You can take it with you. Your comfort zone, that is. You know, that cozy place that all these books and seminars and gurus keep telling you to leave. Leaving is scary, so sometimes even if you claim to be seeking “discomfort” (oof), maybe you really aren’t. But see, a zone is like a territory, or like a country. And the thing about leaving your comfort zone is that you’re not a tourist, visiting these risky new places for a little while and then retreating back home. No, you’re an imperialist, putting forth a considerable effort to extend your borders over an area that wasn’t always yours. There’s a reason that board game is called Risk. But once that happens, your zone is bigger, and you are comfortable doing more things. You can survive job interviews. Extreme sports. Awkward social situations. What I find people forget to tell you about leaving your comfort zone is that you’re not supposed to return to it, wipe your sweaty brow and say “phew, well that was ultimately healthy, I’m sure. Now to never do it again.” The idea is to make the uncharted realm the newest part of your zone and say “I don’t necessarily have to come back here again, but at least I know I probably can if I want to.” Always making an effort to test yourself is important, but don’t forget to take stock of where you are, and how your recently contested comforts are developing. fearlessstories.com
This post is a continuation in a series of weekly posts about my thoughts and learnings with regards to Tom Peter’s “The Future Shape of the Winner” Model and the “Excellence Audit” . I am in week 2 of a distance learning course to become an accredited user of the Excellence Audit. Please feel free to comment and/or add to my thoughts below.
Please note, these comments are based on what I have read before, the conversations I have had with Madeleine at Tom Peters Company, and of course from our first session. I may have some different thoughts after I read the materials tonight!
Future Shape of the Winner Model: What it is?
The Future Shape of the Winner is…
- A way to describe an organization that revolves around it’s people, understanding that they are nothing without them, and that if we stop moving and changing and moving forward in order to support our people, we will topple over and fail.
- Based around Tom Peter’s work over 20+ years, built around his professional services model.
- A way for organizations to put words around the challenges they are facing today.
How can it fit into my practice?
- This is something Madeleine and I talked about months ago. Measurement is paramount in my practice. I want to not only be able to show results, but also be able to confidently identify and prioritize areas the organization should target as areas for improvement.
- Although I always conduct some time of assessment when working with a client, this will be the first time I use a tool as thorough and as credible as I believe the FSW Model and Excellence Audit to be.
- Helping an organization conduct an Excellence Audit will not only help me better assist the executives in creating their change agenda, but it will provide a baseline for any other work I do from that point on, as well as provide me with the breadth and depth of context I need about the organization in order to do my work well.
- It’s just a darn good tool to have in my toolbox.
The Kinds of Situations Where it Might Add Value to My Clients…
- Performance Issues, low morale, and/or culture issues with no real diagnosis
- Lots of perceived “problem areas” with no way to prioritize
- Lack of baseline information and feedback from employees about the state of the organization
- Organization who wants to think ahead strategically, for the long term, vs. just putting out fires
- Organization tight on budget who wants to target their dollars for development in the most efficient way
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.
I am high off my day with Seth Godin, who provided a small group of us further insight and a forum to discuss the concepts from his latest book, Linchpin. First of all, I LOVE this book. Every paragraph I read seemed to articulate part of what I am trying to do here on Earth. I want to help people change. Today Seth talked about that we have two choices – either to teach people a way to do something (give them the map), or to give them a new perspective (show them they can create their own map!)! I’ve been a bit trapped in the concept of the “what” am I teaching, and today I realized it’s more important for me to share my perspective, and insight, and to give people the gift of a new way of thinking.
I recently completed a proposal to coach an executive, and put a lot of thought into the “program” around changing behavior. I approached it as I would any change project in an organization, breaking it into phases that included Assessment, Development, Execution and Evaluation. The difference this time was instead of implementing a new process, technology, or even structure, we are going to be implementing new behaviors – one of the trickier challenges of the practice of Change Management. One of the key components of the program is understanding how long it will take to identify a behavior that we desire to change, and then successfully change it.
I have over 15 years experience in Change Management. I understand the ins, the outs, the good, the bad, the ugly. I understand what’s to be gained from making positive change in your life, and I know how hard it is to do it.
But today my daughter defeated me. My little, one year old daughter reminded me how hard it is to make someone else change. My pediatrician, who I adore because of his straightforward, non-wishy washy style, told me in no uncertain terms that my daughter needed to be off her bottle (drinking from a cup) and no pacifier by her 15 month visit.