Culture Cast: Why to Disrupt, Transform and Switch to Google G-Suite

Abundance Podcast Transformation

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Hey Culture Cast fans! In Season 2, Episode 2, Lorne and Lynette discuss their Work Reimagined program that implemented a company wide Google G-Suite transformation. They look inside “why?” they decided to make the transformation, and take a deep dive into change management and how to influence 5,000+ people to make a big, disruptive adjustment. 

Please listen on Soundcloud and iTunes, and don’t forget to rate and review.

If listeners have any questions or thoughts, feel free to email the podcast at CultureCastPodcast@gmail.com.

Also, please follow the podcast @CultureCastPod1 on Twitter, and advance the conversation.

How Groups Can Make Fatal Decisions

Accountability Management Teamwork

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Key Point: According to Wikipedia, “Groupthink” is a psychological phenomenon that occurs within a group of people in which the desire for harmony or conformity in the group results in an irrational or dysfunctional decision-making outcome. Most of us are familiar with this concept, yet it thrives and will always be a concern regarding the impact on quality decision making within groups. What are the symptoms of Groupthink? According to the people who teach the Directors Education Program at the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto, be aware of the following:

  • “Illusions of invulnerability: Members of the group overemphasize the strength of the group and feel that they are beyond criticism or attack. This symptom leads the group to approve risky actions about which individual members might have serious concerns.
  • Illusions of unanimity: Group members accept consensus prematurely, without testing whether or not all members really agree. Silence is often taken for agreement.
  • Illusions of group morality: Members of the group feel that it is “right” and above reproach by outside members. Thus, members feel no need to debate ethical issues.
  • Stereotyping of the ‘enemy’ as weak, evil, or stupid: Members do not realistically examine their competitors and oversimplify their motives. The stated aims of outside groups or anticipated reactions of outsiders are not considered.
  • Self-censorship by members: Members refuse to communicate concerns by others because of fear of disturbing the consensus.
  • Mind-guarding: Some members take responsibility to ensure that negative feedback does not reach influential group members.
  • Direct pressure: In the unlikely event that a note of caution or concern is interjected, other members quickly respond with pressure to bring the deviant back into line.”

This past weekend I was fortunate to be a student in the Directors Education Program and went through a few exercises that highlighted how seductive groupthink is, even to an experienced group of leaders familiar with its dangers. One business case that we used to refresh ourselves had the same elements and conditions that underscored the tragic explosion of NASA’s Space Shuttle Challenger. On Jan 28, 1986, the tenth flight of Space Shuttle Challenger broke apart 73 seconds into its flight, killing all seven crew members. Investigation of this tragedy revealed that key people recommended the shuttle not fly due to quality concerns with the infamous “O” rings under cold weather conditions. But Groupthink, including almost every symptom above, resulted in the right decision being overruled; with fatal consequences. While most groups we are part of do NOT make life or death decisions, we still need to fiercely guard against Groupthink. This aligns with the principle I often write about: The ability of high performing groups to fight well.

Personal Leadership Moves:

Familiarize yourself with the Guidelines for Avoiding Groupthink (also from the Rotman people).

  1. “Assign the role of the critical evaluator to each group member; encourage the sharing of objections
  2. Avoid, as the leader, clear statements about your preferred alternative.
  3. Create subgroups or subcommittees, each working on the same problem.
  4. Require that members of the group make use of the information available to them through their subordinates, peers and networks.
  5. Invite outside experts to observe and evaluate group process and outcome.
  6. Assign a member to play the devil’s advocate role at each meeting.
  7. Focus on alternative scenarios for the motivation and intentions of competitors.
  8. Once consensus is reached, reexamine the next (but unchosen) alternative, comparing it to the chosen course of action.”

