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A Positive Approach to Organizational Learning and

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A Positive Approach to
Organizational Learning
and Transformational
Collaboration
Frank J. Barrett, PhD
Professor of Management
GSBPP
Naval Postgraduate School
Overview
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Organizational transformation and learning
The start of transformation – breakthrough
insights
Case Study -- Gunfire at Sea: keep curiosity
alive.
Obstacles to innovation: success traps and
problem solving mentality
Steps toward positive change
• Generative learning: choose comparisons and form
questions wisely
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Power of positive image for learning potential
Finding and supporting innovations in your own
commands.
Anticipating the future
The Age of the Network
Small Groups
Hierarchy
+
Bureaucracy
+
Networks
+
Nomadic
Agricultural
Industrial
Information
160,000 BCE.
10,000 BCE
18th century...
20th century...
It’s not about Technology
Quotes from Feb 6 brief
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“Sea Enterprise’s success is based on trust.”
“Trust is the cornerstone.”
“The solutions to this can only come out of
collaborative relationships.”
“Enterprise is not a command and control
structure.”
“As excomm meets, it’s in a collaborative way,
they need to understand each other, they need to
appreciate each other’s perspective.”
“We have to work together to create performance
agreements.”
“We’re trying to spread what we learned in NAE
and SWE and push it to other warfare enterprises
to accelerate their learning.”
“We’re not yet sure how often we’ll have to
meet.”
“How do we know anyone’s getting this? Where’s
the feedback loop.”
Collaboration
Learning and exploration
Warnings: watch out for some
answers
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“We’re free – you don’t pay for me
so you shouldn’t care. But you
should, it’s dollars you don’t have for
other things.”
“We’re unique. “We’re only ones who
do this.”
“I know what the customer wants.”
“You’re building context as opposed
to managing context.”
-Roger Conway
“Learning should be a joyful
process.”
Kotter: create sense of urgency!
Shifts in Mission
Definition
Technological
Innovation
Funding
Shifts
Geopolitical
Shifts
Shifts in Warfighting
Strategies
New Partnerships
Destabilizing
Event(s)
Requirement
for
Discontinuous
Organizational
Change
Repeated urgency
Urgency Fatigue!
Leadership and Transformation
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Leadership is critical to the success of
innovation
Top leadership— Create urgency and readiness
for change
Middle leadership — Create a context for
learning, experimentation and collaboration
Deckplate — feel supported to explore,
experiment, contribute to new vision.
All three levels are required for effective
leadership of innovation
Planning and learning
Mapping Primary Value Streams
What should be considered as ‘main stream’ vs supporting in the
product line?
ONR
NAVSEA/SP/PEO
NAVAIR/PEO
SPAWAR/PEO
NAVFAC/PEO
NAVSUP
$
Owned process
value
cost
MPT&E
Installations
Health Svcs
Provider contributions: Reliance on other Provider ‘overhead’ (MPT&E)
Reliance on other product lines: The extent to which a product line to the FRE supports
another of my product lines (NAVSUP)
Outside support: Leveraging others’ resources (Congressional adds, other Services)
Define interdependencies
Navy Enterprise Structure
The Top Triangle
REQUIREMENTS
Demand
Signals
WARFARE ENTERPRISES
CNO
PROVIDERS/
ENABLERS
NAE
SWE
USE
NNFE
NECE
MPT&E
AT&L
Installations
OUTPUT =
READINESS/
CAPABILITY
AT
COST
Health
Care
S&T
CFFC/
VCNO/
ASN (RDA)
N8/
ASN (FMC)
PROVIDERS
RESOURCES
Completing the governance model
18
Short exercise
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A successful change you’ve
experienced.
An unsuccessful change that did not
quite meet your expectations.
Get together and generate lists.
Change formula
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Change = a X b X c > d
• (a) Awareness of present state X
• (b) Vision of Ideal Future X
• (c) Process for Change (especially first
steps)
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> (d) Cost of change (Loss).
Starting Appreciative Interview
(dialogue in pairs)
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A-->B (15 min)
B-->A (15 min)
Spirit of discovery
Take brief notes
At the end.. summary & thanks
The mystery of insight
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Where do we get images of a
possible future?
Starbuck’s
Insight
Strategic planning vs strategic
learning
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“Strategic planning in most cases is
10% strategy and 90% planning.”
• Willie Peterson
Strategic learning for innovation
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All breakthrough strategies are
based on unique insights
What kind of climate generates
breakthrough insights and innovative
strategies?
Hint: comparisons generate insights
Gunfire at Sea
“They are holding the horses.”
Gunfire at Sea
Discussion questions
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What was Scott’s motivation? How was it
possible for Scott to notice innovative
potential of rapid aim firing?
What was Sim’s motivation?
Why did the Navy resist Sims’ idea?
What was it about Sims that made him
ineffective as a leader of change initially?
What made him effective in the end?
What was it about the way the Navy was
organized that made innovation more
difficult in this case?
Gunfire at Sea
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Scott’s motivation: free to
experiment, passion
Sim’s motivation: adapt and improve
Obstacles to adapting: history of
success, lots of change; image of
heroism and careerism; bureau of
ordnance; tyranny of success.
Excess success  kills curiosity
Spanish-American War
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9,500 shots fired at various close
ranges
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121 hits
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Just above 1 percent
Continuous aim firing
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1898
Target – lightship
hulk
Firing done by 5
ships
Duration 15
minutes
Hits - 2
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1905
Target – area 75 x
25 feet
Firing done by 1
gunner
Duration 1 minute
Hits - 15
REST ON YOUR LAURELS… AND REST IN PEACE
Numerous examples of industry
leaders that have fallen…
Maintaining leadership
position is difficult
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Global
Fortune 100
100
45
...And relatively few that have
remained great
Top
100 in
1995
Still
top
100
in
2005
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The Innovator’s Dilemma
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Clayton Christensen, a Harvard professor, studied
firms that were responsible for “discontinuous
technical innovations” in their industries.
His conclusion?
Market leaders were almost never responsible for
bringing discontinuous technical innovations to
market, even though they possessed the
knowledge and capability to do so.
5. Technical
Discontinuity
Product Life Cycle 1
3. Dominant
Design
Product Life Cycle 2
Number of Innovations
Product
Innovation
2. Period of
Ferment
1. Technical
Discontinuity
4. Period of
Incremental
Change
Time
Patterns of Industry Evolution: “Punctuated
Equilibrium”
Discontinuous
Change
Drop-outs
Activity Incremental
Change
Disequilibrium
Drop-outs
Equilibrium
Drop-outs
Time
Success Syndrome
Outcomes
Success
Syndrome
Sustained
Success
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Codification
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Internal focus
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Insularity,
arrogance, and
complacency
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Complexity
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Conservatism
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Disabled learning
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Decreased
customer focus
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Increased cost
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Loss of speed
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Less innovation
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Capacity to act
problems
Environmental
Disequilibrium
Declining
Performance
Do More
of the Same
Continue doing
those things
that contributed
to success in
the past
The
“Death Spiral”
Denial and
Defensive
Reactions
From competency traps to “the art
of unlearning”
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Current methods seem reasonable
Successful firms don’t wait for crises
to occur.
Create opportunities to surprise
yourself.
Spencer Silver at 3M in 1964: “the
literature was full of examples that
said you can’t do this.”
Culture: the double edged sword
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Can provide competitive advantage
and long term failure.
Overcoming cultural inertia
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“Cultural inertia comes with
organizational age and success. . . .
Cultural inertia is a key reason for
managers’ failures to introduce
revolutionary change.”
• M. Tushman.
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“Fixing the culture is the most critical
– and the most difficult part of a
corporate transformation.”
• Lou Gerstner, CEO at IBM
Vietnam village and nutrition
Choose comparisons wisely
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Amplifying positive deviance
Your Experience of change
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Where have you seen these
dynamics in the Navy?
An example of an attempt to change
a unit in which people are so familiar
and comfortable with the old system
that has been working well?
Appreciative approaches to
managing change
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Discovering our strengths
Peter Drucker…in his most recent
book “The Next Society”
“The task of
leadership is to
create an
alignment of
strengths,
making our
weaknesses
irrelevant”.
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Constructionist Principle: The way we know is fateful.
Principle of Simultaneity: Change begins at the
moment you ask the question.
Poetic Principle: Organizations are an open book.
Anticipatory Principle: Deep change = change in
active images of the future.
Positive Principle: The more positive the question, the
greater and longer-lasting the change.
Narrative Principle: Storytelling makes sense of the
past and supports pathways into the future.
Two Kinds of Learning
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Problem solving
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Generative learning
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Identify problems
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Analyze causes
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Propose solutions
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Action planning
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Appreciate and value
the best of what
already exists
Envision what is
possible
Dialogue about
possibilities
Innovate
The unintended consequences
of deficit based development
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Conservative, limiting approach to
inquiry
Learned hopelessness: people
learn to live with diminished
expectations
Overlearned deficiency
expectation: we assume
something must be wrong
somewhere
Problem with problem solving
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Language of mystique develops
Managers develop self worth as problem
solvers
Fragmented view of the world: managers
become experts in smaller parts of the
system
Culture of defensive posturing: It’s not
my problem
• Skilled incompetence: looking good better
than being good
• Defensiveness discourages experimentation
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Vocabulary of human deficit
“YES” MEN
MISSED COMMITMENTS
Gap Analysis
Repeat Reports
TURF BATTLES
REORGANIZATION
New Circuit Failure Rate
Down Time
CUSTOMER
COMPLAINTS
UNFAVORABLE
WARNING
PERFORMANCE
REVIEW
Critical
Thinking
SILOS
TROUBLE REPORT
Spell Check
RISK
BURNOUT
BLOCKED CALLS
DEBUG
Red Tape
To a hammer everything is a nail!
Appreciative Inquiry is a Shift
“No problem can be solved from the same
level of consciousness that created it. We
must learn to see the world anew.”
“There are only two ways to live your life.
One is as though nothing is a miracle. The
other is as though everything is a miracle.”
– Albert Einstein
Many
Disciplines
Positive Images
of Future --->
Enhance
learning
• Positive Health…Placebo, etc.
• Pygmalion: We are Made and Imagined In
Each Others Eyes
• What Good are Positive Emotions?
Inspiration, Hope, Joy
• Imbalanced “Inner Dialogue”
• Rise and Fall of Cultures
• Affirmative Capacity?
Quick conversation…
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What areas—pygmalion, inner
dialogue, “what good are positive
emotions”, rise and fall of cultures,
affirmative capability—are most
interesting to you?
Other research? An experience for
your life?
Deficit Problems & Affirmative Topics
Deficit Issues
Sexual Harassment
Mid-mgmt. Turnover
Fear of Job Loss
Low Morale
Turfism/Silos
Delayed Orders
Customer Complaints
Lack of Training
Missed Commitments
Affirmative Topics
Positive Cross-Gender
Working Relationships
Creating Outstanding
Leadership
“Braggingly Happy”
customers
…the “Perfect Event”
Topic Creation: Examples
Transformational Cooperation
Healthy Multi-racial Relationships
Revolutionary Customer Response
Magnetic Work Environment
Outstanding Arrival Experiences
Business as an Agent of World Benefit
Courageous Acts of Goodness
Empowering & Enlightened Leadership
Genius is Creating the Question
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“What would the universe look like if
I were riding on the end of a light
beam at the speed of light?”
---Albert Einstein
Power of positive question
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What do you want to learn more
about?
What do you want to see more of?
What mental models or behavioral
practices, if they were alive and
present, would have a powerful
impact on the health and vitality of
your command?
Leadership and Transformation





Leadership is critical to the success of
innovation
Top leadership— Create readiness for
change
Middle leadership — Create a context for
learning, experimentation and
collaboration
Deckplate — feel supported to explore,
experiment, contribute to new vision.
All three levels are required for effective
leadership of innovation
Change formula

Change = a X b X c > d
• (a) Awareness of present state X
• (b) Vision of Ideal Future X
• (c) Process for Change (especially first
steps)

> (d) Cost of change (Loss).
Designing for learning
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What can you personally start doing
back at your command to design a
learning context for others?
Pick an opportunity within your
control or influence and brainstorm
ways you can create a culture that
enhances learning potential.
Take-aways
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Not every change is change
Organizational transformation starts with breakthrough
insights
Problem solving does not lead to innovation.
Amplify positive deviance
Creating culture that fosters innovation and
transformation:
• Start with the assumption that there is wisdom in your
commands.
• Spend as much time creating a vivid image of an ideal,
compelling future state.
• Discover and amplify strengths: Deliberately seek out positive
deviance
• Create a culture of curiosity: help others to discover best
practices, including their own
• Ask unconditional positive questions
• Encourage experimentation and risk taking.
• Approach errors as an opportunity for learning.
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Pick an opportunity within your control or influence: early
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