Archive for the ‘leadership, change’ Category

Managing the process of change. Just do it.

December 3, 2010

While so much change swirls around us I am encouraged by those who understand process and want to make it happen. They inherently know it will make the difference as to whether change is productive and sustainable, or not.

Conversely, I am fearful of those who think that process is unnecessary and that  decision-making must be centralized.  There is no room for autocratic leaders in the era in which we live. Their time has passed. A new day has arrived.

For all leaders trying to make change, don’t ask for permission. Just do it.


Consistency matters.

November 9, 2010

Business leaders not only need a plan of action, they need consistency in executing it.

Consistency can be found in using a good tool to manage the process, regular feedback from peers who help make you accountable, and commitment to taking action  . . . consistently.

Planting Technology for the New Economy

August 14, 2009

While I don’t often write about technology, it is subject of great interest and importance to me, personally and professionally.

Professionally, I have long championed a concept called “Comprehensive Technology Integration” (CTI). (A concept best illustrated with a series of concentric circles.)

A key premise of this concept is that for technology strategy to be effective and sustainable in organizations it must share a center. The center represents the primary customer of the organization. While the remaining circles all have a “line of visibility” to the core customer, they fan out in order of  priority with regards to their level of interaction with the core customer. But, everyone engages the customer, AND has access to technology to do so.

In short, CTI says that if technology is to benefit the core customer it must be widely available, relevant for each user, and used avidly by everyone.

Personally, I have been put off by the lack of technology access in the rural and less populated areas of our nation. If our new economy is to take root, then, technology must be planted and grown everywhere. In this scenario, the phrase “equal access” takes on a whole new meaning.

Footnote: The peer-reviewed academic paper on Comprehensive Technology Integration was presented first in London, England in 1994 with my colleague Nedra J. Alford.

Change Management and Managing Expectations

April 17, 2009

As the first 100 days of the Obama Administration draws to an end, it is a good time to talk about managing expectations for change.

Anyone who has ever managed change knows that there is a predictable ebb and flow of change/resistance/progress. There are high points when everyone is ecstatic that change is happening (like election night this past November). There are low points when so much change has happened that everyone just wants to stop the merry-go-round, get off and take a break (like the Tea Parties held on tax day). And there are the points along the way when those managing change are stuck in the “down trough” of the change cycle because everyone around them wants change to happen to everyone — except themselves.

The environment of change is full of opposing forces. Managing sustained momentum in any change process requires leadership that can anticipate and manage the cycle of change. Today, we might be approaching a down trough, but with strong leadership this too shall pass.

Leaders do not ask for permission.

November 9, 2008

Recently, while working with leaders from a large public sector organization who are engaged in a year-long leadership development program, I was prompted to remind them, “You do not have to ask for permission to lead.”

Too often our organization and civic cultures condition leaders to think they must ask for permission to lead, act or make change. Over time, this behavior constrains our ability to be agile, open and aware of opportunities to lead when they present themselves.

While our country is on the cusp of installing new leadership in Washington, the message to all leaders is:

1. For every leader to be effective, they must have a plan.

2. A plan implies that the leader has strategic direction and priorities.

3. Leaders must choose to be accountable and committed to measuring their effectiveness.

4. Effective leaders know that they can’t go it alone.

5. Leaders don’t ask for permission to lead, they just do it.

Before quoting Saul Alinsky . . .

July 11, 2008

. . . people should read his greatest works “Rules for Radicals” and “Reveille for Radicals”.

Alinsky is first meant to be understood, then inspiring, and only then, quoted.

No sharing. No substitutions.

June 10, 2008

I recently dined at a restaurant out of town which featured a “summer prix fixe” meal offering. While the selection of food and accompanying wine was perfectly paired, the bold print at the bottom of the menu stated “No sharing. No substitutions.” While we didn’t want to add new selections to the meal, we were quite surprised when we requested a slight modification and were politely told by the server “Sorry, no substitutions.”

Imagine going through life with the passion to plan and serve the most perfect meal only to realize mid-way through the experience that there was something more special to be enjoyed, shared and celebrated and that the rigid plan couldn’t adjust, accommodate or align itself with those it was intended to engage and serve.

Leaders who are successful share the process and remain flexible . . . always open to adjustments and improvements in the plan.

Life is too short not to SHARE good ideas, and be FLEXIBLE when acting on them.

Making change is a noisy business.

May 23, 2008

A very wise man once said:

“Dinosaurs screamed the loudest right before going extinct.”

And so do leaders who fear change.

As scientists have suggested, dinosaurs ruled the earth at one point in time because of their size and position in the food chain. Ultimately, though, their inability to adapt to a changing environment made their species extinct.

Leaders who fear change often do the same thing. They create a persona that is “larger than life” and then proceed to create noise, distractions, and even traps designed to neutralize the change agents in their midst. They do this to manipulate those around them in order to maintain the status quo. When they choose to throw their title around, exhibit controlling behavior and act out, it eventually catches up with them.

When a leader who fears change is screaming the loudest, they are about to go extinct.

Making change is a noisy business.

Leadership: actions speak louder than words

April 23, 2008

Understanding culture is not always easy or obvious. However, the manner in which leaders act is a fairly reliable indicator of culture.

For instance, communities with an “ecology* of leadership” that is sustainable, vibrant and balanced tend to know and understand that the real power of leadership lies in a very interconnected network of leaders who look like the community they lead and know that their effectiveness comes from connecting to other leaders who share their vision, passion and commitment to making change.

*Ecology is defined as a dynamic system of interdependent relationships where there is no one point of power or control [in the ecosystem] and leaders understand that their work impacts multiple levels of community.

If leaders aren’t flexible why should anyone bend?

March 12, 2008

Over the past few days I have been reminded of the different ways leaders communicate their vision and sense of purpose. In these recent experiences I have observed one common theme: Often when leaders are trying to make change they become inflexible, dogmatic, and directing. This rigidity makes them incapable of responding to change, let alone capable of leading it.

So, why should anyone bend?