. We call this the interdependent values of Continuity AND Transformation.

It is key in this approach to open a space to identify the emotional issues – what is it that people expect to lose and why do they think this happening? It is a vital reality check – even if there are overreactions. Asking people shows trust and opens an opportunity to understand the benefits of the future as they see it so this can be used to persuade them.

Typically four levers for change can be assessed:

  1. Do people understand the change? Is the case for change clear and compelling? Does it stand up to scrutiny?
  2. Do people like it? Do they trust it? Does it make sense and is it the right thing to do?
  3. Can people act on it? What tools, processes, systems etc. are necessary for them to act?
  4. How much do people want to act? How is the environment, momentum and appetite for change?

Helping people “believe” should always be a key step in this process. Not a note from the CEO to staff saying that something is changing and definitely not any kind of coercion, but an open and honest involvement to encourage people to be part of the change journey. With the Synthetron approach for diagnostics we assure our clients get to the real issues quicker. That’s not to say that everyone will be on board or that it is easy. Those resisting the change effort must be engaged in the effort as deeply as the typical change agents.

The fact remains that more than a few senior managers and those who might describe themselves as leaders are reticent about change – because it is a threat to their domains and comfort zones. Finding ways to work with this is part of the challenge of business.

Klaus-Michael Erben, Executive Germany 

Crowdsourcing Intelligence: Do Intelligent Questions create Intelligent Crowds?

Crowdsourcing Intelligence:
Do Intelligent Questions create Intelligent Crowds?

During the Crowdsourcing week conference in Brussels, our CEO Joanne Celens answered the question: do intelligent questions create intelligent crowds? Watch it here.

The talk has been split up in 3 parts below:

1: Crowdsourcing is in our DNA but there are pitfalls and biases to think of

2: Get the right crowd through the right process

3: Ask the right question with the right attitude

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A leadership style focusing on strict KPIs can undermine intra-company cooperation

Business culture should emphasize autonomy to empower people.

Brussels, June 23, 2014 – Managers feel under considerable pressure from imposed KPIs. They deem it possible that a leadership style empowering the employees with a high degree of autonomy could help to lower this pressure. Steering using the 80/20 principle works best to align employee engagement with company success. These are major findings of an online discussion between 25 managers of big European companies invited by the Belgian method-based consultancy Synthetron N.V.

 The discussion took place on a secure Internet platform. The participants shared and evaluated 343 ideas altogether, anonymously and in writing.

The messages that were evaluated positively conveyed the following points:

  • Managers feel pressure as an immediate consequence of imposed KPIs. ¾ of them do not agree with the way KPIs are currently used.
  • Many KPIs can result in a culture of just trying to avoid mistakes. The more KPIs are used, the more they indicate a less productive and authoritarian leadership style.
  • Top management changing goals often is insufficient reason for daily pressure of all staff.
  • Too many and too detailed KPIs and those leading to poorly thought through procedures strain cooperation within the company.
  • The participants suggest that the management concentrate on key KPIs. Executives should pay more attention to listening, delegating and communicating strategic context.
  • Most favour smarter processes in day-to-day business, not than a substantial turning away from KPIs in general.
  • If a company decided to renounce KPIs altogether, they would need to be able to articulate their vision completely and also to build on the engagement of employees acting with their own autonomy.
  • Further questions about leadership culture and about the degree of accuracy of KPIs do not show a uniform opinion.

By Michael Erben & Jeanette Kalthof

Is “bottom up” the poor cousin of “top down” in your organisation?

Is “bottom up” the poor cousin of “top down” in your organisation?

Most European Companies stick to a task oriented way of working. Managing activities step by step (operational issues) are delegated to the troops – and as this is the way the Napoleonic wars have been conducted, ‘troops’ is the exact reference for this cultural paradigm. Fashionably called empowerment, many operational issues never get on board agendas.

