The Evangelist Phenomena

Abundance Change Organizational leadership

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Key Point: We may need to reinvent the way we engage teams to create “movements” within organizations. The company I work for made a commitment to move our productivity and communication application platform to Google’s G Suite. In order to transform the institution, we knew we had to reimagine and work in profoundly better ways, with much better, more modern tools. This included applying a software tool set that facilitated the full democratization of networked ideas, imagination and contribution. While we already had a culture that honored collaboration, connectivity and engagement, we knew that we needed a platform to accelerate innovation and exponential results. This called for a “movement” to cause a work renaissance that we branded as “Work Reimagined!”

A dedicated team of leaders assigned to this movement created a mini transformative purpose (mTP) that included: “Freeing and unleashing the ideas and contribution of 5,000 plus people, with the outcome of creating a work revolution to drive an exponential transformation of the company in making our Story (purpose) true.” We then created three major phases to fully engage all 5,000 team members: “Ignite and Listen,” “Excite and Discover,” and “Adopt and Master.” Each phase was populated with numerous tactics that will be further elaborated on in another blog. Additionally, we knew we needed a network of team members that would evangelize and propel the movement. Hence the birth and rise of our now famous “G Evangelists.”

Over a five-day period, we invited all 5,000 team members to “audition” for the G Evangelist role, which essentially asked for their commitment to become a spark for the Work Reimagined movement. While we outlined a role description, it essentially asked potential candidates to be willing to participate in a 30 day boot camp (starting two weeks after selection), commit to fully learn G Suite, help the company journey through the three stages noted above, and then be open to support assignments after. We told them NOT to seek approval from their next up manager, and promised, with the CEOs support, that we would clear the forward passage for any successful candidates. The response from the team community was incredible, and the sub-team leading this recruitment and selection process was remarkable. My following description will underwhelm the profoundly powerful outcome of this initiative. However, these are the highlights:

  1. Thousands of team members expressed interest.
  2. Over 300 people auditioned with the most creative applications imaginable. 
  3. Over 200 interviewed, and a final 50 were selected (we could have hired 300 exceptional team members).
  4. The 50 represented the most inclusive slice of the company possible; what proved to be a perfect blend 
  5. They came together as an inseparable cohort through the boot camp, and created a fiercely connected community to lead our movement: True G Evangelists.
  6. They have become teachers, coaches, experts, and facilitators (both individually and collectively), filled with deep knowledge and empathy.
  7. We have just entered the “Adopt and Master” phase, and to some extent their work is just beginning. 

While the jury regarding the long term effectiveness of the G Evangelist cohort is still out, so far the learning involves the extraordinary superhero powers of a self-nominated/carefully selected group of inclusive team members from all levels, positions, geography, generation, background, tenure, etc. to fully connect, collaborate and contribute. The learning content and boot camp facilitation was genius, even magical. And the groups’ road trip to Google HQ and Singularity was highly impactful. Further study and research on the effectiveness of these troops will likely reveal other insights. In the meantime, it is absolutely clear the G Evangelist 50 are leading the Work Reimagined movement with almost super human energy. Their momentum has created peer-to-peer flow, and the conditions for the work renaissance we are “star shooting” for. 

Character Moves:

  1. If you’re a leader, experiment with the idea of selecting a cohort of self-nominated, passionately committed people to sprint (outside of their day-to-day job) for a short period of time on a focused challenge. They will likely amaze you with their ability to get results; probably in highly inventive, even 10x ways. Give them the support and air cover to fully connect, collaborate and contribute without interference from upper management or other distractions. Expect greatness not sameness from participants, and they will deliver.
  2. As a team member, look to raise your hand and get involved in addressing gnarly problems and/or initiatives you have deep passion for. If your leadership is timid, find like-minded “Evangelists” and get s#!* done anyways! What are you waiting for? What have you really got to lose?  

Evangelists in The Triangle,

Lorne

One Millennial View: Wow, what an impressive project! My favorite part is the “if your leadership is timid, find like-minded ‘Evangelists,’ and get s#!* done anyways.” That is just plain always an option, no matter what you’re doing, and it’s applicable to more things in life than just work. An extra “to-do?” You bet. But, c’mon, if you’re a regular reader of this blog then you know what you should/can do. Let’s make it happen.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Dad’s Day… The Gifts We Leave Behind

Accountability Change Gratitude

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Key Point: Many of us celebrated Fathers Day in North America last Sunday, and a great number of us fortunate enough to be fathers were recognized by our children, grandchildren and partners during the day. The most fortunate rejoiced together in person, while others apart hopefully benefited from the connections made possible by modern technology; FaceTime, and the like. Some unfortunately have little or no connection with their fathers. The designated day invited me take a moment in the quiet to reflect, enjoying the thoughtful gifts I received from my wife and children, on what “gifts” I’ve given them by word and action. What have they really learned from me? I certainly know that I’ve given them a full slate of imperfections; ways not to be or behave. I wish I could have done better, and of course, as long as I’m living there is still time to give more and do better as a Dad. 

I was reading a story in Forbes and this was the summary reflection of the most precious fatherly gift from the writer regarding his Dad: “It took me back to the questions my father had asked, 48 years ago. Do you love what you do, are you helping others, are you learning? My Dad has given me the gift of three powerful questions that have been in my heart since then. This has been my compass of success.” These are certainly three great questions and solid guidance to give our children and certainly ourselves. In my case, I’ve also committed to living the attributes of Character Triangle: Self Accountability, Respect, and Abundance. I am always humbled as to how easy the words roll off the lips when describing each value, yet how daunting it is applying consistent action on each of them.

Perhaps another important value worthy of teaching our children is personal adaptability. Indeed, some organizations are looking at measuring AQ (Adaptability Quotient) at both a company and individual level. Consider this note on organization adaptability: “… Forbes article highlighted that 50 years ago, the life expectancy of a firm in the Fortune 500 was around 75 years. Today, it’s less than 15 years and declining. The ability for people, teams and organizations to adapt to changes in their environments, stay relevant and avoid obsolescence is the defining characteristic between success and failure, growth and stagnation, business and bankruptcy.”

Adaptability Coach, Jeff Boss, also writes in Forbes: “To stay relevant as an organization you need to think and act adaptively (is that a word?); you need the right people in the right places which only comes from how leaders shape their environments. However, the internal processes within that environment are driven by individuals who are willing and able to adapt to that leader’s directives when called upon… The trend I see is common: An unwillingness to adopt something new simply because of all the ‘newness’ surrounding it, and this unwillingness typically stems from a number of factors: Lack of self/situational awareness, poor communication, unclear decisions, ego.

So, what does an ‘adaptable person’ look like? 

  1. Adaptable people experiment.To adapt you must be open to change, which means you must have the will—emotional tolerance, mental fortitude, spiritual guidance—to not only face uncertainty but smack it in the face and press on.” (My note: Be curious).
  2. “Adaptable people see opportunity where others see failure. To adapt is to grow, to change, and to change you must forego what you once believed to be ‘right,’ classify it as ‘wrong,’ and then adopt what you now believe to be the new ‘right.’ If you don’t, you stagnate.” (My note: Adaptable people always ask “how might we?”).
  3. “Adaptable people are resourceful. You can take away a person’s resources, but you can’t remove resourcefulness. Rather than getting stuck on one solution to solve a problem, adaptable people have a contingency plan in place for when Plan A doesn’t work. In other words…” (See next).
  4. “Adaptable people think ahead. Always open to opportunity (see below), adaptable people are always on the lookout for improvement; minor tweaks that will turn ordinary into extra-ordinary because they’re not married to the one-size-fits-all solution.” (My note: They think “Big” more than just ways of improving sameness).
  5. “Adaptable people don’t whineIf they can’t change or influence a decision, they–yup, you guessed it–adapt and move on.” (My note: They are self-accountable).
  6. “Adaptable peopletalk to themselves. But not in a weird way. When they feel their blood pressure rising, their teeth coming together and their fists clenching, they flip the ‘mental switch’ through self-talk. Engaging in positive self-talk is the single greatest habit you can learn for yourself.” (My note:  They can rapidly reframe situations).
  7. Adaptable people don’t blame. They’re not a victim to external influences because they’re proactive. To adapt to something new you must forego the old. Adaptable people don’t hold grudges or eschew blame needlessly but instead absorb, understand and move on…” (My note: Be Self Accountable).

