Organizational Complexity is a Rapidly Spreading Virus that Needs to be Eradicated

This blog is a guest post provided by Jesse Newton is the author of Simplify Work; Crushing Complexity to Liberate Innovation, Productivity and Engagement. It is the companion to the Voice America Interview with Jesse Newton focusing on his book.

The Situation: An epidemic is affecting businesses large and small. This epidemic is debilitating complexity. The disease restricts innovation, limits productivity, disengages the workforce, and eventually leads to organizational failure. Debilitating complexity takes the form of unnecessary and complicated structures, processes, systems, rules, metrics, checks and balances, and so on. Businesses traditionally add more and more of these things as they grow. There seems to be an acceptance that as a business grows, complexity and complicatedness are natural by-products. And while complexity certainly does increase as businesses mature, it does not mean that it needs to stifle innovation and entrepreneurship. The same story plays out over and over again once a company gets to a certain size: the entrepreneurial leaders decide that their juvenile business is becoming an adolescent and want to be taken seriously, so they bring in an experienced “big company” professional. The big company person then sets about installing all of the “discipline” that a serious organization requires—defined roles and responsibilities, performance metrics, committees, strict common processes, and so on, and so on. Then, all of a sudden, people begin adhering to their newfound role expectations, they start to get lost in all the processes and paperwork, they become scared to step outside of their defined role, and spontaneous rich innovation becomes a distant memory.

The Data: In a recent study 74% of respondents rated their organization as complex. In this digital age, when technology is fueling rapid changes in consumer preferences and reshaping industries, it is critical that companies innovate well and fast. Companies that are bogged down in slow decision making, risk intolerance, and siloed protectionism are destined to fail.

The Cause: The current complexity crisis is largely due to many organizations holding on to outdated and obsolete methods of organizing how work gets done. These 20th-century approaches to organizational structure and management are strangling our productive and innovative potential. They are limiting the thinking power of our people and not effectively using the resources at organizations’ disposal.

The Imperative: From an individual perspective, how we protect and allocate our time and energy is becoming increasingly paramount. The most important resource people have is their time, and we are spending far too much of it on the wrong things. We are pulled in so many directions and have to spend so much time and energy navigating through a labyrinth of processes and structures that we have lost touch with what really matters. We simply do not have the time and energy to do our best work on the most important activities.

As we are working longer and longer on increasingly low-value work, we often don’t even realize it. We have become accustomed to the four approvals we require to do anything and accustomed to going through a leader to talk to someone in a different function. We’re accustomed to navigating through three separate systems to find the information we need, and we’re accustomed to dedicating a quarter of the year to complete the budgeting process. Let’s not forget about that report one of your leaders within the matrix needs; that clearly should take precedence over everything else.

Deep down we know something is not quite right. We are not spending quality time doing the work we were hired to do. We find that it is getting harder to stay on top of everything and enjoy a good balance or even a balance at all. This results in us simply checking out. Engagement scores across companies over the past 30 years have consistently decreased. According to Gallup, only 28% of the US workforce is engaged at work, the rest are either actively disengaged or merely not engaged.

The implication: for business is that things move too slow, people think and act in silos, it’s hard to get anything done, decision making is poor, innovation is missing, risk-taking is low, and it all leads to increasing costs and being left behind by more nimble competitors. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
Companies that are mired in debilitating complexity can break free of its hold. With strong leadership support and a clear approach for attacking complexity companies can re-energize their people by bringing back the laser focus, reducing the clutter and releasing the reins on innovation. The epidemic of complexity is spreading throughout the world of business and if it is not reined in, those that have managed to keep it at bay will leap ahead and those that don’t will fall by the wayside.

The Opportunity: What if we could take a fresh look at our businesses, reconsider what is really important, and start to focus our time and energy on those things that matter. Imagine the positive effect it would have on your people if you told them they now have permission to do more of the work they were hired for. Imagine their sense of liberation if you removed a big chunk of the activities that soak up their time: low-value training, compliance, meetings that should be emails, expense processing, report building, budget setting, clunky performance management, and so on.
The time is right to simplify work

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music, Audible,  iHeartRADIO, and NPR One.  Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

Jesse Newton is the author of Simplify Work; Crushing Complexity to Liberate Innovation, Productivity and Engagement. He is the founder and CEO of Simplify Work; a global management consulting firm that helps organizations throw off the shackles of debilitating complexity and reignite top performance.

jnewton@simplifywork.com

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10 Disruptive Leadership Trends for 2018

This post is the companion to a Voice America interview with Tracy Wilen, researcher and speaker on the impact of technology on society, work, and careers on VoiceAmerica “Innovative Leaders Driving Thriving Organizations” Digital Disruption: The future of Work, Skills and Leadership airing on April 17, 2018.

The world is in disruption! You are at the forefront of change. Increasingly, everything we do is impacted by technology from how we communicate with others, connect at work, learn at school, and live our lives. As technology continues to seep into our lives we become accustomed to it and dependent on it, putting pressure on workplace leaders, education systems, and even ourselves to rethink how we approach this divergent world of work, leadership, lifelong learning, skill development, and careers. The

continuing accelerated pace of technology and competitive forces is causing workplace environments to become more technical, diverse, and in need of leaders who understand how to deal with disruption.

This new landscape requires contemporary styles of leadership and new techniques for managing organizations. Today, there are unique pressures on company leaders, workers, and educators to change the ways they prepare and plan for modern-day jobs and careers. This interview and Tracey’s book, Digital Disruption: The Future of Work, Skills, Leadership, Education and Careers in a Digital World, offer educators, executives, and students a fresh approach for how to navigate the future to ensure success. They cover the key forces impacting the future of work, industries, leadership styles, skills, and education with a focus on how to remain relevant in an ever-increasingly complex digital world.

Here are the 10 disruptive predictions for 2018.

  1. Disrupted Society. Society is hyper‐connected, dependent and, in some cases, addicted to continuously being “connected.” And the expectation is that this will be increasingly the case. If you sleep with your phone, panic if it is missing, text numerous times a day, have numerous apps you use daily, frequently post selfies on social media, and buy most items on‐line, and are an Amazon prime member, it is a seamless part of your life. This is you.

 

  1. Disrupted Work. There are many shifts in the work place. One is extreme longevity, meaning many people will work 60 years to afford to retire. This also means a multi‐generational workforce. How we work together will need to change, in addition to how many years we work.

 

  1. Disrupted industry. We often hear about Uber, Air BNB and Amazon. Traditional industries are being disrupted at an accelerated rate. It is imperative that leaders pay attention to not only their industry but also those tangentially connected to monitor trends—and anticipate the impacts they will have on you.

 

  1. Disruptive Leadership. If work and industry are disrupted, do we need disruptive leaders? To compete, leadership needs to change because a VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous) world requires new kinds of leaders.

 

  1. Women as disruptive leaders. Women are Corporate America’s killer app. Women are skilled, educated, have modern-day leadership skills, collaborate, trust, see the big picture, promote employee engagement, and have in-demand skills.

 

  1. Disruptive Diversity. Diversity is strategic for disruption. Innovation and diversity go hand-in- hand invest in 2018. Delivering products and services to a diverse customer base means having a diverse design team and workforce.

 

  1. Disrupted Careers. With all the changes to work and industry, jobs will most certainly change. It is important to keep current with technology, make lateral moves and continually build skills.

 

  1. Disruptive skills. Everyone will need additional and new skills, for some people, Social Intelligence will need to increase, in a digital world. Do you see how you are perceived as a leader or team mate? Can you read the room and get a feel for what people think of you? Others will need to increase their ability to make sense of the increasing volume of data and turn the insights into action.

 

  1. Disrupted Education. Education must supply the world with capable people who can work, think and be relevant in the digital world they will work in. Integrated work and learning strategies is a path many colleges are taking with employer Internships, apprenticeships, job shadowing, and summer jobs.

 

  1. Disrupted selves. Are you taking time for a “career selfie”? Have you mapped out your career trajectory? Do you collect data and review your progress on a regular basis? If not, you are likely to be missing opportunities to make the series of small changes that will keep you current and relevant.

Disruption is on top of everyone’s mind. As technology rapidly accelerates, so does fear of the future. People are worrying about the impact of future technologies on our lives, how we lead firms in the digital era, our personal careers, and future jobs. Some people are tackling this head on and some are somewhat resistant or frozen in their track because the newness and pace of change. What are you doing in each of these areas to ensure you manage the disruption rather than being disrupted?

About the author

Dr. Tracey Wilen is a researcher and speaker on the impact of technology on society, work, leadership, education, and careers. A former visiting scholar at Stanford University, she has held leadership positions at Apple, HP, and Cisco Systems. She was an adjunct professor at several Bay Area colleges, teaching classes in business, technology, and women’s workforce topics. Dr. Wilen has authored or co-authored twelve books including Employed for Life (2014), Women Lead (2013) and Society 3.0 (2012). She has appeared on CNN, Fox, and CBS News and is a regular guest on radio and TV shows across the US as an expert contributor. Dr. Wilen was honored by the San Francisco Business Times as the Most Influential Woman in Bay Area Business.

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music, Audible,  iHeartRADIO, and NPR One.  Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

At C-Level #17: Embedding Transformations

Mike Sayre is a highly experienced and successful software, e-commerce, and manufacturing services CEO, COO, CFO, and Board Director. He is an Executive Leadership Development Coach with the Innovative Leadership Institute, a trusted partner inspiring and enabling perpetual innovation, evolution, and growth in leaders and their businesses. Mike was featured in Maureen Metcalf’s May 2017 Innovative Leadership, Co-creating Our Future interview on VoiceAmerica entitled “7 Characteristics of Leadership 2020 In Practice: A CEO Story.”

 

In At C-Level #10-18, I write about three of the most successful transformations I’ve had the opportunity to lead in my career so far, following a seven-step transformation model like the Innovative Leadership Institute’s Innovative Leadership Transformation Model below.

 

 

 

 

 

Embed Transformation

 

Merriam-Webster defines embed, “to make something an integral part of,” and integral as “essential to completeness.”

 

Based on these definitions – and my experience – for a transformation to become embedded in the organization, its purpose and initiatives must be essential to achieving the organization’s mission and vision, and how it operates every day.

 

Embedding transformations requires a well-defined purpose and initiatives that clearly

  • support the organization’s mission and vision,
  • have the total commitment and support of the organization’s leadership,
  • improve the lives of those responsible for making and sustaining the changes (Why else would they support it?), and
  • include implementing enough structure or process to make the initiatives easily sustainable long-term, with feedback loops and action cycles built in to keep them relevant to the business of the organization as it changes over time.

 

Also, important to embedding transformations is maintaining consistency in leadership and purpose. I would not recommend investment in transformational change if the window of consistency in leadership and/or purpose is not expected to be long enough for your organization to see the positive return on its transformation investments.

 

Are major changes in your organization coming that could disrupt consistency in the leadership and purpose of your organization?

 

Let’s see how we did in the three transformations I outlined in At C-Level #10:

 

  • Large Manufacturing Company. In our transformation to upgrade basic financial reporting controllers into true financial business partners in a large and growing company (our vision), we had two major initiatives:
    • implementing new automated accounting and financial reporting systems; and
    • creating a “controller-in-training” program to prepare up-and-coming and new controllers for the growth of the business and being true financial business partners.

 

By all measures, both initiatives independently met the requirements for success and were successful in this company, embedding many great changes in its financial organization for several years.

 

The system was essential and integral to the controllers’ function and gave them more tools and time for the reporting, analysis and business partnering for which we had hoped.

 

And, over about five years, the controller-in-training program had 40-plus participants, with over 25 percent of them landing internal controllerships – several being chosen for financial leadership in new facilities each representing investments of $100M to $200M.

 

These two transformation initiatives completed, changes were embedded in the organization, and the returns on those investments were realized.

 

At the overall transformation level, we lacked deep definition of our purpose and vision and how that supported the overall vision of the organization. We had not taken the time to dive into the details of what the controllers being business partners would really look like with some measurement of on-going success and sustainability, and we did not have any initiatives specifically for that. That lack of definition and clarity around the vision resulted in the same effect as having our purpose change.

 

So, while I’d say we made great progress toward the vision and embedded change through our initiatives, we fell just short in achieving our vision and embedding the overall transformation in the organization. Over time, changes in leadership and purpose came and more transformation in different directions followed.

 

If you are planning a transformation within your organization, is its purpose and vision well defined, including how it directly supports the purpose and vision of the overall organization?

