Unleash the power of King NOPA

Using the methods and tools that come with the NOPA approach – introduced more in detail here – will enable you to unleash a „beast“ of King Kong size that has the potential to successfully defeat nowaday’s challenge I call VUCAzilla.
What do you need to feed the beast called King NOPA? I invite you to read on…

The power of networking
First of all, check your strategies to network with others. Who are you connected with currently? Which are usual ways that you connect with others and get connected? Do you use a face-to-face approach or rather go virtually (e.g. xing or linkedin) or a mixture of both? And how easy do you make it others to get connected with you?
If you want to extend your network you have to start reflecting who you want to get connected with. Which are the precious and valuable contacts that you want to gain in the near future? Put yourself into other’s shoes and think about questions like “Where are they?”, “What are they usually doing?”, “What are their preferences in getting connected?”. Like Woody Allen once said, “going there and meeting them” will increase your probability of success by 50%”. If you do not take the effort (and sometimes a bit of courage) to reach out to others you will never be able to actually maybe get surprised in a positive way. To provide an excellent product or a great service nowadays is – unfortunately – not sufficient anymore. It heavily depends on your network and the list of your contacts if you will be successful.

The power of openness
Secondly, take a step back and think of a situation where somebody gave you feedback in a way that you quite did not like. How did you react? Did you make an effort to stay open-minded or did you simply “shut down” trying to avoid any self-blaming and feelings of shame or guilt? The next time, somebody gives you a feedback with negative implications think of the Spock character in Star Trek and just say, “Fascinating!”. Try to extract a useful aspect out of the feedback you have just received and learn from it. Learning opportunities can be found on a daily business in our lives, but it requires a certain perspective different to the one we usually have. This change of perspective might have a positive impact on your entire way of communicating with others and your self-image.

The power of participation
A wise man (and good speaker) once said, “You can talk about everything, but not for more than 30 minutes.”. Whenever I am part of meetings where a lot of the interaction happens on a 1:n basis (one person speaking, all others just listening) my moderator heart heavily weeps and I wonder, how dare we allow such a waste of resources by not getting participants of meetings engaged, just listening, staying passive? Fortunately, there are already many useful formats available “out there” that enable vivid interaction among members of a group of people getting together. Websites like Liberating structures or Gamestorming offer a great variety of ready-to-use tools for free that maximize the rate of active participation within a group of individuals. These formats enable participants to get engaged, have fun and work together to achieve a successful meeting goal. I strongly encourage you to make use of the two mentioned web sources above (liberating structures and gamestorming) and thereby providing future meetings with lots of interaction, goal-orientation and fun. I guarantee you that your reputation of a moderator that is looked upon with admiration will rise significantly.

The power of agility
At the beginning of the last century, according to Darwin’s evolutionary theory, the fittest – in the sense of strongest – would survive others (less fitter) species. With challenges like the economic crisis and evolving new business models as a consequence of the emerging internet, this model has slightly changed to “Survival of the most agile”. As stated in Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP), “The person or element with the most flexibility in a system will have the highest influence on others.” In this sense we are questioned in our capability to quickly adapt to changes without losing touch with the values and strategic direction we have once chosen for our path to success. Which tools support your sense of agility? What makes it possible for you to stay flexible in terms of challenges that you face? What needs to happen in the near future for you to keep up a certain degree of flexibility, avoiding rigidness?

I encourage you to try out a few of the ideas and approaches explained above to unleash your very own King NOPA beast to successfully conquer VUCAzilla.

King NOPA versus VUCAzilla

Kong-versus-Godzilla

You may have heard of the VUCA phenomenon, shaking the foundation of the established industries around the globe. However, you may wonder, what could help against it?
In addition to the Magnificent Seven that might be useful, I have just come across another simple concept called NOPA that I would like to introduce you to in this article.

N as in Networking stands for individuals and groups interacting not only within a certain community but also across hierarchical levels. The more often individuals and groups are networking the more probable that crucial information for an organization is passed around effectively.

Please ask yourself:

  • How often do people from different apartments come together within your organization?
    Is this taking place rather informally or rather within a formal frame?
  • What could you do to let members of your organization interact with each other more often?

O as in Openness stands for an attitude of staying rather open-minded to feedback even if it is against one’s natural point of view. In times of rapid changing business models in the market it is of vital importance to stay broad-minded in order to stay “ahead of the wave” by having several options available.

