The Big 5: Developing An Innovative Culture

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When I worked as a District Sales Leader at Frito-Lay, the company had an operating system for their sales teams, known as the Big 3, which consisted of the following.

  1. 1W1’s
  2. Monthly Team Meetings
  3. Ride-Alongs

I have no idea if the Big 3 is still in place, however, I do know that the system worked well. Why? There are 5 reasons. Ready? Let’s go.

  1. Establish Trust
  2. Create Alignment
  3. Develop Balance
  4. Build Collaboration
  5. Institute Accountability

Little did I know then, that these five outputs would actually show up in a different way 20 years later. Yep. How?

They showed up as important to developing and building an innovative culture. A culture grounded in trust, alignment, balance, collaboration, and, yep, accountability. The outcome? Innovation.

Alright, let’s now call these, just for fun, the Big 5. What, then, do we get when we instill the Big 5 into our teams, businesses, and organizations? A culture where innovation can thrive.

Implementing the Big 5 into your team is about developing culture. As your culture develops, you can then wrap processes and systems around that culture.

You may be wondering about developing systems first, then culture. I would advise against it. Why? Culture matters more. Simple.

Alright, let’s take a look at the Big 5.

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1. Establish Trust

I’ve written about establishing trust a couple of times. In 3 Steps and 9 Keys to Creating Safety on a Team in 5 Minutes, I write about 9 keys to creating safety on teams. And, inside of creating safety is establishing trust. Very important.

Establishing trust must come before people will feel safe. If people do not feel safe, they will hold back. Makes perfect sense. However, when there is trust, people will give all that they have, and they will also be vulnerable, try new things, go out on limbs; and, that is where innovation lives.

When there is trust between you and the team, and between each team member, you have an opportunity to create outputs and outcomes that have never been seen before. Why?

Because trust + safety + vulnerability = innovation.

Once trust and safety are in place, creating alignment is next. Creating alignment can take time. It took the team I currently work on over 2 years to create alignment. Year 1 was creating trust and safety. Year 2, creating alignment.

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2. Create Alignment

Alignment takes time. Really. It is normal for teams to move in different directions at the beginning. If you are unsure about this truth, that’s okay.

You can implement systems and processes upfront to ensure creating alignment quickly. However, as was aforementioned, creating those systems and processes early will also create a barrier to innovation. Why?

Because innovation thrives in an open environment where all the answers are not figured out. Though this can be stressful, know inside of an innovative environment, where safety, trust and vulnerability thrive, systems and processes will come.

Alignment comes when a vision is cast and strategy is created to tie the day-day operations to that vision. Each person on a team has a role to play in the execution of a vision.

When you get clear on everyone’s role and responsibilities, you are ready to create alignment between the vision and the day-to-day operations.

Here is how it looks linearly.

  1. Create a 10-year vision
  2. Create a 5-year vision
  3. Create a 3-year plan
  4. Create this year’s objectives
  5. Create 90-day priorities
  6. Create work of the month
  7. Create work of the week
  8. Create work of the day

Though that list looks long, it really isn’t that much, though it does take time. There is a very good resource for creating this kind of vision system, it is called Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business, by Gino Wickman. I highly recommend it to all leaders in all organizations.

Alright, now that you’ve established trust and created alignment, the next step is to develop balance. Sounds simple. Yet, developing balance takes practice. Let’s take a look.

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3. Develop Balance

As a leader, should you focus more on culture, or more on performance? Hm. Both are important. I like to think about culture and performance, like a see saw. Focus going back and forth. Sometimes, culture takes precedent, and sometimes, performance.

However, you must have both.

If you have a strong culture, and performance issues, you are not moving forward. If you have excellent performance metrics, and no culture, people will burn out and leave.

Developing a balanced approach to culture and performance takes practice, and an open mind. Meaning that when people bring you intelligence that a shift towards culture, or towards performance is needed, be open to shifting focus. Important.

In an open environment where trust and alignment have been created, the team will let you know. Really, they will. However, you still need to pay close attention to the team, and each individual on the team.

Like anything, developing balance takes time, and practice. You will know when you stray too far into one realm or the other. You can feel it when a team is not moving, or is moving too much. Watch, listen, and feel.

Collaboration is another important component to build in the journey towards creating an innovative culture. Some might say it is one of the most important.

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4. Build Collaboration

Why is collaboration so important? Well, to develop an innovative culture, building collaboration is a must. On teams where trust, alignment, and balance have been instituted, vulnerability will also typically be present.

And, being vulnerable with each other in an environment where collaboration is high is a natural breeding ground for innovation. Why?

Because where vulnerability meets collaboration is an open space ready for innovation to occur.

Actually, where vulnerability meets collaboration is where innovation is already happening. Really, it is.

Innovation needs spaces that are open, collaborative, and safe. Further, alignment and balance also help create innovative spaces. Though we’ve already discussed these two, there are two more reasons that showcase just how true the last sentence is.

  1. Because when your team is aligned, you are all on the same page, moving in the same direction. You are one.
  2. Because when there is balance, you also have balance with innovation. For instance, if all you do is innovate, then nothing will move forward. Similarly if all you do is execute, then innovation will founder. You need both. Both innovation and execution. A must.

Alright, now, let’s talk about accountability.

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5. Institute Accountability

You may be asking yourself right now, what in the world does accountability have to do with innovation? Well, a lot actually. Let’s go.

Fostering an innovative culture, which also executes is imperative to actually creating newness in the world. You have to develop both sides of the equation. Similar to developing balance. And, how do you instill accountability into your culture? It starts with you.

You must practice accountability. Holding yourself accountable, first. You must also be open to the team holding you accountable. Accountable for what, you ask? For what you say and do. Integrity.

Developing an innovative culture means that each individual, starting with the leader, holds themselves accountable for the actions they take, and sometimes, don’t take.

The same goes with the team. When each individual holds themselves to the culture of innovation that you are developing, the team is also simultaneously held accountable. And, when people don’t perform?

Well, you must understand why. If it is a skill issue, offer them the opportunity to develop, to grow. If they are interested, great. If not, well, that is their choice.

If it is will. Then they also have a choice.

Bottom line. Developing an innovative culture means that accountability is taken seriously. As seriously as having fun, growing together, learning from each other, and innovating new products and services. Same.

Alright, that’s the Big 5 of developing an innovative culture. Fun. And, guess what? You can develop an innovative culture anytime. Really. How? Well, like all things, one step, or action at a time.

What will you develop next?

#buildingbalance, #businessinnovation, #creatingalignment, #creatinginnovation, #creatingsafety, #developingbalance, #establishingtrust, #innovativeleadership, #institutingaccountability, #leadership, #leadershipcahange, #leadershipdevelopment, #leadershipessentials, #leadershipinaction, #leadershipinpractice, #leadershipmindset, #leadershippractice, #leadershipprinciples, #leadershipvalues, #organizationaldevelopment, #organizationalinnovation, #teamdevelopment

The Blog + Video Series #12 – Developmental Growth and Transformation: A Distinction

The Transformation Video Series #1

Have you ever thought about the difference between developmental growth and transformation? Or, have or do you consider them the same? Hm.

There is an important distinction between developmental growth and transformation, which is important to both personal and professional development. Let’s take a look.

First, let’s define the terms.

development

Translate development into Spanish

NOUN

  • The process of developing or being developed.‘she traces the development of the novel’
    1. A specified state of growth or advancement.‘the wings attain their full development several hours after birth

transformation

Translate transformation into Spanish

NOUN

  • Thorough or dramatic change in form or appearance.‘its landscape has undergone a radical transformation’
    1. A metamorphosis during the life cycle of an animal.‘Both the molting process and the metamorphic transformation from larva to pupa are coordinated and regulated by hormones.’

Ah, do you see the dinsticiton? Either way, let’s work it through.

Development

When you are interested in development, meaning available to it, you occupy a space that welcome’s learning. You stand outside of what you believe to be true about the world, and how you occupy it, and welcome new knowledge, new types of understanding, and new ways of being. Simple. Or is it?

Well, because we have an ego, or, wait, do we? Well, for the purposes of this post, let’s assume we do. Because we have an ego, we don’t like being wrong.

We are constantly seeking validation of what we know. Why?

Because it fits into our worldview. It is what we know. When information comes in, we assemble it into the the narrative of our worldview and who we believe we are. We confirm our ego.

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If the information doesn’t fit into our current worldview, we really only have two choices.

Deny the existence of this new information, or become open to it.

Denying this new information is called denial. We are actively denying that another way to look at a situation or event is possible. Egocentric.

However, when we are open to the possibility that there are other ways to think about a situation or event, we have now entered into the developmental arena.

