Category Archives: Book Review

Guest Post – When Hierarchy and Unintended Consequences Stifle Humble Leadership

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Ed & Peter Schein make a great thought leadership team, This father-son duo draw from their experience and study of business and organizations to bring a much needed perspective to both disicplines.

In celebration of their new book “Humble Leadership“, Ed & Peter Schein have been generous to share this post. This is an excerpt from their book  -enjoy!

 

It was tempting to write this whole book around the amazing stories that are surfacing about Humble Leadership and the creation of Level 2 relationships in very hierarchical organizations. Retired general McChrystal in his Team of Teams (2015) and Chris Fussel in One Mission (2017) make it very clear that organizations now have to replace the efficiency of the linear industrial factory model with agility and adaptability as the problems they face become what we have repeatedly called complex, systemic, interconnected, and multicultural, that is, messy. Dealing with customers in an interconnected multicultural world will become as complex as dealing with fluid, invisible, polymorphic enemies. O’Reilly and Tushman (2016) make a similar point in their argument for organizational ambidexterity in that the economic and market forces are similarly fluid and unpredictable, requiring organizations to develop distinct subgroups that can respond differently as market and competitive conditions change.

McChrystal points out correctly that what makes the difference is not technological superiority but “the culture,” by which he means the degree to which the troops are trained not only to be precise about those things that really need to be standardized, but to be able to think for themselves and self-organize in those areas that require a new bespoke response. The stories reviewed here are all built on that assumption, but we have added that “the culture” has to be a

Level 2 culture and that transformation is only achieved by a certain kind of relationship building.

To create the agility needed to respond to a volatile and chaotic environment, McChrystal emphasizes empowering local units to be coordinated by a team of representatives from those units. The solution of having each team have a representative at a coordinating meeting to create “the team of teams” only works, however, if each representative has spent time in each team and established Level 2 relationships within each team. Otherwise it is inevitable that each representative would feel the need to argue for the values and methods of the team from which he or she came (in other words, digging in on one side of a technical, transactional negotiation).

 

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 About Authors

Edgar H. Schein is Professor Emeritus from the M.I.T. Sloan School of Management. He’s a pioneer in organizational studies, organizational culture and leadership, process consulting, career development. Ed’s contributions to the practice of O.D. date back to the early 1960s and continue with the recent publication of Organizational Culture and Leadership 5th edition and now Humble Leadership, co-authored with Peter A. Schein, co-founder of OCLI.org who brings 30 years of hands-on experience in large and small companies leading growth initiatives in Silicon Valley.

(images: https://www.humbleleadership.com/)

Guest Post by Dr. Dawn Graham – My Job Switch Is Killing Me!

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Dr. Dawn Graham, PhD is one of the nation’s leading career coaches. Her latest book, Switchers: How Smart Professionals Change Careers – and Seize Success is written specifically for people thinking about changing career paths. Packed with psychological insights, practical exercises, and inspiring success stories, Switchers helps these individuals leap over obstacles and into a whole new field.

 

What do the words “smooth”, “linear”, “rational” and “straightforward” have in common? NONE describes a job search.

Whether voluntary or not, the process of seeking a new position is often a sandwich of frustration and ambiguity bookended by excitement and anticipation. Similar to moving to a new home, you know the process will be worth it in the end, and can only hope the inherent broken dishes, crushed boxes and lost mail along the way will be minimal.

While this description may seem to lean toward the negative, research shows that happiness and satisfaction are more dependent on outcome in relation to expectations, rather than outcome alone*. What this means is that a little pessimism about the smoothness of the job search may actually keep your spirits up as things go wrong since you expect the hiccups.

In addition to setting realistic expectations, here’s what else you can do when your job search feels overwhelming:

  • Control what you can AND accept what you can’t control. Typo-s, arriving late, an unkempt LinkedIn profile or being unprepared are all things that can be eradicated from the hiring process for organized job seekers. Nailing these basics shows you’re a serious candidate. On the other hand, hiring bias, competition from internal candidates, and being ghosted are beyond your control in many cases,  so don’t allow these to shake your confidence or dampen your attitude for your next interview.
  • Change strategies. If you’ve been in a search for several months and aren’t getting bites or making it past the first interview, evaluate your strategy. Is there a red flag that continues to get in your way (e.g., career switcher, long-time unemployed, lack of degree)? Do you need to change your interview style, or perhaps your frustration or desperation are coming through and you don’t realize it? This may be a good time to invest in a career coach who can help you identify and get past an obstacle that you may not be aware of.
  • Take (unrelated) action. When Steven Spielberg couldn’t get his mechanical shark to work in the movie “Jaws,” he almost gave up. Fortunately, he took action, which led to a creative alternative (see here), leading to the movie winning three Oscars! While the last thing you might feel like doing when in a job search funk is going to the zoo or finally trying Vinyasa yoga, now is the perfect time to do it. Novel experiences inspire new neural connections in the brain, which lead to original ideas. Bonus: research shows that creativity is unleashed when physical activity is added to the new action**.

Bumpy, circular, irrational, and complex tend to be words that are tied to the job search. However, expecting a roller-coaster will help you maintain your sanity and make the entire process less frustrating.

Happy hunting!

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Dr. Graham is the Career Director for the MBA Program for Executives at The Wharton School, where she counsels business leaders on making strategic career choices. A licensed psychologist and former corporate recruiter, she hosts SiriusXM Radio’s popular weekly call-in show Career Talk and is a regular contributor to Forbes.

This guest post originally appeared on Dr. Dawn on Careers

 

Guest Post – Diversity of Thoughts Raises Complexity By Sunnie Giles

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Our post today is from author and thought leader Dr. Sunnie Giles. Dr. Giles’ latest book, The New Science of Radical Innovation, provides a clear process for radical innovation that produces 10x improvements and has been endorsed prominent industry leaders such as Jonathan Rosenberg, Daniel Pink, Marshall Goldsmith and Sean Covey.

“As we have seen, harnessing the collective intelligence of people from diverse backgrounds can solve seemingly insurmountable feats, impossible to solve by one super expert. To curate various interdisciplinary functions within an organization, or even across diverse organizations, and produce extraordinary results, leaders must be open to divergent views and flexible enough to seriously consider the merits of opposing views. Valuing diverse opinions requires asking questions more than issuing orders. Collective error is equal to the average of individual errors minus diversity (variance) of the group.

“Scott Page also mathematically explains that collective error is almost always smaller than individual errors, because collective error is equal to the average of individual errors minus diversity (variance) of the group. From this equation, we can surmise that there are two ways to decrease collective error: reduce the average individual error, by hiring smart people; or increase the diversity of thoughts from many people. It also highlights a potential risk: if we adopt other people’s opinions or mental models too much, we might reduce individual errors, but the diversity (variance) of the group goes down, resulting in higher collective error. This is a mathematical explanation for what happens in groupthink; people make irrational or dysfunctional decisions in an effort to conform to each other (as was the case in the space shuttle Challenger disaster). Everyone on your team must be valued and given credence to minimize collective error. This, in turn, raises collective complexity.

“The reason diversity lowers collective errors is that people bring different heuristics and perspectives shaped by their unique life experiences. Those who grow up in the Siberian tundra have a much richer vocabulary and perspective on cold weather, ice, vodka, and caribou, and see the world through those lenses. Those who grow up in a thatch-roofed house built on Rio Dulce in Guatemala have a completely different perspective on rivers, boats, fish, swimming, and tropics, and see the world through those lenses. Life experiences from different environments provide different heuristics, or simple rules, to handle daily challenges in life. When two engineers from these two completely different environments are put together on a team to solve a problem about how to design space meals optimal for weight and reuse, the resulting output will be much richer than if the two engineers had both grown up in Titusville, Florida. For challenging problems, we need a team, ideally made up of people from diverse backgrounds and with diverse heuristics.”

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About Dr. Sunnie Giles:

Dr. Sunnie Giles is a new generation expert who catalyzes organizations to produce radical innovation by harnessing volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity (VUCA).

Her research reveals that applying concepts from neuroscience, complex systems approach, and quantum mechanics can produce radical innovation consistently. Her expertise is based on years as an executive with Accenture, IBM and Samsung. Her profound, science-backed insight is encapsulated in her leadership development program, Quantum Leadership.

An advisor to the Stanford University Graduate School of Business, she also is a sought-after speaker and expert source, having been quoted in Harvard Business Review, Entrepreneur, Fast Company, Forbes, and Inc.

 

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