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Posts Tagged ‘linkedin’

Dynamic stability?

If you want continuous success 2012 you need to be flexible. Adapting to changes in your environment, quickly building and rebuilding to keep performing at the peak of your ability. These are your main needs 2012. If you are a business.

If you are a human being your main needs are slightly different. To keep performing at the peak of your ability you will need to rest, recover and refill. In order to be flexible you need some point of reference, some focus of control something that is consistent. Without which you may just be being chaotic rather than flexible.

Both these factors are a source of security. A security we are dependent upon to be able to perform and be flexible.

Now, there are different ways to approach this. One way is to create an environment that doesn’t change. An environment where routines can be built, tomorrow will be pretty much the same as today, no surprises, no disappointments, nothing bad can happen. In other words, we create security by controlling our outer environment.

If this has ever been possible it is certainly not so now. And we all know it. Ok, we can try to cover up, hide from reality, avoid facing the facts pretty much the way Basil Fawlty runs his hotel. We maybe all do this more or less but the effort needed and the energy spent is definitely taking its toll. Not to mention the consequences this behaviour has for the way things (don’t) work.

So what is the alternative to controlling your environment?
Self control. No, I don’t mean gritting your teeth and keeping a stiff upper lip, I am talking about self management or self leadership. Taking charge, being in control, stepping up to the challenge using your full potential in a wise way to deal with whatever situation you meet. Using your creativity, your personality, your perceptual, emotional and physical skills to interact with the environment. Not controlling it. Interacting with it in a beneficial way whatever form it takes.

Which of these two alternatives has the potential to actually work and give a lasting feeling of security? Hoping for everything to stay the way it is so you can do what you have always done? Or building an inner stability, feeling confidence in your ability to deal with a changing environment? A static stability dependent on nothing changing, or a dynamic stability as a source of security in a changing dynamic world? The choice is your’s.

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Brainpower

The lone wolf, the hero, the captain of the vessel, the distinguished, 50+, grey-templed CEO all have two things in common. They have past their best before date (if they were ever more than just a mythical figure) and…they all only have one brain.

In the complexity and pace of daily life and business 2011, one brain is a definite limitation. Medical science hasn’t reached a solution to this yet so the best alternative is to find other brains to co-operate with.

Integrative thinking, integrating different information, experience and understanding is the key to more strategically sustainable solutions to operative problems. Finding the solutions for today’s problems that don’t become the cause of tomorrow’s problems.

Of course there is a price to pay. Letting other perspectives enter the stage and taking them seriously, will mean challenging our own perspective of reality. In fact, accepting things that may initially feel wrong, outrageous or even insulting. And how many of us are prepared to do that?

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Whether talking about life in general or leadership in an organisation, the challenge is the same: How well is your inner reality developing with and adapting to your outer reality? Because no matter what you are doing, there are two realities that need to be considered.

First you have an outer reality. The context that you are a part of and take action in. It may be that global market or your local neighbourhood but there will be certain conditions served by this reality that at the moment are a fact. There is a nuclear catastrophy in Japan effecting the economy, the weather is extremely cold, the shops are closed etc. In this reality you will find possibilities and limitations and exactly what they are will vary. They will vary from day to day, changing even as you read this so that next time you look outside there will be a different outer reality.

Then you have an inner reality that is you yourself. As a corporation, as a family or as a person. Your inner reality also holds possibilities and limitations. There are things you can do and there are things you,a t least at the moment, cannot do. These factors change too, if you do something about them. Sure some things develop naturally but if you’re sitting around waiting to “become” an expert at rocket science or violin playing you will probably be disappointed. So, changing your inner reality takes an effort and it takes time.

Every-day life is about relating these realities to each other and what you wish to achieve. A change in the outer reality may mean an adaptation of your inner reality, learning new skills, aquiring new resources and changing what you do. In the same way leadership is about relating these realities to each other and what you wish to achieve, with a rapidly changing and complex business environment constantly challenging the way you use your resources.

Unfortunately, a traditional view of leadership with a top down, control and command perspective is built on the strategy of handling these two realities separately. This can be a functional strategy in a more stable environment where changes are small and few. Today the pockets of relative quiet and calm are unusual and only by changing it’s perspective on leadership can an organisation hope to find the flexibility, agility and motivation to deal with the outer reality of the 21st century.

