At the heart of a meaningful change is someone who thought beyond the boundaries. Someone who challenged the status quo. Someone who exerted emotional labor to pursue, fight for their ideas and convince others. And then they bring about change. You can call them rebels or change makers and they are inevitable for growth and positive change.
Rebels may not be a very popular lot and many bosses I’ve seen work overtime to subdue the rebels. But great leadership is about providing right channels to direct this energy, nurturing a mindset of continuous improvement and supporting people as they execute their experiments and ideas. That’s what rebels expect from their bosses.
“…it’s just another one of those things I don’t understand: everyone impresses upon you how unique you are, encouraging you to cultivate your individuality while at the same time trying to squish you and everyone else into the same ridiculous mould. It’s an artist’s right to rebel against the world’s stupidity.”
― E.A. Bucchianeri, Brushstrokes of a Gadfly
In this context, I love the work that Lois Kelly and Carmen medina do at Rebels at Work community. I have sketched their ideas here before and here’s a quick sketchnote of their recent blog post “What Rebels Want From Their Bosses”.
This may help you as a leader if you really intend to support rebels in your teams.
Related Sketchnotes/Posts at QAspire.com
When everything around is constantly changing, it is easy to:
Get carried away by latest fads, best practices etc.
Execute changes that may not be significant in shifting results to positive direction
Implement solutions to half-baked problem statements
Isolate people affected by change in a rush to just change things
Get confused between change and transformation initiatives
We often see this happening all around us. There is so much conversation going on about change and transformation that it is easy to get carried away when the “Big WHY” of change is not clear.
In this context, I read Paul Taylor’s latest post titled “Three Simple Ideas To Stop Change Failing” where he offers not so radical ideas to ensure that change does not fail. He emphasizes on importance of mindset, getting influence devolved to people closest to change, change through small experimentation and not initiating change without a clear problem statement and some evidence that proposed solution will result in net positive business outcome.
These are simple ideas, but powerful ones. Simplicity after all is not all that flashy and it takes far more thinking and work to simplify things. Which is probably why we take the easier route of adding complexity, heh!
Here are a few excerpts from Paul’s post:
change is best served when we devolve power, and the institutions and hierarchy get out of the way
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Our change programmes rarely answer the question “Why are we changing?” in a truly coherent way.
This – combined with our cultural bias for execution over problem definition – is why change often fails. We may solve a problem – just not the right one.
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And here’s a quick sketch note summary of key ideas from the post:
Related Posts on Managing Change
Leading in an era of constant disruption, change and transformation is not easy. In such transformation efforts, soft aspects of leadership play as crucial role as the hard aspects like systems thinking, innovation and execution of change.
Last week, I saw an insightful TED talk by Jim Hemerling where he outlined 5 ways to lead in an era of constant changes. He says,
Let’s acknowledge that change is hard. People naturally resist change, especially when it’s imposed on them. But there are things that organizations do that make change even harder and more exhausting for people than it needs to be. First of all, leaders often wait too long to act. As a result, everything is happening in crisis mode. Which, of course, tends to be exhausting. Or, given the urgency, what they’ll do is they’ll just focus on the short-term results, but that doesn’t give any hope for the future. Or they’ll just take a superficial, one-off approach, hoping that they can return back to business as usual as soon as the crisis is over.
Sustainable change and transformation requires inclusive leadership that inspires through purpose, develops people and builds a culture of continuous learning.
Here are my sketch notes summarizing the key insights from the talk.
Related Posts/Sketchnotes at QAspire:
You cannot change your reflection in the mirror if you want to change how you look and feel about yourself. YOU have to change and the reflection changes accordingly.
And to enable that change, you have to do all the right things based on what you wish to achieve.
Trying to change an organization’s culture is much like that too. Culture of an organization is a reflection – a by-product – of what people within the organization do.
If you want culture to change, you have to first change your intent, behavior, systems, processes, mindset and then narrative. Trying to change an organization’s culture only through narratives (tall mission statements, values on the wall and lip service) is like trying to change the reflection in the mirror. It doesn’t happen.
As Euan Semple so succintly puts it –
You can change things that affect people in the hope that doing so gives them a good reason to adapt their behaviour, but culture emerges from the collective behaviours of the people in your organisation over time.
Culture itself cannot be created – it just happens as a result of doing the right things.
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In the Photo: Mountains at the Dawn, Jhadol, Rajasthan, India (2013)
There is no real leadership without change.
If you are simply “sustaining” what already exists, you are not a leader because real leadership is about change – moving people, processes, outcomes and culture to a better place.
In an organizational context, there is no change without some leadership.
Without any leadership, things still change but often, in a southwards direction. Any change in a positive direction means channeling collective energy of people, overcoming resistance, building consensus and involving others – none of which is possible without some leadership.
As Esther Derby so rightly says in “6 Rules of Change”,
Leaders don’t drive, install or evangelize change. They NURTURE it.
Explicit details of change (the gross part) is never as difficult as the soft side it it (the subtle) – how leaders enable and empower others during the change process.
In this post at Rebels at Work blog, Lois Kelly emphasizes on three change muscles that leaders need in order to nurture change – Appreciation, Understanding of character strengths and Creating Psychologically safe environment.
Rebels at Work is an excellent movement and I strongly recommend that you read the post “Build these three change muscles”. Meanwhile, here are my visual notes when I read the article.
Related Sketchnotes/Posts at QAspire.com
Disruptive forces compel organizations to undertake large scale transformation initiatives to stay relevant. The speed of executing these transformations is as crucial as the initiatives itself and a lot is at stake. In such situations, it is easy to get carried away by the enormity of task at hand and lose the sight of what could go wrong.
If you are undergoing a large scale transformation or planning for one, I highly recommend ThoughtWorks article titled “Seven Pitfalls to Avoid During Organizational Transformation” with insights from Anupam Kundu and Tarang Baxi. This article also features my sketch note summarizing the ideas presented.
When I read this post, it instantly reminded me of a post that I wrote back in 2010 titled “Change Management Essentials – 5 Things To Avoid” where I presented common pitfalls in change management from process implementation perspective and I believe that a lot of transformation initiatives comprise of multiple and overlapping change initiatives and process overhauls. You may find it useful to revisit the article.
Please click here to read the insightful article at ThoughtWorks Insights and here is the sketch note summary which can also be found in the original article)
Related Posts at QAspire
Businesses are struggling to keep the pace with rapid rate of change and disruption around. To keep up with the change, businesses try to diversify into newer areas, build products and services to cater to new market needs and innovate. Organizations on their transformation journeys cannot afford to rely only on the technology innovations because innovation is a result of something more deeper – innovation is a result of mindset, behavioral constructs, leadership and culture.
At ThoughtWorks blog, Aaron Sachs and Anupam Kundu have written an excellent post titled “The Unfinished Business of Organizational Transformation” where they outline the mindset shifts required when transforming the organizations to be more adaptable and agile.
(HT to Helen Bevan for sharing the post.)
While you can read the full post here (highly recommended), I created a quick sketch note to outline the shifts in our mindset and behavioral constructs to nurture change and enable organizational transformation.
Related Posts and Sketch notes:
Esther Derby is a highly respected voice in building up agile environments, organizations and teams for success. As a quality consultant and organization development enthusiast, I have been following her work since last many years.
Recently, Esther shared her insights (video) on the topic “Six Rules of Change” at LeanUX2015 and offered practical wisdom on driving large scale changes in the organization.
Here is a sketch note version that covers the essence of the talk. I highly recommend seeing the video for a full context on these 6 rules.
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A Note of Gratitude: