Starting today, I am participating in the Future Shape of the Winner Distance Learning Programme with Tom Peters Company to learn about the Future Shape of the Winner Model™ and be certified in the use of their Excellence Audit™. I am starting a thread here to document some of the discussion and learning we will be having throughout the course (over the next 4 weeks) so that I can share and dialogue with my classmates from around the world and anyone else who would like to participate in the discussion! Each week we will have topics to reflect on and I will document my thoughts here.
Topic 1: In the first discussion, we want to find out what has attracted your interest in Future Shape of the Winner and the Excellence Audit and how you see this approach helping your business. How do you envisage it providing you with extra impetus in your and/or your clients’ organisations?
First and foremost, I have been a fan of Tom Peter’s work from Day 1 as a Change Management Consultant at Andersen Consulting in the early 90′s. I have used his work as a guide my entire career.
When I started my own practice 3 years ago, I focused on the individual (life) coaching aspect of my work, and merely maintained my relationships with corporate clients I had been working with over the years. This year, as my practice grew, I wanted to revive my corporate work by building a bridge between the work I was doing with individuals and the work I can do with (the individuals within an) organization.
When I came across this model, I read the core philosophies and felt like I was reading my own personal change manifesto. The talent-centric model, based on learnings from professional service organizations, is focused on building that bridge between the individual and the corporation that I desire to do in my work: “The leader’s #1 job is to conduct the business such that people (employees, partners and associates) see fulfilling the ambitions of the business as being consistent with realizing their personal ambitions.”
Additionally, having a model that can assist me in the needs assessment process, providing quantifiable data that can help executives develop thier organization’s change priorities, or change agenda, is a gift. The first step in my process is to conduct an assessment, and I’ve used different tools over the years to do so, but often it is done from scratch and developed based on the organization’s needs. I’m excited to have a model/tool that I can offer my clients that is backed by years of research from a leader in the field.
In the second discussion, we want to explore the world in which clients are operating. Think about your work in recent years as an organisation development/HR professional supporting others in their work. What have been the major influences that have challenged your clients to adapt and change? How easy or hard have these changes been for them to make? How would you summarise those challenges which continue to be on your clients’ agendas? Write a short description (up to 500 words) of your thoughts about the forces at work in your clients’ world.
As noted above, I’ve not been as active in the organizational consulting world in the past few years as I plan to be this year and beyond. However, working with individuals outside of the corporation and recent discussions has helped me form some conclusions about the current challenges:
1) The organization model is changing. In Seth Godin’s book, Linchpin, he talks about how the old system is broken. We have created a “race to the bottom” where everyone is trying to make the “thing” faster and cheaper than the next company, adding no extra value and the only differentiator is price. This creates a culture of sameness, both in product and employees, that encourages a “cog in the wheel” mentality which is not only uninspiring but ultimately, unsuccessful. The challenge is to create an environment in which individual creativity can thrive on every level and value becomes the differentiator to lead to success in an organization and engagement in the individual.
2) Budget: When budgets are tight, and it’s hard to measure “people-focused” programs, those programs tend to be left on the budget-cut floor. The key is to find quantifiable reasons to focus on talent that will enable leadership to prioritize those things that will engage, inspire and enable their workforce to add their highest value.
3) A Changing Workforce: our workforce today has varying and sometimes conflicting priorities. Whether they are taking care of an aging parent, their own children, or believe that they don’t want a lifetime behind a desk, today’s workforce is desiring more from their employers. Organizations that can develop a culture that honors the individual’s life as a whole will win at developing an engaged and loyal workforce. This is difficult in practice because it means challenging the way we have traditionally done work, and potentially redefining what it means to be a “good employee”.
4) Fatigue: This work is hard. Years of “surviving” through a recession and operating by boot-straps can create a culture of fatigue. To introduce a change, especially one as large as changing the culture by which we do work, can be met with a resistance from both executives and employees alike, that is impossible to overcome. Often an organization will quit before it begins to make a change that just seems to big to take on at this time. The challenge is to understand the organization’s capacity for change, and develop a change agenda that’s not only correct in need, but is sensitive to the ability of the employees to actually participate in a change effort.