The opposite is true for all strategic issues – from a merger to new markets to investing into another cite it’s daily board business, it’s top-down: Intellectually challenging but in the end always a yes/no question. Top management is used to this yes/no situations. What’s mostly not on their stake is including a bottom-up understanding: Adding the ‘how’to the ‘what’. One is still on risk when bothering with the ‘how’. A spotlight on it often shows that bottom-up is not as appreciated as top-down. It’s the poor cousin of strategy. It’s put into an employee survey with results carefully filtered before they get published and cascaded down. It’s a matter of politics, of worker’s council acceptance, of securing personal data.
And last but not least it’s open a pandora’s box. However, listening, engaging many to add their wisdom, backing a decision by better understanding the needs – that’s the way a socially grown up enterprise gains attraction not the least on the talent market.

It’s change business on its best. A cultural shift – when troops count not only by numbers but by intellect.

by Michael Erben

> have a look at some cases in which we work bottom up
> experience a synthetron session in which we look for information bottom up

The 5 top reasons why it’s difficult to appease members

The 5 top reasons why it’s difficult to appease members

By Jeanette Kalthof

Last year, members of FNV (the Dutch worker’s union) gathered at an FNV Allies conference and, contrary to all expectations, voted against a proposition to merge. This once again showed that it’s difficult to gauge the opinion of members, even if they are involved every step of the way.

Why is that?

Why do so many associations struggle to understand their members?

Synthetron has moderated multiple sessions with members from different national associations and by looking at them together we have been able to draw some rather interesting conclusions.

Association committees are in a tough position.

For many, the member base is declining, the current members are the older generation,Exif_JPEG_PICTURE there are fewer and fewer new young members and there is unclear voting behaviour.

In the last five years we have been regularly conducting online dialogues for different associations with the purpose of involving their members: the ANWB , NBA (professional organization of Accountants), KNGF (Royal Association of Physiotherapists)  and FNV in Netherlands, ACCA (accountants) in UK and NCARB (architects) in the USA.

We have identified 5 important reasons which make it difficult to get insights into what members think and why their reactions are so hard to predict.

The 5 top challenges for membership organisations today

1. Members don’t agreegraph voor blog

The average percentage of messages that some people agree on in Synthetron dialogues is 17%. In sessions involving members, it’s only 13% on average and never more than 14%.

At the same time, the percentage of bipotrons – messages which people feel strongly about and which split the vote – is higher than average.
So we can say that people in Synthetron sessions for member associations agree less and disagree more than our benchmark from 1000 dialogues in a range of organisations.

2. Members like to be involved but are hard to activate.

Members are very active and positive in their dialogues than our benchmark. They are looking for an accessible, interactive, visible association that involves them in the decision making process. Face to face as well as online. However it is not easy to engage and mobilise these members. There are low levels of people showing up to participate and a lot of energy needs to be put into recruiting.

 3. Members expect a broader view from their association.

Members are no longer satisfied with the core activity of their association. Nowadays they expect a broader interpretation of the association’s role.
For example they like to see them play an active leadership role in areas like durability, ethics and technology. They also would like to see more integration – working together with other associations and institutions, maybe in other countries.
Finally, members indicate that the opinion of non-members is important too. The association of the future needs to go beyond their current boundaries.

 4. Members want a flexible association.

Members aren’t fixed on specific ways of working. They want to be organised at a sector level for certain topics and by region when it suits them. This requires an adaptive association that allows the member to choose how to define their membership. This applies to member communication, membership, way of coming into contact with other members, available knowledge and the way the association works with and for its members.

There is no more either… or…, now it’s all about and… and…

 5. Members want to be treated like they matter

What do members tell us?
“I’m important! Listen to my needs! Influence the politics, legislation, … on a national and local level for me. Give me knowledge and education on the things I need to know about. Listen to me and use your power to get it done.”

They are very demanding, they know very well what they want their association to do and have high expectations

Conclusion

Now, all of this may seem like members are spoilt brats stomping around constantly demanding membership organisations do everything for them. But our experience shows that when members collaborate with their associations so improvements can be made together, they do this in a very serious, constructive and positive way. There is a way forward and organisations needs to find ways to interact meaningfully in a flexible and active way with their membership to achieve that. To do nothing is to accept a steady decline.