Meaning, that we can now take this new information in, make sense of it, and do something with it.

Even if the information doesn’t fit into our current worldview, if we are open, we can incorporate it into our worldview rather easily. It is all about being open to new information, new ways of understanding, and new ways of being.

The simplest example is to consider development at school and work. When we are confronted with new information, we have a choice. Assimilate and incorporate that new information into our existing worldview, creating new knowledge, or reject it.

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Example.

I am always in conversation with the team about our goals, objectives, and priorities. Recently, I was asked about hiring someone to run Zoom technology for the upcoming professional development trainings.

I, however, was unsure about the need. Didn’t know. I needed to think about it.

Well, the next week, I ran a Zoom meeting with the team. The meeting was 90-minutes and was about creating our next 30-day priorities. Part of the meeting was creating breakout rooms, which you can do in Zoom. The meeting was a complete disaster. Really, it was. What did I learn?

That you absolutely need someone to run technology while the person running the meeting does just that, runs the meeting. I learned through doing the meeting that hiring someone for a Zoom tech position was absolutely necessary. We are hiring someone right now.

I moved from questioning the need, reflecting upon it, to learning that we definitely needed the new position. I developed.

Alright, that’s development. Opportunities for development are available every day. If you don’t see them, it might be that you are avoiding them or in denial about them. It’s not a demerit. I didn’t develop for a long time. Really. I wasn’t interested. Not a judgement. Just a fact. Let’s now look at transformation.

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Transformation

Now, transformation implies a complete change to the object, thing, or person. Yep, that’s right. How then does transformation differ from development?

While development requires an active openness, as we’ve discussed, transformation requires openness and a complete and total letting go of what was, in favor of what will be. It requires a shift from a focus on the external to the internal.

Transformation is about questioning all you know. Every ounce of what you know, or beleive you know, must be questioned.

Further, you must be willing to let go of how you previously viewed the world. Open to a continual process of creating new information, new ways of understanding, and new ways of being.

The distinction is that with transformation you actively seek out opportunities to question the ways you think, act, and occur. Internally focused.

You are continuously interested in disrupting your old habits and ways of thinking while creating new habits and ways of thinking.

Let me give you an example to help with the distinction.

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Let us say you want to develop leadership skills. You can develop leadership skills in lots of ways. You can take classes, read books, even put leadership principles into practice in your life. That is development.

You incorporate new information into the preexisting way you already think about leadership. Simple. How then to create transformation? Mm. Different.

You must be willing to let go of all of your preconceived ideas about what leaders are supposed to do, how they are supposed to act, and how they are supposed to be. All of them. Then what?

You leave your ego at the door.

And, everything you think you know about leadership. Start over. Really. Let it all go. And, create from there.

Transformation can only occur when we let go. Know also that the letting go will need to happen again, and again, and again. Over and over. Why? Because you are disrupting what you held to be true, and creating something new. Key. You are not adding, you are creating.

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Example

Let’s see. Okay. Here we go.

When the pandemic began here locally, we were approaching the last week of the term at the community college where I work. As I’ve mentioned in other posts, I work in community and continuing education. It is all experiential. All of it. Which means that it is in-person. All of it is, or was.

Within one month of the pandemic beginning here, we let go of all the concepts we held to be true about our business model. All of them. What happened?

We created an entirely new business model. A model that is transformational, as all aspects of it are completely different than the previous model. All of them.

We created all new processes and systems for how we do business. New ways we market and engage with the local community, new ways that instructors teach their classes, even the content that is delivered, while similar, is still completely new. Why?

Because a completely new context has been created. And it was created intentionally by believing something else was possible. Which then replaced our current belief system of how we all viewed our work.

All of us. now our actions follow that new belief system. That is transformation.

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When you intentionally create new ways to be, new ways to think, new ways to believe, new ways to be a human, you are creating contexts that are transformational. Never seen or experienced before. Transformation.

How are development and transformation similar?

One key way. When you develop, whether you want to or not, you give out your development to others. If those around you are open, they will learn from you and also develop. And, it is the exact same for you. If those around you are developing, and you are open you will also develop.

It is the same with transformation. If you are creating transformational contexts that change the nature of what’s possible, those around you, if they are open, will also transform. If they are open. If not, then they won’t. Same for development.

Can development lead to transformation?

Oh, yes, absolutely. In some ways, they sort of go together, which is why I wanted to write about the distinction. Whereas they are different, they both are about being open to and participating in creating change.