Can you complete the transformation and realize its return on investment before significant changes in purpose or leadership start a new transformation?

 

  • Mid-Size Electronics Manufacturing Services Company. In our transformation “to be the best in the world at what we do,” with our mission to improve the lives all our five stakeholder groups, we had three major initiatives:
    • implementing Lean Manufacturing,
    • putting repair operations in Europe and Asia, and
    • developing and implementing a strategy to better leverage our engineering and manufacturing capabilities, and earn higher margin work.

 

The company very successfully implemented Lean Manufacturing, driving major change and improvement throughout the business, and becoming a new a way of life, the very definition of “embedded.”

 

A repair operation was acquired and expanded in Europe and a new operation set up in Asia with a trusted joint venture partner, resulting in robust growth in the high-end electronics repair business.

 

The new strategy to better leverage our capabilities and increase our margins was in the process of being implemented.

 

Then a major economic downturn hit that resulted in our losing the funding to complete the third leg of our transformation. We were forced to downsize the company in the middle of implementing our higher-value strategy. We had not implemented that part of our strategy quickly enough. Our purpose changed from transformation – to survival.

 

However, our completion of the lean operational improvements, international expansion, and downsizing carried the day for the company, quickly returning it to profitability and ultimately resulting in a successful sale to a much larger global company that was able to put it back on a growth path again.

 

I left the company during this time, so leadership changed as did the purpose. Remember, when leadership changes, there is a new transformation that takes place, whether it is stated explicitly or not – and it did for this organization as well.

 

Have you ever tried to implement major changes in your organization, only to have a new leader come in and change the direction and/or goals of your organization requiring a dismantling or major change in the work you were in the middle of or had just completed?

 

For much more on how this transformation unfolded for the company and me, please see At C-Level #1-8, about being a first-time CEO.

 

  • Global Internet Payments Company. In our transformation journey to turn around the culture, improve the operational and financial performance of the company, and increase the company’s value, we had three major initiatives:
    • a company culture change driven by a stated mission and operating guidelines, and a change in leadership mindset, communications, and actions,
    • the implementation of Agile software development in our company, which requires the involvement of all major functional areas of the company, and
    • new strategy development and implementation in marketing and sales.

 

By all measures, the initiatives were successful, as were we, in achieving our mission and vision of increasing the value of the company for the ownership.

 

Then, majority ownership of the company was sold at a markedly increased valuation over pre-transformation and new leaders were brought in to take the company to the next level. As in the mid-sized electronics manufacturing company transformation story, the ensuing purpose and leadership changes began yet another totally new transformation.

 

Key takeaways from these transformations

 

In all three of the above organizations, much was embedded and achieved in these organizations, including how these organizations were prepared for and adapted to major change. However, the overall visions of these transformations, for the most part, were never completely realized, due to changes in leadership and/or purpose over time, and for a variety of reasons.

 

In fact, the rate of change in our world today is, and for the foreseeable future will be, exponentially increasing! So, it is even more likely that the time frames for large transformations will get shorter and shorter as we move forward. This makes the organization’s purpose, the leader, and that leader’s purpose in life ever more important in driving focused organizational change and transformation every day.

 

That increasing rate of change also makes the ability of your organization to adapt ongoing with continuous processes to evaluate and respond to near-constant changes in its environment an absolute necessity to transform, adapt, survive and thrive in the future!

 

Today, 5S/Lean/Six Sigma and other continuous improvement processes are used to continuously improve products, services and processes, while Agile methodologies are used to run software development that continuously evaluates changing needs to develop and maintain more relevant software products.

 

These are all transformative changes that become embedded in the organization. Just remember that they are all means to an end – that of carrying out your mission every day and achieving your vision.

 

In addition, our individual and collective knowledge sets are continuously updated and expanded every day through online content, customized automated news feeds, the use of search tools, webinars, social media, et. al.

 

But what are people doing, and what specifically are you doing, to continuously update their/your leadership skills today, when the environment in which we are trying to lead is constantly changing, and the people we are attempting to lead are as well? See “At C-Level #9: Evolving Leadership for an Evolving World.”

 

In “At C-Level #18: Three Successful Transformations – Common Threads,” we’ll look at the three transformations we’ve discussed in At C-Level #10-17 and the key takeaways that you may need to think about in your own organization’s transformative journey.

 

Thanks for following us! For more information or help, please visit us at www.InnovativeLeadershipInstitute.com

Preparing Aspiring C-Level Leaders for Key Roles

This post is a companion to the interview with Mike Sayre, President and Chief Operating Officer of Metcalf & Associates on  VoiceAmerica “Innovative Leaders Driving Thriving Organizations” on May 16, 2017: Seven Characteristics of Leadership 2020: A CEO Story. An abbreviated version of this post appeared in Columbus CEO on January 25, Preparing Aspiring Leaders for Key Roles. 

Transformation is in demand. Building leaders and organizations of the future is now a requirement! A key responsibility of all leaders is to train successors. It promotes business continuity and key employee engagement, and helps manage business risk. While many organizations understand the importance, many have not found suitable programs to address this important activity, especially at higher levels in the organization.

The Columbus CIO Forum recently initiated the creation of a program to train CIO successors across the Central Ohio Region. Business and community sponsors joined to ensure the training and development had sufficient direction and resources to succeed, and that it addresses the CIO succession opportunities and challenges facing the community as a whole. This initiative is not a one off, it is part of how Columbus identifies challenges and creates cross sector solutions. According to a Harvard Business School case study focusing on the Columbus Partnership in May of 2015, “Cooperation and collaboration is the Columbus way,”

This community approach to succession planning for a particular profession is a novel approach to building a cadre of well-prepared business and technology successors for the community and deepen the leadership talent pool available across all sectors. This development is imperative for our organizations to thrive and for our leaders to continue to be successful. It also illustrates progressive thinking towards economic development and sustainability in our region and is attractive to organizations evaluating relocation of headquarters and/or business units to Central Ohio.

This program is designed as a year long program with six leadership development classes, four round tables with key business leaders and two social events to support network building. The in-person program sessions held at the Ohio University campus in Dublin include a forward-leaning leadership development curriculum augmented with a robust online offering of assessments, text and video study materials, and interviews with global and local thought leaders and faculty to illustrate the effectiveness of these concepts in action. The academic level of rigor equates to an MBA leadership class.

The model for creating this succession planning program:

  1. Define what success looks like – define a high-level model of the knowledge, skills, abilities and mindsets required to succeed in top level leadership roles now and well into the future. The Strategist leadership model developed by Metcalf & Associates was selected for the program. The CIO community also identified key development areas that they see as a priority for the program to focus on.
  2. Create a leadership program that builds leadership skills based on proven frameworks – offer class room training and self-study modules to build knowledge, skills and abilities, and provide opportunities to practice and integrate those into ongoing work. The program is drawn from an MBA leadership development program and leverages the Innovative Leadership program and book series by Maureen Metcalf that has earned international recognition. Metcalf takes an active role in the International Leadership Association, allowing her to bring world-leading frameworks to local programs.
  3. Balance skill building with tools and activities to build self-awareness and integrate skills into practice – in addition to developing skills required for leadership, creative tools, exercises and reflection activities help each leader build the self-awareness and leadership presence required in senior level roles. Practice exercises are provided in both the in-person and online portions of the program, and immediately applicable in the work environment. The program also makes extensive use of polling software to give the session facilitators feedback about session effectiveness and areas for additional focus.
  4. Learn from thought leaders and experts – provide a library of resources that support aspiring executives in building skills and learning from the perspective of a broad range of leadership experts and thought leaders across multiple fields, ranging from senior executives and government officials to leading academics. The online modules offer participants the opportunity to customize their learning experience to help them develop in areas they find most valuable. The Metcalf interview library covers key topics ranging from implementing analytics programs to major organizational transformations to building resilience in global organizations.
  5. Learn from successful executives – create opportunities for the participants to engage with senior leaders, leadership experts and thought leaders through round tables and discussions after the round tables to help participants translate what others do into what they will do when they return to work. The panel discussions allow leaders to engage with local thought leaders from the local community in robust discussion.
  6. Build a strong network of support within the field – create opportunities for participants to engage with one another during the learning process as thought partners and accountability partners. Additionally, offer networking opportunities for this peer group of aspiring CIOs within the CIO community. A key element of this program is building the senior IT community in central Ohio. The networking component gives leaders an opportunity to build those networks in a manner that is curated to accelerate relationship development and community building.

During times of significant change, leaders and organizations that continue to thrive will be those that perpetually innovate and evolve both the organization and the leaders responsible for running the organization. This level of innovation and evolution requires leaders to continually train successors as part of the ongoing effort to ensure organizations are prepared for the ongoing challenges they face. This program offers a model within Central Ohio that recognizes the need for a strong leadership advancement program across the IT profession and provides a robust solution.

The CIO Forum identified the need for this group and initiated the program by identifying business partners and sponsors to successfully deliver it. Metcalf & Associates and Expedient are key partners in creating and delivering this program. Check the link to learn more about the IT Leaders program.

About the Author: Maureen Metcalf is founder, CEO, and board chair of Metcalf & Associates; and is an executive advisor, consultant, speaker and author.

 

Combat Ageism With Leadership and Marketing

This blog is a companion to the interview with Karen Sands on VoiceAmerica “Innovative Leaders Driving Thriving Organizations” on October 24, 2017 Navigating the Graying Demographic: Rock Your Age and Manage Inter-generationally. It was written by Karen Sands.

Once in an Engage Boomers article on Mediapost.com, Expressing Herself: What Marketers Can Learn When Madonna Tackles Ageism, Mark Bradbury discusses how cultural attitudes about age commonly shift as people enter their 50s. Sharing negative ageist comments (e.g. “old hag”) made about, of all people, the vibrant, successful 56-year-old performer, Madonna, he inquires as to whether ageism is the last acceptable prejudice. He suggests that our satisfaction in life correlates to our feelings about aging, which should serve as a clarion call to marketers to provide realistic, positive images of dignified aging which ensure that Boomers can more easily embrace all aspects of growing older.

For decades, I have spoken at length about, and coached clients regarding, the need for marketing products and services to serve the fast-expanding over-40 demographic. I even devote a chapter to the subject of over-40 business wisdom in my #1 Amazon Best Seller, The Ageless Way. Here are just a few *sneak peek* excerpts below.

Everyone from solopreneurs to large corporations needs to recognize that this market is essential to staying in business in the future, or even in the present. Especially important is that Ageless Women themselves are in a unique position to serve this market just as they are in this market to be served. In other words, Gray is the New Green!

 As pioneering David Wolfe observed, “I believe companies are largely ignoring the largest and richest customer group in history for three reasons. First, stereotypical beliefs about older customers paint them as resistant to change, so why bother. Second, there is widespread uneasiness about how to market to older customers, so let’s spare ourselves the pain of failure. Third, people under 40, who are not in the same mental space as members of the new adult marketplace majority, dominate marketing processes. They relate most comfortably to customers of their own ages or younger.”

 Yet, the economy, business, and the workplace are all undergoing glacial change from the status quo, despite a combination of massive upheavals and a constant media focus on the aging Boomer population. Throughout history, chaos and major shifts have always been accompanied by renewed attempts to hold on for dear life to the (false) security of How Things Have Always Been Done. There is an ongoing conflict between the stories of our past and the stories of our future, and the battlefield between them is inevitably our present story…

 My message continues to be “Here’s how to stay in sync with the generation that keeps you in business.” I present to professional and corporate marketers, strategists and entrepreneurs (experienced and newbies) across many sectors. I attempt to wake up those who have the most to gain or lose in market share and reach if they close their eyes to the forty-plus market potential. While sharing my perspective on the truth about their future if they stay youth-focused, I cajole them by quoting popular lyrics like Fleetwood Mac’s “Yesterday’s Gone…Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow.” I warn them that they best get on board fast because their ability to monetize going forward will be based on their willingness to serve this enormous force field of new Boomer demand in the workplace, the United States marketplace, and around the globe.

 No matter your industry or field, those who recognize the new rules of the game will reap the benefits and gobble up market share. For starters the new rules are customer-centric, not product-centered, as has been the case for eons. At least until Millennials turn forty, youth no longer rules! But “Prime Time Women” do!

 Let’s get back to the here and now stats that should blow your socks off! Based on a briefing paper prepared by Oxford Economics for AARP it is estimated that “…a 106 million-plus market is expected to grow by over 30% in the next 20 years.” If you snooze, you lose. Any entrepreneur or service professional that ignores the enormous power of the Big Gray already on our threshold might as well kiss their business goodbye. To anyone not paying attention I must ask, are sure you want to leave money on the table by ignoring this forty-plus market?