Character Moves:

  1. To my kids and grandchildren: Consciously and continuously work on developing your Adaptability Quotient. Add a little grit and perseverance. Learn how and when to change your perspective as a way of increasing your intelligence. Be Self-Accountable, Respectful and Abundant. Seek heat and love more. Do what you love. Help others. Learn all the time.

Well that’s about it, kids and grand kids. It’s as “easy as that,” haha; a lifetime of continuous pursuit in one character move. I love you all more than you could imagine or reimagine. I’m so fortunate to be your Dad, everyday. 

Dad in The Triangle,

Lorne

One Millennial View: I think I can speak for my sisters and I when we know darn well we have the best Dad someone can ask for on this planet, and huge shoes to fill. We’re very lucky, and learning lessons through this bi-weekly blog experience is just a fraction of what I’ve been fortunate enough to gain in support, motivation and top notch guidance. I hope to never stop developing my “adaptability quotient,” and I look forward to the continuous pursuit to better character with an incredible leader. Thanks, Dad.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Simply Complex

Accountability Change Organizational culture

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Key Point: Recently, there has been much political rhetoric suggesting that going backwards will somehow help us go forward; well I’m sorry to upset your rice bowl, but we can’t. Yes, nationalistic platforms like Brexit or “Make America Great Again” may rally an emotional response and outcome. However, it is impossible to go back to the romantic notions that baby boomers and others remember of the 50’s/60’s or other decades. Why? We are becoming even more global whether we like it or not, AND borders cannot effectively stymie the flow of information even though some dictatorships try. According to recent NYT article, “the American economy is inextricably linked to the global economy. It’s estimated that one-fifth of jobs here are now tied to international trade. Moreover, many of the world’s major challenges — climate change, instability in financial markets, food and water insecurity, infectious diseases, migration, war and terrorism — are complex, interdependent and borderless. And with 40 million foreign-born residents, the United States is itself a global society with deep emotional ties to many nations and cultures.”

Organizations around the world are microcosms of this increasingly connected global world. Turn on CNN and watch for just a few minutes. There is so much work we still need to do regarding more respectfully understanding each other. It makes me wonder how we can do a better job in organizations to appreciate the full global diversification that define the full fabric and rich tapestry of our work cultures today. If we do not better understand the world around us, and it’s many perspectives, how can we lead ourselves and companies accordingly? Quickly test yourself on the following:

1. In which of these countries is a majority of the population Muslim?

a) South Africa

b) Armenia

c) India

d) Indonesia

2. Which language is spoken by the most people in the world as their primary language?

a) Russian

b) Mandarin Chinese

c) English

d) Arabic

3. Which country is the largest trading partner of the United States, based on the total dollar value of goods and services?

a) Canada

b) China

c) Mexico

d) Saudi Arabia

4. Approximately what percentage of the United States federal budget is spent on foreign aid?

a) 1 percent

b) 5 percent

c) 12 percent

d) 30 percent

e) 40 percent

5. Which countries is the United States bound by treaty to protect if they are attacked?

a) Canada

b) China

c) Japan

d) Mexico

e) North Korea

f) Russia

g) South Korea

h) Turkey

6. True or False: Over the past five years, the number of Mexicans leaving the United States and returning to Mexico has been greater than the number of Mexicans entering the United States.

*Answers, with percentage of respondents who gave the correct answer.

1. d (29 percent)

2. b (49 percent)

3. a (10 percent)

4. a (12 percent)

5. a (47 percent), c (28 percent), g (34 percent), h (14 percent)

6. True (34 percent)

The above quiz, which appeared in the same NYT article noted above, is obviously presented through an American lens. However, the message applies to all of us. And as noted in the wrap up of the editorial: “The world has changed in such profound ways that developing an understanding of complexity is paramount. Whatever the policy, the idea that things are simple, or black and white, and we can’t put a blanket on them and feel that it’s going to have the desired impact — that idea can become very dangerous.”

