by Peter A. Arthur-Smith, Leadership Solutions, Inc.®

“A team comprises 6 – no more than 7- people who join together to accomplish a common, highly-prized objective that is important to all of them and their organization. A successful action team is usually two.”

 

    

It is clear that in any team sport or workplace team environment, where teams do particularly well, that those team participants experience incredible bonds with a unified desire for overall success: something not to be forgotten. However, in those environments where every man and woman is in it for themselves, then significant rivalry and dysfunction occurs – participants often wish they were somewhere else.

 

Even though most organization executives realize these axioms, so many of them still encourage and allow individualism to occur. Why does this happen?

 

» Nature of the Beast – This writer has had the privilege to objectively study countless numbers of executives over many years. It is apparent that 40%+ of them are high achievers

and ambitious people. Most of them have arrived at the top of their organizations through outperforming their peers and ‘making-it’ through their individual talent and determination. When they attain the top spot, they admire and promote those similar to themselves, and therefore position others in key spots that value individual rather than team success.

 

Another 5-10% prefer pursuing their own ideas and philosophies relative to others, consequently don’t encourage input from others or indulge in team building around them. An additional 5-10% look for rational and numerical answers in pursuing various initiatives around them; consequently team behavior, human factors or synergies are toward the bottom of their list of considerations.

 

Such an overall scenario indicates that as much as 60% of executives are not particularly disposed toward pursuing teamwork, despite its obvious advantages, purely due to the nature of the beast. Even the other 40% or less, who may be more disposed to teamwork, owing to their stronger interest in people and their value, could find themselves drawn to short-term, individual heroics by their team members as they pursue near-term results and objectives.

 

While these realities are not particularly encouraging for so many workplace people, who would prefer a team approach, it does give those organizations that actually propagate team sensibilities a distinct leg-up. We haven’t yet sufficiently moved from a dog-eat-dog culture to one of greater overall collaboration, where organizations could then accomplish much more by leveraging people’s collaborative instincts. These latter instincts undoubtedly exist across broader sections of many organizations, even though they are much rarer among the executive class. (NOTE: This is a distinction executives don’t seem to be fully conscious of; much to their unaware loss. They reckon that their people want to do their own thing because that’s what they- as executives – prefer.)

 

A recent documentary on the Vietnam War, underscored how teamwork prevailed under dire circumstances. The Vietcong were badly mauled on several occasions, based upon an individual cannon-fodder approach, whereas the camaraderie inculcated into American units drove them to prevail on more than one occasion against a vicious enemy.

 

» Knowing how to Build Teams  –  Notwithstanding the above realities and the undoubted benefits of teamwork, far too many executives are unaware of how to build effective  and successful teams. This usually includes the following:

  • Forming – As indicated at the outset of this article, a well established effective team size is 6-7 and the best team size for accomplishing an immediate key objective is 2 – not 1. Why? Because it’s been proven that the right pairing works better overall than the majority of people operating on their own. The costs of pairing are more than offset by the results they accomplish – assuming they are right for each other and are effectively assigned.

              Secondly, an effective team cannot join together without a truly effective leader or a challenging purpose.            So, if you are not a true team-believer, it’s better that you don’t bother investing in teams. Let them                            challenge themselves.

Thirdly, you will form the most effective teams with diverse personalities rather than similar ones. The                  latter may harmonize better in the short run, but will not become dynamic or enriched enough to make                    real  longer term gains.

 

  • Storming – Diverse constructive personalities, given a highly valued and common objective, may induce a degree of debate and disagreement at the outset. But, given the right leadership and encouragement, they’ll find ways to move beyond initial dissonance. It’s unlikely you will develop the right bonds with others without resolving challenging things together. (NOTE: Soldiers going through boot camp together, helps build mutual respect. Sports teams handling difficult games together and succeeding builds winning ways.)

 

  • Norming As indicated previously, the right groupings will come to terms with, respect and make allowances for each other. (NOTE: The same goes for successful marriages, once couples work out their differences.)

