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Supporting organisations to bridge the gap between strategy and action at moments of change, making sense and shaping conversations with Big Pictures.

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Why You Can’t Afford to Ignore the Role of Relationships When Doing Business Transformation

Delta7 Change

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Join us for a workshop at the Business Change & Transformation Conference Europe, 18th March in London.

In today’s business context the only certainty there is, is that everything will be uncertain! To be able to deal with the complex and ambiguous nature of the challenges we face we will be more reliant than ever on the quality of the relationships and conversations that we have in organisations. More often than not these are overlooked when a strategy is being considered and generally termed to be the ‘soft stuff’ while in our experience this is actually the hardest part of any programme to deliver.

Building relationships is at the heart of any successful culture change and central to improving performance in every organisation. Businesses today cannot afford to overlook the importance of relationship building when delivering transformation and culture change programmes.

In this interactive session, Eli and Chris will share how they use Visual Dialogue, Creativity and Narrative to build relationships across organisations. You will hear their insights on how organisations have tackled difficult relational issues, the latest thinking on relational leadership and take you through some highly engaging exercises.  They will also give you some practical tools to start building better relationships for change in your organisation.

For further details about the workshop and conference click here.

How will we run this?

paul stroud

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People embarking on a project together can be equally invested in achieving a successful outcome yet be out of step if they lack a shared understanding of their respective capabilities, or have different expectations of each other.

Establishing clear and aligned roles - either as individuals, as teams or as whole organisations - can help to harness complimentary strengths that will make the partnership greater than the sum of it’s parts, bringing value and a sense of purpose to the collaboration.

This builds a stronger relationship based on having not just a shared goal - but also a shared approach to reach it.

How can we stop HiPPOs turning into elephants?

julian burton

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Have you come across a HiPPO in a recent meeting? I was at a fantastic Corporate Rebels workshop this weekend where I first heard the term HiPPO. Created by Avinash Kaushik, the acronym stands for ‘The Highest Paid Person’s Opinion’. This refers to the impact of hierarchy in a meeting where people sometimes defer, for various reasons, to the opinion of the person with the most power, experience or salary. 

HiPPOs can get in the way of good decision-making. Having a HiPPO in the room can dominate a meeting as it often carries a lot more weight than other voices. People may feel too scared to challenge a dominant opinion, even though they may fundamentally disagree with it, while others may pay lip service and be eager to please and toe the line. The owner of the dominant voice runs the risk of believing they alone have the best ideas and miss the opportunity of hearing the valuable insights or ideas that come from different voices in the room. A leader may be aware of the impact they have on others but it’s not easy to create a culture where people feel its safe to question a HiPPO without fear of reprisal.

The interesting thing for me is that HiPPOs only exist because of the relationships in the room, with everyone in a sort of collusion in keeping them present. It seems to me that it is vitally important for everyone to be aware of the impact they have on others and how one reacts in silencing oneself in these dynamics.

Taking ownership of the parts we play in creating HiPPOs is the only way to stop them turning into elephants.

Was there a HiPPO in the room today? What was the part you played in keeping it alive?

 

 

So, you think you're collaborative?

Delta7 Change

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We like to believe we’re collaborative - yet it’s all too easy to lose sight of other people you should be having more collaborative relationships with. Do you know how they feel about it? Are you really listening to your people?

Power relationships can make it almost impossible to speak up to someone in charge. As a leader, if you’re not hearing feedback then you're missing an opportunity to learn and demonstrate the new behaviours you want to see in the culture. Just by saying you’re going to be collaborative doesn’t mean you will be, and there may be no one with the courage to hold you accountable. How collaborative do those working around you really think you are?

Are you really listening?

paul stroud

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We believe change happens though conversations. Conversations require listening, which can lead to learning, mutual understanding and better relationships.

Hearing from different perspectives disrupts usual assumptions and encourages collaborative, creative thinking, which can lead to more considered solutions. Honest, candid dialogue can counter scepticism and resistance, building engagement and earning respect.

Listening requires being present, and it is all too easy to be distracted by background thoughts and considerations that may be running through our heads. Not least of these are issues concerning ego; that the direction of the conversation will be a reflection on our personal abilities, and therefore status. To demonstrate our abilities we want to make intelligent, ‘high value’ contributions, but it’s difficult to process lots of new information quickly so we tend to seize upon the things we can respond to confidently. If we try to anticipate where the conversation is going in order to prepare our response then we stop being curious - about the areas where we feel weak in order to capitalise on the parts where we feel strong. We can attempt to dominate the conversation so that there’s less new information to process and we can feel more in control, but by listening less we learn less.

