Tag Archives: Organizational Change

Organizational Change

Performance Excellence linked to Preventing Failures, Corrective Coaching

Atul Gawande

Simple behavior changes, such as following a structured checklist, can prevent medical care mistakes and increase care quality, found Harvard’s Atul Gawande.

People who recognized fallibility in organizational processes, and took proactive steps to remedy these shortcomings, more effectively improved their performance.

Three elements of better performance can be applied to fields outside of medicine:

  • Diligence – Attending to details can prevent errors and overcome obstacles.
    Gawande’s The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right suggests best ways to structure these memory aids,
  • Doing Right –Ensuring that skill, will, and incentives are aligned to drive excellent performance,
  • IngenuityDeliberately monitoring potential failures, continuously seeking innovative ways to improve performance and solutions.

These elements can be improved with attentive observation and feedback to prevent errors of omission when people don’t:

  • Know enough (ignorance),
  • Make proper use of what they know (ineptitude).

Ignorance occurs less frequently than ineptitude because relevant information is widely available, Gawande noted.
He argued that both types of omission errors can be improved by systematic analysis and disciplined use of tools like checklists.

Geoffrey Smart

Checklist-based analysis was also linked to Internal Rate of Return (IRR) in Geoffrey Smart’s study of investments by Venture Capital (VC) firms,

He found a correlation between IRR and leadership effectiveness in new investment ventures.
Since selecting capable leaders is critical to business outcomes, Smart also evaluated VC firms’ typical approach to assessing potential leaders:

  • The Art Critic is the most frequently-used approach in which the VC assesses leadership talent at a glance, intuitively, based on extensive experience,
  • The Sponge conducts extensive due diligence, researching and assimilating information, then decides based on intuition,
  • The Prosecutor interrogates the candidate, tests with challenging questions and hypothetical situations,
  • The Suitor woos the candidate to accept the leadership role instead of analyzing capabilities and fit,
  • The Terminator eliminates the evaluation because the venture firm replaces the company’s originators,
  • The Infiltrator becomes a “participant-observer” in an immersive, time-consuming experientially-based assessment,
  • The Airline Captain uses a formal checklist to prevent past mistakes.This last approach was linked to the highest average Internal Rate of Return (IRR) for the new ventures.
    In addition, this strategy was significantly less likely to result in later terminating senior managers.

Venture Capitalists in his studies reported that two of their most significant mistakes were:

  • Investing insufficient time in talent analysis,
  • Being influenced by “halo effect” in evaluating candidates.

Systematic reminders to execute all elements required for expert performance can prevent failure and signal potential failure points.

-*How do you improve performance?
-*What value do you find in expert coaching?

Related Post:
Developing a SMARTER Mindset for Resilience, Emotional Intelligence – Part 2

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Consequences of “Facades of Conformity”

Patricia Hewlin

Patricia Hewlin

Employees, especially minority group members, adopt Façades of conformity (FOC) when they “act as if” they embrace an organization’s values to remain employed or to succeed in that organization, found Georgetown University’s Patricia Hewlin.

Facades of Conformity can lead to employees developing “rationalizations” that enable them to carry out distasteful or even assignments, found University of Alberta’s Flora Stormer and Kay Devine of Athabasca University.

Jerome Kerviel

Jerome Kerviel

This may explain Jerome Kerviels experience at Societe General.
He was branded as a “rogue trader,” though he seemed not to personally benefit from unauthorized trades.

He and others explained his motivation to please his managers and to earn a bonus based on his trades, in the context of his “outsider status” as someone who had not attended elite universities and was not considered a “star.”

-*In what organizational contexts have you observed “Facades of Conformity” and their consequences?

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Followers’ Role in Enabling Bad Leaders

Barbara Kellerman

Barbara Kellerman

Seven types of ineffective and unethical leaders can be enabled by followers, according to Harvard’s Barbara Kellerman, in research that precedes the current U.S. political climate by more than a decade.

She categorized bad leaders as:

Incompetent – Failing to create positive change;
Rigid – Not adaptable to new ideas, conditions;
Intemperate – Lacking self-control;
Callous – Uncaring and unkind, discounting needs and wishes of group members, especially subordinates;
Corrupt – Advancing self-interest ahead of public interest, through “lying, cheating, and stealing”;
Insular – Disregarding health and welfare of outsiders;
Evil – Committing atrocities, use pain as an instrument of power, exert severe physical, psychological harm to men, women, children.

Kellerman’s earlier work focused on Hitler’s leadership, and asserted that his power wouldn’t have existed without followership.
She acknowledged that uninvolved bystanders who do not speak up enable bad leaders to continue their practices.

John Darley

John Darley

This effect was documented in social science research more than forty years ago by NYU’s John Darley and Bibb Latané of Columbia, labeled “Bystander Apathy” or the “Genovese syndrome.”

Bibb Latane

Bibb Latane

Given status differentials between leaders and subordinates, followers can break out of complacent observership only if organizational structures are in place to call attention to ineffective and unethical leadership practices — without negative repercussions.

Kellerman highlighted an intuitively-understood phenomenon, but extend her work by identifying implementable practices for various organizational structures.

-*What “bad leader” roles have you observed in your organization?
-*What seem to be effective ways to interact with a “bad” organizational leader?

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Doonesbury Celebrates Women’s Contributions to Work Groups via Thought Diversity and Emotional Intelligence

Doonesbury Celebrates Women’s Contributions to Work Groups via Thought Diversity and Emotional Intelligence

-* How have you seen women’s Emotional Intelligence applied in the workplace?

Ways to Reduce Unemployment among African-American, Latino, Female Workforces

Lucy Sanders

Lucy Sanders

Lucy Sanders of National Center for Women in Information Technology (NCWIT) reports the organization’s research, underscoring the value of encouraging today’s students in pursuing STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) careers:

• The current unemployment rate in the U.S. is 7.9%, but for computing-related occupations it’s less than half of that (3.5%)

• The number of African Americans and Latinos employed in computing-related jobs should be double what it is today, given their proportional participation in the US workforce

• Across all STEM careers, tech jobs are growing fastest and have the second-highest starting salaries

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that by 2020, there will be nearly 1.4 million computing-related jobs added to the U.S. workforce.

With the existing pipeline of students, however, we’ll be able to fill only 30% of these jobs with computing graduates.

NCWIT offers the following tools:

Counselors for Computing (C4C) Pathway Cards help connect students’ interest with next steps toward IT and computing careers. C4C is a project of the NCWIT K-12 Alliance, made possible by the Merck Company Foundation and Google.

• A job-search tool at the NCWIT website, powered by Indeed.com, lets people search for computing-related jobs within NCWIT member organizations — including large companies, startups, universities, and non-profits all around the country.

Top 10 Ways Successful Technical Women Increase Their Visibility includes ten things that highly successful women say they do in order to increase their visibility throughout the company, industry, and technical community.

-* What “best practices” have you seen to increase professional employment among diverse employees?

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Blog: – Kathryn Welds | Curated Research and Commentary

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“Smart Failure” to Manage in a Fast-Changing World

Eddie Obeng

Eddie Obeng

Eddie Obeng’s dizzyingly rapid-fire TED talk asserts that we live in a “New World” in which “the local environment of individuals, organizations and governments changes faster than we can learn.”

As a result, he contends that most commonly-used concepts, best practices and assumptions to plan, manage and lead, organizations are obsolete.

He refers to this “New World” as the “World After Midnight” and shares discussion and observations.

To offer a forum to discuss and advance this approach with a “continuous link between learning and implementation”, he established Pentacle (The Virtual Business School), which offers tools and courses, with an emphasis on executing strategy through project management best practices.

Obeng draws on his experience as an engineer at Royal Dutch Shell, then Professor at the School of Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Henley Business School, and a Council Member at the UK Design Council in his books:

Like the Silicon Valley mantra “Fail Fast” to capture relevant learning experiences, Obeng urges “Smart Failure” through multiple experiments or trials, and rapid prototyping.

-*Where have you seen “Fast Failure” aid workplace innovation?

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“Nudging” Compassion, Resilience to Reduce Conflict, Stress

David DeSteno

David DeSteno, directs Northeastern University’s Social Emotions Lab, where he investigates cognitive and neurological mechanism related to social behavior.
In Out of Character: Surprising Truths About the Liar, Cheat, Sinner (and Saint) Lurking in All of Us , and at his PopTech talk, he shared how he investigated whether evoked compassion and empathy is associated with reduced aggression.

He described experiments in which volunteers solve math problems for money.
In some conditions, one of DeSteno’s associates posed as another volunteer and noticeably cheated to earn more money than the real volunteer.
In other conditions, the confederate abided by the rules.

For some experiments, the cheating confederate, a professional actor, evoked empathy and compassion by saying that she was  worried about her brother, who was just diagnosed with a terminal illness.

In these situations, the volunteers were less likely to intentionally inflict discomfort on her in the following study of “taste perception,” a measure of aggression.

In this experimental trial, the volunteer measured a discretionary amount of extra-hot sauce into a cup for the cheating or non-cheating confederates to taste.

Volunteers poured five times more hot sauce for cheating confederates than non-cheating confederates, but they treated cheaters who evoked empathy the same as non-cheaters.

DeSteno noted most people are willing to help others who have some similarity to them, such as a shared identity of sharing a religious faith or hometown, or even are moving together as in conga lines, military drills.

He suggested that movement “synchrony causes separate identities to merge into one,” and demonstrated this trend in a music perception study, where volunteers in the same room tapped their hands on sensors when they heard tones.

In some conditions, the tones were synchronized so the volunteers were tapping at the same time as other volunteers, and in other conditions, the tones were independent.
De Steno found that 50% of volunteers who tapped at the same time were willing to help other volunteers, whereas 20% of those who tapped at different times helped others.
He concluded that volunteers felt more similar by tapping together, so felt more compassion, and were more likely to help others.

DeSteno is investigating social media like Facebook as a platform for sharing similarities to reduce aggression in conflict, cyber-bullying, victims of distant natural disasters.

He  said uses Cass Sunstein’s and Richard Thaler’s idea that small behavioral and organizational changes can “nudge” people to healthier, safer, more productive, and prosperous habits outlined in Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness 

Their practical recommendations for designing effective “choice architecture” are consistent with DeSteno’s research-based findings:

* Align incentives with desired outcomes
* Identify possible alternative outcomes in familiar terms
* Provide default options that favor desired outcome behaviors
* Offer prompt, relevant feedback about choices and outcomes.
* Expect deviation from the targeted outcome, and build in ways to prevent, detect, and minimize this variance.
* Structure complex choices to reduce the difficulty of decisions-making

-*How have you seen “similarity” affect workplace collaboration and support?

-*Where have you seen organizations implement “choice architecture” to encourage employee behaviors toward positive goals?

BJ Fogg

Related Post
“Tiny Habits” Start, Maintain Changes

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