Leading Your Own Organization

Assignment:

Phase 1-- Between now and March 13:
Phase 2-- Between March 13-March 20:

2. Leading in your own organization: how do develop a more innovative, and adaptive organization Elena, Uday, Uche, Nora, Debra Working in the area you chose in class, between now and March 13, write and post on the appropriate wiki page two or three entries (a couple of hundred words, maximum, each) that address some key aspect of what leaders should know about that area. Your entry may draw from your own experience, a reading (either something you read on your own, or on the common reading list), or a guest speaker or website. Please use footnotes as appropriate. Put your name on the entry. These entries will serve as the raw material for the next round of the wiki development.

Postings:


“Conventional wisdom says companies innovate, differentiate and compete by doing certain things right: by having superior human capital; protecting their intellectual capital property fiercely; focusing on customers; thinking globally but acting locally; and be executing well (i.e. having good management and controls). But the new business world is rendering each of these principles insufficient and in some cases completely inappropriate” (Tapscott and Williams, 2006, p. 20). As an alternative, “Wikinomics” offers an alternative perspective to the traditional way of thinking. Wikinomics is based on the following four ideas: openness, peering, sharing and acting globally.”

1. Openness: overall open attitude toward sharing, networking and transparency.
2. Peering: removing corporate command and control hierarchies and promoting self-organization.
3. Sharing: supporting open collaborations and shared foundations.
4. Acting Globally: monitoring developments internationally and tapping into a larger talent pool.
http://wikinomics.com/blog/
Debra Bednar 3/10/09

Ten Traits of Adaptive Organizations: http://www.kpmg.ca/en/services/enterprise/issuesGrowthTenTraits.html
Debra Bednar 3/10/09

Creating Adaptive Organizations: http://www.toffler.com/images/ta-create-adaptive-orgs-0810.pdf
Debra Bednar 3/10/09

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A Culture of Collaboration – Elena White 3/10/09
In his book Leadership Without Easy Answers, Ronald Heifetz unpacks the organizational risks of depending on a single authority, particularly during times of crisis. He cautions that “[t]he flight to authority is particularly dangerous . . . because it disables some of our most important personal and collective resources for accomplishing adaptive work” (p. 73). In other words, when one person or small group is responsible for all organizational solutions and strategies, overall innovation and adaptive functioning are compromised.

In order to exercise these critical “personal and collective resources” in times of crisis, it is essential that a team flex their collective muscles regularly, even in times of relative calm. As we consider effective leadership within our organizations, we must examine the steepness of our hierarchies and the depth of our collaborative systems. Those in formal leadership roles must set a tone for building trust and working together through authentic collaboration. (www.tablegroup.com/books/dysfunctions/Conquer%20Team%20Dysfunction.pdf). A leader’s ability to facilitate meaningful team learning through dialogue and skillful discussion can cultivate a culture of idea-sharing and collective problem solving, thus harnessing the intellectual capacity of the group. In addition, when this spirit of collective work and responsibility permeates an organization, individuals at all levels feel valued and heard; this ownership becomes a critical asset during a crisis when the collective muscles are toned, flexible and ready for adaptive action.

References:
Heifetz, R. (1994). Leadership without easy answers. Cambridge, MA: Belknap/Harvard University Press
Lencioni, P. (n.d.) Conquer team dysfunction. www.tablegroup.com/books/dysfunctions/Conquer%20Team%20Dysfunction.pdf


Key idea: Creating a Culture of Collaboration - When a spirit of true collaboration permeates an organization, individuals at all levels feel valued and heard and this ownership becomes a critical asset during a crisis when the organization must work collectively to solve problems in a flexible and adaptive way.
Tools: In this short article the TableGroup website articulates some of the common dysfunctions of a team. Identifying dysfunctions can be useful in moving forward and improving team functionality: www.tablegroup.com/books/ dysfunctions/Conquer%20Team% 20Dysfunction.pdf
Implications: As leaders, we must examine the steepness of our hierarchies and the depth of our collaborative systems. We must set a tone for building trust and working together through authentic collaboration. A leader’s ability to facilitate meaningful team learning through dialogue and skillful discussion can cultivate a culture of idea-sharing and collective problem solving, thus harnessing the intellectual capacity of the group.
Assessment: How well does your team function when confronted with a crisis or significant dilemma? Does the team look to an authority figure and disassociate from the problem or does the team look to its capacities for address