Great conversations can be insightful and productive - and they require people to be curious and really listen to each other.

Why isn't our new strategy taking off?

julian burton

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We often hear leaders’ frustration that the frontline don’t get the new strategy. And we hear from those people that they are being asked to implement a new change strategy they don’t understand, don’t feel connected to, or don’t believe in. 

However brilliant a strategy looks in Powerpoint, it may not be worth much if it’s created at the top and cascaded down onto the people who will be delivering it. The one-way nature of traditional "comms" can create alienation, confusion and lack of meaning if it doesn't encourage the dialogue necessary for people to make sense of and fully understand the changes being asked of them.

This separation between strategy development and its implementation is often cited as a major cause of failed change programmes. The frontline should be involved in the strategy development process. Listening to what they have to say and taking their ideas, concerns and objections seriously can go a long way to creating a genuinely shared narrative that everyone can feel part of and committed to.

The Change 'Curve'

Delta7 Change

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The Change Curve is a well-known model that tracks the typical behavioural stages we can pass through when reacting to change. From initial shock, through gradual steps of understanding until the change can be fully comprehended and adapted to. It’s often visualised as a graph that charts the emotional ups and downs of change as a curving line - but it may be hard to appreciate this bigger picture viewpoint when you’re deep within it.

At Delta7 our process of evolving a visual narrative through conversations and creativity is well suited to the challenges of the Change Curve, particularly because of the way that people react to change differently. A group can be at a variety of stages along the curve, and this throws up contrasting perspectives of view that make for richer, more enlightening conversations. People in the early stages of the curve who are struggling most to make sense of change can find helpful meaning from the observations of those who may be further along. Insights that arise from these conversations have the potential to carry everyone forward to a better position, both for digesting the implications of the change and for considering what they can do to respond to it effectively.

How much do you trust your people?

Delta7 Change

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In organisations with a ‘command and control’ culture there is the expectation that orders should be followed to achieve a desired result – rather like following the instructions from a sat nav to reach a destination. This may usually work well, but learning is limited, and the dependency on the sat nav can leave the driver lost or stuck if anything goes wrong with it.

In organisations where individuals are trusted to take more responsibility for their work people have an incentive to take more care, and can become more invested in their outcomes. They are reading the map and charting the route, and having to be alert to their surroundings. Things will go wrong from time to time, but then lessons can be learnt and better solutions found. Sometimes taking a new turning will lead to discoveries and opportunities that would never have appeared on the sat nav.

How do you measure culture change?

julian burton

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Evaluation can be one of the most challenging aspects of doing OD, often because it can be invisible to clients who are not present when we do our work.

The purpose of evaluation can be anything from calculating ROI to learning and development.

Either way, it involves rigorous scoping with clients right at the start of an intervention. We have found that asking these questions at the beginning of an OD intervention helps us both get a better grip on why we are doing it.

• What do I need to know/understand? (Why Am I evaluating?)

• What will I do with what I learn? (What is my intent?)

• How will I make changes based on what I learn? (What will I do?)

What’s your story about evaluating OD?

Going to the moon and back

Delta7 Change

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The well-worn tale of the Apollo Program, the visiting president, and the helpful janitor serves as a memorable illustration of team engagement and an apocryphal narrative about storytelling. After all these years it still stands out as a great example of the motivating effect of an inspiring vision.

 “We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because that goal will serve to organise and measure the best of our energies and skills.” John F Kennedy, 1962

Stories invite us to go on a journey and are so effective at delivering a message because they give the audience a way of engaging with the details and caring about the outcome. We are drawn in by being able to relate to the characters, their motivations and needs. We also recognise the challenge in the current state and become curious about how it can be resolved. The challenge may demand a journey or quest, which we hope will have a fitting outcome.

Every organisation has it’s own narrative and while not all projects and stories can be as uplifting or as clear-cut as a mission to the moon, seeing our place in a bigger picture can invest work with more significance and be emotionally compelling. Having the opportunity to reflect upon a narrative and make sense of our role within it allows us to consider new possibilities, inspire us to take on new responsibilities and conduct our daily work mindful of a long-term strategic vision.

Most of all it helps us take ownership of the challenge and consider what we can do differently to help overcome it. The scale and status of one’s role does not necessarily define the value of each contribution.

Even though we may have little influence in the grander scheme of things, by taking personal responsibility to manage the quality of our work we can maximise the positive effect we have. And if everyone has this same personal investment in the outcome of the story there’s no limit to what can be achieved.