 

  • Performing – Once things settle down and assuming their leader keeps them focused and adequately resourced within a given timeframe, then teams will invariably step up to the task. Participants will watch each other’s backs, cover for each other, and encourage each other to give of their best. (NOTE: Watch for this in top football, baseball and basketball teams. Such teams are always collectively interested in how they’re doing.) Appropriate celebrations are especially appreciated by such teams where they can enjoy each other’s contributions.

 

  • The only other step is Disbanding, although even that needs to be done with sensitivity and a degree of patience. (NOTE: Is that why we see such high degrees of PTSD among demobilized, battle-affected military personnel? Is it also a form of grieving after being so closely interwoven with comrades in tough circumstances, but then those relationships are ripped apart without much time for grieving and letting-go of close, dependable team mates?)

Fortunately, in ongoing businesses, non-profits or other institutions, the need for disbanding is much less prevalent; unless through take-overs or closures. Ad hoc teams formed for various projects within such organizations, usually have the opportunity to return to their more permanent teams or groupings. They also rarely have to operate in life or death situations, accept for police officers or firefighters. The latter usually play out their team roles over many years with diverse assignments until they’re ready for promotion or retirement.

 

   If you already have teams, take a look at how effective they are and whether they’ve been properly set-up and orchestrated through the above steps. Where they appear to be dysfunctional or not terribly effective, consider reforming them into a more diverse grouping. Patiently work them through the above steps and there’s a good chance you’ll have much better results.

 

    Alternatively, if you’re not convinced regarding teamwork, try setting up a trial team using the above suggestions. This writer will be surprised if you’re not pleasantly surprised.  

______________________________________________________________________

To learn more about team building, please contact:



Arnie Friedland -Long Island – (516) 446-6447 or arnie@ileadershipsolutions.com;
Chris Garratt –Europe- (+352) 2631 3384 or chris@lse.lu
Denise Lalonde – New York- (212) 974 1438 or denise@ileadershipsolutions.com
Esther Celosse – Europe – (+33) 658 867 350 or esther@lse.lu
Ed Frontera – Florida – (561) 715 0447 or ed@ileadershipsolutions.com
Jim Leonhard –California – (916) 550 7075 or jimhl@ileadershipsolutions.com
Olger Draijer –Europe-(+352) 45 88 35 or olger@lse.lu
Paul Schonenberg – Europe – (+352) 621 23 3131 or paul@lse.lu
Peter A. Arthur-Smith – New York- (212) 332-8907 or peter@ileadershipsolutions.com
© 1994-2017 Leadership Solutions, Inc (MALRC) All rights reserved

by Peter A. Arthur-Smith, Leadership Solutions, Inc.®

“One-way communication – just presenting to or talking at people – is hit-or-miss; whereas two-way communication – gaining people’s input or views – is a home run!”

 

   A recent trip to the local lumber yard in New York’s Manhattan really got this writer thinking about two-way communication once more. Entering the place was an immediate reminder of a famous comment by a relatively new female Chief Operating Officer for the Long Island Rail-Road Company some years back: “The boys are very sensitive about anyone interfering with their domain of playing with the trains.”

 

Believe it or not, this writer was completely ignored by the three store clerks when he arrived, as they kept their heads down, while fixated on some computer tabulating task. If you approached any one of them, they automatically pointed a finger toward the next clerk without even looking at you. Not a word was spoken at this juncture.

 

A tough communication spot: What is a customer or people leader supposed to do in such situations? The last clerk in the line just pointed back to the second person this writer had just moved away from. It was a bit of a helpless feeling. But it’s what’s to be expected in a one-way communication environment, where workplace people are just told what to do and their comments, ideas and feedback are not welcome. They’re just required to keep their heads down and work.

 

With no immediate joy of knowing what to do, this writer wandered into the adjacent shop where the lumber operatives hang out and their sizeable timber-laden warehouse exists. Those operatives just sat around with a half-glazed look in their eyes. When asked about the possibilities of a piece of hardboard this writer was looking for, they responded by pointing out that they were about to pack up for the day. A quick look at one’s watch showed there was at least an hour to go before normal closing time. A little more poking around and a plea for some advice and assistance did draw the aid of a ‘cutter,’ who, out of the goodness of his heart, cut off a right-sized piece of hardboard; although he wouldn’t accept any money or a tip for it. The yard apparently didn’t deal in such small pieces.