 

– By Jeanette Kalthof

Mary Barra’s Staff Engagement Challenge

Mary Barra’s Staff Engagement Challenge

opinion by Graham Bobby

December 1, 2014

I enjoyed a recent extended profile in Time magazine of Mary Barra, the new CEO of General Motors, by Rana Faroohar, linked here (a subscription is required to access the full article) http://time.com/3429651/mary-barras-bumpy-ride-at-the-wheel-of-gm/.

Why is it that whenever we read profiles of female executives, they are interspersed with lots of copy about family and style choices, whereas these are still rarely mentioned in the case of men? I guess neither Faroohar nor Barra would want it this way, but somehow they pander to readers who still expect it. Change comes slowly in this world.

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Barra is an engineer and a lifer at GM, promoted amidst a crisis that threatened the future of the company. The tip of an iceberg of safety product recalls threatened to expose a rotten culture underneath it, where not just safety but also customer focus and personal accountability were subsumed by corporate expectations. With the 2008 bailout fresh in people’s minds, public and political goodwill was going to be wafer thin, and any perceived failure could mean the end for Barra and even for GM.

Barra has had to respond decisively, and be seen to do so, without willfully killing her own lifetime employer nor losing the trust of her new staff. So far she has achieved this balance with deftness and passion, helped by her obvious love of her company, her wide existing industry network inside and outside of GM, and by a commitment to engagement.

The article explained how she has visited plant after plant, engaging with shop floor employees and hosting town hall sessions for staff, listening, showing humility, and emphasizing the culture she aspires for GM, centered around the customer.

While this is truly admirable and I wish her well, I can only wonder at her stamina and at how sustainable this model of engagement is. In trying to achieve the same in a more efficient way, this would be an excellent application of our Synthetron method.

What was she trying to achieve here? As a new CEO, she wanted to understand what her staff were saying and thinking, in all departments and all markets. As she crafted her own key messages, she could benefit from using language that resonated positively as widely as possible. She needed to dig and to listen, and be seen to be listening, to unearth the full extent of the safety failings. Finally, she wanted to demonstrate that speaking up and challenge are good, while slavishly hiding behind managers would no longer be acceptable.

She could do this in person in a couple of locations per week. She could give interviews and write memos, instantly forgotten by most employees. She could create some scapegoats, at a cost to leadership morale. She could create bulletin boards and whistleblower opportunities, likely to be treated with great suspicion by staff long used to a very different culture. All these things are helpful, but all are also slow and frustratingly limited in impact.

Synthetron could certainly have helped, and maybe still could. All of the goals can be addressed via our method, at high speed and low cost. It could not replace the other steps, but it could complement them and amplify their impact. With Synthetron, I suggest that Mary Barra could be a few steps further forward on her long road to a recovering GM.

Most of us are lucky enough not to face challenges as intense as those of Barra. But what company would not wish to know how staff were thinking, utilize resonant language, be able to unearth potential issues early and encourage honest engagement? Who is not interested in high speed, wide reach and low cost, whether to reach staff, consumers or other stakeholders?

– Graham Bobby

 

Feedback in Change

Listen to employees with Synthetron online dialogues

Feedback in Change

10 Lessons Learned from Crowdsourcing

Sometimes the requests from Linkedin change practitioners trigger an instant reaction with me. The question about “The greatest barrier to successful change is the pace and accuracy of feedback“ did so because my main focus has been on facilitating this feedback loop on a massive and authentic scale within organisations using crowdsourcing. Hence it motivated me to sum up my ten top lessons learned.

From experience my lessons learned to have a good feedback loops are:

1. Create a safe environment:

Organise your feedback in such a way that people can speak up “safely”, and share their problems, issues and emotions without fear so that you really know what matters. Anonymity is a great enabler here.

2. Reach out:

Involve more than the happy few closely involved in the change project and reach out to those affected by the change. However be careful not to mix people with very different levels of change impact, you gain by splitting people into groups for whom the change-experience will be similar.

3. Get feedback in a social way:

People appreciate hearing the ideas of others, to feel they are not alone, to get tips and insights, and above all to learn and allow their own ideas to be expressed in a conversation.

4. Look for feedforward:

Go beyond feedback on how things are going and ask the people also to give you their insights and wisdom to find solutions and improvements. From our experience there is great wisdom to be gained whenever you create the space for it in your conversations. It is a misconception that people are against change; they are against “bad change”. From our research of thousands of interventions we clearly demonstrate that people mainly think in enabling terms when asked to share feedback during change, i.e. what can be done better (*).

