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Archive for the 'Management' Category

Monday, August 28th, 2017

Designed Leadership: Principle 1: Make Values Explicit

Designed Leadership

“In the world of designed leadership, values are essential underpinnings for key principles and practices. What is the use of identifying values in an organization if you don’t use them on a daily basis for decision-making?” — Moura Quayle

The following is a guest post from Moura Quayle, author of Designed Leadership. Over the next several weeks, Quayle will take readers through all ten of her designed leadership principles in a series of posts.

Designed Leadership: Principle 1: Make Values Explicit
By Moura Quayle

This post is about the first principle of Designed Leadership – making values explicit. The other nine principles will be explored over the next few posts.

There is not much that is more important in this world than awareness of what we value—and of what those values are. As I was pulling together my leadership experiences in writing Designed Leadership, I realized that there are different kinds of value sets that are useful in making decisions on everything from the strategic plans for organizations to household decisions around the types of financial institutions we use or the philanthropic choices that we make. There are core values, process values, and foundation values. The value you hold also drive your approach to the strategic design method—a collaborative, visual, disciplined thinking method for tackling complex problems (small and large) and systemic challenges.

As I write in my book: “In designed leadership, values are strategic markers to orient principles and provide touchstones for assessments of incremental or final performance. This accountability (also a value) is fundamental to the effectiveness of designed leadership—it’s the value-add of the design process generally.”

Core values such as accountability, effectiveness, elegance, and respect are defined only as a means to aggregate other components or meta-values. When I started thinking about what values are “core,” accountability popped up as a key one. And it isn’t simple to identify what accountability means beyond the usual financial or accounting business context. I also have accountability to myself and my colleagues around my relationships and my work. Similarly, effectiveness means different things to different people. If accountability is assessment of external values, then effectiveness is an assessment of internal values which range from communication to process understanding to getting the job done. Elegance is maybe one of my favourite core values and perhaps an unusual one for some people. Elegant solutions are something to strive for whether you are a math whiz, a coder, or the US ambassador to France. The elegant outcome is one that takes complex inputs and makes the solution look easy. Elegant solutions are achieved through hard work and intention. Finally, respect is core, process, and foundation all rolled together for designed leadership. It is essential, aspirational, and learned. Respect is how we can acknowledge and learn about the many belief systems that exist in our world. Most importantly, people have to feel respected before they can be comfortable with change, and these days change is constant.

Process values—complexity, resilience, diversity, erudition—bring another perspective to intentional design. They direct and guide us through any thinking and problem solving methodology. We run across complicated problems on a day-to-day basis and usually find a way to solve them. However, complex problems can stop us in our tracks. These complex problems are often called messy or wicked problems these days. The wicked problem terminology came from Horst Rittel and his colleagues at UC Berkeley. I had the great experience of taking a course from Rittel so was introduced to this “type” of problem early in my career. These are problems that are difficult to define and owned by many. The strategic design method is great to help unpack them. Resilience, diversity, and erudition are values that are key in designed leadership where adaptability, robustness, openness and earning are essential.
Foundation values are perhaps the ones that we are most used to identifying as values: honesty, cost-effectiveness practicality, and being organized. As David Fushtey (governance guy) says, “Today, in value terms, everything matters.” Designed leadership acknowledges this fact and embraces the idea that everything does matter.

The ten principles for designed leadership illuminate how a designer mindset applies to leadership and what principles are useful to apply in life and in work. The first of these ten principles, Make Values Explicit, illustrates the centrality of values in designed leadership.

Principle 1. Make Values Explicit: Make values explicit to communicate more consistently with others in decision making, oversight, and accountability assessments.

In the world of designed leadership, values are essential underpinnings for key principles and practices. What is the use of identifying values in an organization if you don’t use them on a daily basis for decision-making? At the British Columbia Ministry of Advanced Education we tried various ways of integrating values into our decision-making processes, including making them an explicit part of the agenda. This involved co-creating the agenda at the beginning of our meetings and keeping visual reminders around the meeting table. It also required discipline on behalf of the executive to connect our discussions and decisions to our values. “Good designed leadership makes values explicit, stating them in easy-to-understand terms, followed by principles and, often, by guidelines or standards. This way, the values are connected and can be used transparently and openly to inform decision-making. Designed leadership demands elasticity of thinking—being able to take a value like ‘respect,’ and articulate what it means to be respectful, as well as what it means to be disrespectful. This type of discussion helps us more deeply understand values and what they mean.”

