The Self Aware Organization

September 15, 2014

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(Picture by Spencer Tunick)

This is yet another topic that has been running in the background of #hypertextual for a while now. Three events have contributed to promote it to the foreground.

First is the insightful essay by Freddy and Michael Ballé : Lead With Respect, and the subsequent conversation we had with Michael, Luis, Claude [FR] and Céline. The latter made an enlightening point.

“Leading with respect is not just a matter of personal ethics. It has to show, in actual behaviors and practices. It requires a constant effort of self-awareness, self-demanding mindset, and empathy with the diversity of team members.”

Second is the title of talk of Mary Poppendieck at the next edition of Lean IT Summit on 16th and 17th October : The Aware Organization. Last is this talk by Mike Rother, at Lean Summit 2012 where the author of #hypertextual favorite Toyota Kata establishes some interesting connections between neuro-sciences and our ability to learn.

The proposition of this post is that self-awareness is critically important for an organization to succeed, that it has to be deployed throughout the whole organization and, this deployment is the job of managers (and coaches).

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In 1944 George Loewenstein, a behavioral economist at Carnegie Mellon University, provided the most comprehensive account of situational interest. It is surprisingly simple : Curiosity, he says, happen when we feel a gap in our knowledge.

Made to Stick, the book from which this quote is taken, is a great book to benchmark and design your communication strategy whether it is to sell washing machines or lead changes in an organization.

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This is an awesome video by Mike Rother at Lean Summit 2012. It’s not a friendly format as 18 mns TED’s. It is one hour 15 minutes long but it is worth every second of your time.

I have been interested for the last year or so in neuro-sciences and how they can help in understanding organization culture and how to change it. Mike Rother also had.

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Surf Lacanau

(Version Française)

When I decided last year to take a new turn in my career, I was lucky enough to be able to choose from two different options, both very exciting: Enterprise 2.0 / Social Business on one hand , lean on the other.

After much thought, I have chosen the second option because it seems to me more deeply aligned with the challenges of today’s business, namely the need to navigate through the turbulences of our uncertain world. These turbulences and uncertainty are largely related to the digitization of our daily lives: the digital transformation of the organization therefore seems inevitable.

My hypothesis is that today, Lean is the obvious strategy to carry out this transformation, for the following reasons:

  1. digital transformation actually means a radicalization of the use of new technological opportunities,
  2. it’s all about management principles
  3. a model exists, embodied by the born digital companies (Google, Amazon, Facebook, Pixar, Twitter etc. …)
  4. their management cultures are explicitly or implicitly aligned with the principles of Lean.

(Warning, long truck ahead : more than 1800 words) …

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Surf Lacanau

(English Version)

Lorsque j’ai décidé l’an dernier d’infléchir ma carrière professionnelle pour me diriger vers le conseil, deux chemins se présentaient, tous deux  prometteurs : Entreprise 2.0/Social Business d’un côté, Lean de l’autre.

Au terme de longues réflexions, j’ai choisi la seconde option car elle me semblait plus profondément en phase avec les enjeux des entreprises d’aujourd’hui, à savoir la nécessité de naviguer dans les turbulences du monde incertain qui est le nôtre. Ces turbulences et ce monde incertain sont en grande partie liés à la digitalisation de notre quotidien : la transformation digitale (ou numérique) des entreprises semble donc inéluctable.

Le Lean m’apparaît aujourd’hui comme l’évidente stratégie pour mener à bien cette transformation, pour les raisons suivantes :

  1. la transformation digitale correspond à une radicalisation de l’exploitation de nouvelles opportunités technologiques,
  2. il s’agit avant tout de principes de management
  3. un modèle existe, il s’agit des entreprises nées numériques (Google, Amazon, Facebook, Pixar, Twitter etc. …)
  4. leurs cultures de management sont toutes, explicitement ou implicitement, alignées avec les principes du Lean.
  5. (oh : et l’Entreprise.fr part avec un handicap culturel dans cette transformation)

(Je vous écris un long billet car je n’ai pas le temps d’en écrire un plus court, paraphraserais-je Pascal : attention, plus de 2000 mots)

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Skate Race 2-600

I have seen this situation happening quite a few times in my career in Information Technology. I am pretty confident that it can be generalized to other types of industry as well.

Here is the scene. The executive has a vision and strategy. But the teams just do not deliver : delay in delivery, quality problems requiring unplanned correction releases at an unforeseen costs, an eventually reduced scope of what is delivered etc… Executive is subsequently disappointed and struggles in adjusting the vision as she doesn’t have a clear understanding of the capacity of the teams : how to set a vision when the outputs are unpredictable ? The trouble with adjusting the vision then impact the teams : how to set clear priorities when a strategy is no longer clear enough?

The organization has entered the vision – execution deadlock : no clear strategy > no clear priorities for delivery > no predictable outputs > no clear strategy … and so on. As a result people feel overwhelmed with the issues and the problems they are facing, not knowing which one to start with as they all seem intricate.

How to break the deadlock ? I have seen Lean helping in fixing this while addressing both perspectives …

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The Expert Newbie

August 20, 2014

Hossegor 2-600

This has been a rather complicated post to write. I still feel there are some flaws and that may sound somehow clumsy.  Yet, here it is : I have a problem with expertise.

During the 25 years of my professional career, I have changed jobs, mission, specialties and professional activities on a regular basis, every two or three years, often while remaining in the same company and without getting any pay rise.

One reason is that I love discovering new work culture and environment while meeting new co-workers. But I think the most important one is I am afraid of looking like sitting in my comfort zone while patronizing from my expert position.

Experts are seen as the super-heroes of today’s organization and, for one, I don’t buy into that assertion. Quite the opposite, actually : I tend to see expertise culture as an obstacle to setting up a healthy one. Which makes me comfortable being a newbie and becoming expert at it …

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