A Vision Shared – Elena White 3/10/09
In Schools that Learn: A Fifth Discipline Fieldbook For Educators, Parents, and Everyone Who Cares About Education the authors assert that “[p]eople with a common purpose can learn to nourish a sense of commitment in a group or organization by developing shared images of the future they seek to create and the principles and guiding practices by which they hope to get there” (2000, p. 7). This foundational idea of developing a shared vision and sense of core values from within an organization cannot be overemphasized. In describing Roca’s organizational shift, executive director Molly Baldwin pointed to peace circles as a defined space where staff can find common ground and “where we can see the world together” (personal communication, February 20, 2009). This new strategy has helped Roca evolve into an adaptive and more effective organization (www.rocainc.org/about_history.php). This ability to understand one another and to intentionally align goals and visions is a critical component of internal organizational cohesion. In addition, as leaders look for ways to build trust and strengthen ties between members of a team, the process of establishing a common purpose can be a particularly useful tool in facilitating a cohesive collaborative practice.

References:

Senge, P. M., Lucas, T., Cambron-McCabe, N. H., Smith, B., Dutton, J., & Kleiner, A. (2000). Schools that learn : A fifth discipline fieldbook for educators, parents, and everyone who cares about education. New York: Doubleday.
Molly Baldwin, personal communication, February 20, 2009
www.rocainc.org/about_history.php

Key idea: The Importance of Shared Values / Common Purpose
Example: Central to Roca’s organizational shift – from antagonistic youth advocacy organization to an adaptive, partnering organization – was acknowledging that the organization’s core values were not consistent with the way they engaged with other institutions. At the time of the shift Molly Baldwin remembers recognizing that “values are a way of behaving, they are not to be preached…aligning of values is a critical starting point for finding common ground” (personal communication, February 20, 2009).
Tools: Roca’s Peace Circles – Roca uses this “alternative communication technique to enable discussions around challenging issues and facilitate personal learning, healing, accountability, and community building” (rocainc.org). Molly Baldwin pointed to peace circles as a defined space where youth, staff and community partners can find common ground and “where we can see the world together” (personal communication, February 20, 2009).
Implications: Developing a shared vision and sense of core values is a critical component of internal organizational cohesion. Understanding one another and aligning goals/values helps unify our purpose and grounds our work in intentionality. As leaders look for ways to build trust and strengthen ties between members of a team, the process of establishing a common purpose can be a particularly useful tool in facilitating a cohesive collaborative practice.

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Buidling Great Teams

Building great teams is important to establishing transformational partnerships. In today’s competitive environment, a cohesive team can be a competitive differentiator. Patrick Lencioni not only explores the internal and external factors that make a team dysfunctional but also how to overcome these barriers.
Lencioni provides the following possible dysfunctions:

1. Dysfunction #1: Absence of Trust
This occurs when team members are reluctant to be vulnerable with one another and are unwilling to
admit their mistakes, weaknesses or needs for help. Without a certain comfort level among team
members, a foundation of trust is impossible.

2. Dysfunction #2: Fear of Conflict
Teams that are lacking on trust are incapable of engaging in unfiltered, passionate debate about key
issues, causing situations where team conflict can easily turn into veiled discussions and back
channel comments. In a work setting where team members do not openly air their opinions, inferior
decisions are the result.

3. Dysfunction #3: Lack of Commitment
Without conflict, it is difficult for team members to commit to decisions, creating an environment
where ambiguity prevails. Lack of direction and commitment can make employees, particularly star
employees, disgruntled

4. Dysfunction #4: Avoidance of Accountability
When teams don't commit to a clear plan of action, even the most focused and driven individuals
hesitate to call their peers on actions and behaviors that may seem counterproductive to the overall
good of the team.

5. Dysfunction #5: Inattention to Results
Team members naturally tend to put their own needs (ego, career development, recognition, etc.)
ahead of the collective goals of the team when individuals aren't held accountable. If a team has lost
sight of the need for achievement, the business ultimately suffers.

To determine whether your team has any of the aforementioned dysfunctions, Lencioni provides the following questions:

· Do team members openly and readily disclose their opinions?
· Are team meetings compelling and productive?
· Does the team come to decisions quickly and avoid getting bogged down by consensus?
· Do team members confront one another about their shortcomings?
· Do team members sacrifice their own interests for the good of the team?
Source: http://tablegroup.com/

Debra Bednar 3/12/09



Reflective Practice and Growth - Uday Sharad Joshi



How do we, as organizational leaders, facilitate our own growth and actualize ourselves in the hopes of creating transformational change in our practice?
I think that the ability to separate yourself from yourself and look objectively at your leadership practice is essential. In his book, Immunity to Change, Robert Kegan speaks of the ways in which most of us build an "immunity," defense system that does not allow us to do this. "If you are leading anything at any level, you are driving some kind of plan or agenda, but some kind of plan or agenda is also driving you." (Kegan & Lahey, 2009, p.6) Once we accept that our present existence is the cumulative result of our past experiences I believe we can start to unpack why we lead in our own unique way. I appreciate Kegan and Lahey's book because it provides the reader with specific methods to begin to break down the barriers that prevent us from changing as leaders; and empowers us to actually start our own personal evolution.

Reference:
Kegan, R. & Lahey, L. (2009). Immunity to Change. Harvard Business Press. Boston, MA.

Key Point : Leaders Need to Engage In Reflective Practice
Example: A leader of an organization taking intentional time to actively reflect on their own leadership practice. (i.e. once a week written journal?)
Tools: Book: Immunity to Change by Robert Kegan & Lisa Lahey
Book: The Reflective Practitioner by Robert Schon

Personal Implications:
I think that the ability to separate yourself from yourself and look objectively at your leadership practice is essential. In his book, Immunity to Change, Robert Kegan speaks of the ways in which most of us build an "immunity," defense system that does not allow us to do this. "If you are leading anything at any level, you are driving some kind of plan or agenda, but some kind of plan or agenda is also driving you." (Kegan & Lahey, 2009, p.6) Once we accept our present existence is the cumulative result of our past experiences; I think we can start to unpack why we lead in our own unique way. I appreciate Kegan and Lahey's book because it provides the reader with specific methods to begin to break down the barriers that prevent us from changing as leaders; and empowers us to actually start our own personal evolution.

Assessment: More research needs to be done in what an actual assessment model would be for this reflective practice.

Lingering Questions: Other models or systems besides Kegan & Lahey.

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Fellowship Opportunity for Arts and Culture Organization Leaders - posted by Uday Sharad Joshi

Deadline JUNE 5, 2009

I was not sure if this was an appropriate posting for this site. However, in my past experiences, I have noticed that we, as organzational leaders are not always aware of the opportunities that we have to help our organizations network and evolve, especially with limited financial resources. I think it is essential that leaders actively seek out networking and capacity building opportunities. Identifying where to go for help is a skill in and of itself. The following in one example of a way we may evolve and grow. I ran across this fellowship opportunity at the National Arts Strategy website. The fellowships cover travel and full seminar fees for up to five people in your organization. The next seminar will take place in NewYork, NY from July 16-17 on the topic of "Building Evaluation Capacity."

Building Evaluation Capacity
Arts and cultural leaders are always looking for the best ways to accomplish program objectives, understand the experiences of different stakeholders, and identify key indicators of success. Evaluation offers a set of tools and processes for asking and answering these critical questions. It also helps you demonstrate your success and provide critical and timely information to funders and other key stakeholders.

How You Will Benefit
Building Evaluation Capacity introduces a strategic framework for designing evaluation to meet your unique needs. You learn how evaluation helps you predict and meet future challenges, integrate ideas from across your organization, and improve relationships with key stakeholders. By the end of the seminar, you will be able to:

  • Identify critical evaluative questions for your organization
  • Design and conduct evaluation in practical, creative ways
  • Use results effectively within your organization and with funders
  • Understand how findings can be used for decision-making and action

For more information on how to apply: http://www.artstrategies.org

Reference:
National Arts Strategy Website. www.artstrategies.org




Uche
For an organization to be adaptive to the external environment, it must first be adaptive within its walls. Workers must not only be willing to learn, the must want to learn. It is not enough for a worker to endure mandatory training, the 'just in case' knowledge gained from such trainings is inert, not necessarily immediately actionable; and if the learner is passively receiving this knowledge, he is less likely to be motivated to use it. Workers must actively seek out new learnings, and approach every new experience as a learning opportunity. If they are intrinsically motivated to learn, then they are more likely to act on their learning. While they should be highly capable in the tasks and duties of their own office/department/division, they must be curious about, and (at least superficially) knowledgeable of, what's going on in other parts of the organization.

