How a Change Team Dies & How to Save Them

Sadly, I’ve watched many centralized change teams (e.g., Lean Offices, Agile Groups, Morale Committees) die organizational deaths. Much of the suffering prior to their demises has been at their own hands, though I doubt they would ever see it that way.  Hence, I offer my perspective as another version of the story that may prompt self-reflection and learning.  In this blog post I’ll focus on three main ways that a change team dies.

  1. They drive people. When you use some form of coercion (e.g., orders, fear of negative consequences, removal or application of positive consequences) to compel others to change, you are draining away from them and yourself some amount of energy.  This slow-but-steady drain eventually depletes either the change team or their victims (er, clients).  This drain usually goes unnoticed until a leader of one of the client organizations takes action to force a senior leader above the change team to cancel their work.  Many meetings are held to question what, if any, value the change team is providing.  Eventually, the senior leader gives in, saddened by the situation, but powerless to disagree.  A central change team can save itself by switching to driving change, choosing this change (obviously) and clearing the obstacles for others to choose it to.  By removing themselves from driving people, they will have removed a huge obstacle for their clients.
  2. They lag behind the clients they purport to serve.  When a central change group is created, the presumption is that they are the thought-leading, practice-leading experts who can, with their full-time devoted to the change work, pull the entire organization along on their knowledge and experience.  Yet, many central change teams may start out ahead of some of their clients, but usually aren’t out ahead of all them.  Swelled with the pride of their new organization, the change teams can fall into a trap of arrogance, and disconnect from the thought and practice-leading clients and begin to create “the standard” way of doing the work, which is often more theoretical than practical, and often lags the learning that the clients are doing in the field.  A time progresses, the gap between the leaders and the central organization grows, as the leaders are still driving for results and the central is driving for scalable, controllable models (one size training, one process implementations).  When the gap gets big enough, or the tug of their lagging standard gets big enough, the leaders will again appeal to the senior leaders to choose between the results they are getting for the organization or the overhead of the centralized team, which failed to help the leading group get any better, faster, or cheaper.  A central team can save itself if it rediscovers its humility and links itself to the leaders in a driving change way of obstacle removal and pushing out the edges of organizational limits.
  3. They focus on their program, versus on their clients or their results.  When I ask a central change team, what are you working on, and all they tell me is about internal meetings, internal plans, and internal processes, I know they are slowly dying.  Their attention has shifted from their clients and client results to themselves and their results (or activities often) and with this shift they have lost the focus they need to deliver on the reason they were created: results.  They can save themselves if they shift their time together to figuring out how they can faster support their clients and remove the obstacles their clients have identified or ratified.

There are many great people in the world doing their very best to drive implementations of worthy changes and methods.  I hope this outline will help them see ways they can avoid common problems and keep themselves serving their clients well for years to come.

 

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Authorization Tiers

Are you struggling with how to enact empowerment in a project? Want a framework to help you have an effective conversation about how to integrate empowerment with development and teamwork?  Try this new framework I’ve put together, merging my work and David Marquet’s Ladder of Leadership.

The Authorization Tiers debuted publicly at the New Trends in Project Management (NTPM) Conference for Project Management Institute (PMI) in Gdansk, Poland.  I keynoted on April 25, 2017 and shared how anyone can use the authorization tiers to increase their opportunity to thrive.

This is the Authorization Tiers framework.

Authorization Tiers - A Framework for Project Empowerment v3

Here are the full presentation slides.  I offer them as my gift toward your success.

 

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Turn Frustration into Action

Tonight I watched the U.S. presidential debate. I also watched and read some of the posts on Twitter and Facebook.

I’m convince now more than ever that we need to move beyond the habit of storing our hopes and dreams for our future in our presidential candidates.

We need to stop fighting each other, yelling at each other, and demonizing each other. We need to start saying what we believe in and what we are doing to bring that new future into reality.

We need to decide to create the changes we want to see in our communities, states, and nations rather than waiting for someone, somewhere, to do something.

We are a multitude of someones.

We are somewhere, our somewhere: the place that most matter to each of us.

We can do something.

How?

We must become the change agents we can be. We must drive change, not people. We must live our changes and clear the way for others to join us.

We have been suffocated by people telling us they will solve our problems.  We are crushed with the promises that they will finally do something for us.  We can do better.

Are you ready to start creating the change you want to see in the world? Yes?

Do you know where to start and how to keep yourself going? No?

Everyone is a Change AgentI’m overjoyed that Everyone is a Change Agent has been published now, just weeks before the election.

Now we are at our most frustrated with the system as it has been, or as we’ve thought it might be.  Let’s turn that frustration into action.

Stop waiting for them to fix it, improve it, or change it.  You can do it! I believe in you.

Buy Everyone is a Change Agent. Read it. Live it.  You will change the world!

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Overcoming an Overwhelming Amount of Change

Even if I wanted to stop the changes in my life, I don’t think I could.

My kids are growing up, and with their growth comes new lessons for me as a parent.

My career is expanding into new assignments and new locations: constant change and a different type of growth.

And now I’ve added to that learning all about book publication, marketing, and distribution.  Now, I’m tired.

When I’m overwhelmed by change, I focus on a piece I know I can control.

For example, I can’t control the tax codes across states, let alone countries, so I’m going to avoid tackling that for now.  But, I can control who I reach out to with the news about the book’s publication. Plus, with that option I get to reconnect with old friends. Yes, I’ll focus on that for now.

You will get overwhelmed, but you don’t have to stay overwhelmed.  Find something to focus on, hold on to it and rest, then get back to swimming through the sea of change.  You can do it.  I believe in you!

Why not try?

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Published!

