Based on my more than 20 years of experience as an organizational change strategist and executive coach, the following ten best practices will ease the pain of large-scale change and ensure successful implementation.
Ten Best Practices for Leading Organizational Change
A Realistic Approach to Decision Making That Avoids Tangles
Jason Zweig, author of the Wall Street Journal's Intelligent Investor, writes that "smart people trying to do good, honest work on behalf of others" may have been responsible for the financial crisis. Zweig's article masterfully lays out some of the challenges that investment committees, boards of directors, and state boards of trustees can face in decisions to invest or not invest. His insightful column also can provide advice to corporate leaders making decisions regarding strategy and strategy execution.
Active Listening Tips for Avoiding Strangling TanglesTM
A Strangling TangleTM paralyzes organizations and can lead to plummeting profits, lost revenue, and precipitous falls in market share. There are a number of causes for Strangling Tangles. Based on my experience and research, organizations with corporate cultures that discourage speaking up and sharing bad news are particularly vulnerable. Leaders play a huge role in building, maintaining, and changing corporate culture. One way leaders can change the culture is by learning and demonstrating active listening skills.
How Taking Accountability Eases Tangles: The Case of a Local Police Sergeant versus Bernard Madoff
Earlier this week, I received a call from a sergeant in our local police department. He didn't leave a specific message, although he said he was from the narcotics division and asked me to call him back. Last August 2008, I had parked my car in front of our home in a nice neighborhood in San Francisco. When I went outside, the whole front of my car was gone. The hood, bumpers, and half of my engine. Needless to say, I was angry and shocked. I eagerly called the sergeant back, thinking that they had caught the criminals who had destroyed my car.
More Leadership Wisdom From Captain Chesley Sullenberger
US Airways Captain Sullenberger, Leaders, and Strangling Tangles
On January 15, 2009, US Airways flight 1549 took off from New York's La Guardia Airport. By all accounts, this was a routine takeoff, like many that occur day in and day out. However, on this particular flight, something unexpected occurred that required leadership, quick thinking, and skill. The plane hit a flock of birds, disabling both engines. Captain Chesley Sullenberger III deftly guided the plane for a safe landing in the Hudson. All passengers survived. This miraculous story offers great insight for leaders who want to avoid catastrophes, or what I call Strangling Tangles. A Strangling Tangle is a complex business challenge, further complicated by messy human dynamics that leads to a precipitous drop in revenue or even business failure.
Today’s Economic Crisis is a Wicked Tangle
Last night, Jon Stewart , host of the Daily Show , interviewed Bethany McLean , a contributing editor of Vanity Fair about the current economic crisis. Stewart opined that while we can understand the Madoff fraud, it is much harder to wrap our heads around the economic meltdown. Jon Stewart commented that money seemed to disappear in this crisis, and wondered how it could be recovered. This got me thinking. I coined the term Wicked Tangle, after the term wicked problems. I define a wicked tangle as a multi-system tangle that involves challenges without definitions and boundaries. Everything is intertwined, and the solution to one part of the challenge creates problems elsewhere. The Feds give money to the banks and the banks tighten their lending policies. You can never truly solve a wicked tangle. What differentiates a wicked tangle from a wicked problem is that the human dynamics of greed, ego, and lack of transparency both create and exacerbate wicked tangles.
More Crooked Tangles—Who Can We Trust?
In the past week, I have been repulsed by news of one of the biggest scams of all time. Bernard Madoff, head of Bernard L. Madoff Securities, allegedly conned scores of wealthy investors, lulled by promises of higher than average yearly returns. Madoff was the CEO of a company with over 200 employees. We don't yet have all of the facts. However, what is remarkable to me is that so many, including Madoff employees, did not question consistent financial returns that defy explanation. How could so many allegedly smart people believe that there are special algorithms that are immune from market forces? And how could so many ignore the red flags of a leader who became gruff and angry when questioned about his strategies?
The Crooked Tangle—How Personal Greed Can Strangle Organizations
Today's Wall Street Journal headline story outlines the case of Illinois Governor Rod. R. Blagojovich . The chief executive of the state of Illinois was arrested today for attempting to sell President-elect Obama's Illinois Senate seat. He was also charged with conspiring to bribe others and committing mail and wire fraud. Federal authorities also allege that the governor attempted to bribe the head of Children's Memorial Hospital in exchange for state funding. Further, the FBI alleges that the governor wanted Chicago Tribune reporters who were critical of him to be removed in exchange for a speedier sale of Wrigley Field.