I am not talking about learning skills here. I am instead talking about a learning disposition--an employee’s fundamental approach to dealing with new situations and stimuli. One must not merely ‘deal with’ and overcome obstacles. One must not just work with people from different departments, specialities, and divisions. One must approach each of those cross-boundary interactions as learning opportunities. “Why do I have to talk to people from marketing every time I want to create a new product? I always have to make fundamental changes to my engineering design. Is there a more efficient way to do this? Can we work together from the beginning? Who else does marketing have to deal with. What other departments are involved in the product’s trip from simulation to store shelves? Where do I fit in?” These are the ruminations of a thoughtful employee who is given to approaching each interaction as a learning opportunity, and a as a learning opportunity that has direct applicability to the organization’s well being. This is the type of employee that needs to be groomed within an adaptive organization. After all, how can an organization learn to adapt to its environment if its people can’t first adapt to each other?

But how to motivate employees to want to learn? Traditional motivators such as incentive and performance bonuses and promotions are extrinsic motivators whose influences can disappear once the motivator has been removed. Furthermore, it is not clear that such extrinsic motivators can stimulate something as broad as a disposition towards learning. So, what is a leader to do?

Boix Mansilla, 2005 (Building Bridges across disciplines)



Below are my notes from a paper about interdisciplinary work. For our purposes, you can substitute departments or specialties (in an organization), or even more abstractly, different organizations, for disciplines.


Cognitive Skills necessary for interdisciplinary work
1. Establishing analogies: using analogy as a common cognitive tool to bridge disciplines. Helped researchers borrow concept or modes of representation from one discipline to establish parallels in another --and illuminating new perspectives.
2. Ability to speak common language: having a lingua franca which everybody involved in a project can speak and understand.
3. Metadisciplinary awareness: To be aware of the varying goals of different disciplines, and to reflect broadly on disciplinary knowledge and inquiry. Allows researchers to see roles and constraints imposed by individual disciplines in their projects.
---Generally: more variation within than between institutions as far as dispositions, epistemologies, and cognitive skills. Although some institutions lean towards different combination of the three than others.

Epistemological requirements of the work shapes the ways in which people and activities are best organized. Goals and products or ID work also impose constraints on criteria for acceptable outcome.

Dispositions: Sensitivity for ideas and modes of thinking embedded in multiple disciplines.
1. Broad curiosity--in multiple areas
2. Disciplinary-rooted open mindedness-- most often the result of feeling secure--because of accomplishments, in one's discipline--confidence helps feed intellectual exploration rather than hinder it. Requires understand somebody else's knowledge base and epistemologies.
3. Willingness to embrace risks--willing to participate in difficult and/or unexplored areas. Projects are also difficult, and since they can't be validated by typical standards, they are often prone to failure.

4. Humility: Desire for recognition and success can breed competition. A healthy skepticism regarding the very disciplinary perspective that one brings to the analysis of a problem.



Creating a Learning Organization - Nora Crowley, 3/12/09

In Is Yours A Learning Organization? Garvin, Edmondson, and Gino (2008) detail the building blocks of an organization that promote the process of learning, the sharing of knowledge, and the reflection needed to effectively evaluate the work being done. An organization that can identify its strengths and weaknesses in each category is in a position to learn, grow, and improve.

The first building block of a learning organization is a supportive learning environment. Such an environment allows for psychological safety among employees, an appreciation of differences, openness to new ideas, and time for reflection.

The second building block is the existence of concrete learning processes and practices. Garvin et al (2008) write, “for maximum impact, knowledge must be shared in systematic and clearly defined ways” (pp. 111-112). They go on to explain that knowledge can be shared among colleagues and between vertical rungs on the management ladder, and the sharing of knowledge often requires an internal examination of processes with routine reviews and reflection.

The third building block of a learning organization is leadership that reinforces learning. The authors explain that leaders who actively listen, and encourage dialogue and debate foster an appreciation for the learning process. Additionally, leaders must place an emphasis on reflection, evaluation, and problem solving so that the organization will develop a similar appreciation for those learning tools.

It is important to consider, however, that learning does not only happen among colleagues or along the management ladder. Learning can and should happen across organizational boundaries, and a leader who truly reinforces learning will look outside of the organization for new lessons, innovative ideas, and opportunities for collaboration.

Source: Garvin, D.A., Edmondson, A.C., & Gino, F. (2008) Is yours a learning organization? Harvard Business Review, March, 109-116.