No Groupthink in Personal Leadership

– Lorne

One Millennial View: I’m thrilled this is a subject being touched on. I personally believe we should be way more focused on promoting the “individual” instead of any type of Groupthink. Everything at work can be considered case-by-case, and if we’re too quick to just “Groupthink,” it can be a lazy and over simplified way to problem solve that can clearly lead to big mistakes.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

The Exponential Four

Abundance Personal leadership Transformation

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Key Point: Leading through all the exponential transformation right in front of us will require the “refresh button” to be pressed on leadership. The day before this blog is published, 60 of our leaders will have spent a few hours on this topic with Lisa Kay Solomon, Chair and Managing Director of Transformational Practices at Singularity University. Lisa is a supreme thought leader, and as a gift to you, I want to share the four key attributes Lisa will discuss with us. I’ve referenced these in the past, and now want to dig deeper by passing on an abbreviated excerpt from a Singularity newsletter authored by Lisa. The Exponential Four according to Lisa and Singularity:

The Futurist

The first skill of exponential leadership is learning to transform surprise into mindful anticipation. To do this, leaders have to become skilled futurists.

This does not mean simply extrapolating today’s pace of change into the future. It means imagining new possibilities boldly and optimistically—and understanding they are quite likely to arise sooner than expected. Leaders will have to get equally comfortable with what can be known and with exploring what is unknown.

As futurists, leaders need to get comfortable asking open-ended questions about unspoken assumptions to see new possibilities. They need to be curious about the future and blend imaginative practices of strategic foresight, futures backcasting, science fiction design and scenario planning into traditional business planning.

The Innovator

In addition to imagining a range of new futures, leaders must also act as innovators, discovering new ideas through creative ideation and rigorous experimentation. These days, great product ideas can come from a single tweet or a surprising customer interaction and be tested with a working prototype in less than 24 hours.

When leaders embrace their role as innovators, they realize they must always be thinking about the customer. They use human-centered processes, such as observation and questioning, to collect insights; they use visual thinking and storytelling skills to share hypotheses and ideas quickly and effectively; and they embrace a growth mindset to test and gather evidence on what they’ve learned.

Rigorous innovators do this continually, iterating over and over to uncover opportunities obscured by the fog of uncertainty.

The Technologist

As technology innovation accelerates, leaders have to understand which technologies will directly impact their industry and which will affect adjacent industries. Increasingly, technology can digitize, manipulate and replace physical products and services, challenging the status quo of many existing companies.

The best way to understand technological change is not to read about it, but to experience it first-hand by learning to code, building or manipulating a simple robot, trying new products and services that go beyond what’s familiar or comfortable, and seeking the resources of innovation and experimentation.

This will require a whole new set of discussions and decisions in the boardrooms of every corporation, new behaviors and norms in every product development lab, and new ways of educating, rewarding (and even penalizing) tomorrow’s leaders.

The Humanitarian

Exponential leaders use the skills and behaviors of futurist, innovator and technologist to improve the lives of the people they touch, and society as a whole. They aim to do well by doing good—not as a separate set of ‘corporate social responsibility’ activities, but as part of the integrated company mission.

Leading as a humanitarian can mean explicitly building a business using technology to create positive impact. B corporations, for example, are for-profit companies certified to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. It can also mean investing in humane policies and practices that create a positive culture and a meaningful work environment. A workplace that inspires employees and partners to strive toward their full potential.”

Personal Leadership Moves:

  1. Self evaluate where you are on each of the four exponential leadership dimensions. Challenge yourself to advance in each area. How might you grow more in each? How might you be 10X better in one or more area by the end of 2018?
  2. As we always suggest: Think BIG, start SMALL AND act NOW… And you will become more of an exponential leader!!

All Four in Personal Leadership,

– Lorne

One Millennial View: Millennials should look how they can become futurists, innovators, technologists and humanitarians on their own teams or in small management roles. While leaders should be encouraging their organizations to engage in the Exponential Four, we have the control to start implementing these practices in our own routines and mindsets. The worst that can happen is we’ll be best prepared to become great leaders in the future.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Pandering HR Can Mess Culture Up

Accountability Contribution Organizational culture

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Key Point: People change behavior based on social interactions NOT because of some pay or performance system. Speaking as a former Chief People Officer, I think too many Human Resource (HR) professionals screw things up with good intentions, by pandering to business leaders who want some “silver bullet” HR tool or system to do their work as LEADERS.  When “bosses” don’t have the skill, will, or capability to inspire people to contribute in ways they want, they sometimes plead for HR to come up with that magical “talent performance system” or “ pay incentive plan,” so suddenly we might all snap to attention and behave just the way we are supposed to. By the way, how do you like to be “performance managed?” And don’t you like the idea that because someone “drops a few more pellets,” you and I will somehow jump up like a lab rat to behave differently? (Don’t get me wrong… I like to make lots of money. However, no pay system, however it’s designed, is going to be the prime driver for what I do and stand for).

As leaders, our job is to create a culture, a “social construct” in which people can embed themselves. Being part of that culture needs to become far more important than any punishments or rewards an employee gets. Being a member of the group becomes an end in itself. If you’ve ever been part of a team or group that you deeply care about, you know what I’m talking about. It’s about the gratifying connection of being in a band of sisters and brothers, working towards a meaningful purpose, and never wanting to let each other down.

Jason Korman, the co-founder and CEO of Gapingvoid (an innovative and leading culture design firm), describes culture as a social construct. Ben Hardy, an organization/industrial psychologist, writes about Korman’s views in a great Huffington Post article. The following captures some key points I fully resonate with:

“Change doesn’t happen through training or rewards, Korman argues, it happens socially. Rather than raises, being a part of THIS TEAM is how an employee will gain a deep sense of meaning, purpose, and connection in their life. Thus, according to Korman, leaders need to move their way up Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, and stop focusing on the base needs. Move up to the esteem needs, the needs for connection, and ultimately self-actualization, which can and should happen as a member of the in-group or social culture. Getting people embedded into the social construct.

So how do you get people embedded in such cultures? If you look at organizations like Zappos, when you become a member you become a ‘Zapponian.’


In other words, a person needs to tie their identity to the group. There needs to rituals and relics. There must be buy-in to the shared beliefs and behaviors that are part of the in-group. There needs to be deep connection-making happening, where people in the group learn from each other, become comfortable with each other, and develop trust. It’s not about punishments and rewards. Once a person is experiencing deep meaning and purpose from being a member of the community, their performance will naturally rise. In other words, once a person is experiencing deep connection and purpose from being a part of something bigger than themselves, you won’t be able to stop them from performing. Why? Because company outcomes will become EMOTIONAL. It won’t be about not getting a raise if an organizational outcome isn’t hit. It will be about the group not fulfilling its mission. When such is the case, good luck stopping people from working until the results happen.

When organizations can create true social cultures, wherein their employees experience a deep of meaning and purpose, and thus org outcomes become EMOTIONAL, then clients and customers will become very happy and business will become highly profitable.”

And yes, HR systems can really help. However, they need to help with attractive “pull” rather than “command” push. Advanced HR leaders know this and design accordingly.

Personal Leadership Moves:

  1. Do you know what and how to grow a great culture? Or do you think it’s just kinda topical to talk about it? How would you go about doing it? Could you outline your leadership construct for doing so ?
  2. If you want to add a cultural framework to your leadership practice, understand how to create incredible purpose that advances humankind and and an environment that emotionally connects people towards travelling to that never-end. It’s hard to do and yet magical when the movement becomes a wave with its own energy system.
  3. I’ve offered our 8 ingredient system for building a great culture . Let me know if you want it and I will share it. If you want me to personally present it to your team or company, as ATB’s Chief Evangelist, I would be happy to do so on a Google Hangout on Air or Google Meet. Send the request to my EA, Kalbert@atb.com. Your investment is to join in serious conversation and make a modest charitable donation through our giving vehicle, ATB Cares. ATB is committed to making banking work for people AND wherever invited, we openly share the learnings of our imperfect journey to help organizations develop more meaningful and adaptive cultures.

Culture in Personal Leadership,

Lorne

One Millennial View: This seems spot on. As stated above, anyone who’s been part of a team they care about knows that it’s much more about performing to better the outcome for everyone than just one self. That’s why good coaches condemn selfishness. But also, more “wins” for the team at large should also equal more personal victories. So essentially, being an unselfish team player is how you earn the best results for yourself.

– Garrett

The Race to You (And Me)

Accountability Organizational leadership Transformation

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Key Point: Strategic planning, as most of us have known it over the years, is getting disrupted too. Yay. And frankly, I think ALL organizations are going to end up at the very same place. The strategy will ultimately be that the service or product you’re offering or paying for (consumer or business), will have to feel like it was made just for you, or you likely won’t buy or sell it. Occasionally, some new innitiative may be so breakthrough that we will be willing to buy it as a commodity or “unicorn” product/service, however even that is less likely to take place in the future.

If you want to survive (let alone thrive) as an organization, you better be able to service a customer of ONE. Of course, you will be smart enough to scale and customize off of a common platform or your business model will not be sustainable. However, if you’re the consumer you will very quickly learn to only buy what’s “made” just for you (and no one else). Yes, you will be able to shop and compare the essence of what you need or want. At the same time, you will quickly learn to ignore (and if you buy regularity on Amazon Prime you’ve already begun) general products or services. Why? You will learn to get exactly what you want, when you want it, at a value offering that you will find “just right.” Even toilet paper will be bundled just for you and me. And nonprofits, look out… The same applies to you (even arrogant regulators).

As an everyday example, you and I will soon expect our food service company to anticipate what we want, when we want it, at a value we will invest in. None of us are likely to pay the same price for what may appear to be very similar. Your bank will need to do the same thing. Every product or service you and I need or want will be very personal. Perhaps, just to be a little provocative in this blog, even that secure and secret prompt from Pornhub will be just what we are in the mood for. 

You and I are “happily” giving up all of our information for “free” valued experiences right now… Social connections, content search, etc. We complain a little about privacy and yet we publically post and participate everywhere. And the best organizations are becoming “data insight geniuses” to learn everything about what we really want and are looking for. Search data tells organizations what we really have on our minds. This is likely not happening because people in organizations are watching and secretly passing judgment while trolling us. Heck no. Artificial intelligence/machine learning bots and sensors on/inside literally everything will outline and anticipate based on learning algorithms resulting in offerings we are (perhaps even unknowingly) looking for. And the winning organizations will figure out how to effectively and thoughtfully connect to have us willingly pay. And in the banking industry, it will ultimately feel like you and I have a private personal banker, that deeply cares, anticipating and looking after ALL our money needs on a trusted platform (a very human like bot).  This will happen, (my humble view), in a ubiquitous way within a decade, and I’m being conservative. Overall, it will feel like whatever we spend our energy and resources on will be “just for us.”  The emerging model: “Live more happily… It’s personal.”

Personal Leadership Moves:

  1. Instead of spending time trying to figure out the future scenarios and market segments, etc, invest in developing a fully digital platform that provides you and your organization the ability to uniquely differentiate on a customer of ONE. It is going to be a segment of ONE.
  2. Stop wasting your money advertising what your brand is supposed to be and WOW each customer you value by having them say, “I feel like this company sees me and knows me better than even I do. They ‘WOW’ me literally every time I do business with them.” Try and make your customers feel that way NOW with whatever platform you have. Build from there.
  3. Become or learn how to participate in a company that thinks this way.

Delivering to and becoming a Customer of ONE,

Lorne

One Millennial View: Many of the podcast hosts I follow now are involved with Patreon, a service that offers each ONE listener/viewer the opportunity to invest a small amount of money per month to fund extra content for the program. Now, content providers can rely much less on influence from advertisers/sponsors, and create what they know each ONE customer wants/will pay for. I see some real future in this in all forms of media, and more.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis