Running on a Heartbeat … or a Programme?

Does anyone else worry in their organisation that the dominance of programmes may hide the absence of a heartbeat?\r\n\r\nProgrammes are imposed from the outside; heartbeats come from – the heart.\r\n\r\nProgrammes bring rotas; heartbeats bring rhythm.\r\n\r\nProgrammes can be avoided; if heartbeats are avoided …

From Maintenance to Mission

I took a course once called ‘From Maintenance to Mission’. It was about how to move an organisation out of a maintenance mentality into new focus on mission.\r\n\r\nThat particular course was about churches, but looking around the businesses I see and work with it could have applied easily to almost any organisation. For some reason the complicated network of relationships both within organisations and between organisations and their contexts seem to bring a paralysis in innovative action and an uneven distribution of power.\r\n\r\nThere are some obvious reasons behind this but for now the question is, how do we move our organisations from Maintenance to Mission?\r\n\r\nHere’s one thought:  become Innovative Learners\r\n\r\nWarren Bennis suggests that the way organisations learn is essential to the way they behave. He distinguishes between Maintenance Learning and Innovative Learning.\r\n\r\nMaintenance learning is a necessary but insufficient (and institutionalized) way of  ‘…comparing current performance only with past performance, not with what might have been or what is yet to be.’  And so corrective action in organisations is usually designed to deal with perceived weaknesses and failures, and not to build on strengths. The learning is limited to what is necessary to maintain the existing organisation.\r\n\r\nI know many churches like this.\r\n\r\nInnovative learning is also necessary but difficult and hardly ever found. Innovative learning is the means by which an organisation can prepare for the future, working in anticipation of uncertainties that lie ahead. Bennis puts it this way: ‘Innovative learning deals with emerging issues – issues that may be unique, so that there is no opportunity to learn by trial and error; issues for which solutions are not known; and issues whose very formulation may be a matter for controversy and doubt .\r\n\r\nI know few churches like this.\r\n\r\nInnovative Learning was a phase coined in the study ‘No Limits to Learning’, sponsored by the Club of Rome. Bennis quotes:\r\n\r\n

“…for long-term survival, particularly in times of turbulence, change or discontinuity, another type of learning is even more essential [than maintenance Learning]. it is the type of learning that can bring change, renewal, restructuring, and problem formulation  – and which we have called Innovative Learning.”

For my part, I’m restless when I’m not fully engaged in some aspect of Innovative Learning, but I am aware that it can tire people out.\r\n\r\nMy answer to this? \r\n\r\nBe careful to make the distinction between the Organisation and the Community it frames, and commit deeply to the Community when innovating in the Organisation.\r\n\r\n‘Good leaders make people feel they’re at the very heart of things, not at the periphery.’ Warren Bennis.

‘The New Competence’ of Leadership

In the early 1980s, as the leadership movement was starting to gather momentum, Donald N Michael identified these five abilities for the agile leader in a fast changing new era. He called them ‘the new competence’. They are:\r\n

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  1. Acknowledging and sharing uncertainty
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  3. Embracing error
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  5. Responding to the future
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  7. Becoming interpersonally competent (i.e. listening, nurturing, coping with value conflicts etc.)
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  9. Gaining self-knowledge.
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\r\nMarking each of these out of 5, I wonder how I’m doing?\r\n\r\nI think, better than halfway, not quite three quarters.\r\n\r\nWork to be done.

… and …

I thought I’d update my Linkedin profile. I haven’t paid it any attention for months, but I thought it might be worth improving if only on the grounds that it is another public representation of … me.\r\n\r\nIt was harder than I expected.\r\n\r\nMy friend Rob Hook from the Business Copilot asked\r\n\r\n”What’s your headline? The one thing you want to say about yourself? To put up front?”\r\n\r\nWell I don’t have one thing.\r\n\r\nPriest … AND … Painter … AND … Preacher …\r\n\r\nAND … Designer … AND … Vision Caster … AND … Administrator …\r\n\r\nAND … Counsellor … AND … manager AND … writer …\r\n\r\nAND … so on … AND … so on.\r\n\r\nTo be honest, it’s wearing trying to define each point of focus without loosing the other. It’s like having a target with multiple bullseyes.\r\n\r\nStill, it has to be done, because at the moment I’m floating somewhere between targets, let alone bullseyes, and I’m liable to hit nothing.\r\n\r\nMy Linkedin profile … here