 If you are not already serving or planning to serve the forty-plus market, you are not only missing out financially—you are missing out on the chance to align what matters with an audience that is consciously choosing companies that are making a difference as well as a profit.

 The aftermath of the Great Recession can seem like the worst possible time to focus your business on your values, but the opposite is true. Boomers are an indication of how your clients are changing. Living your values and focusing on what matters in your business is not only what you need, it’s what the world needs—and it’s what the world is willing to pay for.

 Businesses that want to tap into this trend must shift their focus from value to values, from the bottom-line to the Triple Bottom Line: People, Planet, Profits…

A finding in a Nielsen study projects that by 2017 Baby Boomers will control seventy percent of the country’s disposable income. Whether or not you like Madonna’s style… or that of the millions of other active, engaged, energetic, successful performers over 50 (for starters: Michael Jordan, The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Bruce Springsteen, Helen Mirren, Meryl Streep, George Clooney, Betty White, Denzel Washington, Hilary Clinton, Mitt Romney, Barack and Michelle Obama, Oprah, Nascar Driver Morgan Shepherd, or Yoga Teacher Tao Porchon-Lynch, 96…), there is no doubt that the new emerging story will be written by those marketers and product makers who recognize that it is worthwhile to get beyond the rampant malevolent ageism and misogyny in corporate marketing and product development decision-making.

What ways do you think the over-40 demographic can be best served by businesses? Have you seen examples of marketers already reaching out to this age group and doing it well? Have you seen examples of how savvy leaders and organizations leverage this workforce?

About the Author:

Karen Sands, MCC, BCC is a Visionary Game Changer and Leading GeroFuturist™ on the Longevity Economy, the Business of Aging, and Ageless Aging. An advocate for The New Story of Our Age, she is a “visionary with wrinkles” who empowers people to rock their AGE. High-impact Certified Master & Mentor Coach for visionary world shakers, conscious entrepreneurs, sacred activists and change makers 40+ who are ready to shape the world and their role in it. A Trusted Advisor and expert authority on careers post 40, midlife reinvention, Boomers and women 40+ in the new business of aging for go-getters who want to stay in sync with the people who keep them in business. #1 Amazon Best Selling Author, Firecracker Speaker and All-Around Trailblazing Game Changer.

The 4 Key Insights of Holistic Frameworks – An Intelligence For Planetary Survival

This blog is a companion to the interview with Christopher and Sheila Cooke on VoiceAmerica “Innovative Leaders Driving Thriving Organizations” on October 24, 2017, Navigating Through The Holistic Worldview Membrane to offer further insights into the deeper application of the science of Human Emergence. This post was written by Christopher Cooke.

The term, Human Emergence, defines a new understanding that explains how and why civilizations have shifted through 8 dominant paradigms over the past 120,000 years. Each shift can be shown to have been triggered by the inability of a given worldview to cope with increasingly complex problems. Such problems may be caused by nature, or more recently in the last 10,000 years mankind’s mismanagement of resources.

The most recent stage, the eighth stage, has become known as ‘a holistic worldview’. This worldview is an ‘intelligence for planetary survival’. It is minimalistic and seems set to ensure the recovery and regeneration of all life-forms on Earth. Compared to the conventional thinking of today this is a radical shift and whilst some individuals are increasingly able to think through problems from a holistic stance, the full utilization of this worldview is being resisted; it’s like pushing against a membrane.

One way in which this worldview is becoming visible is through the development and utilization of holistically-informed frameworks. Think of a holistic-framework as a basic structure that when applied stimulates holistically informed thinking. When such a stance is adopted it appears that decisions are made that can handle the ‘wicked problems’. This interview offered the Holistic Management Framework developed by Allan Savory as an example of a holistically-informed framework. This has been successfully applied since 1985, across contexts that range from national governance to agriculture. We also discussed how our work itself is supported by a holistically informed, Human Emergence Framework, that they have developed.

All holistically informed frameworks share the same 4 key insights. These are summarized as:

  • Key Insight 1: The Universe functions in wholes.
  • Key Insight 2: The primary principles and processes of Universe show through in all environments and life-forms, including the human body and mind.
  • Key Insight 3: There are biological and psychological life cycles.
  • Key Insight 4: Behavioral freedom varies according to stage of development.

For leadership and management today these 4 insights mean that:

  • Holism is a necessary awareness;
  • Decision making needs to consider the biological-psychological-cultural and social systems dynamics of the people and local habitat,
  • Timing is everything;
  • Solutions work when the appropriate level of thinking is applied.

One example is, using a diagnostic method from The Holistic Management Framework to help a farmer discover why a certain field had been overtaken by rushes in recent years. He had previously used the small paddock along a riverbank to graze a few sheep, and had tried a variety of different technologies to get rid of the rushes. He dug drainage ditches, cut the reeds with grass cutters, taken the animals away for long periods, and even applied herbicides.

Part way through the process that included his consideration of the health of his ecosystem, his previous decision making, the local cultural norms, and the typical technologies used in this locality, he had a big realization. He clapped his hand to his forehead and burst out laughing saying, “every technology I used naturally leads to rushes!” After further thought he said, “and you know, if you looked up on the Internet how to get rid of rushes, you would find a list of everything I tried!”

His final solution was to learn to use the animals as tools, to stimulate the growth of grass based upon a new awareness of the dynamic inter-relationship between the two species.

His discovery required the adoption of a holistic awareness; an understanding of the complex relationship between, climate, soil, plants, animals and humans; an awareness of the times of biological weakness of the grasses, rushes and animals; and the use of solutions that worked with natures flows, rather than using technologies that interfered.

Holistic thinking literally reframes everything we believe to be true!

If you wonder about your thinking and world view, we recommend you take the assessments created by 5Deep, click on shop and select Personal Emergence Bundle Assessments and Guides. This package is a great deal and Christopher and Sheila guide you through assessment use in their prior interview series with participants who took the assessments.