Please ask yourself:

  • If a seemingly unusal idea is coming up in a business meeting you have attended, how is this treated by the meeting members?
  • What could you do to more often protect the “wild ducks” (= employees with unorthodox points of view) within your organization and give them a platform?

 P as in Participation stands for the intentional act of taking responsibility within a change by taking accountability for certain activities and thereby driving an initiative to keep a transformation on track.

Please ask yourself:

  • How often do you see others in your community taking responsibility for an action that is linked to a change of “the way we used to work”?
  • What could you specifically do to take more initiative to drive changes within your organization?

A as in Agility stands for the capability to act to changes in a highly flexible manner and to adapt rather quickly and effectively.

Please ask yourself:

  • On a scale from 1 (not at all) to 10 (very much): How would you rate the average capability of all your organization’s members in regards to agility?
  • What could you personally do to shift this average rating (question above) one step further towards a ten?

Each of the NOPA elements is an excellent asset to better cope with the negative impacts of the VUCA phenomenon. I invite you to reflect on specific steps to implement more NOPA within your organization.

Appetite in transformations

Hunger

In any given transformation process, individually or within an organization, it is essential for you to focus on the crucial topics to be successful. Metaphorically speaking, there are many impacted people that have a lot of “hunger” that needs to be satisfied.
I hereby invite you to read more about the categories that I have found useful (working as a change facilitator) and to use this input to reflect on your own current challenges.

Needs
Nowadays, many change professionals start analyzing a transformation asking for the specific needs of participating and impacted individuals or groups. Ask yourself: What impacted group has which specific needs? Be as detailed as possible with upcoming answers. Get input from others for helpful answers (you may want to use a sounding board).

Between forces
In the last century, Kurt Lewin has created the concept of force fields that drag an impacted individual to either of two opposite directions. The one force field drags the individual to the present and stresses the good aspects of the present (“What was good in the past will be good in the future”). The other force field drags the individual to the future and stresses the good aspects of a potential future state (“What was good in the past will not be good enough in the future”).
Force-fields

To analyse these forces ask:

  • What arguments are in favour of keeping the present (and resist to any changes)?
  • What arguments are in favour of the change and the future solution/state?

Fears
Great change facilitators succeed in considering taboos and fears that impacted members may have or suffer from during a transformation. Do not hesitate to analyse potential fears of groups.
Fear
Ask yourself: What could it be that they fear the most during the change? What is it that they want to avoid at great costs? Use the upcoming answers for follow-up communication. Be transparent and pro-actively show that you are willing to address “the elephant in the room” and may have ideas for solutions that the majority of impacted people can benefit from.

Desire
At the other end of the emotional spectrum you focus – instead of fear – on the desires of your impacted individuals and groups: What they hope for and positively expect. Reflect on the “big emotional topics” that they long for and they may gain from the transformation.
Desire
Ask yourself: What big desire maybe (better) fulfilled once the change is achieved? As with arguments that you have collected during thinking about fears of your target group use output of this exercise for follow-up communication. You may want to create a vision design to give direction and emotional attraction.

Lost & Found
Beam yourself into a typical metro central station. They usually have a lost & found office. This is a suitable background for questions that you could use to reflect on further requirements of your target groups and individuals during the change.
Lost-and-Found
Ask yourself:

  • What could they in particular lose during the change or once it is completed?
  • What could they gain (find) as a consequence of the change?

Once you have found answers on these lost/found questions you, of course, need to develop ideas on what to do with these findings. What needs to be done to communicate and compensate the losses? And what needs to be done to promote and benefit from the findings/gainings?

In any given change always start asking the “big questions” first.
Feel inspired by the above listed five categories to derive your own reliable set of HUNGER questions.

How to lose yourself in a VUCA world

VUCA_sinking-down-deep

Activities in our daily (work)life have gotten more and more complex over the past years and decades. Internet, real-time communication and global connectivity have not provided “golden solutions” to this challenge.

Read on if you want to find out how you could make it even worse and thereby get lost in a VUCA world…

Change for the sake of change
Start as many change initiatives at the same time as possible. Never finish a thing. Do not care at all about monitoring of success and never celebrate any achievements.

