Let teams be the change makers

One indisputable fact for almost all of us is that change is hard.  It can be even harder for teams composed of people with many different problem-solving styles and diverse backgrounds. So how do you drive change with teams? 

One sure way is to find really important problems that are really vital to the organization.  Before you even contemplate making change a priority, here are three vital steps that need to be checked off before getting started:

  1. Get your best people on it, then engage your teams right from the start with a pre-consult: what are we really trying to do? How does it align with organizational goals? Who are the real owners of the problem – how do we make sure they are accountable? 
  2. Equip the team with a collaborative process for solving complex problems and teach them the skills, including the training that is needed.  Make sure the “super owners” are there and responsible for the outcome.  You can’t delegate important stuff, you can let the team get going but if you are the super owner then they have to report to you – how are we doing? 
  3. And finally, you can’t purchase innovative collaboration at the top by hiring a high priced external consulting firm.  A good leader is going to figure out how to engage people and teams working and aligned with the goals and mission at the top, not hoping magic will happen by some formula.

Large change projects are hard because what usually happens is there are people at high levels in the company who are willing to spend money to bring in outside “experts”.   Too often nothing happens because change has to come from within, down below – where the “real experts” do the heavy lifting. To be a real leader you can’t just hire a firm like McKinsey to come in and tell you what to do – that approach doesn’t work because people naturally resist top down changes.

If you really want to succeed, develop your people down below to drive change. Equip them with a strong business case for why it’s so important; provide a robust infrastructure to support those “super owners” responsible for change; and train people in the skills, tools and a creative process (we call this the “secret sauce”) to ensure everyone has ownership and knows they are an integral part of the team’s success. 

Last but not least, make sure you can measure the changes, before and after.  Use realistic, agreed upon metrics to give people achievable goals. 

Use Telescoping to make sure good ideas don’t get shot down

How many times have we heard this: “It’s a good idea but…” – the dreaded killer phrase? We know them in every language. Someone is trying to diverge and another person cuts in right on top of him/her. The ideation session is now severely impeded, maybe even stopped in its tracks. People raise up their guards and pull back from offering any novel ideas knowing they will get shot down. Sound familiar?

Divergence is critical to successful ideation but being skilled at convergence is also important and critical – we must not mix them together. The ability to defer judgment is a fundamental skill.

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How does the Basadur Profile correlate or not correlate to Myers-Briggs?

It all comes down to “states” vs. “traits”.

We often get this question about how the Basadur Profile correlates to Myers-Briggs (MBTI). Both the MBTI and the Profile enable people to understand themselves better, but only the Profile is directly linked to a innovation process that ensures the focus is on getting problems and opportunities defined, solved, and solutions implemented.  In addition, the Profile synchronizes everyone’s thinking to specific problem solving stages. By no means do we sell short the benefits of personality measurements to companies who use assessments like the MBTI and DISC – these are widely used, well-respected instruments that serve their designated purpose.

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A big thank you to everyone who came out to our first ever HOW MIGHT WE…? Conference!

Innovators from all over the globe kicked off the first HMW…? conference this weekend! It was held at the P&G Gym in Cincinnati. Our plenary speakers did an inspiring job bringing the Simplexity Thinking Process to life through their various industries. We learned about how the process was instrumental in increasing efficiencies in healthcare, pioneering innovation in politics and ensuring creativity is the norm in the corporate world.

Additionally, we had some of our best facilitators lead workshops to tackle some really interesting problems. Through these, we delved into many elements of the Simplexity Thinking process. From challenge mapping, design thinking and leadership to understanding how to run a consultancy and integrate Simplexity into a business, we learned a lot.

We will be posting the talks and workshops on our conference website in the coming months. Keep an eye out on our YouTube page as well for workshop related content.

The biggest problem we have is “communication”

How many of you have been in a situation where people say, our biggest problem here is communication.  What does that mean?  Does it mean the phones don’t work?  Does it mean we don’t speak each other’s language? People in other departments don’t care what people are doing?  Senior management does not pass down clear information?  People send unclear email messages – we don’t know the goals?  We don’t trust each other?  That’s because words like ‘communication’ are fuzzy and vague – they mean too many things to too many people.

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How might we deliberately adapt to stay ahead in an ever-changing world?

Research shows that effective organizations display two characteristics simultaneously: efficiency and adaptability. The efficient organization follows well-structured, stable routines to deliver its products or services in large quantities with high quality at low cost. In a stable world, efficient organizations may be successful. But in a changing world, organizations also need adaptability. While efficiency implies mastering routines, adaptability means mastering the process of deliberately changing routines.

Adaptability is a proactive process: it allows the organization to deliberately and continually change and create. It entails deliberate discontent — discovering new needs to be met and problems to be solved, finding new things to be done, and adopting new technologies and methods before the competition. Adaptability is disruptive. It requires looking outside the organization for new opportunities, problems, trends, technologies and methods that may dramatically improve or change routines or introduce completely new products and services. Adaptable organizations anticipate customer problems and develop timely solutions. They deliberately and continually change how they do things to improve quality, raise quantities, reduce costs and stay ahead of competitors.

Organizations that build concrete strategies allowing them to confidently and capably shift the balance between adaptability and efficiency will be well positioned to adapt and prosper in volatile economic times, such as today’s environment. And while the results of emphasizing adaptability may take longer to appear than the results of an emphasis on efficiency, the long-term success of the strategy can be found by looking at Japan; While decision-making in many organizations in North America is driven by the next quarter’s results, Japanese organizations tend to favor long-term planning and reporting.

With so many implementers in the world, why do so many action plans not get done?

Implementing as part of your job or routine is very different from implementing something that is new and unusual. Many of the implementers in the world are implementing routine things.   Many of those people are doing implementation jobs and so they go off and do them and they get a good pat on the back for doing them. That’s totally different from implementing something new. It’s way more awkward to implement something new so you’ve got build skills of implementing something new which is very different from implementing something routine.

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