Character Moves:

  1. How much do you know about the various cultures and viewpoints in your organization? Get engaged and regularly put yourself in the shoes of someone or group who is different than you. This ranges from small gestures like eating the food of other nationalities, to participating in more advanced initiatives to build understanding. One thing for sure, the narrower or more homogeneous the lens we look through, the less likely will we be able to innovate and solve complex problems. We do need common values around treating each other with love and respect AND the richness of embracing diverse ideas and viewpoints that evolve from our global community. 
  1. Ask yourself “why?” if you scored poorly on the above quiz. (Even if you’re not American, I believe you and I should score 100 percent). Frankly I believe every elementary school child should know the answers to these kinds of questions. How can you and I participate in a conversation solving complex issues if we don’t know what’s going on globally and know how to determine the real facts versus “fake news.” To be an effective leader today, we need to be proactively holonic: Global and local at the same time! Acting on this paradox leads to better organizations and I believe, ultimately a more respectfully connected and advanced world.

Simply complex in The Triangle,

Lorne 

One Millennial View: This sure is a complex issue! I’ve never been accused of having all the answers, and I certainly won’t pretend to. We ideally all have a pretty good grasp on what’s right, and what’s wrong, and it’s up to us to uphold the great values we’ve hopefully been taught. As Millennials, sometimes we take all our information from headlines or 140 characters, then follow a crowd to selfishly go to the “like farm,” where we get 100+ approval notices on social media. That’s no way to live either. Research, be smart, and stay educated… As a trained journalist, I know there is a ton of “fake news” out there, and we have to have the diligence and patience to filter and be better than that.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Working at the ‘Coal Face’ in 2016!

Accountability Change Management

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Key Point: Executives can easily get caught up in big time strategy planning, swallowed up in cool ideas revolving around disruption, transformation, digital technology and a host of other compelling topics. And they must. However, it is so easy to forget about where leadership energy has the most immediate and powerful impact: At the interface between employees and customers. In the United Kingdom, the frontline (in historical reference to coal miners), is often described as the “coal face.”

The other day I had problem with my cable box. And I hope my cable company knows I’m a “hair” away from cancelling and going exclusively with Apple TV, Netflix and other combinations. For now, I’m hanging in there. The other night I had a problem, and after the obligatory “reboot,” I called customer service. Following the inevitable and laborious phone tree, and too long of a wait, the customer technician was finally on the phone with me. To troubleshoot, he asked me to identify the serial number on the set top box. Geez, here we go again. I had to crawl on my hands and knees, use the flashlight on my iPhone, get a magnifying glass (literally) to read a 20 digit number from a minute font on the back of the box that a golden eagle would have trouble seeing. First of all, a customer should never have to do that at all. Yet this was probably literally the 15th time over my cable paying years in Canada and the U.S. I’ve done that, and every time I’ve complained. I feel so sorry for the customer service rep: “I apologize Mr. Rubis, and we are working with the set top box suppliers to address that matter.” Really? That’s what I heard eight years ago!” And of course, I know this frontline person can’t actually make that change. But here is what I do know: No one leader with any authority genuinely cares. If they did, something would have been done a long time ago. Cable companies buy millions of set top boxes, and if they really wanted a different customer experience on something as simple as font size of serial numbers Motorola and other suppliers would promptly comply. No one cares enough to address it. The poor frontline agent has to absorb the frustration repeatedly. And I can’t only pick on cable companies. In our business, we put customer service phone numbers on the back of our credit cards that are so small that the real message seems to be: “If you really have to call, and we hope you don’t, please squint and call the following number. Hope you get the number right.”

I’ve been looking at employee engagement numbers for years and the one consistent theme and priority for people is to give them the tools and information to consistently give customers and each other a superb experience. It’s as simple and as difficult as that. The data I’ve reviewed stresses that the ability to do my job well, and give those I deliver my personal service to (i.e. my brand integrity), a great experience is even more important than pay. It is a huge, and I believe primary source of employee satisfaction and dissatisfaction. If that is the case, why do we continuously throw customer-facing people under the bus? For example, a poor quality new product or service is released and customer service reps get slammed with calls about the defects. An out of date policy makes a sales person look stupid and often powerless. Etc, etc. Want to change an organization quickly? Take 20 percent of the issues causing 80 percent of customer unhappiness and transform the business around those. As leaders of most businesses we intuitively know that, but most of us just can’t seem to make that the number one priority and intense focus. Why?

