Share your thoughts on leadership in the workplace in our 10-minute survey, and you'll be entered into our drawing for a chance to win one of the following prizes:
First Prize: A complimentary seat in our upcoming leadership program ($1,250 value) and a copy of David Sibbet's latest book, Visual Leaders: New Tools for Visioning, Management, and Organization Change.
Second Prize: A complimentary, one-year individual membership ($120 value, includes 12 workshops) and a copy of Visual Leaders.
Third Prize: A Kindle Fire Tablet, 7" LCD Display, Wi-Fi (value $159), and a copy of Visual Leaders.
Let's face it, we all have weaknesses. But instead of having an "Oh no!" moment when a challenge comes your way, these weaknesses should be thought of more as opportunities to grow and learn — which may sound simple, but it's far from how some professionals and leaders behave.
In an interview with Harvard Business Review, Dr. Carol Dweck, author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, describes this very powerful difference between a "fixed" and "growth" mindset:
"In a growth mindset, challenges are exciting rather than threatening. So rather than thinking, oh, I'm going to reveal my weaknesses, you say, wow, here's a chance to grow. If you find yourself afraid of challenges, get yourself into a growth mindset and think about all of the growth potential in following this opportunity, even if it's out of your comfort zone."
Here's your chance to grow and learn three quick ways to turn that feeling of "Oh no!" into a success-oriented "Now what?"
Project management has been around for as long as human beings have endeavored en masse to complete tasks and projects of all shapes and sizes: from the Great Pyramid and Great Wall of China, on through 21st century workforce management by way of virtualization and the cloud.
Below is a brief, visual history of project management that illustrates a rich timelime of project management methodologies, advancements, and the overall evolution of the field. Now, more than ever, the ability to effectively manage projects large and small to successful completion is a vital and in-demand skill.
Change. Why is it so hard? How can we make effective, lasting changes in our organizations, lives, and communities when change itself seems so overwhelming and monumental? How do you even start? In the New York Times bestselling book, Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard, authors Chip Heath and Dan Heath provide refreshingly new perspectives on change in a vivid and practical narrative, while deconstructing the various barriers and how to surmount them.
I’ve summarized the first chapter to help illuminate the authors’ change-inspiring findings and jumpstart your “switch”: The first surprise about change? “What looks like a people problem is often a situation problem.” As an example, the authors cite a study where people at a movie theater ate more popcorn out of bigger containers than smaller ones. People vs. Situation. If you want to get people to make a healthier choice with their popcorn eating, then the answer is simple: provide smaller containers. Identifying where changes can be made situationally can create profound and effective results.
In order to adopt change, we also need to understand, guide, influence, and attend to our hearts and minds. This can be difficult when head and heart so often disagree. To further explain this dichotomy, the authors refer to a book called The Happiness Hypothesis in which our emotional side is described as an Elephant and our rational side as the Rider. The Rider is the leader and has some ability to control and guide, but the Elephant is far stronger and, if provoked, tired, worn out, or scared, is always going to overpower the Rider.
Both Elephant and Rider have their strengths and weaknesses. The Elephant seeks short-term payoff, while the Rider can see goals for the long-term. The Elephant, meanwhile, has the power of emotions: love, compassion, loyalty, sympathy, ferocity—aspects that are going to commit and motivate ourselves toward lasting change. These are furthermore the things that connect us with other people and can make a compelling case for ourselves, company, brand, point-of-view etc. To drive change, you need the work, energy, and heart of the Elephant.
While the Rider is a decision-maker and a good guide, she can also overanalyze, which can be a paralyzing hindrance to change, as well. So you have to appeal to both and have Rider and Elephant move together. As the authors say, “A reluctant Elephant and a wheel-spinning Rider can both ensure that nothing changes.”
The second surprise about change: “Change is hard because people wear themselves out.”
Again, you can avoid wearing yourself, team members, or employees out by appealing to Rider and Elephant. You do this by providing crystal clear direction to both—which is the third surprise about change.
Here, in short, is the authors’ three-part framework for accomplishing change: 1. Direct the Rider. 2. Motivate the Elephant. 3. Shape and Direct (Clearly) the Path/Situation/Environment/Strategy.
What are some of the challenges you've experienced when trying to make change? What are some effective strategies you've discovered? Share your thoughts below.
We're also giving away several copies of David's new book! Simply participate in our short Leadership Survey for a chance to win.