5. Ask the right, meaningful, open questions:

Listen to people in an open way (acknowledging that they are the subjects having to make the change happen). Do not measure people by asking them to respond to a set of closed questions or polls (as if they are objects of the change).

6. Balance attention of Heart, Head and Hands:

Engage your people to share their feedback on the rationale for change (Head) but also on the way they feel the change via behaviour, values, and emotions (Heart). Lastly ask them to share their more practical feedback about aspects of the change (Hands), and they will tell you what changes ito tools, budgets, competences, processes or resources will help the change to progress

7. Calibrate your feedback:

Ensure that a small number of vocal people do not get all the attention, rather find out what most find relevant, including feedback which is not commonly recognised. That way you avoid jumping to invalid conclusions (the crowdsource software can do this for you).

8. Seek feedback regularly:

Feedback “changes” during the change period. At the start, you’ll probably focus on alignment, trying to find how to overcome resistance to change. In later phases the focus is more about improving engagement, enabling you to fine tune the change by improving processes, tools or management, to accelerate your roll out in a robust way. Adapt the pace of your feedback loop to the roll out of your change phases and to your capacity to follow up (and expect results from corrective measures).

9. Understand the meaning of the feedback:

Ask yourself what the feedback means for the change project. Don’t jump to conclusions, but get the bigger picture about what are the most important issues, root causes and potential solutions at different managerial levels. Translate it into managerial implications for the change process – a “so what” analysis.

Here you can go much further than merely listening to the content of what people say. You can identify the various change forces (Head, Heart and Hands), discover effective buzz words, and perform a mindset analysis, so you know what type of communication is most likely to be effective. Some of these steps require specific competences.

10. Follow up:

Asking for feedback is an intervention: you have engaged the people to share their best ideas and opinions, so they are more involved. Recognise and thank them for their valuable feedback, then decide what you are going to do with it and act in a noticeable way. Otherwise next time you risk no longer getting their best opinions and ideas… and all the engagement you created will evaporate
If done right feedback is a positive intervention- we see change readiness increase significantly in moments of feedback (measured both in mindset analysis indicators and by just poll people’s self-assessment on the change curve at the beginning and end of a feedback session). So independent from the insights one can obtain, the process of feedback itself is a potential big change enhancer.

(*)“What Managers, Executives and Staff Tell us that Really Matters”, in Review of Business and Economics, 2011 (2), by Paul Verdin, Eric Cabocel, Joanne Celens & François Faelli.

By Joanne Celens

 

Learn more about our Methodology

Experience a Synthetron session

Engagement Surveys: not quite there yet

Engagement Surveys: not quite there yet

For the past twenty years employee opinion surveys have  been going through a steady evolution.
First there were satisfaction surveys, which today have evolved into engagement surveys. It’s a necessary metric in the classical HR dashboard, but usually it doesn’t do what it’s supposed to. Engagement surveys give us a multitude of numbers for different departments, business units, etc. But most of the time you’ll see that the results don’t really differ, or worse, don’t really matter.
A reason for this is the top-down approach embedded in HR. Existing solutions and processes are often used to control problems.

 

Synthetron does it differently

This is where Synthetron works in a different way. Starting from past results, we set up meaningful discussions guided bottom-up by the employees themselves. Through an intelligent online  tool that enables large groups of people (> 1000) to partake in simultaneous real-time dialogue, it becomes possible to explore  solutions to problems, search for common ground and reflect on the current situation.

The methodology is based on the concept of ‘the wisdom of crowds’ by J. Surowiecki. The beauty of this is that every individual participant is talking to and exchanging ideas with a small group of people. This makes the whole conversation more manageable. The software then makes sure that this small group of people is connected to the larger group.

Case: FMCG

A multinational FMCG was having trouble with the results of their engagement survey, which showed an apparent unhappiness with growth opportunities (even though there was a ‘corporate university’) and a whole slew of low scores that were hard to interpret or even connect.