About the author

Christopher Cooke, (MSc. B.A. FellowRSA) is the founder and a lead consultant for 5 Deep. He is an international senior manager, consultant, coach, confidante, counsellor, therapist, trainer and qualified engineer, with over 28 years’ experience in pioneering and supporting personal and organizational change. He is focused on the release of latent human capacities to navigate gracefully through complexity, innovation and change. Christopher has become a leading figure in the practical demonstration of The Graves Technology, Spiral Dynamics, and Integral Theory since 1997. His commitment and focus has seen application in as many contexts as possible. To listen to other shows by Christopher and Sheila Cooke, check out their Voice America guest page for additional information.

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music, Audible,  iHeartRADIO, and NPR One.  Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

Proven Path to Leadership Maturity and Effectiveness

This post is a companion to the Voice America interview featuring Mike Morrow-Fox talking about leadership maturity and vertical development to build the leadership qualities required to lead large complex organizations and those that aspire to make the greatest impact.

The following article was first published by Forbes Coaches Council in August 2016.

Future trends indicate complexity, accelerated change, and near-constant uncertainty in the coming years. These conditions will require significantly different leadership skills.

With these new demands for evolving leadership, is there a predictable path to develop leadership? If so, what does that path look like?

Leaders develop both “horizontally,” increasing their ability at their current level of operation, and “vertically,” increasing their level of complexity, emotional maturity, and opening to new awareness. Many researchers are now saying that “vertical development” is required to navigate the complexities leaders and their organizations face.

To answer what the vertical evolutionary path looks like, I reference the research of Dr. Cook-Greuter, who developed a Leadership Maturity Framework (LMF) and measurement of adult development as part of her doctoral dissertation at Harvard University. Dr. Cook-Greuter is now the Co-Founder with Beena Sharma of The Center for Leadership Maturity, a firm that facilitates vertical development in individuals, teams and organizations. The LMF is the basis of my work with vertical leadership development because it provides a model that is both grounded in research and practical to use in coaching and leadership development.

Vertical development does not mean that more developed people are “better” people, but rather, in many cases, are likely to be more effective in key leadership roles within large complex organizations. The following is a brief summary of the LMF describing the predictable developmental trajectory people navigate as they grow:

The Group-Centric Level

This level is about conforming and belonging. People at this level follow rules, norms and observe hierarchy. They conform to social expectations, work to group standards, seek membership and approval, and appreciate outward signs of status as a sign of approval. They attend to the welfare of their own group; those who are not like them are the “other,” and therefore outside their circle of concern. They avoid conflict, think in simple terms, and often speak in generalities. Feedback is taken as disapproval since their driving value is to gain approval and be included.

Example: This is the employee who looks to what the group is doing to determine his actions. He looks to meet the “expectations” set by the organization, fit into the culture, and do what everyone does. Belonging is his key to success; standing out or having a different opinion feels risky

The Skill-Centric Level

This focuses on comparing self to others and perfecting skills. Individuals at this level focus on being competent in their own area of interest and improving techniques and efficiency. They aspire to quality standards and are often heavily invested in their way as the only way of doing things. Decisions are made based on incontrovertible “facts.” Given their focus on problem-solving and detail, they can get caught in the weeds and not see the big picture necessary to effectively prioritize among competing demands. All consuming attention on being right can lead them to be critical of and competitive with others. They hear feedback about their work as criticism of them as a whole person.

Example: This is the employee who points out when others make mistakes and tries to correct them so they can meet the standards. Her development efforts focus on building expertise. She usually has a “better” opinion unless she is in the presence of a subject-matter expert.

The Self-Determining Level

This focuses on analyzing and achieving to effectively deliver results. Leaders at this level look toward longer-term goals and initiate rather than follow expectations. They value objectivity and scientific knowledge, seeking rational, proactive ways around problems. They often seek consensus — “agree to disagree” — and value mutuality and equality in relationships. They accept feedback to promote learning and success.

Example: This employee continually drives to meet organizational goals. He works both efficiently and effectively and is continually competing with himself and others to drive the best results. He has a five-year plan, is open to new learning, and is beginning to be more reflective.

The Self-Questioning Level

This level focuses on self in relationship and contextualizing his/her experience. Leaders at this level are concerned with the difference between reality and appearance and have an increased understanding of complexity and unintended effects of actions. They begin to question their own assumptions and views and realize the subjectivity of beliefs; and talk of interpretations rather than facts. They can play different roles in different contexts and begin to seek out and value feedback.

Example: This employee is continually inquiring, challenging assumptions, and aware of the limitations of conventional thinking. She focuses on creating an environment where everyone feels valued. She is committed to appreciating value in different perspectives.

The Self-Actualizing Level

This level is about integrating and transforming self and systems, and recognizing higher principles, complexity and interrelationships. People at this level are aware of the social construction of reality — not just rules and customs. They are problem finding, not just doing creative problem solving. They are aware of paradox and contradiction in self and systems and learn to have a deep appreciation of others. They demonstrate a sensitivity to systemic change and create “positive-sum” games.

Example: This person is continually evaluating the organization’s strategy against long-term industry trends as well as global economic conditions while embodying her values and using herself as an instrument of transformation. She is self-aware and firmly anchored in principles while having the ability to adapt based on context.

As we look to the changes leaders are facing in the near and long term, it is helpful to have a robust model for development that allows them to focus their development energy effectively. This framework, along with it, measurement instrument — the maturity assessment for professionals (MAP) — is the most robust I have seen, and I find it highly effective in supporting leaders.

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music, Audible,  iHeartRADIO, and NPR One.  Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

About the author Maureen Metcalf, CEO and Founder of Innovative Leadership Institute, is a renowned executive advisor, author, speaker, and coach whose 30 years of business experience provides high-impact, practical solutions that support her clients’ leadership development and organizational transformations. Maureen is recognized as an innovative, principled thought leader who combines intellectual rigor and discipline with an ability to translate theory into practice. Her operational skills are coupled with a strategic ability to analyze, develop, and implement successful strategies for profitability, growth, and sustainability.

Black Holes and Taboos

This blog is a companion to the May 9, 2017, interview with Gary W. Patterson, CEO of the Fiscal Doctor on VoiceAmerica “Innovative Leaders Driving Thriving Organizations” on Board Black Holes and Taboos. This blog is based on an article by Gary W. Patterson published in Financier World Wide, Boardroom Intelligence. Gary and Maureen are collaborating to refresh the data and identify the most recent issues.

 

We invite you to take the new survey (5 minute investment) and help us update the results for 2017.

