3 Steps for Overcoming Change

70% of all change initiatives changing, why is this and what can we as leaders do about it?

by Andrew Cooke, Growth & Profit Solutions

change resistanceIn business, as leaders and managers, one of the hardest things is to engage others in achieving the business’ goals.

One of the hardest things for leaders and managers to is engage people to willingly work to achieve the business’ goals.

Succeeding in doing this makes all the difference. For the employee, it’s the difference between being micromanaged and being self-motivated. For the organization it’s the difference between passive resistance and energized alignment. And for you, the leader, it’s the difference between frustrating exhaustion and inspired collaboration.

The job of a leader or manager is simple: to influence people. And there’s one defining idea we have in our heads that makes that job harder – we believe that people resist change.

So we do all sorts of things to counter that resistance. We try to motivate or coerce people to change.

But instead of breaking through resistance, we create it. People resist being controlled. And so 70% of all corporate change efforts fail.

Here’s what’s interesting: people freely choose to make major life changes every day. We move, get married, start families, face challenges, learn new technologies, change jobs, and develop new skills. Not all of these changes are smooth. But most of the time we seek those changes ourselves and make them successfully.

So why are people willing to change in one situation and resistant to it in another?

Because people don’t resist change, they resist being changed.

In their personal lives people usually make their own choices. But in organizations they feel coerced. And so they use the only power they have to regain control: resistance.

So how do we avoid or overcome the problem of resistance? The answer is simple – give them control. Let them make decisions. If you offer them two choices and they pick a third you have the opportunity to cede control to them as long as their choice achieves the outcome acceptable to you. Then they own their decision and are happy with it because they made it themselves.

The key is to make it real or you will lose credibility. You have to actually give them some control, while keeping some for yourself, because as a manager, you’re always accountable for the outcome.

So here are the three steps:

  1. Define the outcome you want.
  2. Suggest a path to achieve it.
  3. Allow people to reject your path as long as they choose an alternate route to the same outcome.

By ceding some control, and allowing people to make their own choices, they are motivated and take ownership for achieving the outcomes.  This enables them to actively embrace the change, creating an aligned future for both themselves and business.

Click here to find out more about Andrew Cooke and Growth & Profit Solutions.

Managing the VUCA World – Part 1

When dealing with increased VUCA – volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity – what can leaders do? and how can they manage this on an on-going basis?  Read on…

VUCA

Businesses are under increasing stress as markets are increasingly volatile, clients are more demanding, talent is scarcer and change occurs in faster and shorter cycles.  To survive and thrive business leaders have to make faster decisions, on less information, and which have greater risk.  This has led to a change in how leaders need to think, decide and execute.

As business leaders what can we do to address this in a sustainable and effective way?

A good model, that addresses the four areas of concern that business leaders need to deal with, is by using VUCA.  This consists of:VUCA Elements

1. Volatility – the rate, amount, and magnitude of change

Drastic, rapid shifts can bring about instability for organizations and leaders, but even the minor or innocuous shifts that occur daily, such as new and “immediate” priorities that disrupt plans, or the increasing need to “multi-task,” are changes that increase volatility.

 2. Uncertainty – the amount of unpredictability inherent in issues and events

Leaders can’t predict because they lack clarity about the challenges and their current and future outcomes. Uncertainty can result in an over-reliance on past experiences and yesterday’s solutions or to analysis paralysis as we sift through more and more data.

 3. Complexity – the amount of dependency and interac­tive effect of multiple factors and drivers

Complex interactivity requires leaders to think in more creative, innovative and non-linear way; to be able to deal with shades of gray (as opposed to black and white) solutions.

4. Ambiguity – the degree to which information, situa­tions, and events can be interpreted in multiple ways

Ambiguity increases doubt, slows decision-making, and results in missed opportunities (and threats). It re­quires that leaders think through and diagnose things from multiple perspectives.

 The Challenge for Leaders

For leaders, the challenge is not just a leadership challenge (what good leadership looks like), but it is a development challenge (the process of how to grow “bigger” minds) to deal with the world of VUCA.  Leaders, too often, have become experts on the “what” of leadership, but novices in the “how” of their own development.

