Daniel Pink claims that management is an outdated technology. He stresses the importance of engagement and self-direction.
Check the other excellent resources at the Let Go and Lead website.
Daniel Pink claims that management is an outdated technology. He stresses the importance of engagement and self-direction.
Check the other excellent resources at the Let Go and Lead website.
Improvements in staff engagement in the Police can partially be attributed to technology innovations. The New Zealand Police have introduced technology that enables police to report incidents remotely. That information is then processed by administrative staff enabling the police to focus on their front-line work.
This is an example of how job design can improve engagement. Based on Hackman and Oldham’s job enrichment model we can ask questions such as:
Job enrichment model (Hackman & Oldham
Stephen Covey made an enduring contribution to both business thinking and personal development. His book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People published in 1989 has sold over 25 million copies. Time Magazine rated The 7 Habits as one of the 25 most influential business management books. He has featured in all of the Thinkers 50 lists from 2001 to 2011. But rather than continuing to list his achievements, I would like to focus on what Stephen Covey means to me – just one of his millions of readers.
Stephen Covey wasn’t just a business writer. His books crossed over into the realm of personal development. He bridged these two spaces in a manner rivalled by few. One of his other stand out books Principled Centered Leadership offered guidance relevant to both worlds.
A member of the Latter Day Saints church, Stephen Covey was a deeply religious man. For me, his integration of business and religious thinking has been inspirational. No one has done it better with that level of success. His model of intelligence exemplifies this integration. In the 7 Habits, well before emotional intelligence was popularised, he identified four dimensions of the self, the intellectual, physical, emotional and spiritual.
Later, in The 8th Habit, Stephen Covey applied this model to the business world. He advocates a “whole person in a whole job” where each of the four dimensions of the self are expressed:
The big picture
With his skills of integration Stephen Covey masterfully sketches out the big picture. His “five economic eras”, from The 8th Habit encapsulates human economy from the hunter/gatherer age, beyond the current information age, to his envisioned “age of wisdom”. He draws on Peter Drucker’s thinking on the massive leaps in productivity from age to age.
The great value in this concept is in understanding the limitations of legacy industrial age management processes when they are applied to information age contexts.
“Its no longer a world of controlling people, it’s a world of unleashing people”.
Stephen Covey’s clear articulation of the requisite leadership capabilities of the knowledge age focus heavily on communication. He offers lots of great communication tools and concepts such as the “emotional bank account”, but his greatest contribution in the communication realm is “voice”. When I first encountered The 8th Habit, I was a little cynical, thinking “how many other habits will be generated for future books?” But my cynicism evaporated with his masterful articulation of voice – the 8th habit is “find your voice and inspire others to find theirs”. This is an emancipating concept beautifully aligned with the needs of the age. For me, enabling voice, is central to the engagement process. Ideally, the loudest, or most powerful, or best resourced voice is not the only one heard.
Because he painted conceptually with such a broad brush, Stephen Covey’s work will remain relevant and will inspire for years to come. The concepts he articulates work at the level of principle and character and are therefore of universal application. May he continue to inspire!
This HBR post from Justin Menkes is another contribution to the ever-growing body of evidence that effective leaders are good people that care for others. As Justin Menkes states:
Only an individual who feels genuinely invigorated by the growth, development, and success of others can become an effective leader of an enterprise.
When reading this article you will find a strong correlation between effective leadership and engagement.
The renowned economist Jeffrey Sachs pinpointed the foundations of a prosperous economy in a recent article. He states: 
His post celebrated the life of the late Václav Havel, the Czech playright, who spoke out against the communist regime. His determination to speak out against the suppression of human rights by the communist government saw him imprisoned on multiple occasions. On the collapse of the communist regime, the new Federal Assembly unanimously voted him President of Czechoslovakia.
What is the connection with engagement? Among Václav Havel’s writings is the essay The Power of the Powerless where he decries those societies who force their citizens to “live within a lie”. He was a strong advocate for people having a voice. Moral leadership is about seeking the best interests of the community rather than pursuing a personal agenda. Being imprisoned for speaking out for others is strong evidence of moral leadership.
Corporations have the potential to be as oppressive as a corrupt state if they choose to pursue only their self-interest – and there is plenty of evidence of this (for example, the Enron story). Fortunately, there is a change of consciousness happening as corporates are wising up to the reality of a hot, flat and crowded world and the folly of a myopic short-term focus on profit. Whatever the motive, be it a crucible-forged awakening, altruism or enlightened self-interest, forward thinking corporates are manifesting moral leadership.
Sustainability is inextricably linked to concern for a broad range of stakeholders. To identify and honour stakeholder aspirations requires engagement and a willingness to hear their diverse voices. According to Jeffrey Sachs:
Without restoring an ethos of social responsibility, there can be no meaningful and sustained economic recovery. 
So thank you Václav Havel and thank you Jeffry Sachs for being two more voices pointing to a better way to work and live together on planet earth.
 from The Price of Civilization: Reawakening American Virtue and Prosperity by Jeffry Sachs
The way we are changing is changing. The predominant approach to change has been to mandate it. An elite, at the top of the organisation, perceive a need for change and direct others to implement it. They will anticipate some resistance and have some strategies ready to overcome it. Often this change will involve some type of restructuring.
There is mounting evidence that this type of change doesn’t work very well and may actually deplete rather than add value. For some organisations, the frequency of this type of change results in a series of self-inflicted, debilitating injuries.
A recent Bain & Company study of 57 major reorganizations found that fewer than one third produced any meaningful improvement in performance. Some actually destroyed value.
Twenty years ago, in her book The Challenge of Organizational Change, Rosabeth Moss Kanter and her co-authors identified two types of change, bold strokes and long marches. Bold strokes are big strategic moves, such as buying another company, generating a large capital investment, or developing a new product. Bold strokes are usually mandated by the actions of “one or a few people”.
Long marches are more operational initiatives such as merging departments, transforming quality or customer relationships. According to Rosabeth Moss Kanter, “they require the support of many people and cannot be mandated in practice”
Of course we will continue to need a degree of mandated change, and other stakeholders such as government will mandate external change. We just need to hope that the skill and ability to design and manage change will improve.
Too frequent use of restructuring will come to be seen as the corporate equivalent of the old medical practice of blood-letting and a sure symptom of dysfunction.
According to Rosabeth Moss Kanter, long march change will have more dependable long term results and is more likely to change culture and habits. She then elaborates on the enduring foundation of sustainable organisational change – decision making.
Every large and complex organisation has many thousands of people who have each day the opportunity, or are literally required, to take action on something. We think of these as “choice points.” For an organisation to succeed in any long-run sense, these millions of choices must be more or less appropriate and constructive day in and day out. But this is an immensely difficult problem, because it requires the ultimate in decentralisation – literally to the individual level – along with centralisation in the sense that those individual choices must be coordinated and coherent.
This same theme is echoed two decades later by Marcia Blenko in the Harvard Business Review:
In reality, a company’s structure results in better performance only if it improves the organisation’s ability to make and execute decisions better and faster than its competitors.
Her she is elaborating on the centrality of decision effectiveness in sustaining effective change.
Marcia Blenko’s establishes a link between decision effectiveness and employee engagement. Rosabeth Moss Kanter emphasised the importance of “choice points” throughout the organisation. And while the focus is on big business, even small businesses manifest thousands of choice points if we consider all employees and stakeholders.
Embedding a stakeholder ethos (including employee engagement) throughout the organisation will build resilience and adaptive capacity. Over time, it is more likely that those highly engaged staff will be making decisions and choices aligned with the best interests of the company. And over time there will be less need for mandated change.
 Rosabeth Moss Kanter, Barry Stein and Tod Jick. The Challenge of Organizational Change: How Companies Experience It and Leaders Guide It. New York: Free Press, 1992, page 492, 495
 The Decision-Driven Organisation, by Marcia Blenko, Michael Mankins and Paul Rogers In Harvard Business Review June 2010, page 57
In 1983 Judy Wicks started the White Dog Café in Philadelphia. It has become an exemplar for a community-based enterprise.
Where I live, community enterprise is slowly but surely being eroded as an increasing number of national or international chain stores supplant local stores. While this typically provides benefits such as cheaper goods the longer-term impacts are not beneficial for the local community (more about this in a later blog).
The White Dog Café started off as a restaurant, and remains a restaurant, but it has become the centre of a local network of suppliers, customers, employees and community interests. In the early years of the restaurant, Judy became increasingly troubled that the meat on her menu came from industrial farms. She changed to free range pork and then other meat and chicken and free range eggs. If produce is available locally, and is preferably organic, the White Dog Café purchases it in preference to imported food.
Initially Judy regarded locally sourced production as a point of difference for her restaurant, but her thinking evolved to consider the greater good and she went about engaging other restaurateurs in the concept. Her engagement with local farmers and growers created momentum for the establishment of the Fair Food initiative. Farmers and growers benefit from having a larger market for their produce locally. This animal welfare aspect of the White Dog Café remains one of her strongest motivators.
A restaurant depends on a web of services to operate. As Judy sorted out the produce for her menu, she became aware of a series of expanding possibilities to make the restaurant more sustainable and support the local community. She sourced renewable electricity and created a solar-heated water supply. Organic waste is composted and other waste recycled where possible. Local products are used whenever possible – for example locally produced soap is purchased for hand washing. For those products not available locally, such as tea, sugar and coffee, Fair Trade sources are used.
The invisible had works when we live in the same community.
Staff also benefit from the sustainability philosophy – Judy pays a “living wage”. The Restaurant also supports a number of local community service projects such as Crime Victim Services and many others.
The mission statement of the White Dog Café is “Serving our customers, serving each other, serving our community and serving the earth”. Business decisions are based on serving the greater good, growing consciousness and increasing happiness.
After 30 years in the restaurant business Judy decided to sell the restaurant to help her focus on the promotion of sustainability. She wanted to keep the mission of the White Dog Café alive, so she found a local purchaser and retained the rights to the name of the business. To perpetuate the sustainability agenda she set up a Social Contract that keeps the White Dog Café on the same trajectory. The purchaser is able to set up other branches as long as they have 51% local ownership. This video outlines Judy’s perspectives, the restaurant’s operations and the Social Contract.
Above all, Judy has show how one business can generate social good by building rich networks in its local community. Do you know of other examples?
image credit: Real People Eat Local
Some people say that you can’t teach leadership in a classroom. In some ways I agree, because learning leadership should be like learning to walk – something a baby finds difficult and scary, but evidently possible as there are so many role models doing it.
I have been teaching leadership for five years and one of the benefits of teaching, is that your “radar” is on continuously looking for real-life examples of theory. In my class I use two models from Dr Peter Cammock’s The Dance of Leadership. I love these models for their simplicity. My students have road-tested them and found them to be powerful and easy to use.
The heart of leadership
This model harmonises the two core fundamentals of leadership, knowledge of self and concern for others. Great leaders, from parents to more public examples of leadership are exemplify this. I think of Sir Peter Blake, who was so confident in his own ability, and so caring of his crew. Or my mum, who I never heard speak ill of anyone.
Surrounding the heart of leadership are four “qualities of character”. Peter Cammock has chosen integrity, faith, courage and passion. We could just as easily choose other qualities of character as I suspect that they all link to one another.
The envision, engage, enact model (3 Es)
While the “heart of leadership” models who we should be, the 3 Es model shows us how to lead.
At its simplest it is a three-step model: envision – engage – enact. This is easy to remember and relate to. Peter Cammock weaves these three core leadership roles into a prescription for leadership and change that is applicable to most human endeavour.
The three-step model elaborates to 10 steps. Good leaders follow this process naturally. They know when to talk, they know when to roll their sleeves up and get involved, and they can zoom out and zoom in to see the big picture as they need to. This is reminiscent of Ron Garan’s “orbital perspective” and Muhammad Yunus’s “worm’s eye view” from an earlier post.
The link to engagement
Engagement is at the heart of the model through the processes of connecting, listening and engaging, team building and networking and communicating.
Notice that Peter Cammock uses “envision”, rather than “vision”. This implies that the vision evolves through engaging and enacting. The vision may have originated with, or been adopted by the leader, but it is an organic vision that can grow an adapt as the engagement process happens. It is said that people own what they create, and if they have input into the vision, they are more likely to engage with it.
If you imagine “knowledge of self” as an aspect of an organisation’s engagement ethos, “concern for others” balances the organisation’s needs with stakeholder needs.
Leadership and change
The 3 Es model exemplifies leadership of change. The leader is in there helping people to create shared vision and working with the willing.
These models are simple and accessible. People understand them quickly and are able to implement them in simple leadership roles. It is preferable to quickly learn simple models such as these and put them into action, rather then take on lots of theory. The corollary of this is accepting that everyone can lead and the need for leadership is everywhere, from leading oneself to global change.
Do you know someone who exemplifies these models, or do you have an example of how they align with your leadership?
I have been blogging now, consistently for most of this year. I am starting to see the fruits of my labour as the search engines seem now to have discovered my blog.
I have been a student for most of my life, completing my formal education just a few years ago. Some of my experiences as a student were intense learning experiences, and most of what I learned was relevant. Blogging has been at least as intense as any formal learning. Why is this so?
While blogging, the central themes of stakeholder engagement and sustainability dominate, but I reference back to other disciplines that underpin them, such as communication, organisational learning and leadership, and from this mix, explore the world laterally and align areas of inquiry with these central themes and disciplines. For me, it has created intellectual discipline and a space for creativity that has enabled the generation of new ideas. The Communication Spectrum is a good example of the fruit of this process. I also enjoyed exploration of relevant “big picture” stuff, such as The End of Empires.
I am a Tom Peters fan. He has sold millions of books and started blogging in August 2006. In this video with Seth Godin he raves (as only Tom can rave) about blogging:
No single thing in the past 15 years professionally, has been more important than blogging. It has changed my life; It has changed my perspective; It has changed my intellectual outlook; It has changed my emotional outlook… and its the best damn marketing tool I have ever had.
While I am yet to harvest the benefits of marketing, I thoroughly endorse Tom’s comments.
In the same video, Seth Godin identifies blogging as a “free micro-publishing tool” and stresses its importance as a platform for people to express their voice and join conversations. Thus blogging is an essential engagement tool.
Given blogging’s potential to support intellectual inquiry and to provide a ubiquitous platform for voice, imagine the impact it will have on our world as it becomes more common. I believe it will, alongside a host of other democratising influences, provide great impetus for beneficial social change and the development of more cohesive communities.
If you lead an organisation, or are in an influential senior position, I hope you are blogging – it can only improve engagement.
Last week the NASA astronaut Ron Garan, and the great Muhammad Yunus addressed the Global Social Business Summit. They conveyed a similar message, but from totally different perspectives. Ron Garan is one of those elite who have seen the planet from the outside, and as with several of his peers, the experience had a transformational impact. They see things from a new perspective – the “orbital perspective”. Svetlana Savitskaya, the first woman to walk in space expressed it this way:
When in orbit, one thinks of the whole of the earth rather than one’s country, as one’s home.
At the conclusion of his talk, Ron Garan presented a spectacular video of the return to earth of his spacecraft, Soyez TMA-21 in September this year. Here is a short segment from YouTube. (The music is Peter Gabriel’s Down to Earth).
Soyez TMA-21 re-entry
Muhummad Yunus connected back to Ron’s talk beautifully stating how it is an “unfortunate thing that we can’t keep this home as a home for a happy family”. He then spoke about the worm’s eye perspective. When he returned to Bangladesh from study in the United States, his country was experiencing warfare and famine. He found his economic theories hollow and impotent in the face of human tragedy. When he went to the neighbouring village he learned about life from the ground level – the worm’s eye view. Here he is explaining the concept.
The bigger you grow – the more distant you get away from the ground level.
Muhammad Yunus’s strength is his ability to operate from both perspectives.
Following Ron Garan’s space experiences he has dedicated his efforts to improving life back here on earth. He is a member of Engineers Without Borders, the founder of both the Manna Energy Foundation and Fragile Oasis.
Although Ron Garan adopted the posture of a student before the master (Muhammad Yunus), both men epitomise the quality of leadership required for our “fragile oasis”.
On reading Harvard Business Review’s September 2011 article, The Higher Ambition Leader, I am struck with the parallels to the concepts championed by Muhammad Yunus and Ron Garan. The article extols the leadership by CEOs of companies such as Standard Chartered, an international bank. The bank’s vision is to be “the world’s best international bank” by “combining global reach with deep local knowledge to become the ‘right partner’ for its customers”.
The article is centred on studies of three companies whose CEOs manifest higher ambition:
to create long-term economic value, generate wider benefits for society, and build robust social capital within their organizations all at once.
These lofty ideals are achieved through creating powerful strategic visions, world class levels of engagement and a constant leadership focus on achieving the strategy.
The examples of Ron Garan and Muhammad Yunus, alongside the three companies featured in the HBR article illustrate the importance of engagement. Campbell Soup’s CEO “relentlessly drove progress on two measures: total shareholder returns and the level of employee engagement”. Employee engagement levels at Campbell Soup exceeded Gallup’s benchmark of 10:1 for world-class engagement. By 2010 the company achieved “a ratio of 17 engaged employees for every actively disengaged one”. Is it a coincidence that, for the six years up to 2010 Campbell Soup achieved a cumulative total shareholder return of 64% (S&P packaged food index return is 38% and the S&P 500 return is 13%)? I don’t think so.
The leadership described here is becoming the default standard of leadership. We need leaders with both the worm’s eye view and the orbital perspective – those who can focus on the needs of their communities and companies, while also committing to sustaining our fragile oasis and its communities.