This different perspective is of seeing leadership as a joint venture where leaders, managers and co-workers colaborate in the quest to relate outer reality to inner reality. Anythoing other than co-operation in a common process leads to a devestating split in the organisation. A split between strategic levels, focused on the outer reality and operative levels, focused on the inner reality. A split that can become a void, a void that will be widened by the lack of a common language, a lack of communication channels with sufficient “band-width”, a lack of common understanding of the leadership process, a lack of tools for handling the process etc.

The most unfortunate outcome of this split of an organisation into “us and them” is when middle management, appointed to bridge the void and keep the peace, crash and burn and full scale war breaks out. Time and resources that should be spent battling with the competition are used protecting “us” and attacking “them”.

Intelligent business? Definitely not, but unfortunately a not uncommon result of outdated assumptions about leadership

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Somewhere out there, there is a reality that has to be handled one way or the other. It can be business, sport, warfare or life in general. How well we succeed is something we find out afterwards and depends on what we want to achieve, the strategies we choose and how well put them into action.

As that outer reality is in a state of constant change, it would seem pretty natural that our strategies and actions also change. But they don’t, which is strange as we humans are natural adapters. Unlike the fruit fly we don’t have to wait for generations (see previous post) we can just change what we are doing. As long as it is physically posssible of course.

So what stops us from using our natural creativity and adaptability? Our experience. Our personal “human factor” that can enhance or obstruct our adaptation and development.

The Pilot model (click on the sketch below) describes the process we go through when dealing with reality and also shows how that process is effected by our “Black Box”. A product of our experience, values, desires, fears etc. backed up and supported by our defence mechanisms.

In the process of:

1.Gathering information  2. Transforming that information into an understanding and a strategy, 3. Preparing for action 4. Taking action

our black box is an ever present entity that can block the process at any moment. At the same time it is our experience, pre-understanding, imagination and creativity that can enhance the quality of the process, leading to action in the surrounding environment that leads to a positive feedback and so on…

 

The Pilot model shows how the process of one individual dealing with life and the process of a large organisation handling business have the same fundamental ingredients. Success depending not only on knowing what to do in the process put also being able to handle the phsychological impact of the black boxes involved. Either through an individual inner stability or building a common ability.

Being aware of this full cycle, on an individual level, is being aware of “the gap between stimuli and response”. Without that awareness we see our response to information (stimuli) as natural, common sense and decided by the stimuli, reacting  puppet-like, jumping from 1 to 4 in the model totally unaware that our black box has taken over and filled the gap. Successful? Well maybe if we’re lucky. Intelligent? That is another question altogether.

Seen from an organisational perspective the model decribes the fundament for a leadership process that must need involve managers, leaders and co-workers in collaboration to achieve a full and lasting effect.

 

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We live in a challenging world. It creates the pressure that stimulates our creativity but can also cause immense frustration and stress if we feel we can’t cope. That external pressure is a reality for most of us. In fact, it is life.

At the same time there are internal factors at work. These may balance the external stress allowing us to use our full potential to deal with the situation. Sometimes they do the opposite, adding to the level of stress and diminishing our capacity, at times to the point where the slightest set-back can feel impossible to overcome.

On an organisational level it is important to minimize the internal stress factors and sooner or later that boils down to looking at ourselves. The people in the organisation. Do our actions add to the level of stress or do they add to the level of stability?

Let’s look at it from a manager’s point of view. As a manager you have the power to decide the level of “operational independence”. This is not “individual independence” as in working alone. This is about the freedom to make decisions, solve problems and change plans. Issues that will effect other parts of the organisation. To keep it simple, the level of operational independence can either be low or high as shown on the horisontal axis in this very simplified version of the Hansson Model.

Now, as a manager you make the decision. Low or high. Whichever you choose there will be consequences. If you choose a low level, it means you need to be the operational presence making decisions, solving problems and changing plans and as a manager you probably have other things to deal with. If you choose a high level, maybe to free the time for other things you need to consider the vertical axis. Is there really sufficient capacity to handle a high level of operative independence?