My graduation, first from high school, then from college.  My wedding day.  The birth of my first, second, third, then fourth child.  These were the days I’ve looked forward to most in my life.  After those moments, I was most looking forward to today: the day I became a published author.  I’ve been looking forward to this day for at least the last ten years, maybe the last fifteen.  Now that it’s here, I’m finding it hard to contain my joy.

Everyone is a Change AgentI love books.  I love authors. I love change agents.  Today, my passions were merged with the publication of Everyone is a Change Agent.  You can get the book in paperback right away at my online store. 

Thank you to so many people who helped make today happen.

To my husband and kids who share me with my passion for sharing the message of successful change.  Special thanks to Ted for letting me both tell stories about him and write the book from his hospital room this June.

Thanks to all the people who reviewed the early copies of the book: Joe Bradley, Julia Bulacio, Colette Berna, Roxanne Bryson, Scott Button, Adam Cetnerowski, Mike Doyle, Rolf Goetz, Steve Holt, Jay Johnson, Danuta Luczak-Wieczorek, Giuseppe Miccoli, Lesley Artyn Nolan, Rae Anne Randall, Jean Richardson, Hilbert Robinson, Andrea Shapiro, Gabriela Simone, Rhea Stadick, Rebekah Uhtoff, Mike Wellborn, and Sunny Wheeler.

Thanks to Mike Hannan and Dan Diamond for teaching me how to publish.

Thanks to Maureen Hannan for being my amazing copy editor.

Thanks to everyone at Bremerton Beyond Accessible Play for creating a playground and a story I love to tell over and over.

Thanks to John Kotter, Dennis Goin, and the Guiding Coalition members at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard & Intermediate Maintenance Facility (PSNS & IMF).

Thanks to the members of Nuclear Engineering and Planning Department at PSNS & IMF (or at least the people who were there 10+ years ago when I was making such a mess of creating change).

And, finally, thanks to Bob Steinmetz for always (and I mean ALWAYS) asking me, “When are you going to write your book?”

You have my lifelong gratitude.

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Memory Lane – Links to fuel your change

As I ramp into a new adventure, I’m reminded of some old memories and the blog posts that captured the learning.

Here are a few that have come up in the past few days and are useful for change agents to remember.

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Chief Acceleration Officer

The future is today!

In July 2000, Fast Company published a Job Titles of the Future: Chief Acceleration Officer.

A quick search shows at least four people who have held this title:

There are some who are advocating for recasting the Chief Information Officers as Chief Acceleration Officers too.

Lloyd was responsible for accelerating code development and  Todd for accelerating entrepreneuring at the university.  Those are both narrow applications of acceleration.  Marjorie was responsible for wide-ranging changes in the Truman Medical Center organization, but, as the comments to the above article mention, left without delivering results.  Only Timothy is still in his position, and he only received it in January 2015.

These were all noble attempts at creating a definition of a Chief Acceleration Officer, but they all miss the full scope of what a position like this, filled with a capable officer, could achieve for the 99% of organizations struggling to deal with the rate of change today.

Why am I qualified to define this role?  Because I have been living on the leading edge of change implementation for the past 10 years.  In 2010, John Kotter, said of my work leading the Guiding Coalition at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, that,

Only 15 percent of all organizations are really trying to understand how to live with and respond to the rate of change.  Of the organizations, 15 percent are trying to move in a direction that they know works, 14 of the 15 percent are struggling because of the culture or environment that drives them.  Only 1 percent of the organizations in the world are making progress; they are doing what you all are doing.”

Since then I’ve been pushing the limits beyond this compliment into higher success percentage results, shorter team launch times, and great global and organizational reach.  All of that has prepared me to define the Chief Acceleration Officer from the perspective of someone who could actually deliver on the promise of the position.

My bold claim is that this is the Chief Acceleration Officer that every organization will soon want:


Chief Acceleration Officer 

Reporting Structure: Reports directly to the Chief Executive Officer and partners with officers across the organization.

Job Description: 

The Chief Acceleration Officer (CAO) is the catalyst for organizational change. She partners with thriving leaders at all levels to architect systems and solutions that accelerate results and delight customers now and for years to come.

The CAO understands the recipes for change management and delivers the capability beyond change management, change leadership.  While other organizations struggle to achieve even 50% success with change, a CAO delivers improved organizational outcomes more than 75% of the time.  While other organizations create 3 to 5 year plans for change implementation, the CAO enables her organization to shrink implementation times by 50% or more.

The CAO models the organizational changes and clears the obstacles for the organization, suppliers, and customers to follow.  She will drive change, not people, creating accelerated results and sustainable success.

The CAO would have a working knowledge of human resources, finance, business development, engineering, manufacturing, and operations with a depth of knowledge in change implementation principles essential for today’s rapidly accelerating markets.

The CAO is also responsible for creating change implementation capability across the workforce, developing and sustaining leadership ability to accelerate change within functions and across the organization.  Investing in a CAO today produces results for decades to come.


Who’s ready for a true Chief Acceleration Officer?  Why not try?

0039-crop

I’ll enable you.

After 31 July 2016, I’m available for hire either as Chief Acceleration Officer or an executive mentor to your Chief Acceleration Officer.

Send your requests to: engineforchange@gmail.com.

Engagement dates and opportunities are filling up fast. Contact me today.

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Trapped by our assumptions

We assume we can do must less than we can while at the same time assuming others can do much more than they can.

Reversing this assumption trap allows us to accomplish much more at a rapid pace because we harness our own power while giving others grace as they try to harness theirs.

Believe in your own power to create your change.

Remove the obstacles that keep others from seeing their power too.

Together you’ll change your world faster than you thought possible.

Why not try?

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