By Laura Davies-Clare on 2 May 2017
Connecting to Change
These days, ‘change management’ is all too often about large scale process or IT ‘projects’. In a world that needs us to adapt quicker than these projects take to deliver, how do we survive?
Challenging circumstances often result in us getting busy, but all too frequently our efforts are without consequence or real commercial impact. Anyone who has worked in a high octane change ‘initiative’ environment will tell you it’s exhausting and frequently unrewarding.
Therein lies the conundrum; how do we make a positive impact to change our business for the better when priorities are many and often conflicting?
The first step is to consider whether you are ‘stuck’? That is, whether you have many tasks or a strategic goal, and no idea where to start. When everything is seemingly business critical, how do you know where to begin?
Recognising you are stuck and contemplating why is a hugely powerful place to start. However, before we launch off and get build an empire of change, we need to make sure we have the right foundations..
To allow us to be effective at the three levels of self, team and organisation we need to be able to have quality dialogue with the people around us. The ability to connect ourselves at these 3 levels is a fundamentally basic and business critical skill that many are lacking.
The reality is that current thinking occupies the space of ‘communication’ and ‘engagement’ being a discrete function which is the domain of a few specialists. In subscribing to this trend, we are failing to release the potential of our living organisational system.
In considering our organisation as a sum of its human parts, the first step on our change journey should be to ensure that all of our people have the fundamental skills they need to interact in an effective and meaningful way. These needs can be varied, but we know that in embarking on a change journey, the most significant and sustainable investment you can make in your people is enabling them to have a good conversation.
So how do we have this dialogue/good conversation?
Firstly, we share our perspective (advocacy), backed up by data and information to support our view. We test our conclusions, invite input from others and really listen to their responses. This includes the parts of their response that we may not like that much!
Secondly, we inquire of others (inquiry). We ask thoughtful questions, being clear about why we are asking them. Our intention. We listen to what others say, seek new understanding and are prepared to explore alternatives.
Understanding the impact of a good conversation and harnessing its potential in the moment can produce significant and truly transformational outcomes. It builds our connection to enable us to change. The power of high quality advocacy is influencing those around us; the power of high quality inquiry is learning. As a combined force they amount to a competitive edge.
Returning to where we started, in a world where change and adaptability come at us thick and fast, it is easy to lose sight of what can truly make a sustainable impact. Communication is not a profession, it is a truism, one which is the lifeblood of our living and breathing organisational systems.
There is however good reason why we fail in addressing the basic needs of our organisations – learning to practice high quality dialogue on a consistent basis requires focus and dedication, which can be difficult in a volatile and chaotic environment.
The good news is that we can apply our high quality conversational skills in the moment to help us unstick critical business issues, immediately.
So, rather than addressing complexity with complicated solutions, one way we can achieve sustainable and rapid change is by focusing on the foundation skills we need to be and do differently.
To know more or get help with your change challenge, please contact us.
By Michael Thorley on 25 January 2017
New Year is a time where people come together to celebrate, reflect and look ahead. For many, it also lets us know the numbers and kinds of people we know. In what ways are we connected and included with those around us? New Year is a great time of year for many. Yet for others New Year can be a time which reminds us that perhaps we are more isolated or lonely than we would like.
So, at New Year, we tend to make plans for the year ahead in order to change some things. We may then get caught up in planning and the scheduling and that, whilst helpful for some, can be self-defeating for many. It can be all too much of a chore. If you look at the numbers of resolutions we make, how many do we hold onto for the whole year? Some, but not many.
Not achieving our plans (falling off the wagon, missing a low calorie day, not reading that book or article, skipping a planned run, not calling that guy/girl you’ve been interested in for a while) can send us into all kinds of emotions and thoughts. These may range from a shrug of the shoulders; “no problem I’ll do it later” to deeper thoughts and feelings “well I’m not very good anyway so what’s the point”.
In my experience, most people tend towards the negative judgemental aspects and, given that negative thoughts aren’t that pleasant, the plan tends to get placed to one side. So, whilst a plan can be useful it should not be the focus.
It is usually far more useful to hold the bigger picture of INTENTION. We can review the choices we make in the context of the intention. In this context there is less room for judgement and more room for flexibility and learning and thus growth and achievement.
So, if we are working towards finding out what I intend to do this year, here are some thoughts to get you going.
• What is it that I want? (my intention; run a 10k, meet a new person, stretch every day, feel happier)
• When roughly do I want it? (short, medium, longer term)
• Who do I want this for?
o Is it for me?
o For someone else?
• How will I know when I am on my way to achieving my intention? (this can include “I know more people, I have run for 30 seconds and walked a minute, I started reading and spoke to someone about it)
• What am I prepared to invest to achieve my intention? (this can be time, money, relationships, changing habits e.g. ensuring I go to one networking event, ensuring I talk to one new person)
• What is the benefit of not achieving my intent? (This is a nice brain teaser but helps us really think about our intent and motivation rather than the plan!)
• What are the smallest signals that I am beginning to take the steps towards my intention?
• What else? (Who can help me? Who can I offer help to? Anything else coming up?)
So, remember, that while a plan can be helpful it can be a bit “all or nothing”, “success or failure”. Clarity on your intent is the more important thing. It allows you to reflect more thoughtfully on what happened and continue onwards.