 

Such a noble act reminded this writer that such workers have a good heart, but our challenge is in finding it. Perhaps this is what more worldly and educated executives seem to find such difficulty in doing. Behavior, as experienced with these lumber yard guys, induces a stand-off where executives and the so-called elite view frontline workers as potentially belligerent; while the frontline workers view their bosses as stuck-up and out of touch. How do we close this gap?

 

You often get a similar indifferent response from Long Island Railroad ticket inspectors, or frontline staff in hospitals, or the drivers of city buses, factory floor workers and warehouse staff. Despite this reality, this writer’s wife is particularly adept at getting favorable responses from porters or reception staff at hotels. What does she do in these situations?

 

Extra thought about her skill in such situations, shows how she reaches out to them, treats them with appropriate respect, and talks about issues that are relevant to them. In return, they often display their good-will and good-heartedness to ensure she is well taken care of. By dint of observation, it would appear that up to 80% of workplace people are helpful and responsive to various degrees. It’s just the 20% that have a cold attitude; possibly because they’re in the wrong position in the first place. Most workplace people will treat you with respect, if you show them similar respect.

 

As this writer trundled home from the lumber yard with his prized, small piece of hardboard, he thought a good deal about what it would take to be a team leader in such a place. Factors that seemed to make sense included:

» Frontline “speak” – It would take a willingness to use language and shop-talk that everyday lumber-shop workers use. There would be no use in talking about profits and losses, or efficiencies, or policies and procedures. Much of that would go right over their heads.

» Sense of humor – It would take humor like you watch in famous TV shows like ‘The Brady Bunch’, ‘All our Fathers’ or ‘Lucille & Desi’ to appeal to frontline people: or  modern day comics thereof. Such humor would break down barriers and get them thinking.

» Involvement – Get their opinions, invite their ideas, ask them to contribute to evolving situations.

» Loyalty – Their loyalty to their leader would only be evident if (s)he was totally loyal to them. Would (s)he watch their backs and try to keep them out of trouble?

» Knowledgeable – Have sufficient knowledge – not be an expert – about the domain you’re leading, so as to win a modicum of your people’s respect and understand the nature of their questions.

» Fair compensation – It would be important for your frontline people to know they’re fairly compensated. They will be well-aware of the going rate for their role. Their expectations would not only be about money but also reasonable benefits. They will expect their rewards to be reviewed on an appropriately regular basis, in accord with their efforts, so they feel well regarded.

» Career interest – Some will care about you showing an interest in their career growth and building their domain knowledge. Others will be comfortable doing a good job where they are and making daily, worthy contributions.

» Camaraderie – Every day or at least every week, they will expect you, their team leader, to acknowledge them and show a friendly attitude toward them. Only then will they reciprocate. Also, you should encourage team members to appreciate each other and discourage the sharing of criticism or bad news behind their backs.

          If you don’t like someone, they will know it despite how hard you try to hide it. So this either needs to be resolved amicably or arrange for a parting of the ways in a respectful manner – all your team members will be looking for you to do that. Occasional team celebrations or events, for the right reasons, will always be welcome.

 

And so this writer’s visit to the lumber yard served as a useful refresher on the daily gulf that often exists between frontline workers and their executives. It’s a very real issue and is occasionally rampant. Once this stark, two-way communication gap is addressed, productivity and performance will blossom accordingly. Slowly in the beginning because it takes time to win people over, as they’ve been hurt too many times before to just jump on board. However, as you utilize the above suggested, desired factors, they are likely to pay dividends over time. When do you intend to review your workplace two-way communication issues?