The Work Project – Effective Transformation of the Workplace

About two years ago I floated the idea of a seminar/group coaching session focused on transforming the workplace. It’s where many of us spend most of our time and where we feel most in need of support, affirmation and assistance.\r\n\r\nLast year the idea was developed in more detail when I was thinking about a mission strategy for Bradley Stoke, an area on the Bristol North Fringe. It was one of five big ideas to help the church become more outward looking and more effective in improving the day to day lives of ordinary working people. The broader context can be seen in the book Mapping Mission Opportunities.\r\n\r\nThis year it’s moved on again. Working with Rob Hook of the Business CoPilot, we have zeroed in on some practical details. We have sent out a survey to 50 people we know in the workplace to ask what are the the real issues they face. Being practically minded we are also asking what is the ideal format for coaching/teaching/talking about our individual performance in the workplace so that each of in turn may transform the workplace for every person around us.\r\n\r\nThe summary sent out with our survey is here The Work Project – effective transformation of the workplace or click on the image below. It can also be found at our website TheWorkProject.0rg.uk.\r\n\r\nIf you are in work and we haven’t asked for your opinion, and you would like to complete our questionnaire, please email me at thestudio@3zonline.co.uk or Rob at robh@businesscopilot.co.uk.\r\n\r\n

Give time to creative thinking

Paul Olley said:\r\n\r\n“I made an international reputation by thinking twice each week,”\r\n\r\nHe outlined the components of successful generative (creative) thinking as these\r\n

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  1. Time – give time to think
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  3. Think – once or twice a week or month – not once a year
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  5. Space – find space to think: go to a hotel for 2 hours each week
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  7. Relax – it helps
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  9. Topic – don’t pick a low grade or minor issue. Pick a big one. “if we had to do ‘X’ how would we do it?”
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  11. Be focused – but not on anything. Be focused on opportunities and solutions. The object is not just to think but to decide
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  13. Tools – find tools that work for you , well known ones perhaps, such as from Tony Buzan or Edward de Bono.
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  15. Strategrams – draw strategic diagrams to summarise your thinking
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  17. Intuition – use intuition rather than hard data
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\r\nPS if you didn’t link to the Edward de Bono video above … do it here! Edward de Bono

Common Sense – the missing ingredient in leadership?

An interview with Theo Paphitis in The Market magazine is instructive:\r\n\r\n‘His consistent ability to read a business, identify key issues, and then take successful action surely must rely on a methodology or set of processes?\r\n\r\n”No, not at all,” he rebuffs. “I’m not a financial engineer … I’m a people person. I never go into a company saying “I’m going to turn this around”.\r\n\r\n”Instead I listen to the people who know the business best – the staff. Not the board or the senior management, but the people on the shop floor, at the sharp end. Normally they know all the reasons why a business is struggling. My talent is listening to people around me and then implementing the right changes in detail. At’s about the application of common sense.\r\n\r\n”I see everyday in my business life, that common sense isn’t very common.”\r\n\r\nIt makes sense …. the flip side of Front Line Staff\r\n\r\n 

Plenty of Persons – Few Personalities

It’s never happened before, but this week I stopped to read the words of the Czech President  Milos Zeman.

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He said:

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“In European politics there are plenty of ‘persons’ but few ‘personalities’ “

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In other words, interpreted the commentator, there are functionaries, but not leaders.

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It turns out that President Zeman backed up his reflection by appointing as prime minister a close ally with uncomfortable credentials in the Czech secret intelligence service who was not representative of the caretaker government in power. Zeman went for a potentially radical leader rather than one that more closely represented the balance of parliament.

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Not being in any way acquainted with Czech politics didn’t stop me wondering about an interesting parallel.

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In an interregnum in a parish church of the Church of England (the irony of comparing a parish church in the Church of England with the government of one of the most unchurched nations in Europe is not lost on me) the diocese often helps establish a measured, balanced transitional leadership team made up of members of the congregation. This team usually represents the current (and more problematically the historical) position of the particular church.

Does this then result in: a) the appointment of a middle of the road, balanced, competent, ‘person’; and b) the exclusion of the more radical, alternative, creative ‘personalities’ the church needs to grow?

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Or in the words used by the Czech president, does this approach put functionaries but not leaders in charge of churches?

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