Value discussions can cause tension as we cross disciplines and start talking business and design. We have different languages and use words in different ways. “Language is the medium we use to explore and learn, to grow and change—based on our values. So, connecting the languages of business and the language of design has the potential to create new language and new behavior—and ideally, new approaches to problem solving.”

“It is vitally important to clarify your own values, and to work with colleagues to define the key values of a community or organization. Once defined, it is important to use values in decision making and strategic thinking.”

Thursday, July 20th, 2017

Designed Leadership: A Case Study

Designed Leadership

“C3 presented an opportunity to demonstrate that, in Vancouver, things can be done differently. We can break down the disciplinary isolation in our institutions. We can collaborate more effectively while providing a real-world learning environment for students.” — Moura Quayle

This week, our featured book is Designed Leadership, by Moura Quayle. Today, we are happy to start the feature off with an excerpt from the book’s case studies section, in which Quayle uses her real world experience working with Vancouver’s Campus City Collaborative (C3) to meet the city’s challenging “greenest city” goals.

Don’t forget to enter our book giveaway for a chance to win a free copy of Designed Leadership!

Wednesday, July 19th, 2017

Introduction to the Principles of Designed Leadership

Designed Leadership

“Designed leadership depends on having some sort of problem-solving or opportunity-seeking process to help you when you need to plan or when you are ‘stuck.’ Even when you may not be quite sure of where you are going, having a thinking process is essential. It is a touchstone along the journey.” — Moura Quayle

This week, our featured book is Designed Leadership, by Moura Quayle. Today, Quayle provides an introduction to the principles of designed leadership she discusses at greater length in her book.

Don’t forget to enter our book giveaway for a chance to win a free copy of Designed Leadership!

Introduction to the Principles of Designed Leadership
By Moura Quayle

Looking at familiar places, I realized that the last time I had worked in our capital city was in the private sector, as the principal of a built environment design business – it would now be called a “start-up.” Close to four decades later, looking out my government office window when tasked with reviewing and updating a system of twenty five institutions with assets in around fifty locations and links in a hundred countries, serving over one hundred eighty thousand students, and governed by twenty five boards with combined operating budgets of $1.6 billion, I wondered what in the world prepared me for this task. The products I was dealing with were ideas and people, with no common bricks and mortar, or other tangible form. My task was providing leadership for organizational and institutional transformation.

Yet I felt comfortable and confident in using a strategic design approach. Over the previous quarter century I had studied and applied it, scaled up and out. More importantly, perhaps, I had learned the importance of the old saw that to go far you need to go with others. When applying risk management and fiscal accountability in integrating diverse interests, this meant building common understanding of terms of reference and decision-making values as well as information infrastructure. When the context is complex and dynamic for the long-term, the skills are not intuitive but learned. Designed leadership. (more…)

Tuesday, July 18th, 2017

Strategic Design in Action

Designed Leadership

“This book is about how we can lead better. As we remember the joys and potential of lifelong learning, it is also worth remembering that the leaders among us, from every sector, all once faced the world as fresh-faced, wide-eyed, and innocent preschoolers…. The principles here will connect the surviving naïfs in us all to the disciplined future leaders that we all have the capacity to become.” — Moura Quayle

This week, our featured book is Designed Leadership, by Moura Quayle. Today, we are happy to start the feature off with an excerpt from the book’s introduction, in which Quayle discusses the need for theories of effective leadership, what design principles and practices actually are, and the value of integrating design and leadership.

Don’t forget to enter our book giveaway for a chance to win a free copy of Designed Leadership!

Monday, July 17th, 2017

Book Giveaway! Designed Leadership

Designed Leadership

“This book contributes a very thoughtful set of observations about the principles and practices of successful leaders who rely on a ‘strategic design’ approach. Moura Quayle draws on a diverse and impressive range of personal leadership experiences to illustrate and emphasize her points. Insightful, yet still accessible.” — Jeanne Liedtka, University of Virginia Darden School of Business

This week, our featured book is Designed Leadership, by Moura Quayle. Throughout the week, we will be featuring content about the book and its author on our blog as well as on our Twitter feed and our Facebook page.

Friday, September 23rd, 2016

A Look Inside a “Conversational Firm”

The Conversational Firm

“Most interesting to me was the fact that this company, which was so vocal about rejecting conventional bureaucracy, ended up adopting some bureaucratic practices over time—but this happened precisely because employees used their voices to speak up and say when certain conventional practices that had been rejected would not be useful. It struck me that a whole new model was emerging, one in which cross-hierarchical conversation was a central mechanism for confronting business challenges.” – Catherine Turco

This week, our featured book is The Conversational Firm: Rethinking Bureaucracy in the Age of Social Media, by Catherine J. Turco. Today, for the final post of the week, we are happy to provide a short excerpt from an interview with Turco conducted by Kara Baskin for MIT Sloan School’s Newsroom. You can read the interview in its entirety here.

What new approach to communication did you find inside TechCo?

What most excited me was the realization that there is a new organizational model that companies can shoot for today. I believe this model has become possible—and perhaps even necessary—on account of the communication technologies now available and the habits and expectations that today’s employees bring into the workplace. I call the model the “conversational firm,” and it’s the idea that organizations can have far more open dialogue across the corporate hierarchy than we ever before thought possible. (more…)

Thursday, September 22nd, 2016

Employees Speaking Up: The TechCo Wiki

The Conversational Firm

“Perhaps most interesting, the employees’ upward communication on the wiki was so startlingly open at times that I found myself wondering if this might be a setting in which employees had finally transcended all the theorized barriers to ‘speaking up’ to hierarchy…. Such public voice and dialogue simply have no precedent in past accounts of corporate life.” — Catherine J. Turco

This week, our featured book is The Conversational Firm: Rethinking Bureaucracy in the Age of Social Media, by Catherine J. Turco. Today, we are happy to present an excerpt from Turco’s account of the TechCo internal wiki.

Wednesday, September 21st, 2016

A Conversational Firm for a Conversational Age

The Conversational Firm

“[The Conversational Firm] will demonstrate that even if we retain certain elements of conventional Weberian bureaucracy (including a hierarchical decision-making structure), it is now quite possible to build firms in which the opinions of employees are heard, firms very much engaged in public discussion of their techniques. In this conversational age, with our new tools and platforms for voice, it is possible to build more conversational firms.” — Catherine J. Turco

This week, our featured book is The Conversational Firm: Rethinking Bureaucracy in the Age of Social Media, by Catherine J. Turco. Today, we have an excerpt from The Conversational Firm, in which Turco explains her concept of the “conversational firm,” and tells how TechCo is a perfect vehicle for her to use in exploring what a “conversational firm” can be.

A Conversational Firm for a Conversational Age
By Catherine Turco

Despite bureaucracy’s apparent indestructibility, The Conversational Firm offers hope that it is possible to pry open the iron cage if we approach things from a new angle. By following what works and what does not work about TechCo’s various attempts to transcend bureaucracy with openness—and by examining when and how conventional bureaucracy slips back in along the way—the book provides insight into the opportunities and challenges of shooting for openness as well as the nature and durability of bureaucracy. Ultimately I argue that TechCo has found its way to something quite new and different from the iron cage—a new organizational form I call the “conversational firm.”

Such an organization does not do away with all the vestiges of conventional bureaucracy. In particular, it does not become an open, democratic decision-making environment. However, it does maintain a radically more open communication environment than we have ever seen before, and this fosters a more engaged workforce and a more adaptive organization. Using multiple communication channels to promote and sustain an ongoing dialogue with its employees, the firm is able to confront the tradeoffs of openness and bureaucracy directly and to leverage the collective wisdom of its workforce to navigate them. Through its ongoing conversations, the organization finds a way to challenge the market’s—and even its own— conventional wisdom, continually iterating and improving upon both the open and bureaucratic practices it adopts as it goes. (more…)

Tuesday, September 20th, 2016

Introducing “The Conversational Firm”

The Conversational Firm

“‘The old ways of doing things don’t work anymore,’ TechCo’s CEO told me the first time we met. The ‘old ways’ he was referring to were most everything we think of when we think of a conventional bureaucratic firm: vertical hierarchy, centralized decision making, formal rules and guidelines to control employee behavior, corporate communication that follows the rigid lines of the firm’s organizational chart, and a staid culture that stifles individual expression.” — Catherine J. Turco

This week, our featured book is The Conversational Firm: Rethinking Bureaucracy in the Age of Social Media, by Catherine J. Turco. To get the week’s feature started, we have excerpted Turco’s Preface to The Conversational Firm, in which she takes us a TechCo “Hack Night” and explains how TechCo is trying to get rid of what the company sees as outdated organizational structures and theories.

Monday, September 19th, 2016

Book Giveaway! The Conversational Firm: Rethinking Bureaucracy in the Age of Social Media

The Conversational Firm

“Will twenty-first-century social media technologies finally liberate organizations from stifling bureaucratic hierarchies? After spending ten months closely observing a software firm, Catherine J. Turco, one of sociology’s brightest young stars, surprises with fascinating and nuanced answers. Brimming with vivid examples, The Conversational Firm will not only shape scholarly debate but also engage general readers interested in corporate life.” — Viviana A. Zelizer, author of Economic Lives

This week, our featured book is The Conversational Firm: Rethinking Bureaucracy in the Age of Social Media, by Catherine J. Turco. Throughout the week, we will be featuring content about the book and its author on our blog as well as on our Twitter feed and our Facebook page.

We are also offering a FREE copy of The Conversational Firm. To enter our book giveaway, simply fill out the form below with your name and preferred mailing address. We will randomly select our winners on Friday, September 23 at 1:00 pm. Good luck, and spread the word!

Friday, September 12th, 2014

Edward Hess: Can You Build a High-Performance Learning Organization?

Edward Hess, Learn or Die

“If we want adaptable learning organizations, we need to humanize our management models, and that requires many companies to fundamentally change attitudes and behaviors toward employees…. [W]e need to form new capital markets to support the building of endur­ing, value creating, people-centric, learning companies.”—Edward Hess

Appropriately enough, we conclude our week-long feature on Edward Hess’s Learn or Die: Using Science to Build a Leading-Edge Learning Organization with an excerpt from the books epilogue. In this passage, Hess describes the challenges of creating a High-Performance Learning Organization (HPLO):

Several people in the past year have asked me whether these research find­ings are scalable in a big company. My answer is: It depends. A private company built by an entrepreneur who aims to create an enduring business (like Gore and Bridgewater) has a good chance if the company executes its model well. Gore has scaled its model to over 10,000 employees globally, because maintaining the “Gore Way” has been a passionate pursuit of the successor leadership teams. Leadership succession coming from inside is critical. McKinsey & Company is another good example of a private busi­ness that has scaled and not lost its founder’s essence. Is it easier to do this in a private company? Yes, it is. The key is successful leadership succession from within. That is the challenge Bridgewater is tackling now.

Regarding public companies, UPS has scaled its high employee engagement and operational excellence model to over 400,000 employees, because Jim Casey’s philosophy is still alive in UPS. If successor leaders grew up in the culture and have lived the values for years, scaling is pos­sible. Other good examples of public companies that have achieved this are Costco, Corning, Inc., Sysco, and Southwest Airlines. Keeping the founder’s culture alive is the key, and that is difficult if an organization doesn’t build an internal leadership succession pipeline that keeps that culture alive. That is a challenge facing many good learning companies today, for example Starbucks, Amazon, and Google.

(more…)

Thursday, September 11th, 2014

VIDEOS: Edward Hess Presents Chapters from “Learn or Die”

We continue our video feature of Edward Hess’s discussions of chapters from his new book Learn or Die: Using Science to Build a Leading-Edge Learning Organization.

In these video, Hess presents overviews of chapters 7 to 11:

Chapter 7: Critical Thinking Tools

Chapter 8: A Conversation with Dr. Gary Klein

(more…)

Wednesday, September 10th, 2014

VIDEOS: Edward Hess Presents Chapters from “Learn or Die” (Part 1)

On Monday, as part of the giveaway for Learn or Die: Using Science to Build a Leading-Edge Learning Organization, we featured a video with Edward Hess in which he provides an overview of the book.

In conjunction with the book, Hess has provided short summaries for the other chapters in the book here are videos for chapters 2-6. (Tomorrow, we’ll post videos for chapter 7-11)

Chapter 2: Learning How Our Mind Works

(more…)

Monday, September 8th, 2014

Book Giveaway: Learn or Die by Edward D. Hess

Learn or Die: Using Science to Build a Leading-Edge Learning Organization

“This book does a beautiful job bringing together the most important ideas in organizational learning, established by academics and practitioners over the past thirty years or more, into one place.” — Amy C. Edmondson, Novartis Professor of Leadership and Management, Harvard Business School

This week our featured book is Learn or Die: Using Science to Build a Leading-Edge Learning Organization, by Edward D. Hess.

In addition to featuring the book and the author on the blog, we will also be posting about the book on twitter, and facebook.

We are also offering a FREE copy of Learn or Die: Using Science to Build a Leading-Edge Learning Organization to a lucky winner. To enter the contest please e-mail pl2164@columbia.edu and include your name and address. The winner will be selected Friday, September 12 at 1:00 pm.

In Learn or Die, Edward D. Hess combines recent advances in neuroscience, psychology, behavioral economics, and education with key research on high-performance businesses to create an actionable blueprint for becoming a leading-edge learning organization.

The following is a video based on chapter 1 of the book, which provides an overview of Learn or Die. We will share other videos for the remaining chapters during the week: