Resistance. Technically, it’s what we OD types live for. After all, if it weren’t for resistance – what need would there be for change agents? More importantly, where would we get our thrills? The thrill of seeing someone see the light. The thrill of turning a challenging change corner. The thrill of opening up possibility for hundreds of people in one fell swoop, providing relief or catalyzing a success. The thrill of making a difference in people’s work and lives.
Our success as change agents is predicated on our ability to meet resistance, shake its paw, and help it see a brighter way. Happily, new developments in neuroscience, brain scan technology and neuropsychology are delivering even more thrilling tools for us to do our job well. But will it be our job alone?
Mass v Individual Motivation
From Frederick Herzberg to Daniel Pink, we’ve uncovered, confirmed and refined our understanding of the underlying tenets of motivation. We know there are external factors that organizations and managers can use to create motivating circumstances and environments and that there are internal factors that only the individual can define and satisfy for him or herself.
We’ve gotten better at incorporating that knowledge into our organizational systems but we still, in large part, take an outside-in approach to motivation and engagement. What if we added an inside-out approach to our efforts? How might the individual take more responsibility for identifying and managing their own internal motivation factors?
The Neuropsychology of Motivation
Developments in neuropsychology and modern motivation theory are giving us the ability to do just that. So many exciting things are coming out of a variety of fields that are combining to give us a clearer picture of how our minds, emotions, behavior and relationships work. From Martin Seligman’s Optimism to Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi’s Flow Theory to David Rock’s SCARF Model, we have more and more effective ways to influence our relationship with the world around us. And these ways are available to all of us simply by better understanding - and managing - our brain.
Resistance: An Individual’s Responsibility
By synthesizing all the good stuff we know into a practical, accessible framework of tools that anyone can use, Helle Bundgaard, Founder of Motivation Factor® has developed a way to give individuals the ability, responsibility, and even accountability for getting and staying motivated. She’s translated complex brain research into everyday applications.
For change agents, these new tools give us greater ability to move those organizational mountains. We’ll still get the thrill of watching insight bloom and action unfold. We’ll even see more of it.
I’m excited to join the Mass Bay ODLG on February 16th to lead a hands on exploration of our own physiological response to change and how we can become more efficient “managers” of our own brain. See you there!
Julie Lynch, Principal, Uncommon Consulting
All meetings come with an underlying structure. Our ancestors around the campfire had one. Some of their meeting structures may have naturally worked well. As civilization advanced along with the complexity of our organizations, we developed more norms and structures for our meetings. Among explicit efforts to create structure are the development of Parliamentary Procedure and Robert’s Rules of Order. Unfortunately, while these “rules” provide structure, they have limited general utility and a number of unintended consequences. For more on this, see Robert’s Rules of Order.
Much of the time we are oblivious to the structure of a meeting, but it is always present. A casual meeting of four people over coffee has a structure just as does a more formal board meeting. Parts of the structure are apparent (number of participants, use of agenda, seating arrangements). Other parts of the structure are less apparent, e.g., who speaks, how different views are incorporated, or the way decisions are made.
All around us are examples of how structure effects meetings and the results they produce. For example, you can see how leadership and culture influences the structure of meetings at GM in Avoid the “GM Nod” in Your Meetings and at NASA in Saving a Meeting from a Disastrous Decision. Recognizing the structures (and their underlying assumptions) and choosing different ones creates the opportunity for different behavior, conversations and results.
There are twelve decisions that can help leaders implement an effective structure. Many of these decisions are familiar, however, they all have certain structural implications that are not often recognized or addressed. For example, a meeting of more than eight people creates a structure that makes it harder to keep everyone engaged. Groups larger than eight simply do not provide the opportunity for people to contribute effectively and participation will be uneven at best. There are tools to help leaders easily structure a larger meeting to keep everyone engaged through quick, small group conversations. One such tool I call 1-2-All.
Not all twelve decisions need to be addressed to make a given meeting more effective. But the more these decisions are consciously addressed, and the structural implications of each are considered, then the more likely it is that the meeting will produce its desired results.
Many of us are familiar with the practices of such large group meeting designs as Open Space, World Café, or Future Search. Such meetings are often very effective. What makes them successful is their structure, not the ability of a facilitator to direct the behavior of dozens of people. The focus of my work has been to take the tools and lessons of these large group meetings and make them more generally applicable to smaller, everyday meetings led by leaders everywhere. I have been sharing some of my initial efforts at Meeting for Results.com and blog about it at Considering Meetings. I look forward to sharing my progress so far with MBODLG.
The pressures of today’s world lead people to spend most of their time fighting fires or trying to plow through long lists of action items. Organizational Development professionals need to step back and reflect on how to shape the organization’s future instead of just coping with current circumstances. Having a clear picture of how to achieve what you want increases your ability to achieve it.
Most often, systems thinking is applied and taught as a set of tools for looking retrospectively at why people have not been able to solve a problem or achieve more of what they want. However, the same systems tools can also be used prospectivelyto answer questions about the critical success factors that need to be consider and how to integrate these elements into a coherent and compelling strategy.
9 questions to help you develop and refine a theory of systems change:
In order to achieve our vision, what factors are key to our success?
How are those success factors causally related to one another?
What is our theory of systems change?
What theories of change do our constituents hold?
What do end users believe needs to be done?
How aligned are the above views? How can we integrate different views to strengthen the theory?
If the core theory is intended to amplify what is working now, then how will multiple success factors reinforce one another over time and create one or more virtuous cycles? What are potential limits to growth, and how might these be addressed?
If the core theory is designed to take corrective action, what is a balancing loop that specifies the goal of the system, the actual performance, and the corrective action(s) we plan to use to bridge the gap? What reinforcing loops will be put in place to ensure that solutions are sustained over time?
How will we test and refine the theory of change over time?
Asking powerful questions is an especially effective way of inviting stakeholders onto a level playing field and surfacing and strengthening everyone’s mental models.
Using these 9 key questions prospectively you can improve people’s ability to see more clearly, create what they want, and foster sustainable and lasting change.
About the author: David Peter Stroh is an internationally recognized expert in helping leaders apply systems thinking to problem-solving and strategic planning in both for-profit and non-profit organizations.
He is a founder and principal of Bridgeway Partners, a founder and director of the Applied Systems, and a former founder of Innovation Associates – the consulting firm whose work formed the basis for co-founder Peter Senge’s The Fifth Discipline.
by Clarissa Sawyer
Our Careers in OD event on April 28, 2011, was described as exciting, encouraging, and supportive. A number of participants wondered how to learn more about the field of organization development. Here are some suggestions:
- Read overviews of the field:
- Wikipedia gives an overview of the origins, concepts, and important figures (such as Chris Argyris--still living and now a partner at Monitor--and Don Schon, with whom I studied.)
- The OD Network is the national membership organization for the field, and provides free information about OD.
- The OD Institute has a web portal with good free content.
- Learn key OD competencies by examining required courses in the top programs. For example, National Training Labs, founded by Kurt Lewin and who is considered the "grandfather" of OD in the US, is one of the top ranked provider of professional education in OD. They offer certificate programs and a Master's degree through American University. Look at the requirements for their OD certificate program and their degree to get an idea of competencies you need to know.
Pepperdine and the Fielding Graduate Institute also have good reputations.
MIT Sloan School's Executive MBA program makes a good compare/contrast that allows you to see what overlaps (leadership, managerial competence, methods of analysis), and what does not. OD programs have much more in depth training in organizations, designing consulting engagements, and interventions, for example.
In my view, some of the key areas of knowledge are:
- History of the field
- Main kinds of activities and skills
- Understanding an organization as a system; and hallmarks of whole system, organizational, team, and individual health.
- The steps in an OD engagement, such as:
- Contracting with your client (understanding who is your client and assessing their needs).
- Assessment methods that help you gather information so you can discover what is going on, using both qualitative research methods (interviews, observation, document analysis) and quantitative methods (statistics and survey design).
- Feeding back results of the assessment to create awareness and agreement about what the issues are. To do this you need to know how to organize and communicate the results of your assessment as part of a collaborative, interactive working session conducted in person or virtually.