Here is a distinction on the difference between change and transformation.

“Change is about using external influences to modify actions to achieve desired results. Transformation is about modifying beliefs so that natural actions achieve the desired results.”

cioinsight.com

See the difference? One is externally driven, and one is internally driven. Very similar to the distinction between development and transformation. Important.

How do you begin to develop or transform?

Really it’s pretty simple, yet not easy. A paradox, yep. My suggestion?

  • Be open to everything around you. Being open is probably the key to both development and transformation. Both become possible when we are open to new information and new experiences.

When we are open, the world opens up. It really does. There is so much to learn and to experience. Being open creates an immediate possibility. The possibility that you will learn to be more. More of either how you already occur, or more by occurring in a completely new way in a completely new context.

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#changemanagement, #creatingchange, #creatingtransformation, #developmentalgrowth, #distinctionbetweentransformationanddevelopment, #handlingchange, #leadership, #leadershipcahange, #leadershipdevelopment, #leadershipessentials, #leadershipinaction, #leadershipmindset, #leadershippractice, #leadershipprinciples, #leadershiptransformation, #leadershipvalues, #personaldevelopment, #selfdevelopment, #transformationalleadership

Leadership in Practice Series Part 1: Getting into Action, Keeping Relationships Strong, and Iterating Your Business Model to Stay Relevant During COVID-19

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I’ve written about leadership on this site a few times, so I’m doing something new over the next few days. I’ll be posting some articles I’ve written on leadership. New content on this site, and a conversation that is relevant and important right now. Enjoy. 🙂

Leadership in Practice Series Part 1

What do leaders do when everything they’ve prepared themselves and their teams for is suddenly, within hours, less relevant than ever before? Less relevant as a massive health pandemic, COVID-19, crosses the Atlantic Ocean and shows up in the United States. Not sure? Though I’ve lived it for these past three months, I’m not sure either. So, let’s take a look at what happened, and some of what I’ve learned these past three months.

COVID-19 Takes Root Locally

In early March I received an ominous email from by boss, which read something like this: if the College suddenly needs to close with little to no notice, what is your plan to continue service? Wait, what? At the time, I was admittedly ignorant about the scope of the COVID-19 health crisis in the United States, and the speed at which the virus was making its way towards the West Coast. What to do?

Well, I acted as I would have under any other circumstance. I sent the team the query, gave them a due date for feedback, which was extremely short, and gathered the information. I then rolled the information up into a document to share with my boss. We did this all within 48 hours.

I’ll be the first to admit that the plan was extremely basic, as our business model is one that requires, at least I thought so then, an in-person experience. Within two weeks of creating that plan, we found out that the College was going completely online to finish the Winter Term. Because, at the time, we did not have online or remote classes or training, we cancelled the last week of Winter Term to ensure the safety of our students and clients.

Get this. You are in your third term of the academic year, you just cancelled the last week of the term, and you are actively registering for spring, which is typically the strongest term of the year. And, your sales volume is up about 30% over the previous year. Now what do you do?

Get Into Action and Start Creating

In the next two weeks, it became very clear that the College would also be completely online and remote for Spring Term. What did we do? We started creating.

Here are some of the things we did.

  • We emailed all 200 instructors and asked if they would teach their in-person class remotely – note, at the time we had no systems or processes in place to offer these classes.
  • We moved all of our Professional Development on-campus training to Fall Term.
  • We communicated with all of our instructors, clients, partners, and students, letting them know about the College’s direction. We also inquired with other Colleges as to their plans, which was a very helpful decision. It gave us sight that other Colleges were also going remote, if they had the capability and financing.
  • We created an operations plan out of thin air. Here are a few examples of that plan.
    • Daily remote operations check-in’s.
    • Remote one-with-one’s as needed.
    • Twice-a-week remote registration staff meetings.
    • Weekly remote all-staff department meetings.
    • Bi-weekly program meetings.
    • Each staff member identified their top three remote work priorities.
  • We created many new processes, which included new ways to:
    • Register students and clients
    • Interact with all of our instructors, and clients
    • Track student enrollment
    • Process payment
    • Engage and market our products and services to the community

The point is, we did not sit back and wait for someone to explain the “how to” of the COVID-19 health crisis. There is no such thing. There never was, and never will be. You create on the fly, you do the best you can, and you serve.

You create possibilities where none ever existed before. You listen to your team, and to every idea they have. And, you take action on the best ones – the ones with the most impact.