The world is becoming an increasingly visual place—and your organization, business, or team needs a leader with the right visual IQ and know-how to communicate the "big picture." You don't have to be an artist, but becoming adept at utilizing visual practice techniques will be a huge boon to getting your team on board, sharing ideas, propelling projects forward, and so much more.
Read on for our interview with David Sibbet, who shares his expertise about the practice of visualization, why it's important to be a visual leader today, and how you can become one.
People-OnTheGo: For those who aren't familiar with visualization or visual practice, can you please describe the basic ideas of the field and its uses in a business or professional environment? What are some common applications?
David Sibbet: Visual practice is using the tools of design thinking and graphic design interactively—much like one uses spoken words. Where once these ways of working were focused on design itself, the methods are now used by leaders and facilitators to support meetings, teams, and organization change processes. Visual practice includes graphic recording of meetings, visual facilitation of meetings and teams, and use of many kinds of media on the part of leaders to collaboratively develop visions, processes, and plans.
Why do think it's important in this day and age for leaders and managers to be "visual leaders"?
Almost all media in today's world integrates text and graphics, and in increasing numbers of cases, video. Not only are younger people quite fluid with these new ways of communicating, but anyone who is trying to develop and align people on new plans needs visuals to make sense out of the complexity. People understand how different parts of an organization connect and work together with mental models, diagrams, maps, and other kinds of displays. A leader who is visually adept has a tremendous advantage in his or her personal communications. If a leader understands how to work with and guide visual professionals it is an even greater advantage.
How can visualization techniques improve meetings, project management, and overall team function?
Active visualization improves meetings in four proven ways. 1. Visual spark imagination. 2. Active recording and co-creation greatly increases engagement. 3. Visual are the key to big picturethinking and systems thinking in groups. 4. Visuals create a group memory that supports implementation and action. This latter aspect is critical to project management, which is largely about getting actions to align and integrate over time. While project management software is highly visual, it is designed for individuals. Graphic templates, decision rooms, roadmaps and other large format visuals are what work with groups. Teams that understand how to run visual meetings and work visually in virtual settings have a much greater chance of getting results than those that don't—especially if they helped co-create the key documents they steer by.
What are three ways that leaders, managers, and others can increase their visual IQ? For non-artists/drawers, what are some tips and tricks to overcoming a fear or hesitancy of using these visual strategies?
Visualization is effective with very simple shapes and figures that anyone can learn to draw. The first way a leader or manager can become more literate is to use visuals in his or her personal notetaking and diagramming to thinking through ideas. A second important way is to begin paying attention to organizing mental models and metaphors that are embedded in verbal communication, and allow people to see how things work together. Visual note taking helps with this, but working with a visual practitioner who graphically records what is happening in key meetings raises everyone's consciousness on a group basis about the metaphors being used. To the extent that much of strategic thinking is analogous thinking (i.e. comparing one thing with something else), visualizing these comparisons allows everyone to expand on, challenge, and ultimately understand how everyone thinks things should work. A third way is to encourage teams and groups to share their ideas with each other using graphic templates rather than slide decks. Slides help the individual develop ideas, but do not invite enough engagement and interaction in most cases to allow others to come to new insight. Large murals and sketches, sticky notes and timelines allow groups to develop ideas all together at a rate that everyone can absorb. Drawing and diagramming is a way of thinking in and of itself. Consciously picking different formats to work with is like going to a brain gym and working out all the different mental muscles available to human beings.
Please describe some of your favorite visualization techniques and technologies.
A. Telling a group story visually is a winner in any kind of situation where you need to onboard new people, reflect on the past for insights, reinforce and think about values and culture. B. I love using graphic templates in small groups to create rapid prototypes of different things—like the general environment, possible visions, new business models, potential action plans—and then comparing for common themes and insights. Groups are full of wisdom and ideas if allowed the means to express them. C. Another favorite is taking strategy, visions, new business models, and other outputs from key meetings and turning them into story map posters that any leader can use to share the conclusions more widely. Treated like software, these large murals can go through versions and people provide input and feedback. The process of vetting the images aligns everyone who is involved, and makes the visuals very meaningful when they are eventually used in less interactive media. The technologies that allow these things to happen easily consist of readily available big paper from plotter printers, all variety of sticky notes in many color, many choices of water color markers, digital cameras and simple photo processing software. The professional tools for print production, infographic design, and video are easier and easier to use. There really is no technical barrier these days to being highly visual, as young people are discovering in explosions of interest.
What do you see is the future of visualization? And why is it important to get on board with this practice now?