 

To learn more about workplace people engagement, talk with:



Arnie Friedland -Long Island – (516) 446-6447 or arnie@ileadershipsolutions.com;
Chris Garratt –Europe- (+352) 2631 3384 or chris@lse.lu
Denise Lalonde – New York- (212) 974 1438 or denise@ileadershipsolutions.com
Esther Celosse – Europe – (+33) 658 867 350 or esther@lse.lu
Ed Frontera – Florida – (561) 715 0447 or ed@ileadershipsolutions.com
Jim Leonhard –California – (916) 550 7075 or jimhl@ileadershipsolutions.com
Olger Draijer –Europe-(+352) 45 88 35 or olger@lse.lu
Paul Schonenberg – Europe – (+352) 621 23 3131 or paul@lse.lu
Peter A. Arthur-Smith – New York- (212) 332-8907 or peter@ileadershipsolutions.com
© 1994-2017 Leadership Solutions, Inc (MALRC) All rights reserved

by Peter A. Arthur-Smith, Leadership Solutions, Inc.®

‘Burnley, with a population of 73,000 is the smallest town to have a Premier League soccer team in the UK: where the Premier Soccer League is one of the most prestigious sports franchises in the world.’ Taken from NY Times sports section article, August 2017.

 

 

 20 or 30 years ago your writer would occasionally visit this northern English town in Mid-Lancashire County. It was the classic case of an old industrial town blighted by social deprivation, unemployment and commercial decline. Now it’s a thriving community once more that won Britain’s 2013 award as the most entrepreneurial place in the country. Additionally, it has become a role model for a Yorkshire County town called Huddersfield, which has just won promotion to the English Premier Soccer League, too – or football league in UK parlance.

 

Suffice it is to say that Burnley has managed to hang onto its prestige status over the past three seasons since being promoted; and just started out its 2017-18 season with a victory over mighty Chelsea – with all that soccer

giant’s star players playing on their home turf. Over that three year run, it has attracted “away fans and journalists to stay” at a new outcrop of town hotels. It’s built a new state-of-the-art team training facility on the outskirts of town and takes great pride in hosting community sports facilities, educational programs and events financed by Premier League grants.

 

Not only is Burnley a role model for Huddersfield, another rust-bucket, northern English town in renaissance, but it can also play that role for countless other towns and cities on both sides of-the-Atlantic-pond. Mike Garlick, Burnley’s Club Chairman, says his team’s success has spurred further economic transformation in the town over recent years. Much has happened as the team rose to fame and fortune and better positioned the town for greater things to come. A leader like Garlick clearly helped Burnley shape the pathway to break away from its rust-bucket image and circumstances.

 

He clearly has a success strategy for his club and does his best to leverage that to his home town’s advantage: even though his fortunes have led him to relocate to the south of England. As indicated earlier, there are many visible signs of this paying-off, despite the town’s minnow size relative to other Premier League towns and cities. It has managed to shrug-off its small-town status and maintained its successful soccer franchise. No doubt the town’s size will change over time, if it continues to prosper and sustain its soccer prowess.

 

Converting that traditional rust-bucket mindset into renewed futuristic faith is vital for other towns and cities that would like to return to prosperity once more. Burnley provides a useful role-model for many other communities bent on renewal and a willingness to draw upon their natural potential by asking such questions as:

 

»What are our special talents or assets that we can call upon to turn things around? – In the case of Burnley and now possibly Huddersfield, it is their soccer franchises that have restored town spirit and support. Other towns or cities in the US have baseball, ice hockey, basketball, football or soccer teams that could potentially become community torch bearers.

 

»What other leadership or people talent do we have at our disposal to turn the tide? – Burnley had already won the entrepreneurship accolade of the year award when the prestige soccer league promotion came its way: although we shouldn’t overlook the competitive battles its team had to cope with before reaching that pinnacle. So the town was already on the right path, but the team’s winning ways helped stoke local community spirit such that it could do more. Many leaders like Garlick moved away, but now some will be returning.

 

»Do we have other community assets we can build upon to reinforce a better direction? – Although this article has placed a certain obvious emphasis on sports teams, since that can be a great way to galvanize a town or city –ala the stampede for team jerseys of newly promoted Huddersfield: so much so that town fans will have to wait a few weeks into the new season before their new jerseys will arrive – there are other local franchises that can serve as useful catalysts, too. Town or city franchises in arts fairs, education symposia, or civic activities may assist in acting as local magnets or rejuvenating community spirit. Potential community spirit comes in all shapes and sizes. (NOTE: This writer has been advised that Carnegie Mellon University had quite a big impact on Pittsburgh’s renaissance, due to its ability to attract modern-era students who then became available to fill local, 21st-century business positions in software and media. Others have flocked back to the city for modern-era jobs, too.)  

 

Once the vision for a renaissance or turn-around has catalyzed, it’s up to the local political, commercial and other leaders to set the pace. Activities such as the ones listed below should be considered:

     »Get local leaders to utilize option-solving – see recent Phase 1 article – to review your best turnaround town, city or business alternatives.

 »Encourage known leaders, who have fled your town, to return and participate in near-term priority discussions.

 »Enlist some of the same out-of-town leaders to become mentors for potential leaders still living within the local community.

»Form “Enterprise teams” of 6-7 like-minded people to pursue some of the options and/or priorities brought forth from the first two suggestions.

»Get artistic performers, who have left town, to return and lead cultural, money-raising events or concerts.

»Spur local sports teams to step-up and capture the spirit and support of those still living in the community.

»Get civic leaders to bid for grants and financial support for worthy, change-of-the-landscape projects.

»Draw the local, regional and national media into placing a spotlight on your community and attract former native townsfolk to return or collaborate in some way.

 

All of these and other possibilities are part of the pathway for turning around your community or enterprise;  like Burnley, Huddersfield, Pittsburgh and countless other rust-bucket towns or cities – or almost dead-in-the-water enterprises. Where there’s effective leadership, it will happen.

 

To find out more about building a strategic pathway, talk with:



Arnie Friedland -Long Island – (516) 446-6447 or arnie@ileadershipsolutions.com;
Chris Garratt –Europe- (+352) 2631 3384 or chris@lse.lu
Denise Lalonde – New York- (212) 974 1438 or denise@ileadershipsolutions.com
Esther Celosse – Europe – (+33) 658 867 350 or esther@lse.lu
Ed Frontera – Florida – (561) 715 0447 or ed@ileadershipsolutions.com
Jim Leonhard –California – (916) 550 7075 or jimhl@ileadershipsolutions.com
Olger Draijer –Europe-(+352) 45 88 35 or olger@lse.lu
Paul Schonenberg – Europe – (+352) 621 23 3131 or paul@lse.lu
Peter A. Arthur-Smith – New York- (212) 332-8907 or peter@ileadershipsolutions.com
© 1994-2017 Leadership Solutions, Inc (MALRC) All rights reserved

by Peter A. Arthur-Smith, Leadership Solutions, Inc.®

“Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration,” Thomas Edison, serial inventor. 

 


Edison may well be right. Like Edison with his light bulb invention: Henry Ford built a major enterprise out of an inspirational idea – everyman’s automobile. Elon Musk is about to build major space and electric-auto businesses out of two inspirational ideas. Sergey Brin and Larry Page built a major social media company out of inspirational ideas with Google and its affiliates. Bill Gates and Paul Allen at Microsoft launched a major software house through some inspirational ideas. Sam Walton did the same at Wal-Mart – low prices.

 

In each case, they had to apply extraordinary perspiration to bring those ideas to fruition. Clearly they are all people with great imaginations. Coupled with that, they obviously made more good decisions than bad ones, although they would probably be the first to admit that they benefitted enormously from the latter: where the bad ones taught them a lot.

 

One of the things that likely helped them in their decision-making, was not being put-off by obstacles, or not taking “No” for an answer, or not being afraid to make mistakes. They came to learn that there were always other options, if only they could find them. Having that ability to park ideas at the back of their minds and let their imaginations run wild on them, until new options emerged, are other attributes that were at their disposal. Such attributes are abilities we all have, although some make use of them better than others. We can train ourselves or our people to do it; although it does take perspiration, which many of us are reluctant to splash-out on.

 

Coupled with this, they had to learn how to shrug-off snickers from friends, or ridicule from a boss or colleague, or parental scolding, or setbacks when trying to make their latest idea viable. They also had to learn how to scratch-around for resources, or assistance, or advice. Such activities require a lot of humility, which is why many inventors are rather humble, behind-the-scene types. Some turned their product fame into fortunes, which enabled them to develop a flamboyant veneer over their initial humility. That new found behavior is often termed by many as: (s)he’s eccentric.