Fail deadlines
Never stick to once agreed on timelines or milestones. Keep others uninformed as long as possible. Do not show any reliability by committing to appointments early or on time. Be late for meetings often or miss them at all.

Be unsustainable
Focus only on the short-term opportunity or profit. Keep away from any strategic work and only be operative in your tasks. Never think about the “tomorrow”, only stay in the “today”.

Foster your insecurity
Cherish being insecure. Keep your (mental) instability at a maximum level. Never be safe of anything. Doubt everything, and participate in speculations all the time.

Distrust, a lot
Never trust anyone. Assume that everybody you meet has a “hidden agenda” working on betraying you behind your back. Put a lot of your effort into controlling other’s activities. Don’t appreciate others, it is just a waste of time.

Send ambiguous messages
If asked on a question answer in one direction but contradict yourself soon afterwards. Make a statement in a certain way, however sending body language signals that appear totally different. In simple terms: Say “yes”, but mean “no” (or vice versa).

Cultivate the chaos
Keep up the complexity on an astronomic level. Never choose a simple path if there is a more difficult one. Stay away from being clear in your communication. Rather express yourself in many formal and laborious words without bringing any message across.

VUCA_emerging-from-the-deep

The Magnificent Seven versus VUCA

Magnificent-Seven

VUCA is a phenomenon that describes the global situation since the cold world war is over. In this term each letter stands for a specific aspect:

  • V = Volatility.
    The nature and dynamics of change, and the nature and speed of change forces and change catalysts.
  • U = Uncertainty.
    The lack of predictability, the prospects for surprise, and the sense of awareness and understanding of issues and events.
  • C = Complexity.
    The multiplex of forces, the confounding of issues, no cause-and-effect chain and confusion that surround an organization.
  • A = Ambiguity.
    The haziness of reality, the potential for misreads, and the mixed meanings of conditions; cause-and-effect confusion.

What can you do – in your workplace, in your organization, with your colleagues, with clients – to ease the pain and negative consequences that are implied by VUCA?
I invite you to read on and get to know a few useful counter measures. I call them in reminiscence of the once bold and courageous seven cowboys, the “Magnificent Seven”.

Rituals
Offer, install and keep on using rituals to enable others to “take a deep breath” from time to time so that they are able to digest new changes and past developments in their very own requested time period. Furthermore, well-installed rituals can support a group or team to improve their spirit and bond strongly.

Stable zones
Identify together with impacted colleagues/clients, what are his/her specific stable zones (behavior that was helpful in the past and will probably be useful in the future as well) and what are his/her instable zones: behavior that is either to be abolished (not desirable anymore) or that is new and needs to be learned/practiced.

Time as a gift and appreciation
In times of stress, excessive media supply and a continuous search for meaning, it makes a difference if you make a conscious effort to reach out to somebody to either lend him an ear or spend some quality time with him/her. Time is a rare and precious good. Used in a clever way, it can serve as an excellent invest for you together with the people who benefit from your gift.

Recurring availability
People like customers show a pattern of behavior that is not always easy to decipher. To make it easy for them to get to you, it might be helpful for them if you guarantee a certain availability (doesn’t need to be 24×7) that they can deal with successfully and make use of.

Foster relationships
Human beings are dependent on keeping relationships with others. By opening up and keeping relations with many individuals around you, you contribute a great deal to the “Great Network” that is called humanity. And this again makes sure that interaction becomes possible, interaction that always includes a chance of improvement and enjoying life together.

Clarity in communication
Think and rehearse before you communicate. In particular before presentations or crucial interactions it is important for you to consider carefully what kind of messages you want to bring across. A “message” can usually be expressed in a short main sentence including an emotional aspect, e.g. “It is important for us to follow this new process so that we can be successful.”

Follow your heart
This advice may look a little awkward, yet I can prove that – once you have chosen a path to your “heart” of things – you will thereby guarantee stability, predictability and a sense of reliability, both for yourself and all others around you. Reflect in detail on what it is you really want to do and achieve in life, then go for it. Your surroundings will soon realize the passion and power you develop in your actions. People are in general attracted by others who show passion and aspiration. So, if you have found your path and clearly show these characteristics, others will be attracted by you. This will lead to more connectivity and diminished VUCA effects.