Character Moves:

  1. Every single person in any company, especially formal leaders, should have to live and work in a customer-facing role on a regular basis. If we really want to dramatically improve employee engagement and customer experience; including being disruptive, that would take us a long way there.

At the “coal face” in the Triangle,

Lorne

One Millennial View: Even if that show “Undercover Boss” is fake/manipulated (like all reality TV generally is), viewers recognize that almost all executives immediately get a true gut check when taking on a customer-facing role (often for the first time in years, if ever). So speaking of potential progress, at least they’re making moves in the cable department: If you don’t know already, check out DirecTV Now. The cable box-less future is here, folks. 

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Transform Our World

Accountability Change Transformation

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Key Point: This blog is a little different because I’m asking for our wonderful community of readers to help our company attract game changers. Hopefully reading it will also tweak your view of the organization you work in.

Are you able to be the one and/or attract the people who just make a heck of a difference? These folks have a powerful, sustainable impact and inspire those around them. When they enter a room, you can feel the heat in the best possible way. Kinda like Justin Timberlake, they’re into always bringing “Sexy Back,” but through the intersection of knowledge, passion and a jetpack that’s always fired up.

I admire Google’s definition of a “Moonshot:” To positively impact one billion human beings. Now that’s thinking BIG! At ATB Financial we want to transform our part of the world too. We want to reimagine banking and make it really work for people. We’ll start with our own mini-moonshot aimed at four plus million people, including every Albertan. We have been Alberta’s bank for nearly 80 years. Over 5,000 team members put on their ATB name badge everyday, and fully embrace the privilege of serving Albertans in everything they do that involves finance. 

However, the sobering fact is that people need banking, but they do not necessarily need banks (including ATB Financial). But, if we think BIG and “YES” first, we genuinely believe we can reimagine banking so that it becomes an indispensable and integrated part of each of our customers’ lives. We are right in the middle, sandwiched between Canada’s world-class charter banks and a swarm of financial technology startups nibbling at our margins. And we like it. The big guys challenge us by heft, scale and scope, while the upstarts buzz over us with their ingenuity. This provides huge energy and the motivation to be more agile, inventive and resilient. We have so many strengths to build on. We have a highly engaged culture, recognized by outside experts as one the top 10 places to work in Canada. We’re a deeply experienced, fired-up, leadership team playing to win. We’ve employed a world class banking system that gives us one version of the truth, and have the highest customer advocacy scores in the industry. ATB is a crown corporation and our AA+ bond rated single shareholder has a long term view. ATB has demonstrated sustained profitability, embraces an Albertan entrepreneurial spirit, has market share leads in both retail and commercial markets, a growth and disruptive mindset and much, much more. 

At the same time, we need to add some key ingredients into our mix. That may include you or someone you know. The spice we want to add into our transformation recipe is a person who lives fully immersed in the digital world, may be a data science thought leader and/or a genius purveyor of innovation. This includes someone who wants to make a legendary contribution to ATB’s Story and already lives what we call our 10 ATBs. When you read the descriptions of both declarations, you know that’s a mirror of who you are. And you are ready to bring it and to seek heat, and to become part of our very personal moonshot here at ‪ATB. Additionally, joining the team and journey includes the courage think BIG… Be BIG… With sleeves rolled up, a renowned ability to get S#!* done, while still having a lot of fun. One more thing: You are a collaboration magnet! People just love working with you.  

If you want to kick around the possibility of becoming part of our promise to reimagine banking and execute on making a memorable, positive difference in millions of people lives, click on this link and see where it takes you… Maybe to the “moon.”

Character Moves:

  1. Please help us find these people. Connect on LinkedIn with me and/or send me something at lrubis@atb.com. Many of our readers are outside North America. We want people focused on Albertans, yet we recognize they may come from elsewhere… After all, almost everyone in this province once did too. Thank you.

Lorne Rubis