- Types of Interventions for creating change; how to select and customize interventions (individual, team, large systems; understanding yourself as the primary instrument of intervening in a system).
- Carrying out Interventions (and understanding the dynamics that can derail and enable success).
- Evaluating results and determining ROI.
- Ethical Issues
- Find content to help you learn these competencies.
- Books you might be able to find in libraries (MBODLG; Boston Business Library, interlibrary loan through your town library):
- MIT's FREE opensource courses include a number that are relevant--research methods, managerial psychology, leadership lab, systems dynamics, managing innovation.
Did you find this helpful? Please comment below. Would you be interested in a meeting to help you create a roadmap for navigating your transition into OD? Please email me at email@example.com.
It was David Whyte's book, The Heart Aroused: Poetry and Preservation of the Soul in Corporate America that first exposed me to the power of OD theory to make sense of the disillusionment I felt in the work place. The dynamics Whyte described not only resonated with my own experience, but opened up a new possibility-- that I could make my work more life-giving, instead of life-depleating.
Later, in Grad School, I read Crossing the Unknown Sea: Work as a Pilgrimage of Identity and found that his metaphor of listening to our inner "captain" and not letting the other captains around us fail incredibly useful in my new role as a young manager.
Three years ago I became a member of the MassBay OD Learning Group eager to learn more about OD and how to put theory into practice. During this time, I never heard David Whyte's name, so I was delighted when I learned that the February 2011 MassBayODLG program, facilitated by Dr. Carol Sharicz and Stephen Cummings, featured the work of David Whyte and Otto Scharmer.
The program provided me with an opportunity for deep reflection using concepts from David Whyte's newest book Three Marriages and Otto Scharmer's Theory U . Carol and Steve invited us to consider where we placed ourselves "in the "U" (moving through Observe, Reflect, Act: "Letting Go" moving to "Letting Come") in each of our three "marriages" (Relationships, Work, Self).
During the small group discussion that night, I realized that significant transformations have been taking place in all three of my "marriages." In my work "marriage" I have taken ownership of what I want in my work life (coming into the ACT or "Letting Come" part of the "U") and this shift has been the impetus for me to engage in intentional Observation, Reflection, and Action in my second "marriage" to my spouse, and my third "marriage" to my Self.
As my mentor says, I have reached a point of no return - I cannot go back to being unaware or disillusioned, as I was when he first suggested I read David Whyte. I have chosen, as Gould puts it in his book Transformations, de-illusionment...intentionally letting go of my illusions and powerlessness.
I plan to use apply these new insights in my consulting practice, teaching, and my emerging leadership role in the Genysys Group to help others make sense of, and transform, their own disillusionment and pain in the workplace. What was this event like for you? Have you applied any of the ideas from David Whyte and Otto Scharmer?
Written by Priscilla Goodman
In the wake of the Otto Scharmer's fantastic talk, we had a lesson in "Web Presencing" by Rob Walling, who came to MassBayODLG group to share his expertise on "Strenthening Your Web Presence". Rob has learned this art and has been recognized as a prominent blogger, entrepreneur, and profitable business owner. Rob shared his story with several of us over lunch and here are a few things I took away.
1. Don't try to do everything all at once. Pick one or two things and focus on them. As Rob was starting out, he began his marketing efforts with his blog. He started blogging 2-3 times per week. After a year he had about 150 loyal subscribers. He had learned what he wanted to say and says he had found "my people". For him, those people were software developers that really wanted to launch their own software products. The following year, he cut down to 1 blog per week (that seemed to work for him) and had about 1,000 subscribers by the end of that year.
2. Don't quit your day job just yet. It takes time to build a strong web presence that translates to cash. We're not talking weeks or months, but years, although you can start seeing results in months. Rob shared that he was still working full-time, while building his web presence and waiting for the day when he could make his big break to owning his own company (one that could pay the bills). Interestingly, he found that inside his day job, he was building a following to his blog as well, since he was speaking to the challenges of being a software developer (including the "human side of software"). The day finally came where he was getting enough business through the visibility and credibility he had built from his blog that he could leave the 9-5 job!