Magnificent-Seven_versus_VUCA

3 x 3 methods to win over difficult people

angry-guy3.jpg

From time to time you may meet people that appear extremely difficult to get along with and where you think: “Oh my god, this is a nightmare! It is so frustrating and annoying to work with this person (or group). What on earth could I do to make it easier for me to improve the relationship?”.

If this is the case, please read on and feel inspired by three different approaches I present to you that contain a three-step element in regards to working with resistance in a constructive manner.

Change your perspective
Use the simple “3 position” approach to find out more about different perspectives.

3-positions
Think of a conflict or a challenging situation involving others, then…

  1. First go into position “ME” and ask yourself: What is my desire? What do I need?
  2. Secondly, change to position “YOU” and slip into the shoes of others that were participating in the conflict. Try to see the world from their position. Ask yourself: What do I see / feel / think / need on the YOU position (the position of the other person)?
  3. Thirdly, go to the position of a third person that is able to see both ME and YOU position. Observe, what you can perceive from this different point of view.

At last, go back to ME position and reflect on what you can take away from this exercise.

Crucial success factor: This lesson works best if you not only go through the positions mentally, but you actually work with moderation cards on the floor and change positions physically.

Basic resistance handling
From a change management perspective you can use a three-fold approach reflecting resistance.

basic-strategies_transform-resistance

Ask yourself: Is your counterpart…

  • not knowing?
    Then you will have to communicate and inform more than in the past. Use roadshows, information channels, emailing, websites, flyer. Offer knowledge transfer sessions and feedback opportunities.
  • unable?
    Then you will have to qualify more. Offer trainings, education sessions, support in knowledge transfer. Help impacted employees in better coping with new or adapted roles.
  • unwilling?
    This is the hardest part. In this case, you will have to enter a dialogue, reframing arguments, initiate a negotiation process, may use sanctions/rewards, and/or confront. You may also want to use coaching as a means to support and resolve conflicts.

First of all, you have to find out in which category your counterpart (impacted person) falls, then you choose suitable activities and approaches.

Point-of-view-based resistance handling
Paul Lahninger (“Resistance as a motivation”) has illustrated in his excellent book that you can use three different interventions to effectively deal with difficult people depending on your point of view.

resistance-strategies_lahninger

  • Empathize if the YOU is supposed to be the corner stone of your message => Be an active listener, repeat to what you have heard in appreciative words, ask for more information
  • Rationalize if you want to put the TOPIC and the WE into the center of your message => Clarify topics, negotiate to find solutions for different requirements, delegate to others to find a solution together
  • Set boundaries if you want to put the ME into the center of your message => Show how you feel right now, ask for something, confront your counterpart, set conditions, answer in a provocative way

Your strategy very much depends on what do you want to be the central aspect in your message and interaction with the other person. Is it rather a YOU, WE or ME? This has a vital impact on your proceeding.

These are three different yet similar approaches and methods to cope with difficult personalities, may they be clients, partners, colleagues or employees.
I invite you to give this a chance and use some of these ideas the next time you find yourself in a situation with a difficult counterpart.

Good luck and have success!

How to motivate others well at work

thank-you

According to a Gallup study circa 70% of employees in the USA say that they have never before received neither praise nor recognition in the workplace. Furthermore the study states that

  • 89% of managers think that money matters have caused ex-employees to leave their company
  • Whereas in fact only 12% of ex-employees said that money played a crucial part in their decision to leave a company.

There obviously is a perception gap between managers and employees considering motivating factors including recognition.

I invite you to use the information in this article to actively support in closing this perception gap in your organization.

Categories of recognition
Recognition can be applied in three different dimensions:

Praisal: Considers the performance of an employee or colleague. Focus is the contribution of the employee at the workplace over a longer period of time e.g. an entire calendar year.

Gratitude: Similar to praisal, gratitude focuses on a specific effort of an employee e.g. as part of a project.

Appreciation: Focuses on a person itself, e.g. certain behavior or attitude aspects.

recognition-categories

This categorization illustrates that there are numerous ways to recognize others and thereby motivating them.

