Organisational Change Management Volume 2

Potential Challenges at Ingredient 5

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(maximising connectedness)

(NB Challenges are not necessarily in order of importance and includes some suggestions on how to handle the challenges)

. Narrow and strong hierarchical organisational structure which restricts connectedness. In this situation, management takes full control of setting the organisation's objectives and determining priorities which implies that management possesses all the knowledge and expertise relevant to making decisions ‐ this is incorrect. Generally front-line staff are more in tune with what the market is doing.

Research is showing that what fosters committed staff is

"...less hierarchy and more autonomy, greater flexibility and a focus on results rather than hours..."

Joanne Earl (Gallop Organisation) as quoted by Catherine Fox, 2006i

Furthermore, communication such as regular feedback is important, especially from one's immediate boss

. A misunderstanding about what empowerment means, eg

"do what I say and act as if you like it"


"everybody gets to vote on everything".

The first statement implies that as far as decision-making goes, it is still in management's hands, while the second statement suggests that all decisions will be determined by voting. Neither of these 2 positions is an optimal depiction of the notions of connectedness and empowerment.

. Not realizing what empowerment means to staff; it means they

- experience self-determination

- they have a sense of meaning or purpose in their work

- they have confidence

- they have competence, and/or skills and ability to do their work

- they realize that their work is making a difference beyond their own job

. Formal and informal structures mitigate against connectedness, eg narrow job and team categories, restrictive information, and staff performance appraisal and reward systems encourage self-interest

. Management does not realise that empowerment means that they have to change their own management behaviour. Bosses often feel threatened by a "loss of control"as a "teams and empowerment"approach gathers momentum. They need to be convinced that they will reap the benefits of the team's good performance, or they need to be convinced to move on

. Cannot maximise connectedness unless a high level of respect for management by staff. People know if leadership is competent and it will have a direct impact on their motivation and enthusiasm. It is alleged that the short-term financial pressures on managers can result in their forgetting the people who work for them!!!!!

(source: James Hall, 2004b)

. Sometimes there are 2 concerns expressed by management:

- diffusion of accountability ‐ now the team is accountable and not management

- delays in decision-making ‐ because of the need to create a consensus

. Insufficient allocation of resources and training (including information) in how to handle empowerment

. Senior management pays lip service only

. Only asking for loyalty rather than commitment

. Obstacles are present including staff and blockages to creativity-facilitators (such as convergent and group thinking, win-lose situations and risk-aversion attitudes). Organisations should encourage:

- free communication

- the offering of risk-taking opinions

- the process of probe and question, discuss, compare and elaborate on ideas

- participation in divergent thinking

- an emphasis on problem-solving, working through conflict and avoiding dysfunctional interpersonal conflict

. People tend to interpret whatever information they receive in the light of their established mental models, ie have selective hearing loss (only hear what we want to hear, ie supporting current mindsets). If groups within an organisation operate on fundamentally different mental models, confusion occurs. This situation can develop when a transitional team has a different mindset from the rest of the organisation. Disengagement occurs. To handle this there is a need for

- cultural flexibility within the organisation - in some organisations, people are prone to being threatened by groups that work differently, and prefer that

"things should be done the way we have always done them".

This affects both the transitional team members, who find themselves implicitly battling to prove there is another way, and the rest of the organisation which may think differently from the transitional team. This is closely related to tolerance. Tolerant organisations recognize that they are a loose confederacy of sorts. While there exists a mainstream business focus and style, they accept that different parts of the organisation have different market opportunities and operate by somewhat different norms. This tolerance is a key feature that makes some organisations more adaptable; they are continually experimenting

- reflective openness within the transitional team - this involves the capacity for people to continually question their own assumptions. This provides a reality check against certainty and arrogance developing. Some questions that help

i) Do members of the transitional team continually challenge their own thinking?

ii) Do they listen to comments from outsiders as possible sources for their own learning?

iii) How inherently sceptical of any set of ideas, especially their own, are explanations for why things are the way they are?

It is very hard to be certain about what factors contribute to a team's accomplishments. The temptation is to hypothesize explanations, look for interpretations that best fit our experience. The more complex the change, the harder it is to explain with any certainty. It is important to develop reflective openness, ie to be continually testing our own thinking, so that we are less likely to confuse confidence with certainty.

. Assuming the team concept of management (including sporting teams) is applicable to all organisations and situations

. Not accepting

"...teamwork is a practice. Great teamwork is an outcome; you can only create the conditions for it to flourish..."

Jerry Useem, 2006a

"...The glue that holds any high performance team together is, integrity, honesty, transparency and communications, passion and enjoying the journey. The essence of performance is rock solid cultural values..."

John Bertram (captain of the 1983 America's Cup winning yacht) as quoted by Matthew Drummond, 2013a

. Not realizing that teams can gravitate towards group-think unless diverse skills and personalities are in the team. An optimal fit between personalities and job roles needs to be achieved. Skills include conscientiousness, creativity, resilience, diplomacy, etc, and team members should be allocated tasks based on both their personality and skill levels. For example, a conscientious person may be given the task of setting up a project and allocating roles. Also, these conscientious people can provide a role model of the type of dedication that is expected.

. Using language that others do not understand, ie jargon. It is important to explain complex ideas in a simple and accessible manner.

. While successful team working can reduce employees' work-related stress by allowing them greater discretion over their work environment and increasing job challenge, employee stress levels can escalate as a result of increased workloads and uncertainty about what is expected of team members under a team approach. Teams can be successful when they have a positive impact on issues such as job autonomy, skill variety and feedback.

. Not understanding the importance of power. Need to understand that the world is not just and that being good at your job is not enough. Furthermore, the relationship between rewards and competence is not strong. What is more important is the ability to project drive and self-confidence; being a pragmatist. Based on work by Jeffrey Pfeffer as quoted by The Economist (2010c), suggests that the way to gain power is by

- choosing the right department, ie the most powerful and/or increasing in importance, eg finance in America, research and development in Germany, etc

- ability to manage upwards

- mastering the art of flattery

- ability to network

- loyalty

- knowing when to leave

One of the keys to keeping power is to understand its corrupting effects. Most powerful people know how to cultivate a combination of paranoia and humility, ie

"... paranoia about how much other people want them out and humility about their own replaceability..."

The Economist, 2010c

Furthermore, powerful people have fewer health problems than people in lower status positions

. Team members not willing to put the team's interest first. One of the measures of success within a team is the degree to which team members put the interest of the team ahead of their own interests. This means doing things for others without regard to self-interest, ie what it means to me. Other indicators of success include

- number of team members (should be around 7)

- a prevailing acceptance that problems are "us and ours", not "yours and theirs"

- a recognition system that reflects team purpose

. Without clear directions and pathways by management, empowerment degenerates into chaos

. Attribution theory ‐ when things go wrong, people blame the environment, not themselves, ie inadequate machines, unsuitable processes, etc. People (management and staff) do not look at their own behaviour to see whether this needs changing

. Centralised decision-making which can be related to risk, eg high financial cost of a mistake (insurance and banking), or with ministerial embarrassment (public service).

. Over-relying on financial rewards to motivate staff rather than meaningful work, career paths, etc

. Staff do not feel that they belong to the organisation (degree of inclusiveness) if there is a lack of

- buy-in by staff into the decision-making

- career paths

- meaningful work

(NB Transformational leadership will engender a more effective shared sense of identification and transactional leadership. Furthermore, management has be willing to give up power to encourage inclusiveness)

. Not realizing to the importance of employee "self-efficacy" (workers' perceptions of themselves as being competent at work). Self-efficacy increases when workers perceive more autonomy, more clarity about what work to do and how to do tasks, and more support from supervisors and organisation.

. Confusing arrogance and self-confidence. There is a fine line between the two.

"...The true test of self-confidence is to have the courage to be open - to welcome change and new ideas regardless of this source. Self-confident people aren't afraid to have their views challenged. They relish the intellectual combat that enriches ideas. They determine the ultimate openness of an organisation and its ability to learn..."