All too often there isn’t. Then you have the choice of either increasing that capacity and adapting the level of independence as it grows (the green arrow), or entering the “chaos square”. A situation of total chaos resulting in frustration, stress and worse. Amazingly often, the internal stability of the organisation is sacrified as people are plunged into total chaos.  Rationalisations about “learning the hard way” or “a challenge being necessary” are just bad excuses. Being in a situation you have no chance of coping with is not a challenge.

This is one way managers and leaders can become a stress factor. Maybe with the best of intentions, having been told that influence, responsibility and independence is good for people. Which it is. If they are given a fair chance to handle it.

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Cause and effect?

There are all sorts of different methods of measuring changes in our environment. And based on those measurements we take action and the next time we measure we get a different result, one that we feel is satisfactory and all is well.

What I wonder is…do we have a warped understanding of cause and effect? Is it really that change in the environment that is causing us to take action?

Some say “there is a gap between stimulus and response”. Meaning that what we percieve to be the result of a certain stimulus is actually the result of something else. Something we don’t notice happening. Or maybe do notice happening but don’t understand the importance of.

For example. A pretty simple thermometer can measure temperature to the tenth of a degree. We can see when the temperature goes down a tenth of a degree or when it goes up a tenth of a degree. Thanks to this we can very quickly put on more clothes or less clothes. One way of looking at this would be: the temperature drops so we put on more clothes. But there is more going on than that.

What is actually happening is: the temperature drops, we measure the drop, we consult our action-plan that says “put on more clothes when the temperature drops” then we put on more clothes.

If we had a different way of measuring the temperature or a better action-plan the situation would change drastically.

What if we instead waited until we started feeling cold or feeling warm before we put clothes on or off? The change in temperature the thermometer can measure, that tenth of a degree, is a real change. But not one that is relevant. That change, which could come from a door opening or just someone walking past, can lead to a constant dessing and undressing. Time and energy being wasted. And all for no other reason than the fact that we “can” measure that change and think we need a rapid response. (And that someone has sold us a technological innovation we don’t neeed!)

Sometimes the best response is no response at all. But when all our instruments for measuring change are screaming at us to take action, sitting still can be the most difficult thing to do. And maybe the real “cause” of our action is just our own impatience or panic.

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A matter of attention!

Multitasking. The ability to perform multiple tasks simultaneously. A necessary quality for success 2010 or…impossible?

The experts (?) are not in agreement. Those who argue the importance of multitasking and claim the superiority of the multitasker seem to be those who see themselves as multitaskers. Those against seem to be mainly involved in research around the function of our brain.

No-one denies the rMultitaskingeality of people doing several things at the same time. Or at least seeming to. Driving and talking on the phone, eating and sending e-mail, raising kids and checking facebook. The issue is more whether they are actually doing several things at the same time or just shifting their attention rapidly between the different activities. And the consequences of this.

Shifting ones’ attention back and forth between driving and talking on the phone would mean that half the time I am unaware of what is actually going on in each activity? That my autopilot is driving the car half the time and the other half, I am just automatically hmming at the person I am talking to without really being aware of what they are saying? Is this possible?

Apparantly we spend most of our time in this state. Acting, thinking and speaking without being fully aware. Habitually going through the motions. Letting life pass us by while our minds, our attention, is elsewhere. Fortunately, if something unexpected or threatening arises our warning system wakes us up. We wake up to step on the brakes to avoid the kid who stepped out into the road or to ask the person we were talking to to repeat something that “caught our attention”.

So, what’s the problem? It certainly isn’t a new one. People have been meditating for thousands of years to try and take control of their centre of attention, their awareness. Why start worrying about it now? The answer is: the pace and the complexity of life today.

Our technological development and increasing efficiency is pratically decreasing the friction in society. Words and actions can have immediate consequences and repercussions when others, equally unaware, react to our input. As someone put it “the buck stops nowhere”!

Only by focusing, understanding more and making our actions more conscious can we stabilise the development of the future. By spending more time being awake, here and now.

Multitasking, however it is actually done, may not be the means to reach this end. Giving our attention, that fleeting, delicate beam of light in a landscape cast in shadow, too many options to bounce between we may find ourselves focusing on the totally unnecessary. We may find our attention going astray and even, eventually, getting lost and completely out of our control. Then who is going to answer the wake up call as the child steps into the road?

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