So What Can We Do?

  1. Change the Leadership Mindset – we must help ourselves, and our tactical leaders from being easily get trapped by their predictive mindset when they encounter a VUCA situation by providing a robust sounding board, challenging their assumptions and beliefs, and helping them develop new perspectives, options, and ideas.
  2. Change the Leadership Approach – many leadership issues are not problems to be solved but rather dilemmas that must be continuously managed.  Helping leaders to understand this, and to manage the issues and create opportunities from this is key.
  3. VUCA is a neutral force in the world – leaders often look at Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity as a negative force that they need to react to.  Rather, as leaders, we need to see the potential and to transform it proactively and find the opportunity within.
  4. Leaders Don’t Execute, leaders execute – Leaders too often get involved in driving the efforts themselves, leaders need to help them think more strategically and to unlock the potential of their people. By developing and supporting leaders (i.e. mid- or lower-management at lower levels we can execute at the right level, with the right people with the right skills.

So what are you going to do to address VUCA in your business or organization?

Visit the second part of this article, How to Manage Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity – Part 2, to discover the 4 ways for how leaders can deal with volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity.

Click here to find out more about Andrew Cooke and Growth & Profit Solutions.

Why Motivation Alone Is Not Enough & What Else You Need

The Motivation Trap

by Andrew Cooke, Growth & Profit Solutions

Why motivation alone is not enough, you need more…

Imagine what would happen if your favorite football team took the field and the ONLY training they received in the last 8 months had been sitting in a room. Within the room, they’d be listening to legends of the game motivate them on what it takes to win and being shown presentations of what past champions have done by way of plays / strategies?

No practice drills, No fitness sessions, No practice games, No one-to-one coaching, No individual goals being set, No reviews of previous games and No new techniques.

Impossible task to win isn’t it. Logically it just doesn’t make sense to receive valuable motivation to change without then putting it in the right context and following it up with the hard work required to put strategies and actions in place to achieve the desired outcome.

However this is what countless businesses, teams and individuals do each day when it comes to their professional development and approach to change at present. And then they wonder why they are not getting the success they are looking for, and they continue in the same way yet expecting a different result.  As Einstein described it, “Insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, but expecting different results”.

To understand why this occurs in professional development you need to look at human behavior.

At the end of the day it is much easier when it comes to professional development to be entertained by a motivational speaker (with many sitting at the back of the room responding to emails and chatting on social media these days!) than sitting down and slogging away developing clever strategies/actions in order to adapt your business. While there are terrific benefits for your professional development by listening to great speakers who provide the motivation to change and thought leadership to be innovative; the problem arises when the balance is 80% motivation and 20% strategy/action.

Many business advisors when providing advice to clients give in to this dynamic and only provide their clients what they ‘want’ – the quick fixes and magic bullet solutions. However clients need to be challenged as to what they really ‘need’ to achieve their desired objectives, and good business advisors will do this and challenge their client to ensure the thinking is robust, objective and underlying the real needs of the client.  As such the business advisor provides a balanced package where they become part consultant, part facilitator, part psychologist and part motivator as they customize their approach to deliver the outcomes their client desires.

The statistics are well known that 70% of change initiatives fail. There are countless business models on change and a myriad of great books about change such as Switch by Chip and Dan Heath. Each model, book or guru essentially brings achieving successful change back to three core factors being:

  1. The right motivation / desire to do something different
  2. The clarity to your vision / direction in order to head down the right path
  3. The robustness to your strategies / actions to ensure your team can implement effectively while in the right environment for change.

At GPS we state that if you scored yourself out of 10 for each of these three factors (where 1 is very low and 10 is very high), multiplied them together and then looked at it as a percentage you need a score of at least 64% (so 640 out of 1000) to successfully make the change occur. We call this your ‘change potential’.

Reflecting back to our football analogy, imagine in that example your team scored a 10 for motivation, a 2 for vision and a 1 for strategy. Their score would be 20 out of 1000 or 2% change potential. Nothing would change.

Having balance in professional development across all three areas is critical for success. Motivation alone while easiest to obtain, won’t get you far.

What has worked or not worked for you? Share your knowledge, share the wealth!

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Why What Got You Here Won’t Get You There!

Why what got you here won’t get you there!

Are any of these scenarios familiar to you?

  • You’ve been recently promoted.
  • You’re in the same job you were in a year ago, but the scope is a lot bigger today than it was then.
  • You’re working in an organization where the performance bar has been raised dramatically.
  • You’re operating in a constantly changing competitive environment.

I expect you are in a position where you could easily pick two, three or four of these options.  The question is, what do they have in common?  The answer is that you are in a different situation in which you need to get different results. You can no longer do what you always did to get what you always got. In short, you need to change.

The problem with change is that we don’t always like to or want to change. Also, if we have been successful in the past then it can be difficult to change our behavior as we believe it is our past behavior that has made us successful. However, these same behaviors can now be an impediment to us with our being successful in spite of our behavior rather than because of our behavior.

In dealing with this are two things to identify:

  • What behaviors do you need to stop?
  • What behaviors do you need to change to be a more effective leader?

In doing this you cannot depend on your own intuition.  An interesting piece of research found that leaders, when comparing themselves to their peers, consistently over-rated their contribution with 80% of all leaders surveyed seeing themselves in the top 20% of performers, and 70% seeing themselves in the top 10% of all performers.  To get a realistic understanding of what you need to improve on as a leader you need to objective input from your stakeholders. These are the people who are involved with you and impacted by your behavior – your boss, your peers and your reports.

To find out more how you can do this email Andrew Cooke and find out more about the Marshall Goldsmith Stakeholder Centred Coaching process for executive coaches and successful leaders.

To view or download a PDF version of this blog click here

Share your thoughts and ideas here, or email me at andrew.cooke@business-gps.com.au

If you found this article of use or interest please don’t hesitate to share it with others.

Click here to find out more about Andrew Cooke and Growth & Profit Solutions.

How to Find & Challenge Assumptions

How to benefit from making mistakes and challenging your assumptions.

by  Andrew Cooke, Growth & Profit Solutions

Make Mistakes

A common view is that failure is a bad thing.  It implies a lack of success, personal weakness and it makes you vulnerable.  None of these things are comfortable, enjoyable or desired and, as such, failure is to be avoided.

The problem with this is that the only way you can learn and grow is to fail.  It is a natural part of our way of life.  How many parents proudly remember their baby standing up for the first time, and walking without falling down?  Exactly, it doesn’t happen.  Yet we insist that as we get older so we must always know better, and so we must not fail or be seen to fail.

So let’s plan to fail.  Plan to fail by making deliberate mistakes.

If we are looking to make deliberate mistakes we are better prepared for the eventuality than if we make a mistake unexpectedly.  By looking to make a deliberate mistake you are immediately putting yourself in a mindset of testing, learning and developing.  If you make an unexpected mistake you are more focused on avoiding making the same mistake than learning from it.  One way helps you grow, develop and to focus on the upside; the other can make you more insular, reactive and focused on the downside.

“Consider the Opposite”

Psychologists use this technique, “consider the opposite”, to stop ourselves from drawing premature conclusions and, instead, ponder whether we might be misinterpreting the evidence. For example, “I think my partner is selfish–but, wait, maybe I’m just ignoring all the times he’s looking out for me.” Or, at work: “I think my colleague is being rude and abrupt–but what if he’s not being abrupt and is just trying to respect my time?

If there is such a potential upside to making decisions, then why not take control of the process and try to deliberately make mistakes which can learn or benefit from?  In their recent book, Decisive, Chip and Dan Heath tell the story of a company called DSI–Decision Strategies International, a management consulting firm.

The CEO at DSI, Paul Schoemaker wanted his colleagues to help him plan and execute a deliberate mistake, as a way of testing their assumptions about DSI’s business.

They approached this in 5 steps:

  1. Challenge the Conventional Wisdom – they listed the 10 key assumptions underlying their business.  Conventional wisdom is rarely articulated and even more rarely questioned.
  2. Identify Low Confidence & High Payoff Alternatives – they identified and focused on the three assumptions that they were least confident about and that, if proven wrong
  3. Select the option with the having the highest potential of benefiting from a strategy of deliberate mistakes.
  4. Plan to make the mistake
  5. Review results and identify results asking:

What was the difference between what we expected and what we got?