Carla was on the board of a high-profile company. Like many others, their industry was facing dramatic change because of the pressure retailers were experiencing. Her primary distributor was facing economic challenges and she wanted to diversify to manage the potential risk. At the same time, she wanted the company to pay attention to the speed with which competitors were developing new products and evaluate how her organization should pace new products to stay current and manage profitability.

Boards continue to govern in an increasingly complex business environment. Participants at the National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD) Annual Board Leadership Conference SUCCESS identified a list of twenty uncomfortable topics that board directors and CEOs sometimes gloss over. We believe all directors should be considering how they are performing against these criteria. We created an updated survey for you to evaluate your risk and encourage you to evaluate how you score on this 10-question board health check-up and identify where you might be experiencing your highest risk.

According to Gary Patterson, “Pressed by hard financial realities, leaders say they made it through the recession by hunkering down through the mean times and getting lean. They were forced to cut fat, then muscle, and finally bone.” They are so busy delivering the current products and services and focusing on meeting current objectives that they often don’t have the capacity to do as thorough an evaluation to identify future risks, as they would prefer. We live in a world where there is not enough money, people and time to fix all problems and pursue all opportunities. If leaders don’t think through the taboo topics, they can make suboptimal choices.

Gary grouped the top issues into five key categories:

  • True customer and service profitability: Organizations need to understand their business and how they compare to their competitors against current performance and against projected trends so they can proactively manage the opportunities and threats we will face.
  • Ability to handle change: Organizations are not putting enough focus on strategically identifying possible changes and conducting experiments that will give them data they can use to navigate new or different territory. This includes leveraging their best people and proactively performing succession planning and developing future and emerging leaders across the enterprise.
  • Overly optimistic financials and procedures: Organizations need to continually invest in innovation, including addressing structural barriers such as incentive plans and risk profiles to ensure they are positioned to stay relevant while not being overly leveraged because they tried to innovate too quickly or placed too many or too high-risk bets for their financial situation.
  • Opportunity cost: Organizations often play it safe a bit too long and hesitate to terminate products and services that are no longer supporting long-term profitability and may be draining resources. This happens for many reasons ranging from lack of sufficient data to thinking too conservatively about innovation and risk.
  • Situational blindness: Unwillingness to see and consistently address the “brutal facts” when they are presented including the regulatory concerns about executive compensation.

As executives and board members, it is critical to take the time to periodically evaluate these risks and mitigate them. Perhaps now is the time to get your organizational house in a little better order: to know, prioritise, and fix those high-impact issues that will not go away. With that process, you will better understand your risk profile and be more comfortable that the right big bets are being made on your business. Then, you can worry less about your million-dollar blind spot finding you before you find it.

About the author Maureen Metcalf, CEO and Founder of Innovative Leadership Institute, is a renowned executive advisor, author, speaker, and coach whose 30 years of business experience provides high-impact, practical solutions that support her clients’ leadership development and organizational transformations. Maureen is recognized as an innovative, principled thought leader who combines intellectual rigor and discipline with an ability to translate theory into practice. Her operational skills are coupled with a strategic ability to analyze, develop, and implement successful strategies for profitability, growth, and sustainability.

Level Five “Strategist” Leadership for Complex Adaptive Groups

Level 5 Strategist Leadership for Complex Adaptive CollectivesThis blog is a companion to the interview with Terri O’Fallon on VoiceAmerica “Innovative Leaders Driving Thriving Organizations” on May 2, 2017, What is A Level 5 / Teal Organization? This post was written by Terri O’Fallon, PhD.

The world is a complex place. We are connected and interconnected in ways from which we can no longer retreat with the Internet, and the contemporary ways that make us visible to every pair of eyes that look our way. So, how do we lead in this interconnected atmosphere that is changing so quickly? When we are continually connected to the internet, how can we know that any one fact in the sea of information we are swimming in every day is even true?

In today’s climate, much truth can come from within you, the leader, by knowing how to engage with the complex adaptable contexts we live in every day.

There are four strategies that support building working environments and systems that can improve a leader’s effectiveness and efficiency as a leader in a complex adaptive team or organization. These four strategies come out of the research from the STAGES developmental model which was derived by integrating developmental approaches related to: 1. our individual beliefs and values, 2. our individual action orientation, 3. the norms and culture of the team or organization and 4. the structural and systemic elements. Using these strategies will not only help leaders achieve their goals, but will make work a pleasure.

  1. Support developmental growth of the people in your organization.

We grow and develop all our lives. However, growth isn’t like climbing stairs to the top. Developmental maturity is more like blowing up a balloon. As a result, one grows and matures in wisdom, intelligence, compassion, and relationships, in addition to skills, and does so one breath at a time. Becoming familiar with these well-documented stages of growth is an important window into the worldviews and beliefs of individuals and how those views shape your organization. Promoting developmental change and understanding how transformation occurs can shatter a hidden glass ceiling that could be stunting the growth of people in your organization who are constrained by current organizational limitations.

  1. Embed goals in ethical principles that you will not sidestep.

Goals are useful targets, but they do not inherently have virtuous results. Part of success is being able to be adaptable with any goal or target as new landscapes come into view. Adapting goals quickly to changing conditions can inhibit unintentional negative side effects in an attempt to keep them alive and operable without adapting. Developing a set of principles that guide your adaptations can keep your revisions within ethical boundaries and enhance the kinds of results you want to achieve in the world. For example, if your principle is transparency, you would know right away if you were hesitant to be forthright about an alteration of a process in action, and upon examination you might discover unconscious underlying reasons for your hesitation in being transparent. Whatever the principles are, they can mold and shape goals and dictate how they are reached as they adapt to changing contexts. By deciding up front a set of principles you will not go outside of, you can quickly make decisions about any variations in your aims and be less apt to cause unintentional harm to others, to society, as well as to the bottom line.

  1. Experiment with small changes and then try them on yourself.

A strategist (level five) leader can stand back and see the systems s/he is working with as well as the organizational environment. This kind of leader can evaluate where the weak links are in the whole of the system and strengthen those places, often in collaboration with others. If the adaptation works you will see positive change in those who work in the organization, and one way you can know that your change is appropriate is if it grows you as well as others. You can experience this by stepping back into the system you have adapted and notice how you experience the change as it applies to you personally and through that lens, how it applies to others.

  1. Work with individual and collective shadow issues.

This is one of the most challenging parts of being a strategist (level five) leader as tested by STAGES. At strategist (level five), people are willing to take personal risks in updating their perception and behaviors, and in addressing organizational inconsistencies. The obvious one at this level is seeing your own projections (getting frustrated by others who have qualities you don’t recognize or acknowledge in yourself). You will know if you are projecting if you catch yourself judging someone or assuming something about someone, and after you reflect at the end of the day on these judgments and assumptions, you may begin to see patterns of behavior in yourself that bother you in others. It helps to write them down and provides you with a tool to evaluate that which you judged in others, in yourself.

The truth is that none of us can’t judge what is in others unless we have that experience also somewhere inside ourselves. For a simple example, when you are driving and someone cuts you off, you may find yourself extremely angry. If you can see your projection, you might ask yourself “Have I ever cut someone off in traffic?” Projecting our judgments is common and we are usually unconscious that we also own the same qualities we find annoying in others.

Identifying projections is very important because in organizations we may be finding fault with others for things we, ourselves, are doing. By identifying the projection, we are able to address our own disruptive behavior and change the relationship with others. After we have addressed our own behavior, we can invite others to do the same.

This approach helps you as a leader find both the challenging and positive capacities in yourself that you don’t see, and helps you see how much you are like others you judge or criticize. This understanding alone can help to build resolution in tense situations that inevitably arise.

These projections permeate most groups or organizations (collectives) . There will frequently be times when there are self-righteous and indignant accusations among people working together, between departments, and between organizations. Over time, unconscious collective agreements become organizational habits that can inhibit creativity and honesty and lead to ineffectiveness. Collective examination and identification of these unconscious, and often limiting, habits can improve effectiveness and benefit the whole of the organization and, potentially, innovation.

These kinds of projections are like putting a rubber band around a tree and then around your waist. You can stretch that rubber band only so far and it will eventually halt or slow progress—or worse, simply snap and throw you back.

We use the STAGES matrix to identify these hidden areas, to find the specific areas that need attention, and to create interventions that are effectively and efficiently targeted for healthy adaptive change.

To learn more about the StAGES model, and Terri’s work, visit Terri’s website, “Developmental Life Design

About the Author

Terri O’Fallon, PhD has focused the last 23 years as an applied researcher, Terri O’Fallon’s focus over two decades has been on “Learning and change in Human Systems”. She has worked with hundreds of leaders studying interventions that most result in developing leaders who can effectively implement change. She has a PhD in Integral Studies from the California Institute of Integral Studies.

Terri is, also, the cofounder of two organizations. She and Kim Barta have created Developmental Life Design, an organization that focuses on how the STAGES (developmental) model can support insight into our own growth as people, leaders, guides, and coaches, and how the impact these insights have on our influence in human collectives.

She also partners with Geoff Fitch and Pacific Integral using the STAGES model to develop experiments in collective insight and developmental growth.

 

What is a Culture of Innovation and Continuous Learning?

Nimble CultureThis blog is a companion to the interview with Guru Vasudeva on VoiceAmerica “Innovative Leaders Driving Thriving Organizations” on April 18, 2017 Nationwide’s Journey to Create a Culture of Innovation and Continuous learning.

Carla’s company had just decided that being agile would create a strategic advantage for them as a company shifting from manufacturing technology to a company that wanted to compete in the data and analytics space. One of the key challenges they needed to address was to shift from a culture of manufacturing for the telecom industry toward a high-tech culture of agility. The first task was to define the cultural principles and agreements about behavior. This blog offers some of the key principles they used to inform their transformation.

To successfully implement an agile or innovative business model, the organizational culture and behavioral agreements need to support agility. This culture model is a product of a combination of Agile software development principles combined with other innovative culture models. Each company will refine culture to align with their specific organization. Culture can make the difference between successful implementation and failure, especially when the organization is making a major change. This is particularly true when organizations move from a more traditional culture to one associated with agility and innovation. This culture model looks at five key elements that we consider foundational to create an environment and agreements that support agility and innovation in a rapidly changing environment.

  1. Customer first. Organizations that are willing to listen to customer recommendations and have a process to evaluate those recommendations have the highest probability of retaining customers and staying ahead of the competition. We create an environment in which we encourage our customers to offer recommendations and we evaluate them systematically to see how we can use them to become more effective.
  2. Collaborative. Organizations that work cross-functionally can create prototypes much more quickly than environments that work sequentially. This means every group and person must consistently have an opportunity to contribute their expertise. It also means we create an environment in which people feel safe to express their perspective.
  3. Rigorous experimentation. We value the creative process. We encourage people to develop hypotheses about how to make changes and test their ideas. We continually learn from controlled and well-crafted experiments. We reward innovation and learning.
  4. Nimble decision making. We recognize that we don’t have perfect information and a decision today can be refined as we learn from our experiments later. In an environment of continual evolution, we will never have full information and often we won’t even have sufficient information to make a long-term decision, but we often have enough information to decide about our next step. We need to know our long-term direction, and reward making decisions and keeping an open mind to revising course when we gain additional information.
  5. Resilient. We value adaptability, flexibility, and curiosity as they are the fuel for our process. Ongoing change requires we build a foundation of well-being that supports ongoing creativity and change. Resilient people respond to situations with an attitude of curiosity and the ability to act with flexibility and adaptability.

We recommend these elements as general guiding principles and corresponding agreements about how we work together as colleagues. When organizations have explicit agreements such as these, they can drive behavior and ensure that organizational processes are aligned. This alignment is as important as having principles and agreements. An example of alignment is retrospective meetings (also called lessons learned meetings) where employees are expected to explore what worked and what did not. These meetings only work if employees are rewarded for sharing what they’ve learned and not punished for making mistakes.

If you are trying to create a culture of agility and innovation, these are some of the elements we recommend you explore.

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music, Audible,  iHeartRADIO, and NPR One.  Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

About the author Maureen Metcalf, CEO and Founder of Innovative Leadership Institute, is a renowned executive advisor, author, speaker, and coach whose 30 years of business experience provides high-impact, practical solutions that support her clients’ leadership development and organizational transformations. Maureen is recognized as an innovative, principled thought leader who combines intellectual rigor and discipline with an ability to translate theory into practice. Her operational skills are coupled with a strategic ability to analyze, develop, and implement successful strategies for profitability, growth, and sustainability.