Jack Welch, 2001

. Not understanding when to "manage loose or to manage tight", ie knowing when to meddle and when not to meddle.

"...I managed tight when I sensed I could make a difference. I managed loose when I knew I had little if anything to offer..."

Jack Welch, 2001

In the AMP's case, ex CEO Andrew Mohl used a loose/tight approach, ie

" was tight around values and strategy, but there's freedom in people's ability to deliver around that......I played a coach and supportive role..."

Andrew Mohl as quoted by Narelle Hooper, 2007c

. Underestimating the importance of having a staff and customers engaged.

"...research of nearly 2000 business units has shown that if companies......had customer and staff both engaged, the advantage can be stunning. These companies outpaced their competitors by 26 percent in gross margin and 95 percent in sales growth..."

John Fleming and Jim Asplund's book (Human Sigma, 2007) as quoted by Fiona Smith, 2007g

. Not realising that engaged workers are more likely to show up for work, stay at the organisation longer and be more productive. Remember: high staff turnover is very expensive.

"...On the average, replacing an hourly worker costs an organisation 50% of that worker's annual salary. Replacing a professional worker costs 150% of annual salary..."

Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever, 2008

The major costs include screening and hiring costs, opportunity costs for the period covering hiring until the replacement settles in and lost productivity during this time. Furthermore, there is the cost of low morale of staff who have to handle the situation until the replacement is found.

Furthermore, research has shown

" takes 5 fully engaged workers to cancel out the impact of 1 actively disengaged colleague..."

Dan Olson (Gallup) as quoted by Fiona Smith, 2009a

Also, it is claimed that low levels of engagement are due to the delaying impact of organisations, with managers being too busy to talk with staff, having too many staff reporting to a manager, etc.

"...managers shouldn't have more than about seven direct reports if they are to have the time to talk to them, mentor and develop them..."

Fiona Smith 2009a

. Not appreciating the link between happy staff and performance, ie happy staff perform better than unhappy staff.

. Not understanding the warning signs or symptoms of disengagement,ie

"...- tend to be less productive

- less loyal to their job

- more stressed and less secure in their work

- high rates of absenteeism

- bored with job and have very little enthusiasm

- lack attention to detail

- had poor planning and job scheduling skills

- don't meet deadlines

- conflict with management and other workers

- appear to have an excessive workload

- fear job security

- no longer contribute in meetings or offer view

- generally sit on the sidelines

- take long lunches, are disinterested, uncommunicative and careless......

They are every manager's nightmare - the bored, disengaged employees who are present but far from accountable. These are the workers who tend to sleepwalk through the day, putting time, but not much passion, into their jobs. They've checked out but are happy to cash in their paycheck ..."

Brad Hatch, 2004

. One of the problems of disengagement is that it has a negative impact on other employees, ie contagious, negative role model

. Not appreciating that for teams to be effective there is a need for clarity and understanding in

- team goals

- team performance scoreboard

- team ground rules

- meeting rules and procedures

- team record system

- Need to understand how to build trust in a team?  This can be done by exhibiting integrity and consistency in terms of how you make decisions, how you behave and what example to set.  Sincerity and purpose are also critical.  For people to be able to trust your competence and ethics, they need to know what to expect from you.  It is important to be open to people and explain to them your strengths, your weaknesses, etc.

- Not appreciating the critical role of managers in the process of handing accountability over to the team

"...Accountability needs to be handed over in a disciplined and planned manner. At each hand over, the manager needs to check that the team is ready (that is, it is willing and able to take on the accountability). Thereafter, the manager needs to check that the team is handing the new accountabilities capably, and provide support if means access to training, to expertise and to advice. Don't do the job for them; help them do the job..."

Harry Onsman, 2004d

  • Not realising the importance of trust in leadership in a team situation. The characteristics of trustworthiness (Nicole Gillespie, 2012) include

- competency (having the knowledge, skills and experience to handle the job)

- benevolence (people expect leaders to have their best interests at heart)

- integrity (adherence to a set of clear principles, such as honesty and fairness)

There are 6 ways leaders can build trust with their teams

i) empowerment (involves team members in all decisions and allows them freedom to make their own decisions)

ii) coordination (allocate tasks and negotiate expectations and resources with all stakeholders)

iii) coaching (encourage members to understand individual strengths and weaknesses, help members to meet their goals and look at challenges in different ways)

iv) share common values and goals (develop team values and goals that are shared by all team members and which dominate individual values and goals)

v) role model (be a positive role model on competency and integrity)

vi) benevolence (show openness, availability, transparency, fairness, honesty, etc)

NB One important way to build trust is to to share something very personal with others.

. Not realizing that there are several essential conditions which will allow managers to give staff the freedom to sell their own problems; these conditions are

"...a) staff have a relatively high role in a decision-making,

b) staff are 'ready' to take on the responsibility

c) they have a relatively high tolerance of ambiguity

d) they are interested in the problem and feel that it is important

e) they identify with the mission of the organisation

f) they have learned to expect to participate in decision-making..."

Tannenbuam as quoted by David Pitonyak, 2005

. Linking happiness with money and materialistic benefits, such as new car, house, etc

"...Research has found that for many, money keeps people from being unhappy but it does not make them happy......real happiness in a job comes from feeling valued and appreciated..."

Joanne Gavin as quoted by Lucy Battersby, 2006

Money and materialist benefits are more linked with short-term pleasure than happiness.

. Not understanding the link between work and other aspects of your life

" is difficult to be happy and healthy at work if you are unhappy and unhealthy in other aspects of your life..."

Lucy Battersby, 2006

. Not understanding that work-life balance is linked with connectedness and engagement. People with the right work-life balance know how to prioritise and focus on the high priorities; they do not waste time on the other areas.

. Not appreciating that the brain is a muscle that needs to be used and challenged around cognitive, physical and social activities, such as taking up a new hobby (learning a new language, learning to dance/sail, etc). For example, Churchill painted landscapes and Einstein played the violin. Furthermore, there are 4 pillars to brain health (physical exercise, balanced nutrition, brain exercise and stress management), ie

"...exercise for 30 minutes at least four times a week; eat a variety of foods of different colours; drink cold water; include fish and lots of green vegetables in your diet, but don't bother with supplements. And if stress gets you down, meditate or just breathe slowly for a few minutes..."

Joanna Maxwell, 2008

This will improve brain performance and build a buffer of reserve cognitive function for the future

. Not appreciating the the Golden Rule for the Brain, ie
"...think the least amount necessary to survive..."

Sarah Colley et al, 2015

To conserve energy the brain prefers to use the less energy hungry parts of the brain, like it automatic and routine functions (see other parts of this volume for more details). This is a survival mechanism developed over the 10,000 years humans have been on this planet.

. Not realizing that emotions and intuition play key roles in decision-making. Purely fact-based decisions are unusual. Research is demonstrating that emotions can be beneficial to decision-making; with the quality of decision-making depending upon context. Extreme emotions such as jealousy or rage are not beneficial but they are on the periphery. Empirical evidence has demonstrated that people with damage to the emotional circuitry end up making poor decisions in many settings. People who make decisions based on the emotions tend to be more committed to them.

. Not realizing the importance of empowerment ‐ this involves allowing people the ability to choose so that they have a sense of power and control of their own lives. This is sometimes called autonomy. Remember: people build up resistance to being continually told what to do. A more effective approach involves making suggestions rather than giving directions. To encourage ownership of decisions, people need to feel confidence, and to have participated and contributed to the decision-making process.

There is a real paradox in exercising power

"...your power as a leader increases as you give it away. Notice that this is not the same as giving up your power......Research has consistently shown, however, that when people feel they can influence a decision and exercise a level of control, they invest emotionally in the outcome..."

Martyn Newman, 2007

This is called sharing power.

. Not understanding the need to improve team performance and effectiveness by

"...1. Task performance: interpreting past performance and applying it to future tasks;

2. Vicarious experience: learning from other teams' performance;

3. Motivation: how knowledge is shared, whether team members are encouraged, supported and given feedback;

4. Psychological safety: whether team members feel safe putting forward ideas and taking risks..."

Tania Bucic et al as quoted by Catherine Fox, 2007k

. Not understanding the dilemma that faces most organisations, ie their current internal structures, competencies, cultures, etc do not foster innovation. Furthermore, future successes based on innovation are frequently seen as threats to the organisation's current priorities, practices, successes, etc.

. Not realizing that management needs to relinquish authority and give employees more autonomy to boost innovation and success, even during crises. It is claimed (A D Amar et al, 2009) that, to encourage innovation organisations need to abandon the traditional structure in which decisions-making is reserved for senior management. Many CEOs assume that leadership is about delegating tasks and monitoring results. It is more than this. It is about imbuing the entire workforce with a sense of responsibility for the business. This encourages individuals to be self-motivated.

. No understanding the important of bouncing back from failure are critical experiences in developing the necessary skills to handle change.

"...The school-of-experience theory, however, says that potential should not be measured by attributes, but rather by the ability to acquire the attributes and skills needed for future situations......the ability to learn what needs to be learned.....focusing on ability to learn, it is possible to avoid......the infinite list of competencies important for today are those that will be required in the future. Performance appraisal......focus on learning-orientated measures such as 'seeks opportunities to learn,' seeks and uses feedback,' 'asks the right questions,' 'looks at things from new perspectives,' and 'learns from mistakes'......the quest is to determine whether an employee is willing to learn new skills..."

Clayton Christensen et al, 2003

. In performance management understanding the importance of the intangibles, especially for knowledge workers. The intangibles such as trust, autonomy, constant feedback, motivation, etc are crucial indicators that can be hard to measure. Part of performance management involves

- defining performance (objectives, goals, KPIs, etc and expectations from both parties)

- providing support (ensuring that employees have adequate resources to meet the goals, plus appropriate skill development, coaching, etc)

- judgment and measuring (assessing if the employee's performance has, in fact, met the previously-agreed objectives)

- feedback performance information (providing information on the employees performance objectives, KPIs, etc)

The most common flaws are poor feedback and unrealistic goals

. Not understanding the law of unintended consequences, ie people respond in ways that are not necessarily predictable or manifest.

. Not linking performance appraisal/management with career planning/advancement, ie

"...employers were asking workers to become more accountable. In return, bosses were supposed to offer a career plan so staff could see the progress that might come from the extra effort...... employers......should have worked out how to talk with staff about their aspirations, how to come up with a pathway through the organisation, and to devise a plan for goal setting, experience and training that might get them there...... there are wide gaps between what staff want and what employers are delivering ..."

Fiona Smith, 2010n

This is linked with succession and workforce planning and includes skills acquisition, executive coaching, job security, range of jobs and experiences, better recognition, more status and financial rewards, etc

. Generally, it is assumed that staff turnover is linked with feckless workers. On the other hand, it has been claimed (Fiona Smith, 2010n) that most workers would prefer to stay where they are as they realize that changing jobs is stressful, as it involves

- ditching all networks of colleagues

- having to form new networks

- having to learn new systems and processes

- having to prove yourself to a new organisation

- having to commute to a new location.

Thus, staff turnover is more associated with lazy management and/or delaying of management levels has left no one to consider career planning, etc.

. For designing organisational structure, need to answer following questions to identify the 6 key elements:

i. To what degree can tasks be subdivided into separate jobs? (work specialization)

ii. On what basis will jobs be grouped together? (departmentalisation)

iii. To whom do individuals and groups report? (chain of command)

iv. How many individuals can a manager efficiently and effectively direct? (span of control)

v. Where does decision-making authority lie? (centralization and decentralization)

vi. To what degree will the rules and regulations be used to direct staff? (formalization)

Using the answers to select the most suitable organisational structure from 6 basic types: simple structure, bureaucracy, matrix structure, team, virtual/networked and boundary-less. An organisation could a hybrid of these basic types.

. Not understanding that some standard performance management practices can have negative impacts on behaviour, ie

- employee of the month (this can upset more people than it encourages. The rationale behind it is that by recognising a person will have a positive impact on the others. On the other hand, it is perceived as slighting more people than it rewards.)

- performance appraisals (do not motivate staff, improve performance and/or avoid legal problems associated with poor performance)

- stretch goals (have a high probability of failure; most employees respond best to goals that have a high probability of achievement)

- annual bonuses (an expectation is developed that they are a permanent part of the remuneration package. Consequently, some staff are tempted spend in advance in anticipation of receiving. Furthermore, the more removed the bonus is from individual accomplishment, the less effective it is.)

(source: Narelle Hooper, 2008)

. Not understanding ways to improve engagement within an organisation during a time of change, especially downsizing. According to Fiona Smith (2009g), ways include

- improve communications, especially by being available and visible to staff, ie walk around the office/workplace and talk to staff

- check that staff workloads are not unduly increased

- use "survival workshops"where groups of around 10 people gather to have the organisation's decisions explained (including future directions of the organisation, such as situations or conditions for more staff changes, etc) and are able to ask questions and vent their feelings. Other types of workshops can involve career management, developing resilience, etc so that staff members have more control over their own futures.

- ensure appropriate outplacement services are available

. Not understanding the link between engagement and productivity and keeping staff, ie

organisational development change management

Need to understand why staff work for the organisation and what their career aspirations might be? There is a real chance to build productivity and profitability through engaged staff

Use the above diagram to classify staff and develop strategies to handle staff. For example,

- the unengaged (20%) can take much of management's time with little benefit unless you can find ways to motivate their interest

- the wanting to perform group (40%) may need help through training, coaching, communications, etc to improve their productivity

- the business builders (20%) need to be constantly motivated, acknowledged and rewarded

- waiting for the next job offer (20%): unless they have specific skills that are needed in short-term, they should be encouraged to leave as they are not going to be long-term players in the organisation unless you can tap into their "passion".

. Not appreciating the value of informal brainstorming that can occur from a random conversations and/or relationships. Associated with this is the need to be careful of groupthink and too many rules, regulations, processes, etc. The latter elements can be introduced for understandable reasons such as to prevent mishaps or to encourage the right behaviours or keep control. On the other hand, these can hinder creativity.

. Need to be careful of creating complex processes, etc, to encourage the generation of ideas as these processes can hinder creativity. On the other hand, need to be careful of over-simplifying things, such as 6 steps to creativity, as this can restrict creativity. More often than not, the creative ideas involve discovering obscure or subtle elements that are already present but we have not realized their importance.

. Not establishing 3 conditions needed for sparking creativity and innovation; as identified by Lynda Gratton, (2007):

i) co-operative mindset - where people feel that they are working with, not against, each other

ii) boundary spanning - people need to come in contact with others who are different from themselves in expertise, geography, culture, background, etc

iii) igniting purpose - a problem to solve, a task to complete, a vision to pursue.

These 3 things are combined with productive capacity and the talent of people to create the necessary sparks for creativity.

It is interesting to note that around 60 percent of what we talk about is recycled knowledge - the stuff we already know. This highlights the need to bring in different people to interact with each other. The challenges are to create organisation where strangers meet and which tap into the power of the volunteer. It has been demonstrated that women have a large impact on the innovative capacity of teams, basically because they bring another viewpoint.

. Need to realize that to maximise the benefits of innovation it cannot be controlled.

. Organisations need to look for creative thinkers and people who can deal with ambiguity and complexity plus be good collaborators. Diversity, openness and a democratic society all help to encourage different and creative thinking. Most innovative people are motivated by a higher sense of purpose than just making money. For example, some innovators need to know what they are doing will make the world a better place. In Google, staff are helping people lead a better life, an easier life and even saving lives as people can find relevant information very quickly.

. The trend of people being employed in non-secure employment, such as contractors, freelancers, temps, etc works against innovation as people who feel vulnerable are not necessarily the best innovators, ie they will take fewer risks which are necessary for innovation.

. Sometimes innovation is the process of putting known things together that were previously unrelated; it is not necessarily finding something new.

. Need to understand that people prefer the status quo and do not like being pushed out of their zone of comfort. As a result, throughout history creativity has had a tough time

"...just as human beings have a conservative bent, one that militates against educational innovation and interdisciplinary leaps, human society also strives to maintain the current form..."

Howard Gardner, 2006a

For example, very few innovators are honoured during their lifetimes. In fact, most were discouraged, and/or ridiculed and/or denounced, and/or persecuted, and/or imprisoned and/or killed, eg burned at the stake, etc at the time of their breakthrough. Some examples include Galileo, Bruno, Bach, Gogh, Mendel, Freud, Darwin, Keynes, etc.

On the other hand, it is claimed that our era is different, with instant access to innovations via communication technology such as the Internet so that whoever wants to can produce it; most innovations have a very short half-life

Not understanding the need to facilitate creativity, imagination, novelty, fantasy, play, innovation, brainstorming and simplicity (see volume 5 for more on this). For example, play is the activity of the mind that allows you to develop ideas, approaches and plans. This shows activity in the right hemisphere of your brain dominates and is where spontaneity, intuition and thinking occurs. On the other hand, the left side is where detail-oriented and analytical thoughts dominate. Ideally, you should be so engrossed in what you are doing that you lose self-consciousness and any notion of time; you are in a state of excitement. In this frame of mind you will tolerate some drudgery as you are imaginatively engaged in your work. Furthermore, you are willing to have a go at difficult goals and accept some pain to achieve these goals. This is linked with a phenomenon called synaptic plasticity, ie stimulating nerve connections involved in the activity strengthens the neural pathways and makes what was difficult at first, easier the next time you try do it

"... people rarely succeed at anything unless they are having fun doing..."

Southwest Airlines has quoted by Edward Hallowell (2011)

Furthermore, play builds your brain as it stimulates secretion of brain-derived neurotrophic factors, such as BDNF which promotes the nerve growth; play engages the amygdala that regulates emotions; it has a positive impact on the prefrontal cortex which is involved in activities linked with management such as planning, organising, prioritising, deciding, scheduling, anticipating, delegating and analysing.

. Sometimes being the underdog can encourage creativity and success. Underdog status means you have to try harder and develop better ways of doing things, better products and services, etc. Examples of being the underdog (Fiona Smith, 2010m) include

- Silicon Valley (USA) which is known for its high-tech creativity is dominated by underdogs, migrants and 2nd or 3rd generation immigrants

- Amsterdam (Europe) is another pocket of innovation where 60% of people under 21 don't have Dutch parents

On the other hand, success can allow complacency to become established and stifle creativity.

. Not understanding how to make the best connection or "click"with others. Performance can be maximized by employing 6 elements or "click accelerators"(Fiona Smith 2010r):

i. vulnerability (willing to show some vulnerability or flaws in order to appear human)

ii. proximity (willing to get up close physically; face-to-face interaction is important; being part of the in-group by your presence)

iii. resonance (making people feel important by asking them questions; paying attention to them)

iv. similarity (people who have similar interests are attracted to each other; does not matter what the similarities are; need to zero in on similarities/commonalities and accentuate them; the more similarities the better)

v. environment (overcoming a challenge or adversity and consequently becoming part of a shared, defined community; talk about achievements as a group, etc)

vi. reflection (mirror another's posture and voice)

. Need to understand "psychosocial contamination"or "peer group pressure"(AFR, 2010a). When looking at friendships, the activity of friends can influence others' activity in the same friendship group. We underestimate our friendship influence (both positive and negative) on each other. For example, people watching a friend showing self-control will themselves tend to show the same restraint. Similarly, Weight Watchers use this peer group pressure and flow-on effect of someone in a friendship group making a decision about losing weight. Even though each friendship group is different and individualised, friendship is about being with people who have similar interests and being with people you like.

. Need to create an environment where mistakes/failures are learning experiences. If organisations and people are afraid of failures and intolerant of mistakes, this leads to a culture of risk aversion, lack of creativity and discourages thinking that leads to breakthrough successes. In this environment where there is more of performance-focus rather than a learning-focus, people will tend to hide mistakes/failure. Remember: a high failure rate is a hallmark of a creative genius; the most successful creative people have the greatest number of failures (Fiona Smith, 2010s). For example, Edison conducted around 700 experiments while trying to invent the electric light bulb.

"...I failed my way to success..."

Thomas Edison as quoted by Fiona Smith, 2010s

. With failures/mistakes it is important what you learn from them and grow as a result. Also, you can learn from others' failures. The learning experience is a stepping stone, ie

"...Instead of experiencing it as a post-traumatic stress, they experienced post-traumatic growth. And they didn't let a good crisis go to waste..."

Tal Ben-Shahar as quoted by Fiona Smith, 2010s

"...Most mistakes contribute to organisational and personal learning, they're an essential part of experimentation and a prerequisite for innovation..."

Amy Gallo, 2010

"...The best kind of mistake is where the costs are low, but the learnings are high..."

Paul Schoemaker as quoted by Amy Gallo, 2010

Some guiding principles on handling mistakes include

i) Admit your mistake quickly in a non-defensive way (this includes how to correct the mistake; focusing on the future, not the past; understand what factors are external and beyond your control; realise that we have the ability to manage outside circumstances not under our control.)

ii) Change your ways (explain how you are going to change your ways as a result of the learnings from the error; need to respond quickly before people make judgments about your competence or expertise, ie

"...You need to get on top of it, get ahead of it and deal with you can translate the mistake from a liability into an asset..."

Christopher Gergen as quoted by Amy Gallo, 2010)

iii) Use your support network (ask for help and advice on how to handle the situation you're your network both internally and externally

"...healthy support networks have 3 components: authentic trusting relationships, a diverse range of perpectives and is reciprocal..."

Christopher Gergen as quoted by Amy Gallo, 2010)

iv) Get back out there (need to re-build your confidence and not be afraid of experimentation, ie

"...mistakes are not signs of weakness or ineptitude; recovering from them demonstrates resilience and perseverance..."

Amy Gallo, 2010

Many organisations look for people who have made mistakes and have learnt from them.

v) Not all mistakes are equal (it is easier to recover from group mistakes as there is a diffusion of responsibility; if the mistake involves breaking trust, it can take time to heal the consequences and get forgiveness)


Some dos

- accept responsibility for your role in the mistake

- show that you have learned and will change your behaviour

- demonstrate that you can be trusted to make important future decisions


- be defensive and blame others

- make mistakes that violate people's trust as these are the toughest to recover from

- stop experimenting or feel inhibited because of a mistake

. Need to look beyond organisations on the private and public sector to understand how to find ways to harness loyalty and connectedness. For example, need to look at how communities work, eg social networks on the Internet, community groups like not-for-profits, sporting communities, hobby groups, etc. Thus

"...understand how and why......clubs have a knack of knotting together communities and for fostering goodwill between people from vastly different backgrounds......Imagine if a business could also harness this loyalty by taking a leadership role in the community that transcends the core products and service that it provides..."

Colin McLeod as quotes by Joanna Mather, 2010

Technology can discourage connectedness. Face-to-face contact is the best way to encourage connectedness. The use of technology, like Internet, has resulted in less face-to-face contact.

Underestimating the importance of small talk. It builds affinity and trust, and pays big dividends. Therefore we need to pay attention to everyone and notice personal details like new clothes, sad look, etc. Developing positive human relationships at all levels is pivotal in building connectedness.

Not realising that improving the weakest link in a team has a greater impact than bringing in a "super"star. This is based on research into soccer teams (Simon Kuper, 2013)

Not understanding the statistical phenomenon called "regression to the mean", ie an extraordinary period of poor performance will auto-correct. In sports it is related to players returning from injury, shots stop hitting the post, misses become goals, etc so that the shine of good fortune returns.


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