What changed or happened for this result to occur?

How can we replicate this or avoid this outcome?

What are the key leanings from this?

How should our underlying assumption be changed, modified or removed?

The three assumptions that DSI came up with were:

  1. Young MBAs don’t work well for us. We need experienced consultants on the team.
  2. The firm can be successfully run by a president who is not a major billing senior consultant.
  3. It is not worthwhile to respond to RFPs. Clients who use RFPs are usually price shopping or are going through the motions to justify a choice they have already made. (RFPs are requests for proposals. Customers send out RFPs to attract vendors to bid on their business.)

A further round of assessment led them to select number 3 as the one in which they had the least confidence, and which could have the greatest payoff. Now they were ready to make their mistake.

The firm’s policy had been never to respond to an RFP, but they resolved to respond to the next one that came over the transom, which, as it happened, came from a regional electric utility. The DSI team submitted a proposal with a budget of about $200,000, a price that reflected their normal fees but that they suspected would be well out of the client’s league. Schoemaker said, “To our surprise, the electric utility invited our firm to visit with the CEO and the senior management team to explore not only the project in question but others as well.”

Eventually, DIS earned over $1 million in fees from the client. Not bad for making a mistake.

But let’s be clear here, most of your “deliberate mistakes” will fail, and in the fact that failure should be encouraging because it means you’ve been making the right assumptions all along. Beyond the mistake itself, the willingness to test your assumptions has its own value. It signals to your colleagues that your work will be conducted based on evidence, not folklore or politics.

So where are you looking to make a mistake?

Excerpted from Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work by Chip Heath and Dan Heath. Copyright 2013 by Chip Heath and Dan Heath. Published by arrangement with Crown Business, a division of Randomhouse, Inc.

Click here to find out more about Andrew Cooke and Growth & Profit Solutions.

What You Need to Do If You Want to Change

Change starts with ourselves, but why is it so hard to do?

To change ourselves we need to change our behaviour. This is difficult to do and even harder to sustain. In fact it can be one of the hardest things that we do.

If you think I’m exaggerating this then answer these three questions for yourself:

  • What do you want to change in your life? – This might be something minor or major, just think of something that is important to you right now.
  • How long has this been going on?– How many weeks months or years have you been telling yourself some variation on the phrase, “this is the day I make the change!”
  • How is it working out? – Can you point to a specific moment or a specific time when you decided to change something in your life, you acted on it, and it worked out to your satisfaction?

I suspect, like many people, you have something you want to change that has been going on for a long time, and for which you have not yet taken any action or achieved the change to your satisfaction. There are three reasons why this is:

  • We can’t admit that we need to change – we are not aware of the need, or we are aware of the need but we have rationalized to ourselves why we do not need to change.
  • We do not appreciate inertia’s power over us – inertia is often the reason why we don’t begin the process of change. Given the choice we prefer to do nothing rather than take a sustained course of action. As such, it is hard to stop doing something that takes us out of our existing comfort zone, in order to start something difficult which will only benefit us in the longer term.
  • We don’t know how to execute a change – we need to understand the difference between motivation and understanding and ability. For example, we may be motivated to lose weight but we lack the nutritional understanding and cooking ability to design and stick with an effective diet. Alternatively, we may have the understanding and the ability but lack the motivation

Ask yourself these three questions:

  • Do I really want to change?
  • What am I prepared to stop in order that I can start something?
  • Do I have the necessary motivation, understanding and ability to successfully make the change in my behaviour?

If the answer to any of these questions is “no”, then consider why this is the case and look at what you need to do to bring around an answer of “yes”. You can’t change yourself unless you want to; you know what you need to stop doing and what you need to start doing; and that you have the necessary motivation, understanding and ability.

If you were to ask these questions of your team, then what would they answer? Understanding this will help you understand where you may encounter resistance to change, why, and what to do about.  Try it and see what insights you uncover.

To view or download a PDF version of this blog click here

Share your thoughts and ideas here, or email me at andrew.cooke@business-gps.com.au

If you found this article of use or interest please don’t hesitate to share it with others.

Click here to find out more about Andrew Cooke and Growth & Profit Solutions.

3 Factors for Building Resilience

How to assess and develop your organization’s resilience.

Resilience

*by Andrew Cooke, Growth & Profit Solutions

Resilience – a word more often abused than used correctly.  Resilience often is used to describe strength.   Although strength is implied in resilience, it is actually not a trait (a distinguishing quality) – rather it is a capability, something that can be used.

There are two definitions for resilience that can be used here:

  • “the capability of a strained body to recover its size and shape after deformation caused especially by compressive stress”
  • “an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change”

The Three Factors of Resilience

Resilience relies on three factors:

  1. Flexibility – how flexible is your business in terms of how it works, how it is structured and how it is organized in producing the same outcome result?
  2. Adaptability – how can you apply what you do and how you do it to produce different outcomes or results.
  3. Learning – how good is your business, at an  individual and corporate level, in learning the lessons from having to adapt or be flexible so that you can avoid repeating them (hard , painful lessons) or you can leverage them in the future (where you have had success) and understanding why you were successful or not.3 Factors for Resiliency - Overview

Flexibility Factors

  • Elasticity – can you easily expand or contract the business in whole or part
  • Alternatives – are there many ways in which you can achieve the same result, or are you locked in to one or only a few ways?
  • Interchangeable – how easy can different building blocks (people, assets, processes) be used in a different sequence and/or configuration to produce the same result or outcome?

Adaptability Factors

  • Reusability – can your core people, processes and assets be used to produce different outcomes and results with little or no difficulty?  For example, a consulting firm can reuse many of its existing people, processes and assets in delivering a new service.  However, the Boeing factory production line can only produce Boeing airplanes – it cannot produce other products without significant changes in people, assets and processes.
  • Speed – how quickly can you move from producing one set of products and outcomes, to produce new products and outcomes?
  • Capacity for Change – how prepared and able are your people to make the necessary changes? 

Learning Factors

  • Measuring – how good are you at being able to quantify or qualify the changes that have occurred, their implications and the associated outcomes?  Are you able to identify where the greatest impact, positive or negative, has been realized?
  • Applying  – can you clearly ascertain as to where the lessons learnt can be applied?  Do you understand what caused the problem and how it was solved, or where and how the opportunity was capitalized on?
  • Anticipating – how good are you at being able to replicate or avoid the lessons learnt?  For example, if you are an engineering consultancy who tried to enter a new market unsuccessfully then can you identify why?  Was it the lack of a local partner?  Cultural differences? Inability to deliver?

These 3 factors apply equally to the individual as to the business.  For real success you need resilience both personally and corporately – if you lack the resilience you may not survive the change, even if the business does.

Resilience is not about just meeting the current challenge, or having met the challenge just past, but it is about putting yourself in a better position for the future – not just going back to your original shape or form before the challenge occurred.  To be resilient you need to be flexible, adaptable and to learn from your experiences.

Two out of Three Ain’t Bad – But It’s Not Enough

So what does it mean if you only have two out of three, let’s see below.

  1. Flexibility & Adaptability – you can meet the challenge in the short- or even mid-term, but your inability to learn from your experience and apply will mean that you will be overtaken by the competition and quickly become irrelevant
  2. Adaptability & Learning – you can diversify into other areas, but you are not at the forefront of your market being weak at delivering in alternative ways.  You are at risk of being out-maneuvered by competitors and being a market follower rather than a leader.
  3. Learning & Flexibility – you are efficient at operating in your particular niche, but you are a one-trick pony, and you are at the whim of industry pressures.  You are more reactive than proactive, and your ability to become diverse, grow and spread the risk is weak.

For each of the 3 factors, and for each of the 3 components for each factor, how do you rate yourself?  Score yourself out of 10 for each component (1= Very Low, 10=Very High), and rate how strong or weak you are in each factor and relatively.

Resilience Worksheet

Which are your strongest and weakest areas?  How can you leverage your strengths to offset your weaker areas and reduce the associated risks and implications?  Are you really as resilient as you thought?

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