Do Not Use the ‘C-Word’

Accountability Be Accountable Change Personal leadership

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Key Point: Ok, maybe we should end the abusive use of the “C-word,” and that word is “change.” Honestly, I’m worn out with phrases like “change management,” “change resistance,” “change failure,” etc. Let’s all agree that change can be hard. When we have to do things differently, it makes sense that it’s challenging. Most things worth doing involve overcoming hurdles. Ever run a marathon? Few people before running their first one believe it’s going to be a cakewalk. Yet, if you are dedicated and train, I believe anyone can run the 26.2 miles. It’s only a matter of time. I’ve ran two marathons and always wanted to beat my three hour target. I came close. Were my marathons “successful,” even if I didn’t complete one in less than three hours? Heck ya, as far as I’m concerned. This way of thinking may also apply to organization and personal transformation. 

I really liked Nick Tasler’s HBR blog entitled “Stop Using the Excuse ‘Organizational Change is Hard.’” Here is how he concludes, and I whole-heartedly agree: “We have been learning new skills and adapting to new environments literally since the day we squirmed out of the womb. Every time we feel the impulse to say ‘change is hard,’ we could make a different claim that is every bit as accurateAdaptation is the rule of human existence, not the exception.” 

I have been leading big system adaptation and transformation throughout my career. With the risk of sounding over confident, I genuinely believe I can lead (developing a great team around me at the same time), a giant positive transformation in any environment. Depending on the size of the system it will start immediately and three to five years later it will be measurably better. There are common ingredients and my readers may be familiar with the eight-ingredient system for cultural transformation I’ve written about previously. Here are some minimum conditions that are necessary if you want to join me for the rocket ride:

  1. Be prepared to think and be big.
  2. The purpose or “why” has to really matter and be clear.
  3. Love and breathe adaptation like oxygen. 
  4. Have the ability to change perspective. 
  5. Challenge assumptions and be curious as hell. 
  6. Get s#!& done. I detest procrastination.
  7. Love a relentless pace and get energized by it. Be smart enough to know when to rest.
  8. No excuses. You’re fiercely accountable.
  9. Set targets people think are too high.
  10. When people tell you you’re working on too many things at one time, ask them to get the hell out of the way.
  11. Be compassionate, and accept not everyone wants to go for the ride.
  12. Accept critics, skeptics and quickly remove cynics.
  13. Celebrate milestones and understand that your full work and contribution may not be fully appreciated (that’s part of successful adaption).
  14. Do not accept binary success criteria. Transformation is always on a continuum. 
  15. Embrace the uniqueness and personality of the adaptation process; each is deliciously unique.
  16. Enjoy the highs and embrace the lows; grit your teeth, stay calm, relentlessly move forward.
  17. Breathe, pause, and never stop! 
  18. Avoid leaders like me if this list is exhausting.

Character Moves:

  1. Kill the “C-word.”
  2. Adapt, transform, move; make it who you are and recognize it’s a practice, NOT an event!

Adapting as humans in The Triangle,

Lorne 

One Millennial View: I really like this. Sure, “change” is tough, but us Millennials deal with it on such a regular basis that it should be second nature to us in a lot of ways. For example, every social media outlet has changed dramatically since we’ve started using them, and if you pulled up Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram or Twitter’s interface from a few years ago, they would seem outdated. If you’re not adapting as often as an Apple OS update, then you could probably use a reboot.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Collaboration: An Imperative in Modern Organizations 

Be Respectful Collaboration Personal leadership Respect

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Key Point: Collaboration is no longer a nicety to have. It is vital. Why? Content is exploding and moving so quickly that we simply need each other for the best innovative and sustainable results. It has always been more effective and gratifying to learn as a group (although sometimes frustrating). But today, it is an imperative. 

Effective collaboration needs more than great tools (like Google’s G Suite) and can’t be applied as the latest buzzword in management. It needs practice and a learning framework. This insight comes from  “The ABCs of How We Learn: 26 Scientifically Proven Approaches, How They Work, and When to Use Them.”

The authors recommend the following ingredients to drive effective collaboration:

1. Joint Attention. 

“To collaborate, people need to pay attention to the same thing. Visual attention provides an index of what people are thinking about. If you are looking longingly at an ice-cold beer, it is a good bet that you are thinking about an ice-cold beer.” PS that’s why people working on the same doc together, seeing common info on a screen, and/or seeing each other by video, helps promote collaboration.