In general, rich media is on the rise in all channels of communication. In business, because visualization is essential to systems thinking and design, and both these qualities are in high demand, visualization is also in increasing demand. This is probably why "design thinking" is so trendy right now. The fact that new touch technologies are transforming our ways of relating to the computer is bringing hand-creation back into vogue, so visualization goes beyond thinking to co-creating. In the future it's possible we'll see keyboards as a very outdated way to interface with information. Since a premium in any organization is having people engaged, understanding what they are doing, and remembering plans as everyone works on different aspects of a project—and these benefits come regularly when groups work together in visual ways. I believe you will see visualization become as standard as writing and calculating.
Forget oil, it’s creativity that may be our most elusive untapped resource. And it’s the reason why major global players like Google and 3M have famously allowed for “creative free time” at work, in which employees can engage in projects they’re passionate about for a nice chunk of time each week, be it a personal hobby or the like. This carte blanche on workplace creativity has been credited in leading to significant innovation at these companies. Moreover, they’ve given us insights on how to foster a more creative work culture, and are contributing to a greater movement in discovering how the brain can access and harness its amazing powers of creativity and innovation.
Daniel Guillory, CEO of Innovations International, is a recognized expert on creativity and innovation, having worked with Toyota Financial Services, Ronald McDonald House Foundation, Merck & Co., and many other corporations and non-profits. We asked him to share his top five book picks on creativity, the brain, and innovation for both in and outside the workplace, so you can better tap into that vast, subconscious well:
1. Innovators DNA: Mastering the Five Skills of Disruptive Innovators by Jeff Dyer, Hal Gregersen, and bestselling author Clayton M. Christensen
2. The Dream Workbook: Discover the Knowledge and Power Hidden in Your Dreams by Jill Morris
3. Creative Visualization: Use the Power of Your Imagination to Create What You Want in Your Life by Shakti Gawain
4. The Talent Code: Greatness Isn't Born. It's Grown. Here's How. by Daniel Coyle
5. The Little Book of Talent: 52 Tips for Improving Your Skills by Daniel Coyle
A recent report by RW3 LLC, a cultural training service, found that 46 percent of employees who work on virtual teams said they had never met their virtual team cohorts and 30 percent said they only met them once a year. The report, The Challenges of Working in Virtual Teams, was based on a survey of nearly 30,000 employees from multinational companies. The survey also found that:
The top challenge for virtual team members was the inability to read nonverbal cues (94%).
There is an absence of collegiality among virtual team members (85%).
It is difficult to establish rapport and trust in virtual teams (81%).
Most virtual team members (90%) said they don’t have enough time during virtual meetings to build relationships.
Managing conflict is more challenging on virtual teams than on conventional teams (73%).
Decision making is more difficult on virtual teams than on conventional teams (69%).
It is more challenging to express opinions on virtual teams than on conventional teams (64%) (Hastings, 2010).
If you have been part of a virtual team, you've probably dealt with your share of these challenges and you are wondering about where to do from here.
Career experts at the Kenan-Flagler business school have produced a comprehensive white paper exploring virtual teams, their benefits and challenges to organizations, and outlined the three key steps that HR and talent management professionals can follow to ensure that virtual team members and leaders in their organizations have the skills, competencies and tools needed to succeed inspite of these challenges. These important steps are:
Participate in the selection process of virtual team members and leaders.
Ensure for the appropriate selection, training and use of virtual team technologies.
Haven't heard about our summary+commentary (s+c*d) format? Learn more!
Adrian starts with a shocking story in which Delta personnel told U.S. Army soldiers who returning home from Afghanistan that they needed to pay $200 per person for each extra bag--not allowing them to proceed--a story that generated considerable buzz. So why didn't Delta employees apply better judgment and resolved this issue more elegantly?
Adrian uses this story to highlight an unfortunate trend in management: Rules and metrics becoming the driving factor in business, and limiting the ability of front-end customer-facing employees to use their judgment and make good decisions. Adrian highlights that while rules and metrics are important, rigid rules, which seem to be overly dominant, can backfire. The article concludes that instead of hiding behind rules, managers need to teach values and judgment, and give employees more leeway to make better decisions. Read Adrian's article in full!
I found Adrian's analysis fascinating and insightful. The article made me question that value of leadership training which seems to be missing the issues highlighted above. I believe that organizations need to extend leadership training to all employees or maybe develop "followship" training that emphasizes good judgment and strategic thinking!
What do you think? Are rules and metrics paralyzing employees and limiting their ability to make sound, customer-centered decisions? Do you agree that leadership training needs to be more inclusive? How would you address the issues highlighted by Adrian?