Entries Tagged 'learning' ↓

Angela Crawford

Under the title of ‘Do more of what matters’ was published a blog on the Franklin Covey site. Much has to be learned from the story of Angela.

Last week in our web broadcast, we had several questions submitted that we didn’t have time to answer. We thought we would take the next few posts and answer some of them here. One of our participants, a hospital administrator, asked, “How do you keep employee morale up when you’re asking them to do more with less?”

The answer: Don’t ask them to do more with less.

Instead, ask them to do less of what doesn’t matter and more of what does matter.

Morale has little to do with how hard people work or how tough the job is. People will do extraordinary things and work incredibly hard if they feel their contribution matters. Most of the day job consists of carrying out tasks that somebody has to do. If one person now has to do the tasks of two people, you’re obviously going to burn out that one person. Instead, re-think those two jobs. Which tasks truly add value for the customer? Which don’t? Are you asking people to spend time and energy on things that don’t matter much just because they’ve always been done that way?

Talk with the employee about it. What does the person really want to contribute? What does that person think his or her customer really wants? Then start shedding tasks that interfere with those things.

An emergency nurse in a Chicago hospital who found herself all at once trying to manage one bleeding patient, another who was having a heart attack, and another who couldn’t breathe—well, she quit. Who can blame her? Some situations are just ludicrous.

But another nurse, Angela Crawford, moved back to her homeland of Barbados after many years working in a Canadian hospital. There she found incredibly overworked nurses. But after selling hospital administrators on the continuous improvement philosophy she had learned in Canada, every nursing procedure went under scrutiny. Mentors were assigned to new nurses. Procedures were simplified and bettered. She has sponsored health fairs and other methods for preventing disease, thus reducing the workload.

Today Angela is president of the Barbados Registered Nurses Association. She is known as “the nurse who transformed the Barbados health care system” and eased the heavy burdens of hundreds of her co-workers.

None of this was in Angela’s job description. Like Angela, you can use your own resources and initiative to help your people do more of what matters and less of what doesn’t. And then watch morale rocket upwards.

How can you start to do less of what doesn’t matter and more of what does matter? What else is going on in your organization? We’d like to hear from you.

Social Learning Theory – Albert Bandura

It is through NLP, a cognitive behavioural science that I became very interested with learning. Was it a return to an old project? Deep inside myself I had some inner wish to become teacher. I recalled whilst I was in my early adult hood, I spent some time seriously considering a career in teaching. I dropped the idea after some time. Yet my urge for teaching has not subsided. Much later in my career, circumstances prompted me to exercise my talents as a facilitator/ teacher. After my training with the Covey Leadership Center to become a certified Covey trainer and the advent of the IVTB program encouraging businesses to train employees, I found a niche. Looking back to the numerous Covey seminars I facilitated, I could only rejoice. I had hopefully help out a number of persons and arouse in them the need to continuous learning.

The world of learning is taking forms that never before were imaged. Teaching should not be the focus. Learning is the centre piece.

And now with WEB 2.0, we are in the realm of Social Learning.  Albert Bandura is a Canadian born most cited  psychologists  behind Freud, Piaget, and Eysenck and is still living.

Social Learning Theory (Bandura)

People learn through observing others’ behavior, attitudes, and outcomes of those behaviors. “Most human behavior is learned observationally through modeling: from observing others, one forms an idea of how new behaviors are performed, and on later occasions this coded information serves as a guide for action.” (Bandura). Social learning theory explains human behavior in terms of continuous reciprocal interaction between cognitive, behavioral, and environmental influences.

Necessary conditions for effective modeling:

  1. Attention — various factors increase or decrease the amount of attention paid. Includes distinctiveness, affective valence, prevalence, complexity, functional value. One’s characteristics (e.g. sensory capacities, arousal level, perceptual set, past reinforcement) affect attention.
  2. Retention — remembering what you paid attention to. Includes symbolic coding, mental images, cognitive organization, symbolic rehearsal, motor rehearsal
  3. Reproduction — reproducing the image. Including physical capabilities, and self-observation of reproduction.
  4. Motivation — having a good reason to imitate. Includes motives such as past (i.e. traditional behaviorism), promised (imagined incentives) and vicarious (seeing and recalling the reinforced model)

Bandura believed in “reciprocal determinism”, that is, the world and a person’s behavior cause each other, while behaviorism essentially states that one’s environment causes one’s behavior, Bandura, who was studying adolescent aggression, found this too simplistic, and so in addition he suggested that behavior causes environment as well. Later, Bandura soon considered personality as an interaction between three components: the environment, behavior, and one’s psychological processes (one’s ability to entertain images in minds and language).

Social learning theory has sometimes been called a bridge between behaviorist and cognitive learning theories because it encompasses attention, memory, and motivation. The theory is related to Vygotsky’s social development theory and Lave’s learning theories, which also emphasize the importance of social learning.

Energiser or De-Energiser?

That’s where the Energizer Effect comes into play.

This is based on the work of University of Virginia’s Dr. Rob Cross and his associates.

Dr. Cross and his team’s research with over 60 organizations on how to create a more collaborative culture, has revealed something that was at first startling to the researchers, but not so surprising once you think about it.

What they found was that the number one factor determining an individual’s overall productivity, and whether they were perceived as a ‘go to’ person, was whether they were a…

…De-Energizer or an Energizer.

In other words, people who uplifted others, who encouraged others to explore possibilities, who truly listened, and who showed respect for different points of view…

…These people made things happen.

Conversely, people perceived as de-energizers were avoided whenever possible. People didn’t want to hear what they had to say and would find ways to work around them.

In his writings, Dr. Cross identifies core behaviours of both groups:


  1. Communicate a compelling vision when advocating an idea.
  2. Create opportunities for others to make meaningful contributions.
  3. Actively engage others when discussing issues.
  4. Facilitate progress toward a goal, without forcing their preconceived agenda, but not wallowing in unproductive meanderings and time wasting meetings.


  1. Constantly air negative viewpoints.
  2. Fail to listen to others.
  3. Favor their own solutions.
  4. Do not keep commitments.

When asked about the what makes someone a De-Energizer, interviewees repeatedly talked about how De-Energizers:

drained the energy of the other co-workers and groups, stifled creativity and hindered progress on initiatives“.

Conversely, researchers reported that:

To a person, (our interviewees) indicated that energizing interactions enabled them to see new possibilities by integrating different expertise or perspectives. Energizing interactions helped overcome natural disconnects between people with different backgrounds and expertise by creating the social space – the mutual respect, confidence and openness – that enabled possibilities to emerge.

In terms of implementation, energizers excel at attracting others to an initiative and convincing them to act on their ideas. The energizer’s ability to enthuse helps them get discretionary effort – and more of it – from those around them.

Source: “Charged Up: Managing the Energy that Drives Innovation” from The Network Roundtable at the University of Virginia.

Are You More of an Energizer or a De-Energizer?

To find out, answer the following questions in this simple self-assessment. While Dr. Rob Cross’s original self-assessment consists of 8 questions, I took the liberty to modify some of his questions and added a few more:

  1. Do you make an effort to include relationship development in your day-to-day actions?
  2. Do you keep your commitments (and if you drop the ball, to you apologize)?
  3. Do you address tough issues honestly, openly, and authentically?
  4. Do you look for how things can work, rather than why they won’t?
  5. When you disagree with someone, do you examine and analyze the idea, rather than judge the person offering the idea?
  6. Are you ‘present’ and engaged in conversations and meetings, rather than distracted or multi-tasking?
  7. Are you open to others’ point of view or is your goal to show others why you are right?
  8. Do you use your expertise and intellect to facilitate discovery, rather than to display your intelligence or find a solution quickly so you can end the conversation?
  9. Do you look for opportunities to catch people doing things right, rather than point out their mistakes or minor slip-ups?
  10. Do you use humor to lighten the mood rather than as a weapon to put others down?
  11. Do you offer help to others rather than focus primarily on how others can help you achieve your objectives?

How to Put This to Use

  1. Notice the people you interact with over the next week. Notice whether you feel uplifted or drained after dealing with them. Notice if they’re an ‘upper’ or a ‘downer’ and then examine what did they do to create that effect. Use what you notice to ask yourself “Do I do these things?” (whether Energizers or De-Energizers).
  2. Pay attention to what comes out of your mouth. Ask yourself “Is it primarily negative or positive?”

a. Negative = focusing on what’s wrong, why things won’t work, gossip, etc.
b. Positive = the positive aspects of the current situation, hidden opportunities ideas for making improvements, contributions people have made, how helpful someone has been, the positive aspects of the current situation, hidden opportunities, etc.

  1. Notice if you focus on things you can’t do anything about, or on those things you can influence.
  2. When people are bringing up ideas or talking about difficulties, notice if you get into “It won’t work” or “Ain’t it awful” type statements. If you do, switch to possibility talk. Invite them to explore possibilities and how you, together, can make the situation work.

By practicing becoming even more of an Energizer, you will be doing what you can to improve morale, teamwork, and overall esprit de corps.

Good luck and… if you and your team are doing a great job with this, I’d love to hear from you.

This article is written by David Lee

Henry Markram on TED

Henry Markram ‘s presentation is incredible…I am fascinated…

In the microscopic, yet-uncharted circuitry of the cortex, Henry Markram is perhaps the most ambitious — and our most promising — frontiersman. Backed by the extraordinary power of the IBM Blue Gene supercomputing architecture, which can perform hundreds of trillions of calculations per second, he’s using complex models to precisely simulate the neocortical column (and its tens of millions of neural connections) in 3D.

Though the aim of Blue Brain research is mainly biomedical, it has been edging up on some deep, contentious philosophical questions about the mind — “Can a robot think?” and “Can consciousness be reduced to mechanical components?” — the consequence of which Markram is well aware: Asked by Seed Magazine what a simulation of a full brain might do, he answered, “Everything. I mean everything” — with a grin.

Now, with a successful proof-of-concept for simulation in hand (the project’s first phase was completed in 2007), Markram is looking toward a future where brains might be modeled even down to the molecular and genetic level. Computing power marching rightward and up along the graph of Moore’s Law, Markram is sure to be at the forefront as answers to the mysteries of cognition emerge.

“Markram refers to the robot as “science on an industrial scale,” and is convinced that it’s the future of lab work. “So much of what we do in science isn’t actually science,” he says, “I say let robots do the mindless work so that we can spend more time thinking about our questions.””

Jonah Lehrer, Seed Magazine

Itay Talgam Maestro Programs

You will recall in my earlier blog, I describe the wonderful experience I had couple of years ago in Melbourne attending an Ansett Airlines training seminar. Today, I watched a similar wonderful video on TED of Itay Talgam on collaboration and leadership.

Music and leadership are two of my favorite themes.

Itay Talgam finds metaphors for organizational behavior  — and models for inspired leadership — within the workings of the symphony orchestra. Imagining music as a model for all spheres of human creativity, from the classroom to the boardroom, Talgam created the Maestro Program of seminars and workshops.

Talgam’s workshops aim to help everyday people develop a musician’s sense of collaboration, and a conductor’s sense of leadership: that inner sense of being intuitively, even subconsciously connected to your fellow players, giving what they need and getting what you need. It’s this art of listening and reacting in the moment that makes for a swinging jazz combo, a sublime string quartet, a brilliant orchestra — and great teams at work.

“An orchestra … gives the conductor an opportunity to create an organized sound with one gesture. Everything is about nuance, and Talgam showed what nuance can do.”

“A chaotic cloud of sound hangs over the stage, while the instrumentalists of the orchestra practice their different roles in anticipation of the beginning of the rehearsal. As the Maestro raises his  hand there is a moment of silence. The magic then commences – from the hundred instruments comes one clear, unified and powerful sound. Led by the silent Maestro, each individual musician plays in perfect harmony working towards the shared goal – a magnificent performance”.

The “Maestro programs” were founded on the belief that, in the orchestra as in the work place, music has the power to create community and reinforce shared values. Music embodies knowledge and innovation, individual effort and collective achievement, and offers a work-environment that is full of opportunities for excellence and self-actualization – same as any successful business.

Why is music a successful metaphor for business?
Making music, in whatever culture and context, concerns such issues as communication, listening, rhythm, technique, preparation, improvisation and interpretation, rehearsal and performance. Concerts all over the world bring before us a great variety of performing bodies: large and complex symphony orchestras, intimate chamber music ensembles and jazz groups. Examining the diversity of organizational cultures raise questions concerning collaboration in general, including the roles (or the lack of them) of conductors, composers, soloists and accompanists. Different aspects of music making can provide stimulating insights into familiar management concerns such as leadership, teamwork, creativity, mentorship and personal development.

A new vocabulary, self-exemplifying process, fun
As well as being an excellent metaphor, music also provides an exciting new vocabulary for addressing these concerns. Entertaining in itself, and conceived as remote from the concrete tensions of the participant’s work environment, it provides a ‘safe’, non-threatening atmosphere for discussion and self-reflection.

In the process of learning, the “Maestro” facilitator-conductor orchestrates the individual voices and ‘rehearses’ with the participants, maintaining constant dialog, maximum sharing of ideas and viewpoints, in a way that calls for and encourages active participation. Thus the process is self-exemplifying of its messages.

The Medici Effect


I was fascinated in reading the mind map of the book ‘The Medici effect’ by Frans Johansson last night. I guessed by the name Medici that it had to do with the intersection of culture as it happened in middle age 14th – 16th century in Florence Italy. I had read about Catherine de Medicis who was a Queen of France and I recalled that France had retained la ‘Villa Medicis’ in Rome as a venue for developing Creativity & Culture at ‘L’Académie de France’.

I wonder with the confluence of cultures and ethnics Mauritius could be a nexus point to further develop creativity. Already, a new fusion cuisine is finding its way. Nowhere in the world have I eaten a Mauritian fried noodle, a dhal puri or a roti Manillal. Marlin fumé could well be promoted as an innovative product. Papaye tapé & Pickled Pineapple, green mango & cucumber are gourmet dishes to be developed and promoted.

‘Metissage’ is the term I would promote as the intersection of the ingenious background of our population. Our cooks in Mauritius are using a paint stripper heat torch to darken and render the crust of their crème brulé!

I am happy to reproduce the introduction to the book.



Frans Johansson

Pe t e r ’ s c a f é sits on a hillside in Horta, a port city on one of the Azores islands in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. By the time you reach the docks in the harbour, you can tell that this place is special. Bright, colorful paintings of sailboats and flags line the piers—hundreds and hundreds of them, drawn by visiting captains and crew members from every corner of the globe. Horta is the one place between the Americas and Europe where world-traveling sailors stop to take a break. Some are heading toward Fiji, others to Spain. Some are on their second tour around the world; others are simply resting before the last leg to Brazil. They come from different backgrounds

and cultures. And all of them converge upon the rustic-looking Peter’s Café. Here they can pick up year-old letters from other world travelers or just sit and talk over a beer or a glass of Madeira.

When I saw this place for the first time, I realized that the serene environment of the café actually concealed a chaotic universe. The café was filled with ideas and viewpoints from all corners of the world, and these ideas were intermingling and colliding with each other.

“Get this, they don’t use hooks when fishing for marlin in Cuba,”

one visitor says.

“So what do they use?” another asks.

“Rags. The lure is covered in rags. When the fish strikes the rag, it wraps around the fish bill and won’t let go because of the friction. The fish don’t get hurt and can be released, no problem.”

“That’s pretty neat. Maybe we could use something like that. . . .”

The people here participate in what seems like an almost random combination of ideas. One conversation leads into another, and it is difficult to guess what idea will come up next. Peter’s Café is a nexus point in the world, one of the most extreme I have ever seen.

There is another place just like Peter’s Café, but it is not in the Azores. It is in our minds. It is a place where different cultures, domains, and disciplines stream together toward a single point. They connect,

allowing for established concepts to clash and combine, ultimately forming a multitude of new, groundbreaking ideas. This place, where the different fields meet, is what I call the Intersection. And the explosion of remarkable innovations that you find there is what I call the Medici Effect. This book is about how to create it.

Creating the Medici Effect

The idea behind this book is simple: When you step into an intersection of fields, disciplines, or cultures, you can combine existing concepts into a large number of extraordinary new ideas. The name I have given this phenomenon, the Medici Effect, comes from a remarkable burst of creativity in fifteenth-century Italy.

The Medicis were a banking family in Florence who funded creators from a wide range of disciplines. Thanks to this family and a few others like it, sculptors, scientists, poets, philosophers, financiers, painters, and architects converged upon the city of Florence. There they found each other, learned from one another, and broke down

barriers between disciplines and cultures. Together they forged a new world based on new ideas—what became known as the Renaissance. As a result, the city became the epicenter of a creative explosion, one of the most innovative eras in history. The effects of the Medici family can be felt even to this day.

We, too, can create the Medici Effect. We can ignite this explosion of extraordinary ideas and take advantage of it as individuals, as teams, and as organizations. We can do it by bringing together different disciplines

and cultures and searching for the places where they connect. The Medici Effect will show you how to find such intersectional ideas and make them happen. This book is not about the Renaissance era, nor is it about the

Medici family. Rather, it is about those elements that made that era possible. It is about what happens when you step into an intersection of different disciplines and cultures, and bring the ideas you find there to life.

Surprising Insight

Mick Pearce, an architect with an interest in ecology, accepted an intriguing challenge from Old Mutual, an insurance and real estate conglomerate: Build an attractive, functioning office building that uses no air conditioning. Oh, and do it in Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe.

This may, on the face of it, seem ridiculous. After all, it can get pretty hot in Harare. But Pearce, born in Zimbabwe, schooled in South Africa, and trained as an architect in London, was up for the challenge.

And he achieved it by basing his architectural designs on how termites cool their tower like mounds of mud and dirt. What’s the connection?

Termites must keep the internal temperature in their mounds at a constant 87 degrees in order to grow an essential fungus. Not an easy job since temperatures on the African plains can range from over 100 degrees during the day to below 40 at night. Still, the insects manage it by ingeniously directing breezes at the base of the mound into chambers with cool, wet mud and then redirecting this cooled air to the peak. By constantly building new vents and closing old ones, they can regulate the temperature very precisely.

Pearce’s interests clearly extend beyond architecture. He also has a passion for understanding natural ecosystems, and suddenly those two fields intersected. Pearce teamed up with engineer Ove Arup to bring this combination of concepts to fruition. The office complex, called Eastgate, opened in 1996 and is the largest commercial/retail complex in Zimbabwe. It maintains a steady temperature of 73 to 77 degrees and uses less than 10 percent of the energy consumed by other buildings its size. In fact, Old Mutual saved $3.5 million immediately because they

did not have to install an air-conditioning plant. Eastgate ultimately became a reference point for architects—articles and books have been written about it, and awards have been given. Mick Pearce is known as a groundbreaking innovator for launching a new field of architectural design—one that “copies the processes of nature.”

How did Pearce come up with such an innovative design? Was it luck?

Maybe; luck is part of everything we do. The more intriguing question is, what did Pearce do to affect his chances of accomplishing this breakthrough?

Did he, in effect, make his own luck? The answer is yes, and the reasons why lie at the heart of this book’s message. Pearce had stepped into the Intersection, a place where he could combine architectural designs with processes in nature. It was his willingness to explore these combinations that made it more likely for him to successfully break new ground.

The Intersection is certainly not the only place to uncover new ideas, but I’ll argue that it is the best place to generate and realize extraordinary ones.

A Place for Everyone

Mick Pearce is one example of a person who found the Intersection and made successful discoveries there. From this example one might get the impression that the Intersection is a placeonly for designers and artists. It’s easy to associate creativity with art, but creativity includes new ideas in every field, from science and business

to law and politics.

Consider, for instance, the seeming antithesis of the idealistic artist, George Soros, one of the most respected investors of our time.

He is perhaps best known as the man who broke the Bank of England in 1992. Soros made a profit of over $1 billion in one afternoon by betting that the pound sterling was overvalued. Although he has also had some stinging losses, Soros’s track record as an investor is astonishing, having generated billions for his fund.

Perhaps his most important legacy, however, will not be the money he accumulated for his limited partner but his ideas about democracy, his philosophy concerning capitalism, and his approach to philanthropy.

Soros pulled together ideas from the fields of finance and philosophy to create an innovative philanthropic strategy. That strategy, which was unprecedented in its audacity, focused on transforming nations into societies that are based on the recognition that nobody has a monopoly on the truth—what he calls “Open Societies.” Michael

Kaufman writes in Soros: The Life and Times of a Messianic Billionaire about the exploratory journey Soros took to understand the world this way: “In the process, he digressively took up dozens of themes, among them the limits of knowledge, the development of modern art, the flaws of classical economics, the value of fallibility, and even the prospects of fundamental reforms in the Soviet Union.”3

George Soros found the Intersection. He found a way to connect completely separate fields and he managed to do so in a meaningful way. Just like Mick Pearce.

Connections Everywhere

This may all sound somewhat improbable. Can great innovative breakthroughs, those that can create a Medici Effect, be explained by the intersection of disciplines and cultures? And if so, is it possible to understand the nature of this intersection and to harness its power? The answer is yes, on both counts. In writing The Medici Effect I have three objectives:

1.The first is to explain what, exactly, the Intersection is and why

we can expect to see a lot more of it in the future. You will see

how three critical forces are working together to increase the

number of intersections around the world.

2.The second is to explain why stepping into the Intersection creates

the Medici Effect. You will see why it is such a vibrant place

for creativity and how we can use intersections to generate remarkable,

surprising, and groundbreaking ideas.

3.Finally, the third objective is to outline the unique challenges we

face when executing intersectional ideas and how we can overcome

those challenges.

You will see how execution at the Intersection is different from within established fields, and you will

learn how to prepare for those differences. In order to fulfill these three objectives, I have relied on the work of

leading researchers in creativity and innovation, such as Dean Keith Simonton, Clayton Christensen, Teresa Amabile, and Robert Sutton, and on a range of psychologists, economists, and sociologists. My most interesting

discoveries and conclusions, however, have come from numerous conversations and interviews with people who live and operate at the Intersection. The stories of how they found their way to the Intersection,

and how they created the Medici Effect, contain enough surprises and valuable insights to easily fill two or three books.

You will, for instance, meet a mathematician from Seattle who stepped into the intersection of games and collectibles to create one of the world’s fastest-spreading recreational activities. You will learn how

he did it and why those lessons hold true for anyone at the Intersection.

You will read about an entrepreneur who steps into the Intersection every time he starts a new company. His story will show you how we can find courage at the brink of uncertainty. You will encounter a physician who made the connection between violence prevention and health care. No one else understood the link at the time, and her struggle to bring her ideas to life demonstrates the challenges anyone will face at the Intersection.

During this journey you will also meet a woman who hiked through a snake-infested prisoner island off the coast of Colombia while gathering lava rocks for her research. You will read about a chef who surprised the world with his food concoctions at the age of twenty-four and learn about a team of researchers who discovered how to read

the mind of a monkey.

These individuals and their remarkable acts of innovation help us understand the power of the Intersection. They have all managed to connect fields we thought were unrelated. When they did, they generated

ideas that changed them, their organizations, and, ultimately, apart of our world. From these examples, we can learn how to do the same. Their stories answer the central questions this book poses: How do we create an explosion of extraordinary ideas, and how do we make those ideas happen? The answers may surprise you

Bottom line with Mind Mapping

Most people don’t normally associate mind mapping software with making money. But the fact is, it can have a real impact on your bottom line – because it enables you to think more clearly and completely, make better decisions, envision the future of your company, and more. Here’s a partial list of ways that mind mapping software can (indirectly) help you to make more money:

  • Map your customers and identify the most promising ones for targeted sales campaigns
  • Develop new products to sell
  • Create a map to clearly and more completely understand the evolving or unmet needs of your customers.
  • Analyze and improve your company’s business model
  • Identify opportunities to reduce waste in your business – the savings go straight to the bottom line.
  • Map your current market segments, and identify adjacent ones with similar needs into which you can expand your marketing and sales.
  • Brainstorm the content of a white paper or information product (e-book) that will help you to dramatize your product’s or service’s unique selling proposition to potential customers.

In what other ways are you using mind mapping software to grow your business?

I read regularly the blog of Chuck Frey on Mind mapping and owes to him the above idea!

The Change Acceptance Cycle


The purpose of this post is to review The Change Acceptance Cycle shown in Figure 1 and to extract from it some pointers for managers caught up in organizational change.

The Change Acceptance Cycle

Let’s start in the upper left, with a common form of change, the introduction of new ways or arrangements at work. This might be a new process, a new system, a new policy, a new organization in the wake of a merger, acquisition or a just plain old reorganization.

It is rarely the case that changes are welcomed with open arms; they are almost always seen by some people as having losses attached. The losses might include a position, a title, a personal sense of comfort, a sense of competency, the disruption of personal and working relationships, a fiefdom, or even employment itself. The negative reactions people have to changes, then, aren’t to the changes but to the losses they create.

The initial reaction of many people is one of shock, disbelief, and even disorientation. Their world has been or is about to be turned upside down and they are discombobulated to use a good old-fashioned word.

From there, people try to quickly restore some semblance of rhyme, reason and order to their world, which for some, has been turned upside down. They do this in various ways; by denying the change will occur or will affect them; by dismissing it as inconsequential or irrelevant; and by simply disconnecting from what is going on around them, hunkering down and pretending it isn’t happening.

But reality sets in. Then people have strong emotional reactions. Some get angry, really angry. Some become fearful and are paralyzed by that fear. They don’t know what to do and so they do nothing. Others aren’t necessarily fearful but they do become anxious about what the future holds and this anxiety saps their energy and dominates their thoughts. They wallow in “what if?”

Another stage of emotional reaction is marked by sadness for the loss of what was; perhaps for friends co-workers who have been moved to other areas; perhaps for a loss of confidence rooted in mastery of the old ways that has been displaced by a lack of familiarity with the new ways; and perhaps for the loss of an organizational culture that was once highly valued. Sadness is not far from depression and people can and do become depressed. Often they become passive, like victims awaiting their fate.

Some bog down in one or more of these stages but, sooner or later, most begin to look toward the future. They get their heads up and start looking around. They also start jockeying for position in the new order, bargaining for their personal situations and scrambling to find a place for themselves.

As they begin making their way out of this cycle, they begin to accept whatever they’ve viewed as losses and they begin to accept the new ways, too. They see hope in the future and they begin to commit to the new ways.

Thus it is that people accommodate, adjust to and accept change.

Some Pointers for Managers

The first thing to know is that change and accompanying losses are inseparable. People see what they see and if they see loss there is a loss involved – at least for them. Moreover, people don’t resist change per se; instead, if they resist at all, they resist what they see as loss.

Not all is doom and gloom. Not everyone has a negative reaction to change and the intensity of the reactions people have varies with the change, the person and the perceived loss.

People go through this cycle in very different ways. Some scoot right through it; some plod along one stage at a time; some bog down in one or more stages; some seem to make their way through and out of it but then something knocks them right back into it; and some people seem to move back and forth between one stage and another. The point is that you have to deal with your people as individuals; there are no one-size-fits-all approaches to helping people accept change and its associated losses.

Chances are, in addition to helping your people get through this cycle, you have to go through it yourself. Who will help you? How do you get help? Where are you in the cycle and how do you move on? More specifically, what losses do you and others see as attached to the change? Are they real or imagined? Can you compensate for them or are they givens?

People can and often do help each other. Co-workers can be just as effective as bosses in helping each other make their way through the change acceptance cycle.

So what can you do? Well, for one thing, you can talk about it – with your people, with your peers and with your boss. You can use the cycle diagram in Figure 1 to focus the discussion and to examine the current state of affairs. You need to know where your people are in this cycle. They need to know where you are and where their co-workers are. You need to know where your boss is and your boss needs to know where you and your people are. The diagram gives you a framework for examining, discussing and dealing with the reactions to change and for facilitating the acceptance of change.

A blog post is hardly the place to set forth detailed descriptions for dealing with the many specific techniques for helping people through the cycle of acceptance but it is a perfect place to point you to some very helpful resources. One of the best in this regard is William Bridge’s best-selling book,

About the Author: My name is Fred Nickols.  I am a writer, an independent consultant and a former executive.  Visual aids of one kind or another have played a central role in my work for many years.  My goals in writing for SmartDraw’s Working Smarter blog are to: (1) provide you with some first-rate content you can’t get anywhere else, (2) illustrate how important good visuals can be in communicating such content and (3) illustrate also the critical role visuals can play in solving the kinds of problems we encounter in the workplace.  I encourage you to comment on my posts and to contact me directly if you want to pursue a more in-depth discussion.

I thoroughly enjoyed the above and would like to share it with you.

Company’s Culture

I found most interesting the article produced by Fred Nickols. I recommend you to read his blogs. We in Mauritius are anyway a country where monkeys abound. I  imagine myself as a monkey with low cultural inhibition. I hate people telling me that are the ways it is being done here. I would react by saying: why is it so, or is the method still valid? Are not we getting out of the knowledge economy to enter the creativity economy?

Did you ever wonder how your company’s culture – that set of beliefs, traditions, and behavioral norms that determines “the way things work around here” – came to be? Or why, when you try to change it, it seems so resistant? Well, here’s a little story about a scientific experiment that shows how culture comes into being and why it is so resistant.

The experimenters began with a cage, a set of externally enforced boundaries. Inside the cage, they hung a banana on a string and placed a set of stairs under it. They then introduced five monkeys into the cage. Before long, one of the monkeys started to climb the stairs toward the banana. As soon as it touched the stairs the experimenters sprayed all the other monkeys with really cold water. When another monkey made an attempt to get the banana they again sprayed the other monkeys with cold water. After a while the monkeys prevented any of their group from going after the banana.

After the cultural prohibition against “going for the banana” had been established the experimenters put away the cold water. They took one of the original monkeys out of the cage and introduced a new one. Upon spotting the banana the new monkey went after it. To its surprise and dismay all of the other monkeys attacked it. After another attempt and attack the new monkey learned that if it tried to climb the stairs and get the banana it would be assaulted and so it stopped going after the banana. It had been acculturated, assimilated into the cage’s “don’t go for the banana” culture.

Next the experimenters removed another of the original five monkeys and replaced it with another new one. The second new monkey went to the stairs and predictably it was attacked. The first new monkey took part in this punishment with enthusiasm! Similarly a third original monkey was replaced with a new one, then a fourth, then the fifth.

Every time the newest monkey took to the stairs it was attacked by the other monkeys. Most of the monkeys that were beating it had no idea why they were not permitted to climb the stairs or why they were participating in the beating of the newest monkey. After all the original monkeys were replaced none of the remaining monkeys had ever been sprayed with cold water. Nevertheless, no monkey ever approached the stairs to try for the banana. Why not? Because as far as they knew: “That’s the way it’s always been done around here.”

And that is how a company’s culture is formed: Acceptable and unacceptable behaviors are initially established in response to important external events but, over time, all that remains are strongly-held notions about what is and what isn’t acceptable behavior. The origins of these beliefs vanish with the departure of the members of the group who were present when the patterns and standards were initially established. In a long-lived organization, there might be no members left who know why a given behavior is considered acceptable or unacceptable. Yet all members of the organization are quick to enforce whatever the cultural standards might be.

So how do you break out of this culture trap? Well, you start by trying to find out what’s behind those cultural do’s and don’ts. Why is this expected or required? Why is that prohibited? And don’t accept “That’s the way things are done around here” as an answer. In some cases, you might find there are very good reasons for this or that prohibition or requirement. In others you won’t. In all cases, what you’re out to accomplish is to eliminate blind adherence to behavioral norms.

If you want to prevent hardening of the cultural arteries, try this: Every two or three years, conduct a simple cultural audit (see the decision tree below). Identify whatever behavioral norms are at work and determine why they are in place. See if they are still valid. None of this means that all or even any cultural standards will be eliminated; what it does mean is that if they no longer make any sense you can probably do away with them and, if they are to stay in place, people will know why – and your company’s culture will make sense instead of simply being a case of monkey see, monkey do.

About the Author: My name is Fred Nickols.  I am a writer, an independent consultant and a former executive.  Visual aids of one kind or another have played a central role in my work for many years.  My goals in writing for SmartDraw’s Working Smarter blog are to: (1) provide you with some first-rate content you can’t get anywhere else, (2) illustrate how important good visuals can be in communicating such content and (3) illustrate also the critical role visuals can play in solving the kinds of problems we encounter in the workplace.  I encourage you to comment on my posts and to contact me directly if you want to pursue a more in-depth discussion

Gary Hamel

I was lucky last week during the APM convention in Lyon to have got some insights from the very famous Gary Hamel of Strategos. Wall Street Journal, named Gary Hamel as the world’s most influential business thinker last year. His message could be summarised in 3 chapters: 1. Speed of change 2. Intensity of Change 3. The transition from the knowledge economy to the creativity economy.

I went through the series of articles which I held from Gary Hamel which although written in 2003 remains valid and up to date.

The challenge of systemic, radical innovation leads to two questions: How do you generate breakthrough ideas? And how do you manage that process to achieve breakthrough performance?

Innovation typically comes from looking at the world through a slightly different lens. In talking with innovators, four perspectives—four lenses—seem to dominate:

1. Radical innovators challenge the dogmas and the orthodoxies of the incumbents.

When most people think about the future, they typically take 98 percent of the industry orthodoxy as a given. Before they start, they’ve already limited their potential for innovation to about 2 percent of the available “space.” To innovate, you need to spot the absurdities that no one else has spotted, to ask the stupid question that no one else has asked, to take some existing performance parameter and push it so far that suddenly you have illuminated a new possibility.

A good place to start is by looking for trade-offs, situations where a competitor is telling itself or its customers, “You can have one or the other.” Twenty years ago, the U.S. auto industry said that you could have either quality or low cost. Toyota offered both. The U.S. airline industry said that you could have the lowest fares or the highest customer satisfaction. Southwest managed to deliver both. When you hear “or,” it’s an invitation to innovation.

2. Radical innovators spot trends that have gone unnoticed. I’m not a big fan of forecasting or scenario planning, because you can’t predict the future, but you can ask, “What things are already changing that most people (especially my competitors) haven’t noticed yet?” The way to find new answers is to look where your competitors aren’t. Every CEO needs to spend some time on the fringe of technology, entertainment, fashion, and politics where new possibilities first present themselves.

3. Radical innovators learn to live inside the customer’s skin. This is not another plea to be customer focused. Getting “close to the customer” rarely provokes real innovation, because you’re talking to customers whom you already serve, and you’re listening to what they’re saying—not paying attention to what they’re feeling.

Innovation almost never comes from an articulated need; it comes from an insight into an unarticulated need. We never asked for eBay, Starbucks, or downloadable music, but somehow, we got those things. Radical innovators have a boundless empathy with human frustration that allows them to see beyond articulated needs to the unexpressed need.

To get to the unexpressed need, you must develop an experiential sense of what it means to be a customer. My company recently worked with a major hospital that was trying to create a more customer-centric experience. We took a slice of the hospital’s employee base—a dozen or so people—and we asked them to list their 10-best service experiences. Maybe it was a day at Walt Disney World or a first-class flight to London on Virgin Atlantic. Then we asked them to take cameras and notepads and go enjoy some of those experiences. Anytime something they experienced evoked a great feeling—anytime they felt respected or had their expectations exceeded—we asked them to take a picture, make a note, and tell us exactly what happened.

Next, we asked the same team to live through the experience of being patients in their own hospital, to lie in bed with an IV, to use a bedpan, to traipse around in one of those gowns that flap open in the back, to put up with a procession of medical personnel poking and prodding them. Not surprisingly, the inpatient procedure teased out some not-so-great feelings. You have to do two things to get at deep, unvoiced needs: Get an experiential insight into what it feels like to be your own customer, and assemble an inventory of first-person analogies (like the Disney World or the Virgin experience) from which you can draw out potential solutions.

People get the courage to try new things not because they are convinced to do so by a wealth of analytical evidence but because they feel something viscerally. Until you feel something in your gut, until you’ve experienced it and know it to be true, you simply won’t have the courage to act.

4. Radical innovators think of their companies as portfolios of assets and competencies. The real foundation for growth and innovation consists of a company’s assets (its brand, its customer relationships, its subscriber database) and its competencies (its skills and the ideas that are locked in people’s heads). One trick you can use is to think of the world as a Lego kit of different competencies and assets, owned by different companies, that you can put together with the skills and assets that already exist in your company. One company that has done just that is Swatch.


CEOs are starting to understand that without radical innovation, decline is inevitable. We all must start to take innovation more seriously.

Still, barriers to innovation seem to be everywhere. But what sustains me—and everyone who wants to build an organization that is consistently innovative and allows us to bring the full measure of our creativity to work—is this: There was no such thing as a large corporation 150 years ago. There was no AT&T, GE, GM, or Sony. These are products of our imagination. We invented them—and we can reinvent them. There’s no law of nature or act of God that keeps us laboring in organizations that treat people as mere factors of production.

Let’s respect that the large corporation has brought us unmatched material prosperity. If you have two cars, three televisions, and a couple of PCs, you have industrialization to thank for that. We have built companies that can efficiently churn out products and services by the zillions. But in building those companies and in reaping those efficiency gains, we have also made a burden for our own backs to bear.

We’ve produced organizations that aren’t much fun to work in and too often fail. And as they fail, so do the aspirations of the people who have devoted their lives to building them. What we invented can be reinvented. We should take revolutionary steps to achieve evolutionary goals.

We’re not going to build companies that are capable of systemic, radical innovation in one gigantic leap. We’ll get there the same way we have gotten to total quality and real customer service: through a series of steps where we build the new skills, metrics, processes, and values that turn rhetoric into reality.

The challenge is to know where you’re headed, so that those steps can lead you in a new direction. And then, one day, you’ll find yourself in territory where no one has gone before.