Why does our productivity rarely meet our own expectations? When planning our work, most of us make a reasonable effort to estimate how long we’ll need. While any given task seems perfectly doable on its own, when we string together a sequence of them we rarely achieve our target.
If we were as productive as we planned, we wouldn’t need to work overtime or sacrifice our weekends. So how can we get more done in the same time and be able to knock off work with no guilt or digital tethering to the office? (more…)
The ultimate prize promised by Theory U is the kind of transformational improvement that self-perpetuates. While even the most dynamic systems will eventually succumb to entropy, the Theory U approach is one possibility of creating an organisational shift that embeds a deep culture of learning and continuous improvement.
Change demands a step into the unknown. The fear of how things might turn out often trumps the sure knowledge that those very same things cannot continue as they are—regardless of how compelling the case. The image of a strong steel spring being held in the open position comes to mind.(more…)
Not long before I did my solo retreat in nature, I took part in a visioning exercise. The facilitator invited us to sit in our chairs, close our eyes and forget the rest of the group. He asked us to transport ourselves—alone in our chair—to a beautiful meadow, surrounded by mountains and forests, with a stream running through it.
As we heard the burbling stream and inhaled the crisp mountain air, he described a boundary on one side—a dry-stone wall with a country gate leading out of the meadow. When our scene was vivid enough, he asked us in our mind’s eye to rise from the chair and walk slowly but confidently through the gate. We were told we’d now crossed a threshold and were our future selves looking back on the person sitting in that chair. What did we see? What did we have to say to that person? What was our intent as we crossed the threshold?(more…)
It is paradoxical, but true, that even the most deeply systemic changes start because an individual wills such a change into being. This is not to say that the individual alone can make the change happen. Nor is it only the individual leader who has to go through a personal transformation.
Everyone on the team will need to undergo a mindset shift and find their own connection with the need for change and where the organisation is headed. What’s the story you will tell yourself?(more…)
My previous article, The U Journey: Stepping into Design, introduced a key part of the Design phase—the Learning Journey. This includes developing and testing hypotheses, soliciting innovative ideas from wherever they might arise, exploring the psychological and cultural frontiers of your people and organisation, and trying on new ways of working.
The principle purpose of the learning journeys is to create conditions that reduce the anxiety associated with change so the people charged with bringing the new into the world can have a safe space in which to practice the mantra ‘fail often to succeed sooner’. (more…)
The ‘Explore’ phase of the U Journey ends when you know where your vision is pointing and you start to consider what means will help you get there. A crucial first step of ‘Design’, the next phase, is the Learning Journey.
You’ve finished the Foundation Workshop and there’s a real sense of accomplishment. Order has been brought to the chaos of change. At a minimum, you have a vision of where you are heading, alignment towards your goal, a clear appreciation of where you are starting from and a program of work to get to your destination. The bonds between the members of the team are significantly stronger from taking deep dives into conversations that matter. You have a greater sense of the diversity of thought within the team and can see how those differences can be harnessed to synthesise something new which creates a whole that is more than the sum of the parts.
But change—deep, systemic change—is not the sort of thing which happens as a consequence of a single workshop, no matter how well prepared or executed.(more…)