Archive for the ‘organizational development’ Category

Models of Appreciative Inquiry and Problem Solving

Monday, August 1st, 2011

Appreciative Inquiry is a wonderful organizational development model developed by David Cooperrider at Case Western University that is very applicable to what is happening in today’s economy. When dealing with problem solving and change, many times how we ask the question and what vision we create has a direct impact on how we solve the problem. For instance, instead of asking ‘what are our problems?’ or ‘what are we weak at?’, we can instead ask ‘what are our are strengths and how can we make them stronger?’. In Appreciative Inquiry there are four phases:
1.DISCOVER: The identification of organizational processes that work well.
2.DREAM: The envisioning of processes that would work well in the future.
3.DESIGN: Planning and prioritizing processes that would work well.
4.DESTINY (or DELIVER): The implementation (execution) of the proposed design

It is a strong addition to what I originally wrote in Flexible Thinker For our economic woes, if we look at phase 1 and ask ourselves what are our processes that work well. For instance, we are good at entrepreneurship and creativity. There is a reason companies such as Google, Facebook, Apple. Blackberry and Intel were founded in North America. Because we are free and are measured not by our lineage but by our accomplishments.

In process 2, we can dream of ways to make it easier to be create. These include less and more streamlined regulations to allow businesses to start. Investment in small business to help people have the capital to make their visions a reality.

In Phase 3 we can start to brainstorm ways to implement that vision. It could be discarding unnecessary paperwork and out-of-date process or finding ways to directly invest in various businesses and ideas.

Finally in Phase 4, we build SMART plans (Specific, Measurable, Actions, Realistic, Timeframe) to make those plans a reality.

By looking positively at what is the best of us, no matter your political persuasion, you build on the strengths we have. In other words, by focusing on the positive we achieve positive results.

Retention in the Age of Unemployment

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

With unemployment in Canada at 7.6% and in the U.S. at 9.8%, there does not seem to be a real need for organizations to worry about retention. After all, for every person leaving a job there are 10 people waiting to fill it. Also, people are staying where they are because they fear being unemployed. Also, in bad times, many business leaders have more important things on their mind than retaining staff. Their largest retention issue is with customers.

The reason that retention is still a major issues comes down to one word – competitiveness. The reality of today is that people are being asked to work harder for less money just to keep afloat. There still is a shortage of people – qualified people who can work faster and smarter.

There was a story I head a while ago about a chicken plant. The plant went on strike and the union was broken in the process as people crossed the line. People there were working for slightly more than minimum wage and being treated rather poorly. The result was that, in order to get revenge on the plant, they were spitting in the chickens on the assembly line and letting the customers know about it.

This brings me to my central point. A business is only as good as the people who deliver the product and services to the customers. Organizations that search out entrepreneurial, creative people and allow them to solve problems will thrive. Attraction and retention of these people will determine an organization’s ultimate success or failure and provide them with a sustainable competitive advantage. This is where human resources becomes a funciton of the business (and in fact an integral part of it) as opposed to a spectator.

Talent Management – On Building All Stars

Wednesday, July 6th, 2011

As baseball enters its all star break, it is time to think about developing all stars from a talent management perspective. It is interesting to note that many people become stars in one organization only to become low performers in another. The reverse of that is also true. There are many people who are considered low performers in one organization only to become all stars somewhere else. Like Jose Bautista of the Toronto Blue Jays who went from “journeyman” center fielder to the largest vote getter in all star history, there are people who become top performers even though the ‘tag’ on them was mediocrity. So, what is the difference?

The difference is culture. There is a culture in sports. Some organizations win no matter who they have playing the game while another organization goes out, buys the best talent for top money and still ends up losing.  Culture is made up of a number of elements.  Each element interacts with the other.  The main ones we put together for the Tetrahedron Culture Instrument are  leadership, attitudes and behaviors, rewards and compensation and process and procedures.  For instance, if a player is given a number of incentives for performance – they will perform.  If the unwritten attitude of the organization is that they cannot win and are losers – they will lose.  There are always external factors that can limit performance (i.e. injury, personal situation, etc.).  However, the way the organization deals with those situations has a tremendous bearing as well on performance.  Fpr instance, is there succession planning in place so that when somebody is injured somebody else can quickly take their place?    Is there an effective ‘minor league’ program where people are allowed to develop their skills and given the best coaching and mentoring to ensure that they fulfill their promise?  This has as much of an effect on an organization as simply trying to bring in the superstars.

Learning as a “Holy” Expericence

Sunday, June 12th, 2011

Learning is an intregal part of organizational development because it allows organizations to adapt and compete. It can be used to build a culture that is efficient and competitive. It allows change. The problem is that most organizations really have no concept of both how to design courses and how to implement them as part of a strategy.

I recently had two recent events which coincided against each other. My daughter had her Bat Mitzvah at the end of May and the following week I had the great honour of delivering the morning keynote to the International Alliance of Learning conference in Akron.

What do these events have in common? My daughter’s Bat Mitzvah was exceptional. I expected to be moved because, after all, it is my daughter. However, afterwards a number of people (including the Rabbi) told me that the event deeply moved them for some reason. It was, as they said, the intangibles that happen.  They are not sure, but sometimes an event is so deeply moving that it changes a person.  In terms of brain activity, it is creating a new neural pathway.  I have found it sometimes in workshops (not very frequently but it has happened).  That got me to thinking.  If the goal of learning is to create long-term sustainable change that is part of a defined organizational strategy, how do we create an environment where people work in their alpha state (which is optimal for learning) and will benefit both the individual and the organization.  Here are ways that we can create a “holy” learning experience.

1.  Greet People Before the Program Starts

This makes them feel welcomed and wanted.  Right away, they feel special and a part of the learning experience.  By asking them a few questions and getting to know them before the session, they feel a bond to you and are in your corner.

2.  Walk the Talk

One comment about my daughter’s Bat Mitzvah is that people knew that my wife and I are involved in the synagogue and active as teachers.  That meant that people knew that this was not just a formality for us but had meaning.  It is the same with learning.  When people know you are involved in what you are teaching and practice it yourself, it makes a huge difference.

3.  Preparation

My daughter worked very hard and went well beyond the minimum.  She did everything flawlessly and ‘wowed’ the ‘audience’.  It is the same with workshops.  The more prepared you are, the greater your ability to ‘wow’ them.

When both the material and the people matter to you, both you and the material will matter to the participants.  That combination can go a long way in helping to create a “holy” experience in learning.

Neuroscience and Organizational Development

Tuesday, April 12th, 2011

Why can’t people change their minds???? Why is change difficult? How come you cannot overcome myths with good inforamtion. Interesting new article in strategy+business from Dr. Jeffrey Schwartz, et al about the effects of brain research into o.d. Good follow up to my previous article on Why You Can’t Replace Myths with Good Information.