 

And so, all the indications are that our imaginations are capable of being extremely valuable. However, we should accept that some people’s notions are more valuable than others, although, all too often, we go to tremendous lengths to shut them down. Maybe we don’t like it when others have better ideas than we do, so we tend to pooh-pooh them or shut them out; thereby enabling us to feel better about ourselves.

 

Within our organizations we’re inclined to put our people into mental straight-jackets, so they will remain on our designated path rather than release their imaginations. We rely on pages of policies and procedures to shut-off their ideas and keep them on a straight-and-narrow pathway and today’s business. Then we have the audacity to complain that our people aren’t creative enough…Is this our human wish to turn things on and off when it’s convenient for us?

 

What can we do to distance ourselves from this habitual bind? As executives or people leaders we need to think about the following imagination-releasing principles:

» Don’t encourage your people to leave their brains and ideas behind at home every day.

    » Set aside time on a fairly frequent basis for your “thinkers” to brainstorm or release those ideas.

    » Don’t fall into your time-short mindset because you’re overly focused on turning out widgets                every day.

    » Welcome odd-ball ideas because sometimes odd-ball ideas become brain-shattering ones.

    » Give people due credit for their imaginative ideas and don’t try to take them on-board as your                own…that shuts imaginations down quicker than anything.

 

Let’s suppose a person at your firm comes up with a half-baked business expansion idea, while your intuition tells to you that there may just be something there. Maybe you can develop it into a winning or whole-baked idea by using a decision making concept called option solving. Option solving is a means of stretching your number of possibilities around a half-baked idea, within the framework of an important question like: “What is our best option for expanding on idea XYZ …,” coupled with key considerations that expand or likely reduce your possibilities, such as, “…considering, 1) we have limited space, 2) we have ambitious staff, 3) our budgets are tight, and 4) the market seems ready for something else?”  Keeping it to four considerations is probably a wise idea, so you don’t make your final deliberations too complex…see the adjacent “pictogram.” (NOTE: It is best for a “think-team” of 2-6 people from within your firm to put this question together.)

 

 

 

Now your “think-team” is in a position to establish ‘Yin and Yang’ bookends (B-E), which will not only prod their thinking but also realistically place reasonable boundaries around this team of imaginations.  With these so-called bookends, you can now ask your chosen team to produce at least five alternative, realistic options (A-E) – outside that half-baked idea – to potentially produce a whole-baked idea. One of these options could well be the half-baked idea used as a bookend or option.

 

Once your “pictogram” of options is ready, encourage your think-team  to set it aside for 20, 30, 60 minutes; or even a few hours. This allows for some objectivity created by emotional distancing.

 

When they return to it, their intuition, in combination with their rational mind, will be ready to make an optimal choice…not necessarily the perfect one. Once that choice is made, the team can go through another round of option solving – known as “Peeling the Onion” – as a means of adding weight or more meat onto the whole-baked decision-bone. You can follow-through with as many Peel-the-Onion rounds of sub-options as you wish to add more clarity to your decision and strategy.

 

Now that your think-team’s optimal option and sub-options are clear, it is well positioned to lay-out a gameplan; while the whole-baked idea is still fresh in their minds. Team members should then immerse themselves in Phase 2 – Enlightened Pathfinding.

 

    Why don’t you get started with Phase I today and, since your organization is full of imaginative minds that need to be encouraged, consider setting-up “option-storming” sessions on a regular basis to turn half-baked ideas into whole-baked ones. Don’t become so obsessed with today’s business that you forget about tomorrow’s imaginative ideas, which could give your operation a bigger lift than it just keep plugging away at the same-old, same-old.