You also continue to foster, and grow the team, which ensures you are continuing to grow the relationships with your instructors, students, and clients – those relationships are everything.

Keeping Relationships Strong

I’ve always said that relationships are everything. Really, they are. Nothing happens without high-quality relationships. Nothing. Everything is predicated on the strength of the relationships you have with those around you. However, working and living inside of the COVID-19 health crisis has taken my thinking and belief that relationships are everything to another level entirely.

Let’s take a look at a couple of the things we did to ensure that our relationships stayed strong during this most uncertain time.

  • Continue Creating Safety
    • Your team must feel safe to pursue the unknown with you. I believe this is true all the time, yet when your entire business model gets thrown out the window by a pandemic, and everyone is also concerned about their own physical safety, it is even more true. Having and continuing to create safety for your team is of utmost importance.
  • Create Even More Consistency and Structure
    • Another thing that was/is important, is the ability to create structure and consistency. When you are living in a highly unstable time, where change happens sometimes on a daily basis (hourly even), creating a consistent operations communication plan is critical. People must be able to depend on regularity, especially with so much uncertainty.
  • Create New Ways to Engage With Your Clients and Students
    • When we learned that the print schedule, which lists all of our experiential classes, was irrelevant, as all the in-person classes advertised were now in the process of being converted to remote classes, or were being cancelled, we pivoted and created a new digital schedule format. We then created processes to ensure we were collecting information needed, to digitally communicate with our students.

Now, let’s take a look at a couple of things you can do when your current business model, which was functioning well, is no longer relevant.

Recreating and Iterating Your Business Model

As was aforementioned, when COVID-19 began locally, our business model was functioning well, yet would become irrelevant if we did not act quickly. Here are a couple of the things we did to stay relevant.

  • Let Go of What Worked in the Past
    • One of the things we recognized very early on, was that we would have to create several entirely new business models – and, that work continues today. It can be hard to let go of a business model that is profitable. You must, however, when you are faced with a situation where that business model is no longer relevant or sustainable. If you don’t, your competition will pass right by you, and you will be out of business.
  • Create New Business Models that Fit the Current Reality
    • When we began to pivot our business models, we created on the fly, and, as was aforementioned, got all of our instructors into the conversation very early. Having strong relationships with our more than 200 instructors created the possibility that we could begin to deliver remote classes, something we had never done before.
  • Continue to Iterate the Business Models as Needed
    • We continued to iterate the business models as needed, and have continued to add new components, and take out others, as we’ve learned what has worked best. As humans, we have a desire to want to implement something that will be effective, and then stand back and watch it work. However, it’s not always that simple. Often it is not, in fact. Especially during such an uncertain time. So, when something is not working, get rid of it, and try something new. We’ve done that, are doing it now, and will continue to do it as often as needed.

All of the aforementioned sounds simple, and it was not. There was also a ton of uncertainty, fear, and anxiety that went with the plans and actions we’ve created and taken these past three months. Within myself, and within the team. However, we did not let that fear and anxiety stop the work that needed to get done.

Additionally, we have wonderful instructors. They are the main reason why we were able to offer 43 remote classes in Community Education spring term, and 73 for summer. The College was also extremely supportive, allowing us the space we needed to innovate.

The lessons I’ve learned in leadership these past three months are just now starting to surface. I feel very lucky to have had the opportunity to learn more about myself, and our team these past three months. I knew they were a resilient bunch, yet their level of resilience surpassed even my expectations.

Now as businesses start to reopen, we are continuing to consider what our next steps will be. No one can ever know the future, and, sometimes, as the COVID-19 health crisis proved, the best laid plans can go asunder. However, if you are up to the task, you can thrive in an environment that is completely unknown to you. You take one step at a time. You continue to foster your relationships, be who you are, and create anew over and over again; and, you watch and learn from all of the wonderful people around you.

Questions for you

  • What have you done to stay in action in your business (or life) during the past 6 months?
  • How have you kept relationships strong through all of the recent changes?
  • How have you iterated your business (or life) model to stay relevant and grow during COVID-19?

Look forward to hearing your stories!

Originally posted on servantleadershipcoaching.com

#buildingreslience, #covid-19andleadership, #creatingchange, #iteratingyourbusinessmodel, #keepingrelationshipsstrong, #leadership, #leadershipcahange, #leadershippractice, #relationships, #servantleadership