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The Power of Purpose and the Balance of Goal, Value & Leadership

Intro: Two colleagues of mine started working on a model for the “power of purpose”. Purpose is one of the key subjects at the moment when it comes to change, leadership & management. One of the most famous talkers about the power of purpose might be Simon Sinek. You can see his TED Talk here. My colleagues point out the need that goal, value and leadership need to be in harmony in order to create an effective sense of purpose. I’ve fallen in love with the idea straight away so I capture my take & interpretation on the early stage of their model on my blog, you can find their publication here on LinkedIn.

The power of purpose.

“Why” is what you need to answer if you want to determine the purpose for “how” you are intending to do “what. From a leadership angle the “reason-why” might be the most important answer to give anyway. In particular in times of change, when the awareness for a need for change is charged with the urgency created by markets, competition or overall eco system. You need to move and you need to move fairly fast.

Commitment, dedication and intrinsic motivation is what leaders and managers should seek in their organisation. They are strong pillars for a stable environment in which trust can grow and distribution of accountability and responsibility is possible.

Goal. Value. Leadership.

In their model, Christian Heraty and Kevin Hansen, imply that a harmony or balance of the three core elements

  • Goal (What are we trying to achieve?)
  • Value (What benefit will derive from achieving the goal for whom?)
  • Leadership (How is a common understanding for the journey ahead created and sustained?)

are essential for an effective purpose. This is essential if you perceive “purpose” as a key resource to success and you required the maximum effect and impact of it on organisation and culture.

Read their description on the model here. The following text is my personal perspective on their angle:

Where we fall short in so many instances…

1. Setting Goals

If communication is only successful when sender and recipient are aligned, I believe the majority of goals – or better the way they are delivered to the affected audience – are far from “clear”. Yes, our goal can be to “increase net sales by 20 million”, but as long as your not the highest person in charge of sales, it’s not really “concrete”. Set aside the fact that motivation is definitely not driven by such a statement.

There are various ways of setting goals. SMART is probably one of my favourites:
<S> specific
<M> measurable
<A> achievable
<R> realistic
<T> timely

In our day to day work at Infocentric we for example use a structure called “PO3” to frame meetings, initiatives or projects.
<P> purpose (why)
<O> objective (what)
<O> outcome (result)
<O> output (deliverables)

I believe there are even more way of driving a common understanding and alignment across teams, departments of even companies. They all have one things in common: it requires time, thinking and recipient orientated communications to get it right…all three not necessarily the strongest pieces in goal setting processes.

2. Make value understood

One of my key learnings in my time at Tieto was “Industrial Buying Center Management (IBCM)”. As part of a development program obviously focussed on empowering us to drive business. Over time and in particular in my work as a consultant one concept of IBCM has proven to be extremely valuable: the resonating value proposition (read the original Harvard Business Review article here).

Essentially the concept is simple: the more a value proposition resonates with the actual recipient, the more powerful it is.

In practice it means that the value for e.g. digital transformation is substantially different for HR, CFO department, Sales or Engineering. If you want to make sure that your initiative or change program get broad acceptance you need to cater to all relevant (or affected) parties.

In the context of purpose it is essential to convey “value” in a way that people can understand it and thereby buy into it as a core element. And just for the sake of mentioning it: people ain’t stupid. Whatever companies do, has one some level a commercial or otherwise business orientated sense – even for an NGO. I can only urge leaders and managers to not beat around the bush and show how “this is your value – and this is how it connects to the value for our company” transparently.

3. Leading purpose

For this one I have a very, very tangible example. The past 8 years I’ve spent in the field of Advanced Intranets and the Digital Workplace. I had to learn the hard way that the C-Suite “we need to function as one tree hugging and super productive family” efficiency story sounds different when the board room doors are closed. Suddenly efficiency isn’t much of a topic anymore. If work gets done in 8 or 11 hours is…well…a working level issue. And unfortunately past experience proves that they are right. People get stuff done…no matter what obstacles you throw in their way. That’s what makes us human.

In the board room “effectiveness” is like magic: grown in additional regions without growing staff at the same ratio. Sell more without more sales staff. Ensure that the resource applied to achieve a goal has it’s maximum effect.

Why I am telling this story? Because if there is a dissonance between message and reality, then conveying purpose will be almost impossible. It disables operations to create tangible and resonating value propositions to the board room. Because, in the example above, they think efficiency (= value) to reach growth (= the goal). For the recipients, however, effectiveness is the real budget magnet. This immediately puts value & goal out of synch and a potential purpose is dead in the water.

Together it all makes sense…

If you think about it carefully: it actually makes sense. You cannot make purpose up. You have to mean it. In order to be able to mean it Goal, Value and the means of implementing both through authentic and coherent Leadership have to be in place. Otherwise “purpose” is another way of “marketing” whatever message you want to bring across.

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My 8 min. of fame at #TEDxTUHH – some thoughts on #motivation #leadership & why it’s essential to care about others

I think I have rarely been that nervous on stage… So first of all I have to apologize to Prof. Carnabuci for slaughtering his name after I made him my source of inspiration for the start of my talk… Secondly I have to thank the TEDxTUHH team for forcing me through endless rounds of rehearsal – looks like one or two additional rounds wouldn’t have been a bad idea. Anyway…here we go 🙂

PS: the balloon story…I would have liked to support it with a little drawing…but the pen said “no” 😉 the stones I am talking about are with me IN the balloon…in case that doesn’t come across

 

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My write-up of the “#Mobility in #Social #Business #Collaboration” WorldCafe at #wcsocbiz 2013 in Berlin

Summary: As part of the Social Business Collaboration 2013 conference in Berlin the attendants had the chance to discuss specific subjects in hosted groups in a so called “WorldCafé” format. The outcome of my “Mobility” round was incredible. Organizational and leadership subjects were discussed as essentials towards effective value contribution from a mobilized workforce putting a clear emphasis on expression like trust, care, managerial responsibility and expectations management. The severe impact on work and people culture in terms of quality awareness, individual responsibility and “caring for others” made clear how challenging it will be to simply squeeze existing business and operations models into a “mobile” mode. Really impressive was the fact that the “device” and “technology” angle was hardly touched in the discussion… Enjoy the read:

Perspectives on “mobility” as a foundation for the discussion

My role as moderator was to provide a couple of starting points for a discussion. I decided to draw a little illustrating setting out some key aspects of mobilized information work and workers.

MobilitySketch_s

In order to focus the conversation and retrieve tangible results from the conversation I decided to split the conversation into three major blocks, knowing that all of them of course converge and influence each other:

  • Management & Leadership – What it means to lead a mobilized workforce and how the roles of managers will be affected
  • Responsibility – The change of individual and collaborative responsiblity in a sense of making sure that others are enabled and that potential availability does not lead to a loss of work/life balance
  • Quality – How mobilized employees have to take into account what quality they will be able to deliver depending on device and situation as well as the quality expecations coming from the ones that request input from people on the road

The incredible outcome of 6 rounds of conversation, discussion and input

Social Business Collaboration and the aspect of MOBILITY_boardAttendants from various industries (banking, business services, manufacturing, insurance, biotech…) were highly engaged and partly even emotional. TRUST turned out to be an essential element in the enabling a mobilized workforce to deliver success. Three dimensions of trust were discussed:

Trust that people will deliver even if they are not present.
Trust towards managers that the right work support is provided.
Trust that mobility does not mean “disconnection”.

In the same way the emotional expression of “caring for others” was put on the table. People have to develop a real interest that their peers are able to participate even if they are not present and that information is not kept in the “ivory tower” of the office.

So from a mobilized workforce derives a new level of responsibility: work result quality, contribution ad participation shall not be affected by absence. In the same way as managers have a new responsibility towards their subordinates in terms of not expecting a 24/7 availability and ignoring conditions such as different time zones. In that context 2 statements were particularly interesting:

“What can you expect from someone on the phone at 2 am in the morning?”

“Leaders have to understand that live broadcasting for corporate information to a globally distributed workforce will put a lot of people into a pretty miserable situation.”

Scalability was another interesting aspect: making sure that the impact of a specific expert(ise) is not limited by requiring physical presence. This might even go hand in hand with a note towards talent management: if relocation or unreasonable travel can be avoided for a particular role the options of high caliber candidates might increase substantially.

From an organisational perspective it was crystal clear that moving existing models of business operations unchanged into a “mobile mode” is destined to fail. Individual and collaborative value contribution in a mobile environment is substantially different from the one happening in a physically shared office space.

What came up from two angels was the war of generations at the mobile workplace. On the one hand in terms of “ability of adaption” and affinity on the other hand in terms of “training bottom-up” (not in the sense of using technology but in sense of “applying” it the right way!). For some representatives of the “established and experienced workforce” training from very young folks can be…challenging (how can they tell me how to “think mobile”).

With a decentralized and mobilized workforce one key paradigm definitely moves into the center right next to the aspect of “trust”:

Accountability vs. Control

It shouldn’t be the way to the result or the physical space in which the result was created. Management by objectives and results will be the key challenge to the established management pool that is in charge today.

The outcome in detail (MindMap in PDF Format)

In order provide – more or less – the actual results of the discussion I have consolidated the results in a MindMap. As part of the exercise I’ve tried to group them a little bit, which felt a little bit artificial because in many instances a statement can’t really be allocated to one subject alone. In order to keep it transparent and easy to read I’ve decided not to replicate statements for multiple groups connect statements across groups. I might have ended up with a subway map that actually scares of anyone who just remotely considers to think about the subject of “mobility”…

Social Business Collaboration and the aspect of MOBILITY
Click here to open the MindMap in PDF Format

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are #coworking spaces corporations without #hierarchy? thoughts inspired by a conversation #socbiz #socialbusiness #enterprise20

I’ve spent the last to days at Orgatec, the worldwide leading office furniture and concept trade fair in Cologne. I am working on a summary of my thoughts at the moment but a particular conversation inspired me to capture my thoughts separately.

I had a chat with the co-founder of a co-working space in Cologne. She described to me that their offering is not just the physical space. Their concept includes the creation of connections between the people that use the space to do their work. Physically (welcome back classic black board) as well as digitally (social media style) challenges are matched with talent and the other way around. As per her that offering is used frequently and has delivered successful and fruitful connections.

Now…thinking about my passion of enterprise 2.0 I suddenly realized that co-working spaces might be a metaphor for corporations that…

  • don’t have a formal hierarchy or structure
  • consist of self driven individualists
  • are aware that sometimes the own talent needs support

…but still experience a certain kind of steering.

In a co-working space every protagonist is responsible for the success of the own endeavor. If you fail, you will loose a customer and you have to go through the struggle of securing new business to pay the bills. The individual person is in charge. If start-ups use the co-working space as their first home base they are in charge of their journey as well. Probably one of the major drivers of entrepreneurs: see your baby grow and be in charge of providing food and education.

To create a connection to others and to find skills that compliment the own set – or even completes it – is a huge opportunity in a well organized and managed co-working space. In this context I am deliberately using the expressions of organizing and managing a co-working space. Because it’s down to the owners that

  • provide the means of networking,
  • nurture conversation and catalyze connections,
  • select the right people and nurture the variety of skills and
  • fill gaps of skill, expertise or resource.

However, their concept and offering to the actual co-workers has to be so compelling that they WANT to join the ship. They WANT to join with the awareness for the opportunities and the openness for complimenting talent.

In a co-working space enterprise 2.0 is creating individual and collaborative value…measurable by the success of individual or joint projects. Each co-work will have some kind of measurable ROI.

So the owners/managers of the co-working space might be a new form of leaders. They are the coaches, the guides, the mentors that we consultants talk about all the time when we talk about the change in managerial culture. The change away from hierarchy and task management towards network driven value creation and productivity driven success measures.

To silence the critics straight away: a 20.000 people industrial manufacturing corporation will never be some co-working space for engineering, production, sales and marketing talent. I agree to that. But for the small and medium corporations the concept of co-working and co-creation could be a valid alternative to growing companies that loose agility and flexibility with each single new full time employee.

Well…just a thought… 🙂

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a #fluid-organization is powered by networks; #hierarchy = ice; #socbiz #e20 #enterprise20

Today I was inspired by a good friend of mine who works as communication coach and trainer. We were elaborating on the inability of large and decentralized organizations to really resonate on reality and detail when it comes business planning and steering. The larger a company gets and the ‘higher up’ a manager sits within a hierarchy the more likely it gets that Excel (or a similar tool) turns into his/her touchpoint to reality. Abstraction is considered necessary for managerial decisions that aren’t influenced by subjectivity or prolonged by dealing with too much detail. But from expereince we all know that numbers look different if someone’s – unfiltered – perspective is added to it as a commentary.

A couple of years ago I was bold enough to announce at a conference ‘Hierarchy is dead – long live the networked organization’. Oh well, this statement might have been slightly over the top and I have altered it since then to ‘Hierarchy can no longer be the dominating dimension of steering a company – value has to be created by networks of experts and expertise’. Then a week ago I have attended a conference where a picture similar to this one was put on screen:

20120422-151442.jpg

I have modifed the picture to the extend that I have decided to include the nodes of the formal part of the organization into the network on the right side. Thereby I want to express two things in particular:

1 – Formality determines an individual’s location – network nodes determine an individual’s value
Some people feel comfortable in the role of a ‘free radical’ – buzzing through an organization without really caring of hierarchical position or title. The majority (I dare to say 95%) of employees however, require some certainty of where they stand and which part of the engine they represent. This certainty is required to make sure that role and responsibility are clear and expectations can be set/measured accordingly. As long as companies haven’t decided on measuring collaborative and joint performance/success as the key indicators this particular circumstance will not change.

What a formal role doesn’t incorporate is the potential value of an individual for an entire organization. Making a certain expertise or experience only accessible to a limited part of a company could even be considered ‘negligent’. Now the connections come into play… The more connections one individual has the more effective can that individual’s value be for the greater good. A connection must not necessarily stand for a people-relationship. It could even represent the virtual affiliation with a group, a subject or a project challenge. Enabling companies and employees to access this potential from both sides – creating and utilizing the connections – can unleash the hidden value that lies within information and knowledge work.

Just as a side note: I am 100% aware that taking up this discussion with union councils is far from easy…

2 – The fluid organization
Water is able to adjust to all situations and to unleash power that can overcome almost anything that is put in its way. When water turns into ice two interesting things happen: it loses all of its agility and ability to adjust and it increases in volume.

For me hierarchy stands for the aggregate state of ‘ice’. The more established (frozen) it is the more agility gets lost for an organization to adjust to challenges or changes in the environment. Gerhard Wohland, Matthias Wiemeyer elaborate in their book ‘Denkwerkzeuge der Höchstleister: Wie dynamikrobuste Unternehmen Marktdruck erzeugen.‘ on how high performing companies are able to withstand competition but can turn into victims of significantly changing environments (an awesome read by the way). Furthermore – and I can see all readers nodding – hierarchies tend to be ‘bigger’ than the sum of all individuals…

Keeping it fluid however, doesn’t mean that an individual doesn’t have a fixed location anymore. Each water molecule consists of the required atoms. Their location – as far as it’s possible in modern physics – can be determined. Still molecules and larger groups of molecules still are agile enough to form according to situational requirements.

Referring to the illustration above: left is ice, right is water – the fluid organization, in which atoms and molecules have their position but are connected and agile enough for form powerful instances according to potential and challenge.

Organizational and leadership challenge of enterprise 2.0
Combining the fluid organization with the actual state of hierarchies that resonate on decentralization and globalization will be one of the major challenges for consultancies dealing with organizational management and social (networked) business.

This should be taken into account when initiatives are put into place to establish the new way of working. As long as a company is not open enough to ‘blend’ (literally throwing it in a blender…) their established structures the potential success will be limited. Networking stands for overcoming personal limitations and organizational barriers – professional as well as geographical. But it has to start with a solid connection to business operations and individual people’s goals.

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Leadership for a new generation (nofear-community.com)

As a contributing author I take myself the freedom to advertise the NoFear Community on leadership for a new generation of talent and high performers 🙂 I truly believe (and experience already) that the future generations (Digital Natives, Digital Cowboys or Millenials) expect a new way of being led (rather than managed). It’s definitely worth to browse through the community and have a look at the executive video interviews – and in case you’re looking for a summer afternoon read go for the No Fear book (available on amazon.com and all e-book readers).

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#leadership for the upcoming generation of employees #nofearbook

The No Fear Community (and will be a book) is supposed to support experience exchange amongst business professionals, managers and executives with regards to leadership practice and the change happening therein due to the shift in a lot of the employee's mindset. The question 'what's in for me' seems to become more and more eminent. It's similar to the dynamics in the online world: if you cannot offer real value and intuitive user experience user will abandon your offering. So leaders will – in a mid and long term – have to understand that followers won't be only defined by reporting lines anymore but by passion and belief in the shared vision, mission and goals. That of course doesn't mean that formal organizations will be replaced with solely crowd sourced businesses. There will be a new balance between the formal guidelines/structure keeping things in order and the network-oriented operations that will create value and unleash new potential in the field of information and knowledge work. It will be a continuous process not a one off change and it will be a challenge for everyone involved – the ones that seek to lead and the ones that seek to be led authentically. Check out the new website now at http://www.nofear-community.com/pre or at http://www.nofear-community.com as of March 1st.