3. Find and display your unique voice through the most important vehicles:
As you can see below in the picture - Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Webinars, Ads, YouTube, iTunes, Search Engines, Google Profile, etc. are good, but they do not allow relationship. All of these work to bring people into your world (the widest part of your sales funnel, if you recall from the September Art of Profitable Relationships event)- Rob's perspective is that you have the opportunity to engage them and build a relationship and credibility with them (bring them one step further down in the funnel) through your website, blogging, and podcasting.
a. Website: We need a solid base from which people can get the information they need to start building a relationship with us. Rob actually has his blog features as the main part of his website and encourages others to do the same. When he has received calls for business, a common part of the conversation is the potential client saying, "I feel like I already know you" - because they have read his blog or heard him speak on podcast. He recommends using www.dreamhost.com ($10/mos).
b. Blogging: Blogging helps interested parties get to know your business perspective and gives you credibility, if done well. The problem is that thousands of blogs are started every day - very few become widely read. It takes time to develop this skill. If you're not a good writer, don't do it. Rob says, "It took me over a year to find my voice - and I thought I was a pretty decent writer already". However, after 5 years of blogging, he has over 6,500 subscribers and is recognized in his niche as a thought leader. He gets all of his business from the blog and subsequent businesses that have leveraged this audience - his "tribe", as another famous blogger, Seth Godin would say.
c. Podcasting: If blogging isn't your style, podcasting may be a better fit. Rob and his business partner do a podcast weekly recommended getting a high quality headset (spring for the $50-60 name brand - like Bose - with a noise canceling microphone and USB connector) and use Audacity for audio recording and editing. 30 minutes or less is optimal for two people. His experience is that it's very hard to have a podcast with just one person, but if you do, keep it to 15 minutes.
This was just parts of the conversation. We hope to have a continuation of our "Web Presencing" discussion in the near future!
Blog written by Priscilla Goodman, MassBayODLG Coordinating Committee Member
What’s the difference between Job Hunting and Internet Surfing?
A Hunter’s Survival Guide - Part 6
Everyone looks back fondly on the days of writing book reports, and term papers, right? No? What about doing a very public introduction of themselves along with a sales pitch in 250 words or less? Not something you are itching to do either? Yet as part of the job seeking process you are asked to write a unique cover letter for each position you apply for which when you think about it is really a book report, introduction and sales pitch wrapped into as few words as possible. They can be a pain.
However, I would count creating a cover letter for each job as my number one job hunting tip. Period. If the job description asks for a cover letter and you don’t send one in, you might as well have not applied. If you send a cover letter that is so generic it could be used for every job you applied for, ditto, you might as well have not applied.
A cover letter is your one chance to sell yourself and set yourself apart from the 200+ people who will apply for the same job. They can be hard to write well, but once you find a good formula, you are set.
A note on online applications: With more and more applications getting filtered through an online portal, it’s sometimes hard to figure out where the cover letter goes. Some will let you upload multiple documents; others want you to paste it in. Don’t waste the opportunity, create the cover letter and get it in there. If you can only upload one document, combine your cover letter and resume.
Here are my tips for cover letter success:
- Keep it to one page – I want to learn about you, but save something for the interview.
- Provide a little more detail on some of your resume bullets – but don’t just copy and paste. Give me something new in your cover letter that I wouldn’t see right away from your resume.
- Relate your past experience to the job you are applying for. Make the connection between the job description, cover letter and then resume. I know that the job requires project management experience, and I see that title on your resume, but give the hiring manager a little more. Make the connection for them.
- Use bullets. Three to four bullets about some specific things you have done and how they relate to the current opening makes it clear that you have done your homework, and will draw a hiring manager into the resume.
It may take longer to write a cover letter with each application, but imagine if you went fishing and sent 10 hooks over the side with no bait – not much comes back. With a cover letter, it may take you as much time to send out 10 applications as it takes to do one, but the one with bait is much more likely to come back with something promising.
For more on Cover Letters, check here:
Creating Your Cover Letter
Don't just plead and harp -- make your cover letter count
Cover Letter Tips
Cover Letter Resources for Job-Seekers
About the author: Kristine Dunn is part of MassBayODLG
What’s the difference between Job Hunting and Internet Surfing?