The functional manager asked to set up a discussion with the whole (worldwide) development department  in which the role of the employee, organization and manager were discussed. The discussion resulted immediately in a list of ideas that were supported by the whole group. Also some old hypotheses  that had been posited time and time again after each engagement survey were disproved, e.g.: ‘unhappy with the development opportunities’, ‘not knowing the corporate university’.

The discussion showed how people knew about such opportunities and wanted to take advantage of  them, but were unable to because of the constant high work pressure (and changes). They felt like they never had the time. In other words: the development trajectories were viewed as something theoretical, and not something people could actually do.

Now what did this discussion yield?

  • First of all a clear and open gesture of appreciation towards the team and the whole department in its professionalism, drive and goals.
  • The insight that a new information campaign wouldn’t improve the engagement survey results.
  • The insight that employees want to be involved and can do more than complain
  • A list of clear changes in working conditions, new instruments, etc. to work better remotely
  • And finally, and most importantly: an open and honest dialogue between management and employees on ‘our ways of working’.

 

Synthetron enables  organisations to “listen in a clever way”

The above case is representative for the advantages Synthetron offers as an online discussion method.

  • The employees are really heard and experience this. It’s not just a meeting, it’s more of an intervention.
  • The engagement of the employees increases significantly
  • It generates a solution provided by the employees

In short: a Synthetron discussion is a process in which an organisation cleverly listens to its employees and helps them think ahead, beyond the engagement survey results

by Jan Camelbeek

Original article: http://cantaloupe-im.eu/blog/?p=38#more-38 

Getting Agile

Getting Agile

Reflections on the Business Think Tank results

The Synthetron team recently organised a business think tank session on the subject of Business Agility, defined for the session as the ability to react quickly to change.The session gave me pause to reflect, not least about my own agility.

Download the report here .

 

Most of us started the session thinking that more agility would be a good thing. We have read the stories about the modern technology companies who seem to be able to create and implement new business models in a few weeks, and most of us have seen our own companies struggle to do very much at all in that timescale.

People in the conversation also had a good idea what an agile environment would feel like. We’d be able to get decisions and take risks and make mistakes. There would be a lot of listening and learning, and not much bureaucracy. Things would feel small and fresh.business agility stock img

But then we were asked to think about what first steps would help make our environment more agile, and what KPI an “agility czar” might be judged against. This was harder. The energy in the discussion increased, but there were few synthetrons and more disagreement. It was generally agreed that attitudes and behaviours would be key. Somehow we would have to demonstrate trust and empowerment, and engage and listen more. But how?

There were plenty of interesting thoughts. Someone made a connection between agility and relentless performance management: if we are all given strict tasks and targets and judged against these, we might have less incentive (and less time) to react to what we see changing around us. That felt credible, and also disturbing: surely intense performance management is a good thing?

 

Sacrifices for Agility

Why was agility seen as so desirable, but so little seemed to be available to practically achieve it? The menu for everyone in the discussion would be quite different. And there might be wider messages available too.

The comment about performance management got me thinking. Perhaps other well-established practices also come at the expenses of agility. Many of us have endured attempts by our companies to become bigger, to harmonize practice, converge regions and demand standardisation. That is hardly likely to support agility – not only is personal initiative downplayed in favour of conformance, but also decision chains get slower and more complex. In my own career, I’m convinced I’ve seen more diseconomies of scale than I have economies, and every time I’ve been part of a standardisation programmes I think it has made things worse – at great expense and great distraction from the customer. Mergers are even worse.

Who wins from all these so-called good practices? Winners include managers who love predictability and control, and people looking to build senior careers in service functions like finance. Power hungry CEO’s can see the allure. Weak management teams can create distraction from losing to their competitors.27._scissor_1024x1024

But the group who gains the most are consultants – especially the biggest ones and the IT ones like Accenture – and other advisors like lawyers. They win from the standardisation projects and they win from the customer that emerges at the end – more centralised, offering bigger projects and unlikely to hire boutique competitors.

I wonder who is conning whom here? It is certainly worth thinking about. It is not only agility that loses out every time, but simplification too. Work-life balance usually loses as well, as expectations at work become more global.

We produced a From-To table as part of the report. Looking down the To column, and imagining a large company run along those lines, it would certainly be refreshing, but it might be a bit chaotic as well. For some situations, it might work well, but for others it would clearly lack discipline. So even the desire for agility should certainly be contextual, and for sure not everyone could thrive in that environment, since we have spent most of our careers developing skills in the opposite direction.

So agility does not come for free. Just as someone has to suffer for lower taxes and someone has to pay for higher spending, something has to be lost in order to acquire agility. So how much do we really want this? It is all very well hankering after an agile environment, but what would be sacrifice to achieve it? My suspicion is that most corporate leaders would take a lot of convincing to change radically in the direction of agility, and their consultants and advisors would certainly not help. It does not help that, judging from the conversation, KPI’s and links to financial performance are hard to come by.

 

Longer-term Consequences

Are we storing up later problems by under-prioritising agility? We can use tricks like creating hothouse environments where agility is most required. But surely the ability to react quickly to change really is critical in the whole business, and will become more so? Perhaps it is more important in the long run than standardisation or control. Firms can die from a lack of agility, paralysing complexity, or burned-out key staff. But I suspect the top pay lip service to the aspiration to improve, but are not really convinced and not ready to make the sacrifices. I’ve known many senior managers who thought things like agility are for wimps.

A frightening parallel might be climate change. We all want to stop it, of course. But it is hard to see meaningful first steps, and leaders are driven by opposing objectives and are not ready to pay the price. Until when?

I sense there is fertile ground here for smart consultants, ready to go against the grain. What are the smart moves that have low cost? When can they be applied with low risk? What are the hidden downsides of established methods? Can we find good KPI’s and prove links to financial goals? And how can we develop leaders who will see things another way?

 

Always start with I

One thing we can always do is look at ourselves. This may be one of those areas where we all think we are a little bit better than we really are. Are we part of the problem? My first advice to new managers is always: Get out of the way! But how well am I following my own counsel? This might be one of those irregular verbs: the boss should get out of my way, peers should respect my creativity, and subordinates should just do as they are told!

How do I know that I empower and engage more than my colleagues – or is that just wishful thinking? When did I last seek out feedback on these things, or do an assessment?

Which brings me back to Synthetron. It is a great way to capture signals and ideas, bring forward issues and find solutions and actions that really involves people, all in just an hour. This Think Tank helped to open my own eyes: somehow most Synthetron sessions seem to achieve that, often in surprising ways.

– By Graham Bobby

Agility – not just a buzzword

Agility – not just a buzzword

by Klaus-Michael Erben

Based on learnings using crowd intelligence in two separate dialogues on January 28th and April 14th 2015, we derived five lessons in connection with eight imperatives to reflect upon how to improve on agility. With few exceptions the need for agility is mostly anchored in external effects (market, technologies) and less in internal factors. Almost everybody sees agility as important or critical. But, while most acknowledge a gap from best practice, they argue whether agility should be part of their personal performance evaluation.

These five recommendations emerged:

  1. Become more agile by creating strategies built around extensive listening
    to the customer and the market, which proactively reflect digital trends
  2. Create an entrepreneurial organisational culture relying on trust, involvement, flexibility, risk taking, a bias for action and ongoing learning from mistakes
  3. Watch out for key blockers – top dogs afraid of new ways of working and excessive internal complexity
  4. Add value through an operational approach with agility-related KPI’s for areas like meetings, reports or protocols designed for agility, the provision of open spaces for innovative thinking, and fostering open feedback for learning
  5. Encourage management to cross hierarchical boundaries, using engagement opportunities and learning curricula, to improve agility.

Eight top tips: must-haves from the dialogues:

  1. Agility to respond appropriately
  2. People from different backgrounds to broaden thinking
  3. Engagement, empowerment and collaboration
  4. Give people the right to make mistakes, to speak-up about red lights or cxontroversial issues and to experiment in new ways of working
  5. Put the decision power in the team, not at the top.
  6. Ensure meetings, protocols and reports have clear added value – or drop them
  7. Balance ‘lean working‘ with soace for innovation
  8. Resist old ways of working. Initiating change helps to improve agility.

Download the full report here

 

by Klaus Michael Erben