Best Practives in Leadership Development & Organization Change 30

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BIBLIOGRAPHY A good source for background information is The Balancing Act: Mastering the Com- peting Demands of Leadership by K. Patterson, J. Grenny, R. McMillan, and A. Switzler (Cincinnati, Ohio: Thompson Executive Press, 1996). This book points out that no matter how large or compelling the vision, change leaders need to focus on specific behaviors as targets for change. The authors develop an understanding of what supports existing behavior and what needs to change for new behavior to replace it. The book includes a chapter on how to gain leverage through social influence by working with opinion leaders. Also see Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High (New York: McGraw-Hill, 2002) by the same authors. This book describes the pivotal role that certain common but challenging conversations play in accelerating or impeding change—and the skills for succeeding at them. The book outlines the principles referred to in this chapter that were taught by leaders at Lockheed Martin. Everett Rogers’ Diffusion of Innovations (New York: Free Press, 1983) is a seminal work on leading change and the foundation for the opinion leader intervention described in this chapter. Rogers describes the challenges faced in the diffusion of any new idea, whether a new behavior or new medicine, and outlines best prac- tices from ongoing meta-research into the hundreds of available studies of change. In The Leadership Engine: How Winning Companies Build Leaders at Every Level (New York: Harper Trade, 1997), Eli Cohen and Noel Tichy conclude that winning companies have leaders who “nurture the development of other leaders at all levels of the organization.” They explain that top leaders must develop a teachable point of view on business ideas and values, and they must have a personal vision that can be codified, embodied as a story, and communicated throughout the organization. In short, they argue that leaders are teachers, regardless of their level or role. The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference (New York: Little Brown and Company, 2000), by Malcolm Gladwell, describes various roles played by informal influencers. Gladwell describes Connectors, Mavens, and Salesmen—three kinds of informal leaders—and their pivotal role in the rapid diffusion of new ideas. ABOUT THE CONTRIBUTORS Joseph Grenny is a founding partner in VitalSmarts, Inc., a management con- sulting and training company located in Orem, Utah. Prior to starting his own company, he spent six years as an executive with the Covey Leadership Center. In over fifteen years of organization development consulting, he has worked with senior leaders in Fortune 100 and government organizations to bring about clear and measurable culture change. He has authored or co-authored numerous articles in the areas of personal and organizational effectiveness, and co-authored The Balancing Act: Mastering the Competing Demands of Leadership and Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High. 260 BEST PRACTICES IN LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT AND ORGANIZATION CHANGE cart_14399_ch10.qxd 10/19/04 12:25 PM Page 260 The latter book is currently on the New York Times and Wall Street Journal best-seller lists. He has designed and delivered major culture-change initiatives for AT&T, Coregis Insurance, IBM, the State of California, and Lockheed Martin, among others. Contact: Joseph @ VitalSmarts.com. Lawrence Peters is professor of management at the Neeley School of Business at Texas Christian University and president of Leadership Solutions. He has pub- lished over fifty articles in leading journals and books, has written two case- books, and is senior editor of the Encyclopedic Dictionary of Human Resource Management. He has been the recipient of college and university teaching awards, and specializes in the area of leadership. He currently teaches leader- ship courses at the undergraduate, M.B.A., and Executive M.B.A. levels. He consults with private and public organizations in a variety of areas associated with change efforts. In the past three years, he has consulted with Bell Helicopter, Chubb Insurance, Ford Motor Company, The Hartford Insurance Company, Lockheed Martin, Sprint PCS, and Verizon Communications. Contact: L.Peters @ TCU.edu. M. Quinn Price is a senior manager in the Organizational Effectiveness Group at AT&T Wireless. His expertise includes leading cultural transformations, designing responsive organizations, and managing large-scale change. His clients have included Microsoft, Safeway, S.C. Johnson, and Lockheed Martin, among others. His work has been featured in the International HR Journal and HR Magazine. Contact: quinn.price @ attws.com. Karie Willyerd is the chief talent officer for Solectron Corporation, an elec- tronics manufacturing services company. She previously worked at both H. J. Heinz and Lockheed Martin, where she was director of People and Orga- nization Development. Currently she is on the board of the International Athena Foundation and is a former board member of ASTD. She holds a master’s degree in industrial and performance technology from Boise State University and bachelor’s degrees in English and journalism from Texas Christian University. She is a 2003 candidate for an Executive Doctorate in Management from Case Western Reserve University. Contact: KarieWillyerd @ ca.slr.com. Change Champions—Collectively, this group has served as internal and exter- nal consultants to a number of major corporations, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations that were attempting to make significant changes (see individual bios). These client companies have helped us better understand the change levers reported in this chapter—some by not embracing them, others by actively doing so. The difference was dramatic and helped shape our think- ing. We are thankful to clients with whom we have worked and know our understanding reflects what we learned together about creating successful transformations. LOCKHEED MARTIN 261 cart_14399_ch10.qxd 10/19/04 12:25 PM Page 261 262 CHAPTER ELEVEN Mattel This case study describes Mattel’s Project Platypus—a dynamic change and innovation process for bringing out human potential in an organization through the synthesis of collaborative, action-, and results-oriented experiences, resulting in new business opportunities and high-performance products. OVERVIEW 263 INTRODUCTION 263 Postmodernism 264 Company as Living System 264 Figure 11.1: Platypus 265 THE INITIATIVE 265 The Living Stage 266 The Theater 266 PROJECT PLATYPUS: THE PROCESS 267 Scene 1: Immersion 267 Exhibit 11.1: Project Platypus: Organization of People, Ideas, and Experiences 268 Exhibit 11.2: Elements of Story 269 Scene 2: Expression 269 Exhibit 11.3: Bonds and Membrane Form 270 Figure 11.2: Person, Obstacle, Want/Need 270 Scene 3: Alignment 271 Figure 11.3: Bonds Strengthen 272 Scene 4: Alignment 273 Figure 11.4: Realignment 273 Scene 5: Alignment 274 Figure 11.5: Impulses and Chaos 275 Scene 6: Evolution 276 Figure 11.6: Impulse and Coherence 276 Scene 7: Communication 278 Figure 11.7: Interaction with Exterior Systems 278 S S cart_14399_ch11.qxd 10/19/04 1:13 PM Page 262 MATTEL 263 RESULTS AND IMPACT 279 Figure 11.8: Comments from Platypi 280 ABOUT THE CONTRIBUTORS 280 OVERVIEW This case study describes the unique approach used by the Girls Division at Mattel to successfully reinvent how the world’s number one toy company inno- vates. This is an originative prototype that demonstrates how companies can leverage their human assets through new ways to collaborate. The organization initiated a re-occurring product development process involv- ing employees from all areas of the company, which is centered on the concept of living systems within a theatrical model. It promotes collaboration, self- organization, self-generation, and self-correction. The division has established a ground-breaking methodology that capitalizes on human potential, creating new brand opportunities for growth. The lessons learned by Mattel, Girls Division are important for any company or community seeking new ways to ensure a healthy, sustainable, and innovative future. INTRODUCTION It’s the year 2001. Mattel, the world’s largest toy company, had survived its first annual loss in more than a decade due to the 1999 acquisition of the Learning Company. CEO Robert Eckert, formerly Kraft Foods president, had been in place for a little over a year. During this time, the focus had been primarily on cost cutting and supply chain improvement. Mattel had become an efficient machine. It created over three thousand new toys annually between each of its three divisions: Boys, Girls, and Fisher-Price. Ivy Ross, senior vice president of design and development for the Girls Divi- sion, had been at the company for about three and a half years. She had wit- nessed and participated in many reengineering processes. Mattel already dominated most of the traditional toy categories. It was clear that in order to keep growing, Mattel needed to start looking for new opportunities. This meant exploring emerging patterns in the marketplace or creating new ones. Based on known realities of Mattel’s processes, Ross’s instinct told her that a new process to innovation had to be developed. It was important that the new process leverage all the human assets that Mattel had. As Margaret Wheatley puts it, “If we want to succeed with knowledge management, we must attend cart_14399_ch11.qxd 10/19/04 1:13 PM Page 263 264 BEST PRACTICES IN LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT AND ORGANIZATION CHANGE to human needs and dynamics. . . . Knowledge [is not] the asset or capital. Peo- ple are.” The key to innovation lies in creating a community where everyone feels valued, with passion and trust at it’s core. The end result must be some- thing greater than any one person could have created by themselves. The process must be as innovative as the brands it would produce. It must mirror society from both a cultural and humanistic point of view. What follows is a description of the research that influenced the approach and methodology that has become known as “Project Platypus.” Postmodernism Postmodernism is a term first used in architecture during the 1960s, when archi- tects started to reject the unique architecture of modernism, expressing instead a desire for the more classical forms of the past. They began incorporating elements of the past forms onto modern designs. The result was somewhat of a hybrid or collage approach that used several styles in one structure. This cre- ated a certain playfulness of architecture, where there were no boundaries and no rules, another trait of postmodernism. Art is seen as process performance, where the artist shares identity with the audience, as opposed to art being made in isolation and then validated by the audience. There is a movement toward improvisation with an emphasis on what is emergent or what is being created at the moment, not what is scripted. Postmodernism calls for an end to the dom- inance of an overarching belief in scientific rationality, because it denies the existence of any ultimate principle. Nothing can explain everything for all groups, cultures, traditions, or race. Postmodernism focuses on the relative truth for each person. Interpretation is everything; reality is merely our interpretation of what the world means to us. There is a rejection of the autonomous individ- ual with an emphasis upon the collective unconscious experience. There is a merging of subject and object, self and other, and a loss of centralized control, with more politics at the local level, due to a plurality of viewpoints. Company as Living System What is a living system? It is a body that has the capacity to self-organize, self- generate, self-correct, and self-regulate. It cannot be controlled, only contained or perturbed by sending impulses rather than instructions. A living system thrives on feedback, and it is known to produce a spontaneous emergence of order at critical points of instability. It seeks relationships and connections that lead to more complex systems and relationships. It is alive and life enhancing. There is no reason that we shouldn’t think of a company in the same way. Most of the assets in a company are human beings. Unfortunately, an assembly- line machine mentality has become etched into our corporate thinking. Social sustainability theorist Fritjof Capra notes, “Seeing a company as a machine also implies that it will eventually run down, unless it is periodically serviced and cart_14399_ch11.qxd 10/19/04 1:13 PM Page 264 MATTEL 265 rebuilt by management. It cannot change by itself; all changes need to be designed by someone else.” A living system, however, contains all the genera- tive attributes that a company needs to survive and flourish. Some of these attrib- utes are the constant generation of novelty, partnership through relationship, and a strong sense of community around a common set of values. Living systems continually create, or re-create themselves by transforming or replacing their components. Companies, in contrast, have a very hard time changing. In fact, they often have to be “reengineered” instead of naturally evolving. Therefore, it was determined that the Mattel process should embrace the known tenants of postmodernism: ambiguity, hybridity, improvisation, perfor- mance, and fun. It should embody the attributes of a living system as well: openness, regeneration, inclusiveness, chaos, and coherence. The stage was set. Ross was the playwright and she needed a director. She hired David Kuehler to lead the project. Project Platypus was born! THE INITIATIVE Project Platypus was launched in 2001 as a way of creating new opportuni- ties for Mattel. The deliverables include a new brand that can deliver at least $100 million in revenue by the third year in the marketplace. The final Figure 11.1 Platypus. Plat-y-pus (plat e pes) n, pl. nes. 1. A semi-aquatic, web-footed, egg-laying mammal with a duck’s bill. 2. An animal made up of two different species. 3. An uncommon mix. 4. A whole new kind of animal. 5. An accidental creature. 6. An animal that never should have existed. 7. Unexpected, yet oddly understandable. cart_14399_ch11.qxd 10/19/04 1:13 PM Page 265 266 BEST PRACTICES IN LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT AND ORGANIZATION CHANGE presentation includes tested products, packaging, merchandising ideas, and a full financial analysis. This was accomplished by choosing twelve Mattel employees from different areas of the business unit. They vacated their existing jobs for twelve weeks and shed their titles and their hierarchical way of working. They worked in the Project Platypus space as part of a living system in a postmodern way. Alumni were released back into the system, where they utilized their newly acquired skills to share the process with their managers and colleagues. Each session would be unique. The participants and the vision, or business opportunity that need to be explored, would change with each session. Finally, Ross and Kuehler needed a model to embody this kind of thinking. They found it in the theater. The Living Stage Immerse people in universal and extreme situations which leave them only a couple of ways out, arrange things so that in choosing the way out they choose themselves, and you’ve won—the play is good. —Jean-Paul Sartre, Sartre on Theater 1 In theater, people from a variety of disciplines converge in one place and serve a common vision, the play. It’s a process of openness, collaboration, and whole- ness. The group defines a working methodology that allows for personal and group expression—a living system. The group’s process must embody “real life” so they can create a believable fantasy life on stage. Although plays, and the play itself, change from production to production, there is an innate process and language that is carried inside each member of the community. It allows members to align themselves to a common vision, the play, yet remains flexible and open enough for creativity to emerge organically. The Theater A new process required a new theater, a place that would inspire collaboration, play, and creative thinking. Space was located across the parking lot from the Design Center. Grass-green flooring was installed, and skylights were punched into the roof, providing bright sunlight. “It feels like a meadow,” said one of the construction crew. The furniture consisted of beanbag chairs, ergonomically designed office seating, and large rubber balls to sit and bounce on. All of the desks were on wheels so they could be moved around to create a variety of group configurations. Many of the possessions taken for granted in traditional offices would be shared, such as computers, telephones, and office supplies. Adjacent to the great room were two smaller rooms. The first, a library and lounge for reading and off-line socializing, and the second, a sound room that contained a sound chair, developed by Dr. Jeff Thompson, that would encourage cart_14399_ch11.qxd 10/19/04 1:13 PM Page 266 MATTEL 267 maximum creativity by aligning the right and left halves of the brain by using music embedded with binary beats. Finally, a twelve-by-forty-foot pushpin wall was installed, as well as floor-to-ceiling chalkboards. These would serve as living journals to document the processes to come. PROJECT PLATYPUS: THE PROCESS Exhibit 11.1 captures how people, ideas, and shared experiences aligned them- selves during a twelve-week session. Three independent, yet related, variables were charted over time: the wall (ideas contained on ten- by forty-foot wall), the people (cellular alignment of living systems), and the scenes (experiences and events the group shared). Scene 1: Immersion (Weeks 1 & 2) Immersion set the field for a unique culture to organically unfold. Speakers, par- ticipants, and experiences were programmed with great detail. There was no specific formula. We set the vision and served it (see Exhibit 11.2). Not the process of work. The solutions evolved organically as a result of what we did to discover it. First, the leaders shared the project vision with the group to give them a sense of mission. Second, they planted the seedlings of culture by providing the group with a collection of shared experiences that personified the core values of immersion: shared experience, shared knowledge, and self-discovery. The Wall. The vision was posted on the wall as a way for the group to visualize and hold the overall objective in their minds. The People. Speakers and outside experts were invited in to promote the core values of immersion. Knowledge speakers provided the group with a 360-degree view of the vision. If you’re trying to design a car, you don’t just look at other cars. You look for knowledge and inspiration in out-of-the-way places. We consulted with a Jungian analyst, a Ph.D. in child development, and a Japanese tea master to hone the team’s observational skills. The collection of speakers provided the group with the information and context they needed to approach the project with fresh eyes. Self-discovery speakers helped each Platypus rediscover his or her dreams and individuality. A participant said, “This process helped me find a way back to myself.” Some of the speakers included a practitioner in collaborative living systems and a researcher in music and brainwave activity. Members were encouraged to spend time in a sound chair to stimulate creativity. The cart_14399_ch11.qxd 10/19/04 1:13 PM Page 267 268 BEST PRACTICES IN LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT AND ORGANIZATION CHANGE The Vision Scene 1, Immersion Knowledge Self-discovery Developing a living system The Wall The journal of story and visual processes People The evolution of living systems Scences Experiences and observations Scene 2, Expression Story Multiple disciplines Face-to-face Scene 3, Alignment Improvisation and brainstorming Strengthening bonds Scene 4, Alignment Alignment around an idea The individual and the group Research Gifts Scene 5, Alignment Chaos Trust and respect Coherent thinking Scene 6, Evolution Stewards Partners Building Testing Scene 7, Communication Presentation Brand story and strategy System and products Wks. 1–2 Wks. 7–10 Wks. 11–12 Wk. 3 Wk. 4 Wk. 5 Wk. 6 Story Story Story Story Story Exterior impulses Bonds and membrane form Bonds strengthen Realignment Impulses and chaos Impulses and coherence Interaction with exterior systems System/Products Brainstorm Brainstorm/Ideas Brand System/ Products Brand Brainstorm Research Research Research Brand Story and Strategy System and Products The Wall — A 10 X 40 foot wall representing the alignment of ideas, stories, and systems. The People — Symbols identifying the alignment of people as a Living System. Scenes — Interconnected events and experiences prompting alignment and observation. Exhibit 11.1. Project Platypus: Organization of People, Ideas, and Experiences cart_14399_ch11.qxd 10/19/04 1:13 PM Page 268 MATTEL 269 objective was to help each participant discover a renewed sense of self and expressiveness. Creative culture speakers set the groundwork for a productive living system. A cultural mythologist discussed the significance of archetypes in story and cul- ture, and an improvisation artist led the group in a variety of theatrical games to teach participants the fundamentals of group storytelling and brainstorminf language in a science of emotion'>and an improvisation artist led the group in a variety of theatrical games to teach participants the fundamentals of group storytelling and brainstorming. One of the most important rules of improvisational theater is to respond to an idea by saying, “yes, and . . .” which sets the stage for acknowledgment and acceptance of ideas. By the end of immersion, the change in many of the individuals was notice- able. People began to dress differently; they laughed more. Relationships were forming, and people were more comfortable expressing their feelings and ideas. This is often referred to as the “inclusion phase” of a living system. The culture was beginning to emerge. Lessons Learned. Time. The group was given time to “graze,” to learn, and to develop meaningful relationships. Many organizations don’t allow employees the time they need to prepare for an initiative. The process is often mechanical and impersonal. “Here’s the objective and the deadline. You, you, and you work together.” Imagine the innovative ideas that are lost because people become slaves to a process. Scene 2: Expression (Week 3) The intent of expression was to allow individuals to express their interpretation of the vision by using their learnings from the first two weeks while continuing to develop community (Exhibit 11.3). The group was made up of people from multiple disciplines. Some expressed their ideas visually, others through words or technology. A common “language” was required—story. What does a person want or need? And what is keeping them from getting it? The diagram below is the foundation of all stories. Whether it is “Little Red Riding Hood,” War and Peace, or a brand story, it all starts here. The Vision Scene 1, Immersion Knowledge Self-discovery Developing a living system Exterior impulses Wks. 1–2 Exhibit 11.2. Elements of Story Source: Exhibit created by Bill Idelson. cart_14399_ch11.qxd 10/19/04 1:13 PM Page 269 . medicine, and outlines best prac- tices from ongoing meta-research into the hundreds of available studies of change. In The Leadership Engine: How Winning. certain common but challenging conversations play in accelerating or impeding change and the skills for succeeding at them. The book outlines the principles
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