Category Archives: Management

Change Doesn’t Care If You’re Too Busy, It Carries On Anyway

Too busy to change? That is me. I would like to improve lots of things but I have to choose. The things I am not doing come at a cost. I hope I am choosing my priorities wisely. My job is to support the choices of others and the processes that will enable them to act. This is not easy because they are busy, too. bees

Being a consultant is a privilege. Clients trust us with their business, their careers and with supporting them through some difficult decisions. Each decision will require someone to change. They call us in because a problem exists. That problem is creating immediate needs and those need attention. Their capacity is stretched and without addressing the fundamental issues they will continue to experience dysfunction and have a reduced ability to lead.

So what is the solution? First, as a consultant I need to empathize with the demands leadership places on our clients. The result is to ask only what can be given and to make it easy for them to receive our support. For the client, it is to match their expectations to where they are in the process of change. Together we need to create shared responsibility for solving the root of the issue. The purpose is defined by what matters when their leadership is successful.

When the goal is met, not only have we all changed but they have also achieved a collective goal. This can mean safer conditions for employees, more housing for the vulnerable or a transportation system that carries people to work faster and cheaper. A commitment to tackling change consciously and head-on has a great reward. Our role as consultants should be to see clients achieve this success.

Empathy and Helpfulness are Required

  • Most of the time for desirable outcomes to be achieved the first people that need to do something differently are executives. The expectation is that they model the new way of doing things. They are willing most of the time. We need to make sure they are also able.
  • To accomplish organizational change we call them into steering groups and ask for their sponsorship. We require them to create the space to do the work of change. They brought us in for support and we ask them to do more. This is the challenge of leadership and with our role as consultants.

Our role as consultants should be to add to their capacity and yet we need their time and attention to be helpful.

  • Immediately the consultant should do some heavy lifting for them, connect the dots, do the research, review documents and get up to speed. Then we should summarize what we learn so they can make decisions. We should lead by leaving them with the decision but not all the work.
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Filed under Leadership, Management

Building Effective Consulting Practices – Leveraging team while maintaining the benefits of unique approaches

Like all good leadership, good consulting starts by being a great listener. All assignments start with a discovery phase where we learn about our client’s business, the people involved and the nature of the problem that we will address. This process may be intuitive and discussion oriented. The discovery may lead to more discovery and adjusted plans.

This discovery process is most effective when a systematic approach is intentionally used. The credibility of a tested and tried approach assures the client of professionalism and comfort of past results achieved.

As a consultant, we have a methodology to approach each unique challenge. We balance our questions with diverse probing. With my partners we use the Tekara Integrated Model to build our understanding of the root cause of the problems. We then design our processes with an evidence based approach.

Tekara Integrated Model

This process lends itself to qualitative methods. It involves client meetings, interviews and focus groups. Our interview protocols are unique to each consultant. They are influenced by the integrated model. The result of the listening has produced effective processes and happy clients. The limitation is the shared knowledge across consultant practices and the ability to explore continuous improvements to improve our collective practice.

Qualitative processes are effective when all the stakeholders for the engagement can be involved. They also provide good indicator information to understand the root cause of the problems being addressed. The limitation is the ability to scale the process across an organization or across a diverse group of stakeholders.
Quantitative processes are more scalable. The most scalable involvement tactic in an organizational context is a survey. Surveys provide a predominance of opinion and can be used as bench mark measures to compare pre and post assignment successes.

Social media tools are now offering new opportunities; however, social media data does not have tested and validated methodologies. This does not enable generalizing results back to the larger population. As a result, the counts and comments must still be viewed as qualitative data. With good context, still valuable but limited in terms of interpretation.

As a team, the survey can speak to what we value and enable a consistent set of organizational diagnostic tools. Over time we can refine our processes and compare our results.

The cost is clear. To become more consistent with our approach, while maintaining unique solutions, we have to become  more similar and then allow the situation to create the leadership intervention.

For this process to be useful, it must create new opportunities and improve client results.

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Filed under Leadership, Management, Planning

I Trust Nothing – You Probably Don’t Either

I was creating a presentation yesterday and came across a problem that I was not expecting. I had just created a series of slides about a coffee company that did a great job of aligning their brand statements with actual behaviour. They had noticed that the majority of customers were using disposable cups and through a great communications program they changed that to achieve 60% travel mug usage in their coffee stores. At the end of this case study I wanted to highlight the point that our behaviour is equal – if not exceedingly more important – when constructing our communication programs. We need to check our performance and enable our brands to align with what we do.

So here was the problem: what image speaks to the reliability or confidence that is created through aligning behaviours and messages? We used to think of Toyota but now what icon do we have?  As a society where are the big images that we instantly recognize as trusted?

The best my group of colleagues and I could come up with was Apple. Are we one corporate failure away from losing trust? Is it even possible, given our human failings, to build iconic images of trust in our media saturated transparent world?  It is possible that we may pay a price for knowing too much and sharing the good and bad sides of everything? Trust is a commodity that we seek to earn and maintain but are we able to achieve consistency and reliability as well? We may have to define trust as honesty about who we are and not the infallibility we may hope to achieve. Trust may really be about managing expectations.

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Filed under Communication, Management