2. Listening. 

“Thoughts can be much more complex than an eye gaze. It also helps to hear what people are thinking. A common situation is that people refuse to listen to one another because they are too busy talking or they just discount other’s ideas.” In our organization we teach everyone the simple listening model: Connect, Understand, then… Act.

3. Sharing. 

“Sharing operates on two levels: Sharing common goals and sharing ideas. First, if people do not share some level of common goal, they will collaborate to cross-purposes. Second, if nobody shares ideas, collaboration will not go very far.”

4. Coordinating. 

“Have you ever had the experience of a group discussion, in which you just cannot seem to get your timing right? Either you always interrupt before the speaker is done, or someone else grabs the floor exactly when the other person finishes, before you jump in. Collaboration requires a great deal of turn-taking coordination.” 

5. Perspective Taking. 

“A primary reason for collaborating is that people bring different ideas to the table. The first four ingredients—joint attention, listening, sharing, and coordinating—support the exchange of information. The fifth ingredient is to understand why people are offering the information they do.” Some great thinkers believe the ability to change perspective involves a higher IQ.

The point of the five collaboration ingredients above, is that organizations need to be mindful about how each of the skills exist in their populations. Tools like the G Suite help because they naturally reinforce many of the points above. However, it is important to be intentional about the individual behaviors as well. All five are ideally present and alive. The more advanced we are in each, the higher the collaboration impact.

Character Moves: 

  1. How effective of a collaborator are you? Are you self aware of these five ingredients? What score out of 10 would you give yourself? 
  2. Are you proactive on the five ingredients? That’s a personal brand differentiator.  

Big five collaboration in The Triangle,

Lorne,

One Millennial View: Fellow Millennials: If you truly think that collaboration will negatively impact your individual goals, then you may seriously be in a rare, toxic atmosphere. You’re better off risking being a company player than a non-participant that has seen too many movies where a main character gets burned. 

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

 

Invest in the Permanent You

Be Respectful Personal leadership Respect Self-improvement

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Key Point: Invest mightily in your permanent skills and strengths. Today, my team has lead 5,000+, engaged and committed team members to the beginning of something we call “Work Reimagined.” In some ways it feels like we all walked into an Olympic stadium, after months of training, and collectively crowded up to the starting line of the marathon, waiting for the gun. We are all working with a completely new tool set – Google’s G-Suite. We promised team members that they would become richer for the experience, and I believe that. Of course, these G Suite tools will continually evolve and learning how to best use them will require constant learning. However, my last comment notwithstanding, I believe we will deliver on our promise. Why? Because the G Suite advances what I believe are the really “hard skills,” and the ones most irreplaceable, regardless of changes in the technology, economy or industry. 

In a recent New York Times article, LinkedIn identified a number of currently in-demand skills. (And yes, if you have content knowledge in these areas, you are in a very hot hiring market). Employers want and really need the following skills now: 

New “HARD [temporary] SKILLS:

Cloud Computing Expertise.

Data Mining and Statistical Analysis.

Smartphone App Development.

Data Storage Engineering and Management.

User Interface Design.

Network Security Expertise.

Machine Learning/Development.

Robotics.”

However, companies are realizing that they can train (as well as recruit) for these new “hard” (temporary) skills, so they are also focusing on hiring for so-called “soft” (permanent, meta skills). I believe these are the ACTUAL “hard” skills. The following IBM model is a micro-example: A company searches for people with great soft/permanent skills, and trains them to learn the so called “hard skills:”

“In the last two years, nearly a third of IBM’s new hires in Rocket Center (makes fighter plane composites applying cloud computing, cyber security, application development) and in a few other locations, have not had four-year college degrees. IBM has jointly developed curriculums with the local community college, as well as one-year and two-year courses aligned with the company’s hiring needs…”

The really “hard” soft skills are difficult to train for. Why? Learning each one is very individual and time consuming. As well, these skills or attributes are on a continuum. One can continuously invest and get better at applying them over time. If one has a well-developed capability on these individually and as a connected system, it becomes a great permanent investment.

The really “hard” “SOFT [permanent] SKILLS:

Communication [connect/understand/act].

Curiosity.

Adaptability.

Teamwork/Collaboration.

Empathy/Compassion.

Energy Management.

Open-Mindedness/Perspective.

Inventiveness.

Self-Accountability/Respect/Abundance.”

So, back to the G Suite… Learning how to embrace the G Tools as a system involves investing in each of the really hard, soft and permanent skills noted above. While we fully connect and apply the entire tool set, we all will sharpen each of our soft skills and hence make each of us more valuable. Can I guarantee that? No. But I genuinely believe the new “soft skills” are truly the ones to continuously invest in. If you can adapt and change to keen, new, (albeit temporary) content/technical skills AND build on top of growing your soft permanent skills, well, you’re golden. 

Character Moves: 

1. Continuously invest in the “hard/soft” skills above, and you will adapt and always be valuable regardless of the exponential change coming our way. 

“Hard” Soft skills in The Triangle,

– Lorne

One Millennial View: When I think about it, if I’ve ever heard my friends complain about co-workers or colleagues, it’s not the “hard” skills that anyone is lacking… It’s the inability to mesh on a “soft” skill level that makes work become a miserable destination versus somewhere they love showing up and excelling at. It seems you can be hired for your “hard” skills, but you’ll become very hard to replace thanks to excellent “soft” skills.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Celebrate ‘Whoops’

Accountability Be Accountable Personal leadership Self-improvement

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Key Point: Sometimes I talk too much instead of listening more, and I need to work on being a better judge of where to jump in as a leader versus “helping.” The other day I was on a call/”hang out” with a large number of people. A colleague answered a question in a manner I thought was incomplete. So, I attempted to diplomatically clarify for the “betterment” of the audience. The result was that I likely “improved” the answer by 10 percent, and in the process, unintentionally undermined my teammate. The feedback from another colleague who cared enough to give me straight, tough, caring feedback: “You might have been a more encouraging leader if you would have let the first explanation stand?”

The hard thing about feedback for me is to NOT take it personally. Rather, I need get better at genuinely letting the advice soak into my head and then consciously choose to do or not do something about it. I know all about the theory that feedback is a “gift.” Heck, I’ve written about it in my blogs multiple times over the years. The dirty little secret for me though, is that I have a little bit of a “perfection” complex, and rather than accepting the critical viewpoint of others, my mental processing starts with defensively rationalizing my behavior and judging the merit of the opinion. And of course, personal feedback is just that – one viewpoint, and it needs to be considered accordingly. However, if we listen hard enough, trends will inform and guide us where to act. I have never ending work to do when it comes to embracing feedback more effectively. 

In their excellent book, “Option B.”, Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant have a wonderful chapter called “Falling and Learning” at work. One story Sandberg writes about refers to the notion of building resilience through learning from failure, and the story includes a character named “Whoops.” A colleague Sandberg worked with at Google used to ask her team to share a failure or mistake they made each week, and then the team would vote on the biggest screw up. The “winner” got to keep a stuffed monkey nicknamed “Whoops” at their desk for the week. The idea is that mistakes and learning need to be openly shared and discussed. It reminds the team of the importance of trying hard things and embracing authentic, vulnerable transparency to promote team and individual learning. My honest experience is that most organizations talk a good game on this idea, yet acute listening followed by fast action based on learning is not what really happens. Too often, customer feedback and complaints result in apology at best and blind avoidance at worst. Great leadership includes a serious capability to get results, to slurp up complaints and problems with a zealous, fierce, self-accountability. 

Character Moves:

  1. Start with going after your own personal critical feedback with a vengeance, not taking it personally. Then, make it personal to ACT on what you learn about yourself.
  2. Translate this fierce personal feedback attitude at every level in the organization. Be relentless about searching for every way to be better. Find a way to get “Whoops” sitting in every one’s area. Love “Whoops” at the personal and organizational level, and great things will happen. 

Loving Whoops in The Triangle,

Lorne

One Millennial View: It seems like fearing personal feedback can only become a handicap when attempting to grow, learn and move forward. I feel like there’s this myth perpetuated by media (movies, TV, etc.) that if you screw up a procedure at work, that’s it, you’re done, “you’ll never work in this town again!” Ummmm, I have yet to see that ever happen (Oh, I’m talking about legal, ethical and accidental mistakes). I try to bat 1,000 at work at all times, but I have messed up plenty. The point is, if you don’t swing and miss sometimes then you’re not playing the game, and that’s a way quicker way to not be needed on the roster anymore.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis