How to Create Remarkable Teams – Part 1

Atma figured out how to build remarkable teamsRemarkable teams – the Hallmark of Management 3.0

You are making plans for the success of your business. But is building remarkable teams at the top of your agenda? They way you build teams represents an enormous opportunity to set yourself apart from competitors and increase the likelihood of your success.

Over the last twenty years, social scientists have unearthed a mountain of valuable data and insight about team building. This two-part article will introduce you to what I consider the most important and essential ideas. To begin taking advantage of this knowledge, you will need to know two things about remarkable teams: what they look like (this week’s article) and how you create them (next week’s article).

What remarkable teams look like – part one: culture

Remarkable teams are a product of culture and change management. Let’s talk about culture first. Culture represents the environment, ecology, and underlying intentions of an organization. This is why it is such an important topic to organizational psychologists. Simply put, culture is both the cause and effect of an organization’s greatness or its dysfunction.

When it comes to building remarkable teams, culture is the cause on four different levels:

1) Materially, culture is the fabric of the relations between members.

2) Formally, culture represents the mostly unspoken rules that drive the organization, which influence the nature of team building.

3) Culture is also the efficient cause of an organization’s psychology. One way this happens, is when the cofounders, either knowingly or (usually) unknowingly bring in the dynamics that create the company’s overall nature and mood (i.e. the degree of function and dysfunction present). This in turn determines the kind of teams that develop.

4) Culture represents the aims and purposes of the organization. Goals shape the organization by pulling it into existence. This is similar to the way the direction you choose, determines the type of journey you experience.  And so, the way you first think about and start a project or business is of seminal importance. Decisions made early have an exponential impact on later efforts, including team building. The way an organization’s purpose influences its culture is known as the final cause.

Now that I have stated the importance of culture (maybe even overstated 😉 ) what does a functional, team-supportive culture look like?

Inspirational and engaging

Scientists have developed studies[i] around two important characteristics that contribute to functional teams:

  1. Psychological Empowerment- the way the culture supports and inspires the individual team members. [Optimal state: “My company culture makes me feel like I can do this.”]
  2. Affective Commitment – the way individual team members feel about their involvement and the other team members. [Optimal state: “I like my team and feel like a valuable part of it.”]

You can assess your team culture in two ways: first, by the degree to which your staff feels inspired to take part and their confidence for accomplishing their tasks. Secondly, by looking at the way they feel about their role in the team and how their interaction with the group makes them feel.  This means that you need to become very sensitive to your staff’s emotional state. You do this by momentarily setting aside your own emotions and tuning into what those around you are feeling. The information about their emotional state is in their faces, their voices, their body language, and the way they treat each other. With practice you can become better and better at noticing and analyzing this rich stream of data.

What remarkable teams look like – part two: change management

Fixing a less than ideal culture is known as change management. The name stems from the challenge of establishing new protocols and changing an organization’s psychology. As you know, humans tend to resist change. Your job as the leader, is to make change easier.

How to start: assess your ability to meet the following three goals of change management:

  1. Empowering leadership – how well do you encourage autonomy, self-management, collaboration, creativity and group problem solving?
  2. Relationship conflict – how good are you at diffusing and redirecting group tension, conflicts, animosity, and non-productivity?
  3. Personality development – do you personally inspire individual team members to practice functional behaviors such as open-mindedness, humility, patience, etc…? And equally or more importantly  – does your company culture foster these traits?

Taking an honest look at how well you empower teams, manage conflict, and inspire others will give you a sense of where you stand in the pursuit of building great teams.

So far, I have discussed contributing factors to recognizing remarkable teams. So, now the question is, how do you create remarkable teams? The answer is, first you build them to be remarkable, and then you manage them to stay remarkable. And that is the topic of PART 2 of How to Create Remarkable Teams… where I will cover the five building blocks of collaboration and describe how to manage through self-organization.

Stay tuned, subscribe, and share!


[i] Gilad Chen, Payal Nangia Sharma,Suzanne K. Edinger, and Debra L. Shapiro -University of Maryland; Jiing-Lih Farh -Hong Kong University of Science and Technology; Motivating and Demotivating Forces in Teams: Cross-Level Influences of Empowering Leadership and Relationship Conflict, Journal of Applied Psychology 2011, Vol. 96, No. 3, 541–557

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Co-Founder Dating: what you should know

 Looking for business partnersYou Are Ready To Make Your Next Million
You have a great idea for a new business, an invention, an iPhone app, or you are ready to create the next Internet. Now all you need is a partner, or maybe even partners*, to bring your vision to life. How should you go about looking? How can you lower the risk of choosing poorly?
(*Check out this blog on the 4 crucial roles in a start up.

Clarity Improves the Odds of Finding the Right Partner
There are many issues to consider when deciding whom to work with. You have to consider skill sets, experience, availability and ambition. You also must consider the all-important issue of temperament. Someone who has the first four qualifications but lacks the ability to get along and work without undue conflict with others will result in a dismal and often costly counterproductive situation.

One way to learn about choosing partners is from the mistakes of others.  I am currently collecting anecdotal summaries and reports on this topic from those who have experienced the phenomenon and I strongly recommend you do the same. Social science also has much to say about this. Some of the existing research tells us that:

  • Partnerships are not a soft option but hard work;
  • Partnerships take time to develop;
  • Partnerships must be realistic and aim for what can be achieved, not be set up to fail by being too ambitious;
  • Partnerships can, if successful, achieve more than individual agencies working alone.
    (How to create successful partnerships—a review of the literature, Wildridge, Childs, Cawthra, Madge; Health Information & Libraries Journal, 2004)

Among some of my findings on the nature of why partnerships fail  is that people mistake partnerships as something that will make their lives easier. The reality is, that most of the time, partnerships make life harder and the most compelling reason to add such a burden to one’s life is because the two parties (or more) can create something together that they could not create alone. Having clarity about the value of that potential creation is necessary for overcoming the added difficulty of the partnership. 

Allow Patience to Temper Enthusiasm
Many partnerships have begun on the best of intentions based on apparent compatibility among associates and then somehow degraded into conflict and discontent.

One clue is in the concept of “apparent compatibility’. Sometimes this apparent compatibility is actually the product of your enthusiasm. Enthusiasm can mask potential flaws in prospective partners and associates. This also happens in romantic relationships when the initial chemistry fails to reveal psychological differences between partners. In both situations the heady hopes that this person is “the one” clouds your ability to discern.

Sometimes excitement about an idea makes you feel desperate to find someone with whom you can develop the idea further. You may meet someone who seems perfect because of his or her talent or experience but this is where you must learn to exercise patience. Ask yourself how you really feel about this person. If they did have the expertise or resource that is exciting you, consider whether you would want them as a friend? Would you want to spend a lot of time with them? Get the opinion of others who know you and who may have an easier time being objective.

Natural Language Sessions and the Transcript Solution
Dorene Lehavi, Ph.D. (a principal of Next Level Business and Professional Coaching) has talked about the negative impacts of money problems, partners with control issues, and conflict due to changing vision. (http://successfulbusinesspartnership.blogspot.com/)

Part of what contributes to future conflict is the optimism and enthusiasm of a new venture. Filled with hope and aspiration, cofounders, new partners, closely involved investors and principal stakeholders layout a blueprint for the future; one made of projections, business plans, corporate bylaws, shareholder agreements, etc.…  In this prospect filled process, difficult and potentially painful questions go unanswered.

Taking the time to sit together and answer questions that the Atman Approach provides can go a long way to reducing future pain and even untimely death to a viable project. The Atman Approach uses automated (or when possible live) facilitation through questionnaires. Often the process can seem almost like a therapy session. It is not. It is, however, a vital means of uncovering unseen emotional hazards early on and making provisions for them.

Money is usually the biggest cause of future conflict. So in the Natural Language Session we give that issue the most attention. For example the questionnaire takes future partners through a number of scenarios to develop a clear strategy for overcoming such situations.

The process uses natural or conversational language. The whole session is recorded and a transcript is produced. This transcript is then delivered to the attorney for the business entity and a legal document, partner agreement; additions to bylaws, etc.… are drafted. This turns the frank and open-hearted discussion into a far more mature legal framework for the venture. This type of preemptive work has the potential to save money and cut the likelihood of future heartache.

Reminders

  • While part of the issue is choosing well a more significant part to building successful partnership is in the execution of the relationship
  • Refining intuition is possible and when combined with hard data can make you a better judge of character. (Face reading and empathy can help with this.)
  • Seeing people as conscious beings who are struggling due to a misplaced sense of self provides a new platform for understanding emotions and motivational needs
  • Partnerships require resilience and adaptive expectations
  • Pick partners that you like. Are they someone you want to do social things with?
  • Learn more about how face reading can make you a better judge of future partners and employees here.

3 stages of increasing creativity in the workplace

Stage one: The approach

Theater of Constraints: great creativity and design flow from an accurate understanding of your limitations. By limitations you should distinguish between personal and material. Personal limitations are meant to be challenged and tested (at least within reason.) Material limitations are about the resources you have available. Material resources include, time, capital, space, and ability. Understanding material limitations can require a surprisingly large amount of individual and institutional honesty. But this rigorous honesty is the first discipline of the Theater of Constraints.

The second discipline is designing and developing within those constraints. For example say you have an idea for an application/production that will cost $1000 and take two weeks. But you only have $500 and one week. Don’t ignore these limitations and say, “let’s do the best we can!” and push forward with your original plan. Most of the time if you do, you end up with either a crappy execution of the $1000 version (a $500 version), or an over budget project and someone should get fired.

This of course is an extreme simplification, but the idea is missing from many project management cycles. If you use the limitations of your resources as a design criterion you can often engender a whole new dimension of innovation. You can also avoid the type of scope creep that is usually generated by unseen psychological factors related to the aforementioned need for honesty.

Apply the discipline of learning to design backwards from an honest understanding of available resources to software development, product development, media creation, event planning and many other types of productions.

You can even apply this discipline to aspects of personal life, like goal setting. Let your motto be, “Dream forward, design backward.”

Stage two: Stimulating creative thinking

Regular once a week free association session: one person takes the lead by providing an idea or a scenario that is seemingly farfetched or unlikely in your industry. Others begin to riff or explore on the possibilities. It is like a big “what if?” conversation, the trick is that it has to hew to some level of reality and at the same time goes well past the boundaries of what has been thought to be possible in your particular industry.

Cross disciplinary training and stimulus: Whatever field you are in, once-a-month take your team on an educational/cultural outing to something that has nothing to do with your work. E.g. take a team of developers to tour an abattoir, take the human resource team to museum exhibit on ancient Egypt, or take legal on an outing to a flower show. It is important to make it a regular outing, and to really explore intriguing albeit unrelated subjects as a group.

Show and tell: one morning a week have team members or co-workers bring in an example of counter-culture that they have unearthed. Examples could come from art, comics, film, music, architecture, economics (weird black markets), music, media, etc…

The drift (le Derive): Take a work group or team on a once-a-quarter exploration of the city using no agenda whatsoever. Begin the day by walking or catching a bus in a direction based on the flip of a coin. If you are on a bus or a subway get off on a stop chosen by the roll of a pair of dice. Or use a single die to determine the number of block s you will walk. Follow somebody walking out of a coffee shop for 60 seconds see where it leads you. Visit buildings based on the salience of their architecture i.e. that means which building sticks out the most? Doing the derive right takes practice and a real sense of adventure. The goal is to learn to let the environment direct your next move rather any personal agenda.

Stage three: Improving brainstorming

Throw away good work: if you are brainstorming or creating various version of products or services to offer the public you have to go far enough in the brainstorming to so many ideas that you must discard some good ones if you are not throwing away good work you are not assured that what remains will be excellent.

Distance thinking: review current and future projects from a distance. For example imagine that the work you are doing is going to be placed in a time machine and sent 10 years what would you do different? Or imagine your work is going to be transported to an aboriginal culture on some faraway island how do you make sure it works? If your clients are geographically close to you imagine that they are in offices halfway around the world? How do you improve communication and help keep a sense of connection? Whatever the reality of your client relationships imagine something either opposite or radical and imaginatively different. Clients from another galaxy anyone?

Purposely do bad work: gather your team together and create the 10 worst ideas for moving your company forward. Have a vote for the winner or worst idea possible. Know go backwards through the list and talk about what it would take to make each idea actually work.

No brainstorming without solo prep work: Brainstorming in a group from an empty slate can be counterproductive, and cause people to fixate on the earliest ideas. Before every brainstorming session send out a memo explain the agenda or purpose of the session and tell al participant to come up with 12 distinct ideas to begin the session. This gives everyone a chance to work alone in their own heads before coming to the group environment and will increase dramatically the number of ideas being discussed.

[Bonus thought] Evaluating best efforts: an easy way to determine the value of an idea (that isn’t yours) is to look at it and see if you can honestly say, “I wish I’d thought of that.”

And finally remember that these practices won’t be deeply effective if they are applied piecemeal to a poor overall work environment (new patches on an old garment and all…). Be sure to evaluate your entire environment with ruthless honesty. See this article on simple ways to assess your organization.


Seven Personal Habits for Failure

The success and achievement you seek become more likely by taking an open-eyed look at personal pitfalls.

An interesting part of my work and studies into organizational and inter-personal psychology is cataloguing and describing how institutional psychology informs individual psychology. This happens when underlying structural dysfunction and the psychological requirements of the organization become part of the individual’s temperament.

To build better organizations and societies you have to look for the consequences in the individual and the antecedent in the organizational structure.

Here are seven initial characteristics that people tend to emulate and thereby perpetuate the already institutionalized dysfunction. Learning to seeing them in yourself is a valuable step towards seeing it in an organization’s psychology.

1) Self deception – lacking the humility and the personal candor or insight to perceive your shortcomings: This problem makes you unavailable for help or guidance even if it is right in front of you. Without the willingness to search for your own blind spots (which are invisible to you) your risk of failure increases dramatically. It is not enough to go to those who are wiser and more experienced unless this is done with a willingness to see things which will most likely make you feel uncomfortable. Facing one’s own shortcomings is the deliberate self-infliction of pain. It takes a strong sense of resolve to subject your self to this process. Developing this resolve requires:

  • Going inside yourself and bit by bit facing those things which you are most of afraid of
  • Seeking out mentors who will be starkly honest and constructively critical of your strength and weaknesses
  • Keeping track of behaviors – listing both productive (positive) behaviors and counterproductive (negative) behaviors
  • Actively observing your interactions with others and noticing the nature of those interactions.
  • Being ruthlessly honest with yourself about your intentions, and digging deeply in to your own hidden agendas, especially as they lead to great awareness of egoism, unnecessary defensiveness, fear based impatience, selfishness, etc…
  • Being honest about your business position. For example: market potential – don’t fail to see when the numbers just aren’t there. Or when you are causing more pain than good to your stakeholders, or if the conditions for your endeavor are just not there, the list goes on.

Do not be afraid to be ruthlessly honest about you and your situation. (Incidentally this includes taking an accurate stock of your assets, material and personal.)

2) The need for certainty – it is a common trait to want to control the outcomes of events and our efforts. But you must learn to accept what you have no control over; and that is almost every outcome in your life. If you accept that life is a complex, dynamic playing field that is constantly in motion and never stable you will be far stronger through resilience and adaptability.

3) Failing to compartmentalize confidence and humility – you must be a citizen of two worlds: experience two distinct realities – an external experience and an internal experience. On the outside you must behave confident and grounded like a mountain. On the inside you must be humble and flowing with the fluidity and resilience of a river.

4) Making kindness and courage mutually exclusive – It is a mystery to me why people can’t see the reason “nice guys finish last”. It is certainly NOT because they are nice. In almost every real or fictional account of a nice guy finishing last what torpedoed him (or her) was not the highly valuable quality of niceness or kindness, but rather the lack of courage. For some reason people have come to think of those qualities as mutually exclusive. They are not. They are both required to be a true success.

5) Battle without reserve but don’t fail to repose with abandon – there is increasing pressure to rest and relax less. This has been the trend around the world, even causing workers to feel guilty for wanting to take breaks.  The solution is not to become less diligent or less determined to take part fully, but rather to remember that R&R is as important to success as hard work.

So, yes, give it all you got. Don’t save enough for the trip back – go forth each day with the idea that it is your last and you have nothing to hold back for the return trip. Make each day and each hour of your working life count as if everything depends on your efforts. But when the day is over or the week-end or month-end break arrives take it with impish seriousness. Really relax and allow you mind and body to recuperate. Also do not forget to feed your soul.  Internal strength comes from humility. Humility means cultivating an awareness of that which is greater than you. This can be God, the universe, nature, humanity, or that which you understand to be greater. You will be empowered by not feeling like it is you at the top of the heap.

6) Fear of failure –If it is worth doing you must be willing to fail and you must embrace the possibility of pain and loss of reputation. You must know the risks and own them. Go into the pitch with full knowledge of the worst possible outcome and be willing to continue forward at full speed in spite of this. People mistake blind optimism with courage and think that fear of failure is having negative thoughts. This is psychological-babble and rubbish. Fear of failure begins with being unwilling to acknowledge the worst and ends with being unprepared for it. There is no daring in delusion. It is looking into the darkness and choosing to advance that makes up courage.

7) Envy and Greed – the unwillingness to see what others have to share, to seek help when it is needed and to reward those who make sacrifices for your success. In the past we valued the time people gave us with monetary designations as if it is possible to put a value on the increments of time that make up a human life. If we look at those who take part in our business growth as contributing their time on earth which can hardly be valued as less or greater than your own then we may have a different consciousness when we decide how to remunerate and reward. There is a beautiful logic and empowerment to being increasingly fair in the way we conduct ourselves.

It is certainly worthwhile to look deeply at the implications and existence of these issues in your personal life. It is even more important to understand how the organizations that we created are not just cultivating these types of dysfunctions but are actually requiring them. Subsequent articles will look at how these unhealthy behaviors can be eliminated from an institution’s deep structure.

Where are you on the management scale of newbie to expert hacker?

Three Levels of Management

Companies and institutions exist at different levels of functionality. It is important for the person(s) responsible for the organization to honestly and accurately assess their state of managerial needs. In other words, are you a “Newbie”, an “Experienced User”, or an “Expert Hacker”?

As a starting place we can look at three general levels or grades of management.

Beginner’s Management [Newbie or Management 1.0]

Fundamentals of managing an organization:

  1. (Forecast & Plan) – Examining the future and drawing up a plan of action. (The elements of strategy.)
  2. To organize – Build up the structure, both material and human, of the undertaking.
  3. To command – Maintain the activity among the personnel.
  4. To coordinate – Binding together, unifying and harmonizing all activity and effort.
  5. To control – Seeing that everything occurs in conformity with established rule and expressed command.

Fundamentals of being a manager:

  1. They ask “what needs to be done?”
  2. They ask “What’s right for the enterprise?”
  3. They develop action plans.
  4. They took responsibility for decisions.
  5. They took responsibility for communicating.
  6. They were focused on opportunities rather than problems.
  7. They ran productive meetings.
  8. They thought and said “we” rather than “I”.

And the Fundaments of managing by objectives:

  1. Cascading of organizational goals and objectives, (For example, a top level goal of increasing sales by 20% over a defined period may require a bottom level goal of increasing marketing effectiveness or marketing coverage in order to reach the sales set.)
  2. Specific objectives for each member,
  3. Participative decision making,
  4. Explicit time period, and
  5. Performance evaluation and provide feedback.

(Peter Drucker’s Management by Objectives also introduced the SMART acronym for checking the validity of the objectives, which should be:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Realistic! and
  • Time-related. )

If the person(s) responsible for managing are able to look at the eighteen points above and determine they are more or less in place, they are operating at the most fundamental or beginner’s level of management. If the company management feels it is operating below this standard most of these practices can be self taught by studying them on the internet or visiting a bookstore.

Informed Management [Experienced User or Management 2.0]

While there are many aspects to informed management some of the basics that must be present are:

In depth financial planning and controls: this usually requires someone with a graduate degree in business, such as an MBA or equivalent and is proficient in:

  • Business modeling
  • Business planning (analysis, forecasting, budgeting…)
  • Capital raising strategies
  • Risk assessment
  • Valuation
  • Corporate Taxation

Use of a more dynamic management systems: such as Value Based Management, which tries to streamline and integrate the following into its corporate purpose and values:

  • the corporate mission (business philosophy),
  • the corporate strategy to achieve the corporate mission and purpose,
  • corporate governance (who determines the corporate mission and regulates the activities of the corporation),
  • the corporate culture,
  • corporate communication,
  • organization of the corporation,
  • decision processes and systems,
  • performance management processes and systems, and
  • reward processes and systems,

A Value Based Management System has three principal objectives:

  1. Creating Value – How the company can increase or generate maximum future value; more or less equal to strategy
  2. Managing for Value – Governance, change management, organizational culture, communication, leadership
  3. Measuring Value- Valuation

Value Based Management is dependent on the corporate purpose and the corporate values. The corporate purpose can either be economic (Shareholder value) or can also aim at other constituents directly (Stakeholder value).

The application of Quality Management – the basics of which involve quality planning, control, and improvement. The benefit of this is:

  1. costs decrease because of less rework, fewer mistakes, fewer delays, and better use of time and materials;
  2. productivity improves;
  3. market share increases with better quality and prices
  4. the company increases profitability and stays in business; and
  5. the number of jobs increases

One of the best summaries of Quality Management was written my Edward Deming:

  1. Create consistency of purpose toward the improvement of product and service, and communicate this goal to all employees.
  2. Adopt the new philosophy of quality throughout all levels with the organization.
  3. Cease dependence on inspection to achieve quality; understand that quality comes from improving processes.
  4. No longer select suppliers based solely on price. Move towards developing a long-term relationship with a single supplier.
  5. Processes, products, and services should be improved constantly; reducing waste.
  6. Institute extensive on-the-job training.
  7. Improve supervision.
  8. Drive out fear of expressing ideas and concerns.
  9. Break down barriers between departments. People should be encouraged to work together as a team.
  10. Eliminate slogans and targets for the workforce.
  11. Eliminate work quotas on the factory floor.
  12. Remove barriers that rob workers of their right to pride of workmanship.
  13. Institute a program of education and self-improvement.
  14. Make sure to put everyone in the company to work to accomplish the transformation.

Customer relationship management (CRM) – a widely-implemented strategy for managing a company’s interactions with customers, clients and sales prospects. It involves using technology to organize, automate, and synchronize business processes—principally sales activities, but also those for marketing, customer service, and technical support.

CRM has three principal objectives:

  1. Acquire new customers
  2. Enhance customer service
  3. Retain and continually engage client base

The benefits of CRM must be defined, risks assessed, and cost quantified in three general areas:

  1. Processes: Though these systems have many technological components, business processes lie at its core. It can be seen as a more client-centric way of doing business, enabled by technology that consolidates and intelligently distributes pertinent information about clients, sales, marketing effectiveness, responsiveness, and market trends. Therefore, a company must analyze its business workflows and processes before choosing a technology platform; some will likely need re-engineering to better serve the overall goal of winning and satisfying clients. Moreover, planners need to determine the types of client information that are most relevant, and how best to employ them.
  2. People: For an initiative to be effective, an organization must convince its staff that the new technology and workflows will benefit employees as well as clients. Senior executives need to be strong and visible advocates who can clearly state and support the case for change. Collaboration, teamwork, and two-way communication should be encouraged across hierarchical boundaries, especially with respect to process improvement.
  3. Technology: In evaluating technology, key factors include alignment with the company’s business process strategy and goals, including the ability to deliver the right data to the right employees and sufficient ease of adoption and use. Choosing appropriate technological solutions is best undertaken by a carefully chosen group of executives who understand the business processes to be automated as well as the software issues

Human Resource Management:  this is the management of the people you have hired

  • Workforce planning
  • Recruitment (sometimes separated into attraction and selection)
  • Induction, orientation and organizational socialization
  • Skills management
  • Training and development
  • Personnel administration
  • Compensation in wage or salary
  • Time management
  • Travel management (sometimes assigned to accounting rather than HRM)
  • Payroll (sometimes assigned to accounting rather than HRM)
  • Employee benefits administration
  • Personnel cost planning
  • Performance appraisal
  • Labor relations

Experts in this study the science of Industrial Relations, which is quite extensive.  Wikipedia had 195 pages listed under the related subject of ‘organizational studies and human resource management’.

Informed Management in summary: If your organization has in place at the very least, some version of these five attributes of management, namely:

  1. Advanced financial planning and controls
  2. Some dynamic management system
  3. A system for Quality Control
  4. A Customer Relationship Management strategy, and
  5. Human Resource Management

then you can be considered an organization at the informed level of management.

If you feel you are not functioning at the informed level of management then you would be well served by hiring a management consultant. There are many capable consultants ranging from one person independent contractors to large multi-national firms like McKinsey & Company.

The standard of informed management is really just the status quo. It is where a company that hopes to remain viable must be. But to go beyond the status quo, to operate at the more elusive, and much desired level of being a remarkable enterprise requires advanced management.

Advanced Management [Expert Hacker or Management 3.0]

To have your management and employees working at a level of exceptional performance, and constant innovation under extreme market pressures requires the input of experts in organizational psychology which is several levels above normal business management consulting.

As described in the previous sections regular business management consultants focus on work flow, productivity outcomes, information systems and other external factors.

Industrial or organizational psychology focuses on the underlying and implicit dynamics that shape and influence the individuals in the organization. These difficult to detect psychological factors set the limits for how well your work force will be able to achieve your business goals. Failure to address the deep seeded dynamics will also suppress individual potential and cause personnel to work well below capacity.

The goal of advanced management solutions is to create a remarkable organization that will outperform competitors. This is done by introducing advanced dynamics that can instigate a companywide chain reaction of individual improvements and new group/ team capacities.

An astute organizational psychologist does this by dismantling dysfunctional dynamic and problematic behaviors and incorporating new roles and perspectives and seeding better expectations and behaviors.  These new dynamics act on the resilience and adaptability inherent in most people and can uncover performance capacities that the individuals themselves might not realize they had.

Industrial or organizational psychology is a management process that knows that both humans and institutions have and underlying psychology. Like humans, institutions are mostly unaware of the dramatic influence of psychological processes. Neither is fully aware of how these psychological forces are controlling them and shaping their outcomes.

The organizational psychologist understands, however, that of the two, the institutional psychology is the dominant force. Change the psychology of the institute and you will change the psychology of the individuals.  Ignoring this and just trying to change the psychology of the individuals who make up the institute may not change the institute, and they will, over time, most likely revert or succumb to the influence of the institution.

For this reason advanced management requires support from specialists in the psycho-dynamic-transformation of six key aspects of your organization. They are:

  1. productivity,
  2. innovation,
  3. stress management,
  4. health & wellness,
  5. team/group development, and
  6. employee management

Industrial /organizational psychology addresses traits that are often intrinsic or internal such as

  • creativity
  • self-motivation
  • patience
  • honesty
  • courage
  • kindness and
  • confidence

to name  just a few. A large body of scientific work has made it clear that these factors can be measurably improved by applying psychological methodology to the business environment. (Wikipedia lists 15 distinct scientific journals with the specific focus of industrial and organizational psychology.)

Influencing these types of human characteristic is done using a range of research-driven tools which includes doing both basic and applied research, as well as primary and secondary research. Different approaches include:

  • Strategically focused research – this is constructive research with the greatest likelihood of creating practical and commercial applications
  • Clinical research – empirical research to test the efficacy of various hypotheses on individuals in controlled trials
  • Directed research – this is research conducted in a response to an outside request to explore a specific area of scientific expertise
  • Systematic review – a summary of research that uses explicit methods to perform a thorough literature search and critical appraisal of individual studies to identify the valid and applicable evidence
  • Meta-analysis – a statistical study of the results of several studies that address a set of related research hypotheses

Industrial psychologists also rely on diverse data sources including:

  • psychometrics and personality assessments
  • quasi-experiments
  • human judgment
  • historical databases
  • objective measures of work performance and
  • questionnaires or surveys

Altogether the industrial/organizational psychologist can change a company’s culture, improving member performance and resulting in greater outcomes. Some of the areas affected by advanced management solutions include:

  • organizational development
  • time management
  • decision making
  • motivation
  • communication
  • creative thinking
  • divergent vs. convergent thinking
  • problem solving
  • critical thinking
  • employee interaction and co-operation
  • stress and health
  • reducing health care costs
  • reducing absenteeism (and presenteeism)
  • work/life balance
  • the impact of health on productivity
  • nutrition and productivity
  • leadership skills
  • team collaboration
  • employee selection
  • employee retention
  • remuneration and compensation
  • executive training
  • presentation skills

The future success of business will depend on new levels of collaboration between business leaders and experts in social sciences like industrial psychology. By allowing an expert to help with organizational development the management can focus on what they are in business to do.

Organizational Psychology – the dominant force

Fix the institute; heal the man – the underlying hypothesis for my over all approach to healing society through organizational design and changing the psychology of an institute

Part of my working hypothesis is, “Humans may have originally created the institutions around us, but eventually these institutions come to create us.”

Industrial or organizational psychology is a management process that knows that both humans and institutions have an underlying psychology. The organizational psychologist also understands that of the two, the institutional psychology is the dominant force. Change the psychology of the institute and you will change the psychology of the individuals.

By institution I mean most any place where humans interact regularly: school, work, home, church, and so on. Think of institutions as any matrix of roles, e.g. mother, daughter, grandparents, or worker, supervisor, executive, or student, teacher, administrator.  (Of course for our work we are going to be focusing on the workplace.)

There have always been brave souls who buck the overwhelming influence of societal pressure. Sadly, however, science and history have provided copious evidence for the fact that humans tend to submit to the influence and expectation of the institutions around us.

An institute is not a living being, at least not in the way you and I are. It is, however, a dynamic entity, made up of unspoken and usually unseen expectations, rules, customs, mores, and behavioral demands.  Think of institutional psychology as a deep structure that acts as a hidden, generative grammar. This grammar strongly influences behavior. This grammar is made up of rules that inform the psychology of the institute.

These rules and values enter into the so called psychology of the institute at the time we humans create it, so we are responsible. But we often instill these traits without being aware we are doing it. Consequently the psychological traits of the institution tend to reflect what is going on in the culture at large. If the prevalent traits in society are sexism, racism, classism, individualism, or patriarchal, homophobic, atheistic, fascistic, or any other of the fear based human behaviors, these tend to become imbedded into the psyche of the institute without any one purposely putting them there or even conscious of how it happens.

Once we have built our institutions in such a manner we then tend to live within their expectations and under its influence. And this is dangerous, and a sign of going through life inattentively. But you can see how we are living in our creations.

The bright spot in all this, and the essence of my life’s work, is that humans are marvelously adaptive. So, big and small, we can rebuild the institutions of daily life. We can recreate them in a way that will help shape humanity into the best of traits, such as, kindness, courage, honesty, selflessness, and more.

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This is not to say that humans do not have sufficient free will to define their mores and behaviors on their own, they do. But in general they don’t. This is because we are extremely social and interconnected beings. We appreciate deeply the support and reinforcement of those around us, and we like to offer the same. But in the context of operating within our various institutions, family life, school, the workplace, where the underlying expectations that lead to acceptable or “appropriate” behavior has been infused with the fear based characteristic I mentioned above, then we inadvertently (or unmindfully) but understandably  conform to the norm. Sadly it is easier to just go along with the flow. And sometimes the economic pressure to do so is great. After all, the student needs her degree, the journalist has to pay the rent, so failing to conform can economically unbearable. The added dilemma is that conformity over extended periods of time is rarely superficial. Humans tend to internalize-that is embed into their own psyche-behaviors and expectations that are repeated or maintained over extended periods of time.

This is why I am focused on helping change the psychology of institutions more so than just the individuals (who I am also willing to help). But if I take 1000 people out of an institution with a 1000 people, put them through a three week mindfulness boot camp, strengthening their character and motivating them positively, when I send them back to the unchanged institution, the majority will revert to the influence of the institute’s psychology. Some won’t. But of those, most will end up leaving. This is the overwhelming pattern in humanity today. So you can see why I focus my work around the idea that, “Humans may have originally created the institutions around us, but eventually these institutions come to create us.”