Languages of appreciation
Gary Chapman and Paul White have put the various forms of appreciation in five categories, so that they can be clearly separated. These five appreciation “languages” are:

  • Words of affirmation (verbally)
  • Tangible gifts (something you can grasp and present to others)
  • Acts of service (simply helping others)
  • Quality time (spending valuable time with somebody)
  • Appropriate physical touch (e.g. backslapping, to be applied carefully in our working culture)

appreciation-categories

The above mentioned authors have created a survey using 30 different questions to find out what preferences somebody has considering a prioritization/ranking of the five different appreciation styles.

If you want to dig a little deeper into their research, you may want to go here: http://www.appreciationatwork.com/

Practical tips to motivate others
Applying recognition can be a very powerful leadership tool, in fact, it is almost for free and does not require much effort at all. If you consider a few recommendations, as listed below, you may turn into a successful motivator, recognizing your employees or peers and thereby developing into an important influencer that is highly acknowledged by others:

  • Apply approving feedback shortly after a specific performance or an effort that a person has made. Do not wait too long.
  • Your feedback needs to be comprehensible. It has to be easy for your counterpart to understand what the feedback refers to.
  • Face-to-face trumps telephone trumps email/web chat. The more intimate the situation the stronger usually the feedback is perceived.
  • If you want to recognize a specific person, start by finding out what kind of appreciation language your counterpart prefers (see above). To make somebody a tangible present is in vain if this person does not value gifts at all. Your recognition act could even be counter-productive! When it comes to appreciation it is more important what the receiver values than what the sender prefers.

And a final tip on how to successfully get along with difficult characters: Start your dialogue with mentioning what you have lately observed that you liked about your counterpart. You may receive a surprised reaction and enter into a much more fruitful and appreciative interaction…

Healing and Reparing of Teams

team-in-pain

„Havoc all around. People accusing each other, constantly playing the blame game. Locked in silos, everyone was stuck in problems dazed and confused, feeling humiliated and disrespected. It was a nasty game that started all over again each working Monday. Everybody wanted to get out of there but nobody knew how. Insanity, hurt, despair.”

Have you experienced either as a member or a manager one or more of the aspects mentioned above? If yes you might want to consider applying the TEAM formula to lead a team into a process that enables them to “heal” and repair some of the damage that might has been created in the past.

T as in Transfer

Often, individuals or teams tend to be stuck in problems and issues, having lost a sense of potential solutions and a vision to lead them out of their misery. In such a case it is crucial to make a conscious transfer switch from “problem” to “solution”, both in behavior and attitude.
You could borrow a few typical questions from solution-focused coaching to take a team with you on this problem-to-solution journey. Reflect together on topics like

  • Even though our situation might be bad, what is still working well?
  • What do you want instead?
  • What could be a solution?
  • What needs to happen to make the solution feasible?

If there would be one single word that I wanted you to remember in this team process it would be the simple word instead. For me it has a magical power that forces a team to leave its problem paralysis. Ask: “What do you / do we need instead?” and after having received an initial answer work together with the team towards making this a reality.

The solution-focused reflection process was once invented by Steve de Shazer.
You may find a good website on the topic here: http://www.focusonsolutions.co.uk/solutionfocused/
The word “instead” and other effective interventions are mentioned in this excellent book by Dr. Manfred Prior: https://www.amazon.de/MINI-MAX-INTERVENTIONS-Manfred-Prior/dp/178583116X/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

E as in Expectations

Occasionally, team members lack an understanding of “where to go” and of the “what is my part”. Unclarified expectations in the team could be a reason for this. One of the key aspects of a high-performance team is that everybody knows his/her specific role/duty and, furthermore, knows where the team is heading (goal). Make this clear from the very beginning of the team forming process.
For further reading: http://www.quickbase.com/blog/management-tip-setting-expectations-with-your-team

A as in Appreciation

Respect and appreciation for everbody’s contribution in an organization are among the top-5-factors in a stepstone survey on the topic of “Working happily”.

Feelings with a strong negative touch like guilt or fear very often lead to an expression that can be harmful: accusations, aggressions, finger-pointing. Receiving this behavior, many people tend to react in the same manner, furthermore accusing, blaming others and being aggressive. To exit this vicious circle it can be very supportive to focus on appreciative aspects with the team. You could, for example, start a regular meeting with a question asking for positive feedback from every participant. Or you could make it a continuous habit of team members to collect appreciative feedback for each other via meetings or feedback boxes.
Appreciative inquiry (AI) is a powerful instrument that enables teams to develop from a present (with problems) to a future that comprises a vision that is both attractive and irresistible. Here you will find a short and creative video on the topic: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QzW22wwh1J4

Jürgen Appello, author or “Management 3.0”, introduced the idea of using “Kudo cards”. These are a written and public recognition of a colleague for something he or she has contributed to the team. A Kudo is not just given top-down but peer-to-peer, across departments and organizations, anyone can publicly recognize someone else’s work. It’s a way to break down hierarchical limitations and to encourage everyone to offer instant feedback.
Find more information here: https://management30.com/product/kudo-cards/

If you want to find out more about the variety of appreciation activities, you might want to read “The 5 languages of appreciation in the workplace” by Gary Chapman and Paul White. It is much fun to read and illustrates that a) there are different ways of sharing appreciation with someone and b) different people have different biases towards the five mentioned appreciation “languages”. The five “languages” by the way are: words of affirmation, quality time, acts of service, tangible gifts, appropriate physical touch.
A helpful website might be for you: http://www.appreciationatwork.com/

M as in Moderation

Self-organization as part of agile teams is a modern and effective concept. And at the same time, many teams have found out that it is quite helpful to have a facilitator with the team who supports the team in getting organized and setting it up in the best possible manner. To get a fresh look from the outside from someone who is not too deep into daily business can be rather helpful for a team.

team-formula_for-healing-of-teams

 

How you master challenges successfully

to-the-mountain-top

You might one day find yourself in a situation where you have the feeling that you appear rather small in comparison to the challenge you are facing. Similar to hanging along a steep cliff challenges might sometimes be a bit overwhelming for you.

In such a situation it is helpful to take a step back and to reflect your current situation, looking at the options you have. The ALPAN formula might help you with that.

Analyze: your situation
Pick a few tools to investigate the situation you are in from a rather rational point of view. Analysis usually consists of phases such as topic definition > problem description > cause analysis > alternative solutions. In particular, when the challenge you are facing has a sense of “Oh my god!” it is very useful to take a deep breath and to start with a rational analysis (do remember, in emotional states humans often make mistakes).
A friend of mine once felt that he did not get the monetary success that he really deserved. Using the business model “canvas model” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Business_Model_Canvas) helped him realize that his strategy to approach the market was not helpful in making enough money to get wealthy and being able to invest a little. As a consequence, he modified a few of his usual job activities, picked different segments that he wanted to work in with customers and, in addition, set up a different payment model for his clients. Today, he is quite a successful business man, with a great reputation and apparently a substantial income.

Literature: Read and learn
Try to find more information that may help you understand the challenge better. Pick an article, a book, a magazine, a website that provides you more information on the topic so that you have more information available which will improve your decision-making.

When I first heard of coaching as a profession, years ago, I was instantly enthusiastic about it. I knew then that I also wanted to become a coach. However, I did not have the tools, the skills, or the mental attitude to do this job. So I did what I often do, when I want to acquire a new skill: I started reading a lot on the subject. Having read much about coaching enabled me to learn more about where I could start educating myself which I did in a next step.

Perspective: Change yours
If an inter-personal conflict is involved, you might want to change the perspective explicitly. Walk “in the moccasins of your fellow man”. If the challenge basically involves just yourself, try a new perspective by asking circular questions like “If I was person XY and would look down on me in this challenging situation, what would I recommend?”.
You might want to use the approach of “inner mentoring”, visualizing a few great personalities that inspire you and using these as “inner consultants” for yourself. For example, you could imagine what it would be like to sit at a campfire together with your “inner mentor”. Having told him your challenging story, how would he respond? What advice would he give you?

A mentee of mine chose her deceased uncle as an inner mentor she can always “carry” with her and consult in case she faces a significant decision to be made.

In a world with a growing number of power egos and humans with a certain narcissistic attitude the person makes a difference that is capable of consciously changing a perspective.
Do you want to make a difference?

Acquire: helpful knowledge
Think of capabilities that are required to master the situation. Start acquiring these abilities in order to have the proper knowledge at hand that is needed to overcome your obstacle in focus.

King George VI once had a vicious stammer and therefore dreaded public speaking strongly. However, at a certain point in his reign and by the help of speech-therapist Lionel Logue he acquired quite helpful techniques that enabled him to speak more freely in front of large crowds resulting in a higher popularity among the British people.

New: Do things differently
Look for patterns that you have used so far that have not lead to a solution. Then design and implement a different pattern of behavior. Try something new.
Trying to invent the light bulb, Thomas Edison was once asked: “How does it feel to have failed a thousand times?”. Edison responded: “I have not failed, I just know by now a thousand ways of how not to design a light bulb.”

In a book by John Strelecky (http://www.whycafe.com/) the main character John finds a café in the middle of nowhere, in a desert. Meeting different people in this café and talking to them, John finds out that the life he has lived so far did not really make him happy. As a consequence, John made drastic changes in his life, leaving him much more happy and fulfilled.

Albert Einstein once stated that problems cannot be solved in the same way they were created. In this sense, I invite you to try a new and fresh approach to overcome an obstacle in your life.

mastering-challenges

Please share your helpful coping strategies with us, what helps you handling challenges successfully?

Changing the DNA in organizations

dna2

Culture in organizations is something that is usually difficult to grasp, however, has a great impact on everyday lives of each member of a company.

What is culture?
According to Andrew D. Brown, author of “Organizational culture”, Organization culture is the pattern of beliefs, values and learned ways of coping with experience that have developed during the course of an organization’s history. This means that for culture:

  • It is a set of accepted values, assumptions and shared common experiences.
  • It is something we learn and unconsciously acquire. It is not inherited.
  • It dictates behavior, etiquette, manners and protocol.

Getting more specific, we can say about culture:

  • It influences how we act and respond.
  • It is “how we do/say things around here.”
  • It is communication: how people create, send, process and interpret information.

Culture manifests itself in aspects of an organization like:

  • Values (qualities considered worthwhile like “solidarity”)
  • Beliefs (assumptions what is good for the business and how to act in the best manner)
  • Climate (feeling or atmosphere, noticeable in the physical layout of work spaces and how employees act with each other)
  • Norms (standards and rules)
  • Symbols (icons, stories, rituals and traditions that embody strong messages about what is important)
  • Philosophy (Stated policies and ideologies that guide actions in relation to shareholders, employees and customers).

How could culture be analyzed?
You could conduct interviews or survey-based interrogations considering the above mentioned manifestations of a culture within an organizations. Alternatively, you could make use of a quick culture analysis that was created by Ed Schein, a former MIT professor in the fields of career development and organization culture. Schein stated that there are three crucial aspects when it comes to understand more of a culture an organization currently has. You have to look out for three specific elements:

  • Membership: What is to be done, how to think, act and behave to be a part of this organization?
  • Taboos: What is a “no go” in this culture, what should one not say or do, what leads to sanctions or even to exclusion?
  • Success and promotion: What needs to be done to stick out and to obtain
    a good reputation in this organization, to make a career and to probably become an internal “hero”?

culture-quick-analysis_ed-schein

Ask these questions to a number of different employees within the organization and across different hierarchy levels. Start by inviting people to a few individual interviews, consolidate some of the insights you have gathered and then conduct a few workshops with small groups of employees to deepen your understanding of the organization’s culture.

How could culture be changed?
Well, anyone who has tried doing this, may have found out that quick fixes are generally not working in this area of change management.
It might be helpful to focus more on the aspects of what you can see and feel in regards to culture interventions: influencing people’s behaviour. Leandro Herrero, author of “Viral change” gives us a number of tips on what to do in order to change an organization’s culture via the behaviour of employees:

  • Think of „culture“ as a point of destination (once we have these behaviours established, we will have that culture).
  • Think of culture as a point of departure, when you are visualizing a future: imagine that we have a culture of X where people behave like A, B, C.
  • Think short-term: which behavioural changes can be made now to start triggering „the infection“?
  • When you describe your culture (to your peers, staff, external world) use any labels you feel appropriate, but make sure to attach the behaviours behind those labels.
  • Put behaviours before processes. To achieve change, focus your energy on behavioural change, not process change. Let behaviours, not processes, drive the „new culture“.
  • Spot any „new routines“, desirable or undesirable, created via tipping points and try to understand the viral network behind them.

And now it’s your turn:
Please let me and others know: What cultural challenges are you currently facing? And what do you plan or already do to bring culture change about?
I look forward to your feedback!