A Hunter’s Survival Guide - Part 5
Most often people think of informational interviews when they are looking for a new job, but really, they can be a great tool at any point in your career.
For years people told me “just call someone and see if they will see you for a few minutes, it’s a great way to network for a position with an organization.” Recently, I bit the bullet and went on my first informational interview. In the past I didn’t take advantage of informational interviews because I wasn’t sure how to schedule it, what questions to ask, or what to do on the interview. But, when I met someone who was a potential employer and they asked if I would like to stop by their office I jumped at the chance. Here’s how I made it easy.
Make a Connection
I haven’t met someone who loves to cold call an organization. Yet, that’s what is often suggested as the first step in setting up an informational interview. Find an organization, give them a ring, find the right person and meet. If that’s for you, go for it! What are you waiting for?
If it isn’t, try something a little different – network into the informational interview. If you know someone who works for a firm you are trying to learn more about, ask them to set you up with someone. Or, see if that person will give you 30 minutes to ask questions.
Try this – the next time you are chatting with someone at a networking event and they have a background you would like to hear more about ask them:
I’d love to hear more about how you got into your current work. Do you think that I could meet with you next week to talk a little about your work history, what got you into the field and what you might recommend for my own career path?
I’ve been reading a lot about your organization over the last few months. I’m impressed with the project you have just completed/work you have been doing with that client. Would you mind if I stopped in to talk more about the work that your firm does?
Get the Meeting Right
Even though you are just coming in to chat for 30 minutes, and it isn’t about a particular role, this is still an interview. Dress your best, show up a few minutes early, and be prepared. Unlike a job interview where you get asked questions, this is your turn to drive the conversation. So plan ahead and come with a long list of questions. Some of my personal favorites are:
- Why do your customers choose this company? What is your competitive advantage?
- If you had it to do all over again are there opportunities you would have been on the lookout for or other things you would have tried?
- What were the keys to your own professional advancement?
- What do you see as the future of the OD field?
For some other good questions, take a look at:
Informational Interview Questions
Questions to Ask at the Informational Interview
Informational Interview Questions to Ask
Once the interview is over, send a thank you note and remember to follow up. You might not have a job with them today, but the goal is to develop a deeper professional relationship that you could call upon down the road.
Good luck and let us know how your informational interviews go!
About the author: Kristine Dunn is part of MassBayODLG
Is social media a fad? Is it just a new marketing channel? Is it potentially the biggest shift since the industrial revolution? Many of the questions bubbling up present themselves in the form of questioning the reality and validity of social media’s role in business. These questions are often arising as a pushback against additional activities and workload from time starved colleagues.
Even the definition of Social Media is loosely defined and often defined in terms of our experience and expectation. At its core, Social Media has come to embody relational tools and methodologies to create connections around content. Underlying this is the desire to unveil both knowledge and wisdom, to participate and demonstrate creative expression, and to have “my voice” heard. Is this real?
Andreas Weigend's article in the May 20, 2009 Harvard Business Review revealed, “In 2009, more data will be generated by individuals than in the entire history of mankind through 2008. Information overload is more serious than ever.” Many believe 2010 will eclipse 2009.
All of us have and are experiencing the effects of this. Our web search is no longer information from data sources as we are now filtering information from many sources. We have the opportunity to move beyond information and tap into truth or information that has been tested and found true. We are able to tap into other’s experiences and hence the bar has been raised from information to truth.
In the process of connecting with peoples experience we discover pockets of wisdom, of shared interests, shared challenges and are now able to establish permission based relationships.
Our collective raised expectations are adding to this shift:
- the development of web enabled collaboration tools (web 2.0) are experiencing wide spread acceptance and growth and with that web dynamics and social dynamics are merging; fueling acceleration and multiplication of tools, technologies, platforms, services, etc.(web 3.0 – 4.0)
- these tools and services are changing the landscape of interactions and relationships in such a way as to change culture and not just business culture but have a rippling effect into all areas of culture
I would offer we are at the cusp of a cultural revolution and that we as leaders need to (quickly) learn to surf or be swept out to sea by this tsunami. This raises the bar internally as well. As OD practitioners we have to face the struggles and conflicts of the experimentation of and with various forms, platforms and tools.
The question we started with: Is this real? Is not the question we have our eyes on. The questions we are forming are strategic leadership questions which have the potential to drive our organizations into transformation and culture change.
In next week’s commentary we can examine more of the social trends and implications that will help us form the guiding questions that will move us forward. In this context, the leadership challenges are brought into a light that brings further clarity to the points above.
Until then; thank you.
About the author: Stephen Cummings is part of MassBayODLG
Does social media have a place in business or is it a fad?
What should I learn about social media that is not a waste of time or might actually help me?
Should I find time for social media, does it acutally have anything to do with organizational development (organization development)?
A healthy work environment includes:
Seems like a short list any organization develompent (OD) practitioner needs for successful interventions.
This is not a blog about strategically adding social media to your work or to your company, it is a look at striking similarities between social media and what we do in OD.
What does OD and social media have to do with each other? Surprisingly, an awful lot, like: involvement, communication, listening, and collaboration.
If OD and social media have these in common, should a profession that relies on involvement, embrace social media?
In a profession that requires such deep communication, should embrace social media's ability to draw in dialogue?
In a profession so reliant on listening and taking the pulse of an organization, find social media a great way to check progress and monitor change?
In a profession where collaboration is vital to understanding is there suspicion that social media is someone's hidden agenda or coercion?
I worked for a decade [the 90s] in marketing, but for the past 10 years I've been an OD consultant and working on organization transformation, learning, leadership development, and strategic planning.
In 2007 I came upon social media with a marketing mindset, whoa, things had changed. Instead of interruption or command and control marketing, social media, or Marketing 2.0, looks to contribute and collaborate.
The first rule in communication is, "know your audience". So why communicate at your audience and not with your audience?
Some things that tie the two:
1) Social media is about people and about interaction.
"Social media is an online imitationof the interactions that people have offline.To learn more about social media, learn more and study well how people interact offline in regards to the need your product provides a solution for.The more you examine and participate in offline communication, the more clearly you will be able to understand how to leverage social interaction and social media for your product or service."
2) Social media is about people. Employee-powered Change
"Unlike past technology shifts, this one isn’t being led by IT departments, but by individual employees like you and me and our need for meaningful and simple collaboration tools. With new enterprise social tools, we can harness the power of real-time social networking to rebuild the workplace and create a collaborative forum where we can be inspired by real-time engagement, real-time innovation, and the strengthening of our workplace communities. It’s a daunting challenge, but an exciting, much-needed one."
Every OD professional relies on communication and usually a change management communication plan as a critical copmonent for any intervention or transformation to succeed.
Social media is about collaboration.
Open Source Social Media: Community, Collaboration, Freedom
"...social media is about the basic human right to communicate, organize, and maintain control of one's own experiences. And both address the needs of companies to do more at higher quality with less money. Both social media and open-source software involve communities and are fed by content: code in the case of open source, and media content in the case of social media.Whoever tries to control people's relationships will lose.
"Whoever enables people to create and share experiences that are relevant to them across any website, with anyone, the way they want will win."
Marketing communications has a natural affinity to effective change; after all marketing hopes to motivate action and change management, or OD, hopes to motivate action as well.
The aptly named Influential Marketing Blog's 5 Types of Consumer Generated Marketing Campaignstakes a look at the best user-generated [social media] campaigns across the following categories:
What's your version of ... ?
What if you were ... ?
Submit your creative idea for ...
Tell us ... and you could win
Get funded to change the world
Each one of those questions could easily find itself a part of every OD practitioner's facilitation toolkit for involvment and change. We all know that picturing yourself as part of the future-state is one of the sure fire ways to build commitment, understanding, and ownerhip. Heck, imagine an organization change or development project without some variant of these and I'd expect a very high likliehood of failure.
Take a new look at how social media has prepared us for collaborative business and think again on what social media and OD do have in common.
I invite the opportunity to revisit social media to look at what social media affords collaboration. This for us, as OD professionals, becomes an even more powerful organization transformation tool.
About the author: Toby Elwin is part of MassBayODLG