To learn more about decision-making, talk with:



Arnie Friedland -Long Island – (516) 446-6447 or arnie@ileadershipsolutions.com;
Chris Garratt –Europe- (+352) 2631 3384 or chris@lse.lu
Denise Lalonde – New York- (212) 974 1438 or denise@ileadershipsolutions.com
Esther Celosse – Europe – (+33) 658 867 350 or esther@lse.lu
Ed Frontera – Florida – (561) 715 0447 or ed@ileadershipsolutions.com
Jim Leonhard –California – (916) 550 7075 or jimhl@ileadershipsolutions.com
Olger Draijer –Europe-(+352) 45 88 35 or olger@lse.lu
Paul Schonenberg – Europe – (+352) 621 23 3131 or paul@lse.lu
Peter A. Arthur-Smith – New York- (212) 332-8907 or peter@ileadershipsolutions.com
© 1994-2017 Leadership Solutions, Inc (MALRC) All rights reserved

  by Peter A. Arthur-Smith, Leadership Solutions, Inc.®

“We have become one of the most bureaucratic, confusing, litigious societies on the planet…We have to get our act together” Jamie Dimon, CEO, JP Morgan Chase Bank, Wall Street Journal Business article, July 2017.

 

 

 Although CEO Dimon was referring to the US society as a whole, could his views also mirror the state of our individual businesses, institutions or associations? He clearly felt it applied to government of all stripes. Judging from the way the management discipline has shaped the mechanisms of our organizational life, our answer to the opening question has to be “Yes.” Management is primarily about policies, procedures and systems, in its quest to automate, delineate and regulate everything we do within our immediate enterprise. Has it therefore unwittingly hoodwinked us into a boondoggle in our desire for success?

 

One way to find out is to switch into some leadership modes to gauge the difference we experience in organization momentum. If we suddenly find that our enterprise  jolts into life and progress without having to crack the whip as much, or drive our people as

much, or that gaining ground is not so much of a slog anymore; just maybe we’ll have found a better alternative. Then we’ll know we’ve been caught-up in the management cycle for way too long. So how does one make the shift?

 

To be realistic, it’s virtually impossible to go from a crawl to 100 mph in one-fell-swoop. More realistically you make progress in meaningful but challenging phases, rather than unrealistically expecting to hit high gear before you can even run. It’s suggested, therefore, that you consider breaking-out in at least three phases:

»Initial Priority Phase

»Priority Streaming Phase

»Strategic Priority Phase (Framing rather than Planning)

 

»Initial Priority Phase (First Gear) – A key advantage of starting with a Priority Session is its potential to kick-off in a TEAM mode. Consequently, if you have the opportunity to combine this session with an exercise that promotes team thinking, you should do so. (NOTE: Consider using LSI’s Communication Preference Survey [CPS], since it will enhance team connection possibilities.)

      Once you have participants thinking more like a team, you can then initially break them into groupings of 3-6 players to contemplate your organization’s priorities over the next 6-12 months. Give these break-out groups 20-30 minutes to clarify their thoughts on what they believe are your enterprise’s three most important priorities, right now.

After due time, bring those groupings back together and quietly challenge them to reach an across-the-board consensus on the most important priorities relative to their aggregated listing. Those top priorities will equate to the number of people-pairs that are present: e.g. 6 people =3 pairs, 10 people =5 pairs, 15 people = 6 pairs and one threesome. (NOTE: If you have the advantage of LSI’s CPS – mentioned earlier – then aim to pair people according their differing primary communication colors rather than have the same ones. This enables them to draw upon each other’s strengths; where pairing is the most effective way of getting something accomplished.)

Put the pairs (or threesome) to work over the next 30-60 minutes to contemplate – WHAT, HOW, WHO, WHEN & WHERE to go for allies – so that they produce specific action initiatives. These can subsequently be accomplished with your pairings co-opting an additional 2-4 people, drawn from across the enterprise, as a means of widening exposure and building more advocates within your organization for the desired outcomes.

Once complete, these should be shared with your other meeting teams; so as to increase commitment, gain valuable input, and aid encouragement. The implementation clock starts ticking from there. Don’t forget to celebrate their successes along the way, as a way of whetting the appetite of others to engage in future “pairing.”

 

  »Priority Streaming Phase (Second Gear) – Once your key team is properly functioning in First Gear – probably after a 3-6 month stint working their way through their initial set of priorities – you can then introduce them to Priority Streaming.

As indicated with the adjacent pictogram, which is taken from an earlier article entitled – “How a Football Coach can win the Superbowl Next Year, again?” – you can envisage taking your team through the streaming cycle of Thinking, Preparing, and Implementing. However, experience shows us that it is better to start in reverse order, so that your team becomes comfortable with the flow. To that end:

 

 

 

 

»Implementing Bubble – It equates pretty well to the earlier Initial Priority Phase your team will now be trained in. For this reason, participants should be more than ready to articulate and list the priority items that need to be focused on over the next 1-3 months. Again, split your team into pairs and assign them to their-your listed items for devising and implementing appropriate action initiatives.

»Preparing Bubble – Now they can list items to spend a certain amount of preparatory time on, even while implementing their prior listing. Again different pairs can take these preparatory items on, within appropriate time periods, even while they’re executing their earlier items. Pairings will be

decided by their natural interest, team orientation and expertise, and then take chosen items under their wings. People are capable of taking on more than one task, providing they time-sequence them appropriately. These items will then be ready for moving to their implementation phase.

»Thinking Bubble – Here your team will again list items – for eventual execution 3-9 months down the road, relative to their role; i.e. operational team 3 months: strategic team 9 months – that are important to think about prior to the Preparation or Implementation Phases. Again, you can pair people in different arrangements for doing this, relative to their interest, team orientation and expertise.

»Once all these phases are mapped out in your Priority Streaming chart, you can then orchestrate the ongoing cycle with them to create a continuous stream of  implementation, preparation and thought activities. Now your enterprise will be in second gear.

 

» Strategic Priority Phase (Top gear) – Almost a year out you will be nicely moving along in second gear without having to push and shove everything. Your key team will be taking the same approach with their teams, hence will have more time to think strategically.

      In order to move into top gear, you and your key people have to be as clear as possible about a four-sided framework: compelling Vision, key Know-how, vital Resources and inspiring Objectives-Human Outcomes. This means educating them in all four areas. Your author’s prior article, “2016 Plan Using Strategic Positioning  and Frameworks” describes these quite explicitly. If need be, contact him at peter@ileadershipsolutions.com for a re-run.

Once their Strategic Framework – fundamentally different from a strategic plan, which is a management tool – is in place, your top team will have a really clear idea where it is going. Such clarity needs to be vibrantly comm-unicated at all levels within your organization, so that everyone else knows where the ship is going. When people know where they’re going, the following is likely to happen:

  • They will start dreaming, anticipating and desiring the future that’s mapped out.
  • They will start offering additional ideas on how the vision can be accomplished.
  • Some will volunteer time to participate in extra enterprise-wide initiatives to help move the ball forward.
  • Your people, across-the-board, will start cheering as milestones are accomplished.
  • Many people will make themselves available for future initiative participation.
  • And more?

 

Just imagine what your organization starts to feel and look like with all this intrinsic momentum and activity? The bureaucracy will rapidly start to fall away, the confusion will quickly disappear, and the litigious mindset will evaporate. What joy and relief will descend on your organization during every work-day. If enough of this happens within various organizations, it will begin to have an impact on society as a whole. Why not get started today?

 

To learn more about “the three levels of building momentum,” talk with:



Arnie Friedland -Long Island – (516) 446-6447 or arnie@ileadershipsolutions.com;
Chris Garratt –Europe- (+352) 2631 3384 or chris@lse.lu
Denise Lalonde – New York- (212) 974 1438 or denise@ileadershipsolutions.com
Esther Celosse – Europe – (+33) 658 867 350 or esther@lse.lu
Ed Frontera – Florida – (561) 715 0447 or ed@ileadershipsolutions.com
Jim Leonhard –California – (916) 550 7075 or jimhl@ileadershipsolutions.com
Olger Draijer –Europe-(+352) 45 88 35 or olger@lse.lu
Paul Schonenberg – Europe – (+352) 621 23 3131 or paul@lse.lu
Peter A. Arthur-Smith – New York- (212) 332-8907 or peter@ileadershipsolutions.com
© 1994-2017 Leadership Solutions, Inc (MALRC) All rights reserved