Best Practives in Leadership Development & Organization Change 31

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270 BEST PRACTICES IN LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT AND ORGANIZATION CHANGE Person Obstacle Want/Need The Wall. Subjective and objective storytelling exercises were performed and placed on the wall. Subjective—Find your passion in the vision. Create a story about what this initiative means to you in a very personal way. Platypi were asked to par- ticipate in an exercise called “What If?” For example, “What if we could create a brand that helped children understand their emotions?” Objective—Tell a story based on something you have observed. Platypi were sent into the field to perform observational research. They created stories by watching children play. They identified the physical, mental, and emotional aspects of what was taking place. Platypi shared their stories with the rest of the group, then posted them on the wall. They analyzed them and looked for emergent patterns. The patterns provided the sparks of the emerging brand story. Figure 11.2 Person, Obstacle, Want/Need. Scene 2, Expression Story Multiple disciplines Face-to-face Bonds and membrane form Wk. 3 Story Exhibit 11.3. Bonds and Membrane Form cart_14399_ch11.qxd 10/19/04 1:13 PM Page 270 The People. Although people were working individually they still needed to stay connected. A check-in called “Face-to-Face” was implemented. Each morn- ing the group met in the center of the room, formed a circle of chairs, and sim- ply connected with each other, as humans, before the day and the work commenced. Face-to-Face. Any human service where the one who is served should be loved in the process requires community, a face-to-face grouping which the liability of each for the other and all for one is unlimited, or as close to it as it is possible to get. Trust and respect are highest in this circumstance and an accepted ethic that gives strength to all is reinforced. —Robert K. Greenleaf, Servant Leadership 2 Face-to-face served three purposes. The first two are explained here, and the third will be explained later. One, it provided people with a forum to connect with each other, and to be “in relationship.” It was important for them to under- stand their mutual involvement. They discussed topics that were related to the project, or sometimes, they talked about completely unrelated matters. The idea was to look each other in the eye, connect, and renew their relationships on a daily basis. Two, it allowed people to name and resolve conflict. Someone once said, spouses should never go to bed angry. The team’s motto was, never go through the day in conflict. When people are “in relationship” conflict isn’t a bad thing. In fact, it’s necessary for a living system to survive. Face-to-face gave people the opportunity to name their differences and seek resolution within a healthy and respectful community. At the end of the expression phase the Platypi seemed fulfilled. They created meaningful stories that they felt passionate about, and by committing their stories to the wall they “announced themselves” to the community. In an uncom- plicated way, they were beginning to build trust and respect for each other. Lessons Learned. Vulnerability ϭ creativity. The group connected on a daily basis, which held them in relationships of trust and respect. When people are vulnerable, they are the most open—free to create. Traditionally, employees have been told, “leave your feelings at home. This is business.” When organizations strip humanness from the workplace they strip away human potential and creativity as well. Scene 3: Alignment (Week 4) This was the first of three scenes of alignment. It was designed to build on the sto- ries that the team had created and strengthen the bonds between individuals (Fig- ure 11.3). A renowned product development firm and an improvisational artist MATTEL 271 cart_14399_ch11.qxd 10/19/04 1:13 PM Page 271 272 BEST PRACTICES IN LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT AND ORGANIZATION CHANGE Scene 3, Alignment Improvisation and brainstorming Strengthening bonds Bonds strengthen Wk. 4 Story BrainstormBrainstorm Figure 11.3 Bonds Strengthen. were brought in to lead the group in Creation workshops. The combination of improvisational theater and product development brainstorming techniques helped the group create the tools they needed to define their own ideation process. The Wall. There were twelve stories on the wall, which did they work on first? They voted. Each Platypi was given three Post-it notes, and they picked the stories they felt served the vision. The stories with the most votes were the ones they brainstormed. The wall evolved into two sections with the original twelve stories in the center and the more refined stories to either side. The People. Group participation and agreement remove all the imposed tensions and exhaustions of the competitiveness and open the way for harmony. —Viola Spolin, Improvisation for the Theater 3 Individuals gathered into small brainstorming groups and aligned themselves around the stories they felt most passionate aer creating a remarkable career in software development' title='the passionate programmer creating a remarkable career in software development'>ation for the Theater 3 Individuals gathered into small brainstorming groups and aligned themselves around the stories they felt most passionate a programmer creating a remarkable career in software development download' title='the passionate programmer creating a remarkable career in software development download'>ation for the Theater 3 Individuals gathered into small brainstorming groups and aligned themselves around the stories they felt most passionate aogrammer creating a remarkable career in software development ebook' title='the passionate programmer creating a remarkable career in software development ebook'>ation for the Theater 3 Individuals gathered into small brainstorming groups and aligned themselves around the stories they felt most passionate about. One person facilitated and acted as the scribe, while the rest of the group added ideas and built on those of others. A playful atmosphere, mutual respect, trust, openness, and ownership took center stage. Competitiveness and egos were set aside. The group defined their own rules for brainstorming: No judgment, go for quantity of ideas, build on the ideas of others, there are no bad ideas, no editing, don’t think too much, stay connected, and pass the pen (rotate scribes during the brainstorm). This scene put everything the group had learned to the test. They • Applied their individual and collective knowledge • Saw how play could enable spontaneity • Felt what it was like to surrender their ideas to serve the story • Discovered the intelligence of twelve is far greater than the intelligence of one cart_14399_ch11.qxd 10/19/04 1:13 PM Page 272 MATTEL 273 Lessons Learned. The group experienced the power and fulfillment of creating something together through play. It strengthened the bonds between individu- als, and competitiveness slipped away. Organizations often rely on competition to act as a catalyst for innovation. Employees are left feeling unfulfilled, burnt out, and isolated. Imposed competition makes harmony impossible; for it destroys the basic nature of playing by occluding self and by separating player from player. —Viola Spolin, Improvisation for the Theater 4 Scene 4: Alignment (Week 5) In this scene Platypi began to express themselves through the stories they felt passionate about, while still honoring the vison (Figure 11.4). They aligned themselves around narratives in groups of one or two, and they used the wall to develop their work, which created a visual representation of the process. A practice called “Gift Giving” emerged. The Wall. The Platypi continued to develop the stories here. Some achieved this through research, drawings, or style boards and others through the written word or product concepts. Everything hit the wall with the vision at its center. Each of these manifestations informed each other. A living, breathing brand began to coalesce. At one of the open houses we noticed a guest walk to each corner of the room. He would stop, look at the wall, and then move on. We asked him what he was doing, and he said, “I can see that wall from every corner of the room. No matter where I stand, I can see where you are in the process.” Gifts. We live in a gift-giving economy. Once you create a gift and give it away you are empty, and free to create again. —Sam Hamill, NPR Radio interview 5 Scene 4, Alignment Alignment around an idea The individual and the group Research Gifts Realignment Wk. 5 Story Brainstorm/IdeasResearch Figure 11.4 Realignment. cart_14399_ch11.qxd 10/19/04 1:13 PM Page 273 274 BEST PRACTICES IN LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT AND ORGANIZATION CHANGE Participants began to give each other “gifts.” If someone created an idea that seemed right for another person or group, they would draw or write it and pin it next to their work on the wall. Since everyone felt a sense of ownership over the process there was very little competition. Gifts were given away freely. The People. People aligned themselves around ideas they felt passionate about. We never said, “You, you, and you will work together on this.” This was the opportunity for individuals to express themselves. So much of their future work would be centered on the group. This was the time for a person’s voice to come forward. Some people chose to work together. The alliances formed organically around an idea. For some, this part of the process was threatening. They were used to working in an environment where they would have a meeting, disappear into their cubes, and emerge only when they had a solution. “My idea is ready now!” Their process was isolated and invisible. At first it was very difficult for some members of the group to commit their idea to the wall because they knew that it meant giving it away. Face-to-face became very meaningful at this stage. Members of the group were able to reconnect each morning before they began their individual work. At first the group didn’t want to relinquish the comfort and security of the group to work alone. However, they knew they were an organic whole of the living system. They had the support and trust of the group, which allowed them to open up and create freely. Lessons Learned. A system of trust, respect, and support freed members to cre- ate ideas for one another and give them away as gifts. It made sense. They were all telling the same story. In some companies, the brand story is held by a cho- sen few. They consider it their property. But if all employees have a stake in the story, they will be more willing to share ideas and promote it. Scene 5: Alignment (Week 6) The final scene of alignment was meant to bring the brand story into view. The stories, research, and product concepts were orbiting on the wall. The group searched for patterns and tried to bring coherence to the story. The wall and living system had entered a new, yet necessary, phase of development—chaos (see Figure 11.5). Chaos theory proposes that when repetitive dynamics begin to interact with themselves they become so complex that they defy definition. Yet from these “complex dynamics” there eventually emerge new patterns that are based loosely on the old. In other words, while chaotic systems break down order, they also reconstitute it in new forms. —John R. Van Eenwyk, Archetypes and Strange Attractors 6 cart_14399_ch11.qxd 10/19/04 1:13 PM Page 274 MATTEL 275 The Wall. Like “strange attractors” the research, brand, story, and product were orbiting on the wall. The group looked back upon their experience and com- pared the patterns of knowledge they acquired earlier to the learnings and macro-patterns on the wall. They were close, but they couldn’t make sense of it. Two days later, a Platypus “gifted” the wall with the skeleton of a unique sys- tem. Then someone else added an idea, then another. Then without warning, order emerged. The People. This was a difficult time for the group. They remained connected; however, their frustration with themselves and each other was obvious. They moved from inclusion to conflict to coherence and back again. They were look- ing for meaning, and they couldn’t find it. In the theater, every production reaches a point when the performers become stagnant and frustrated. Actors are unable to move to the next level of perfor- mance. The director sends them impulses, hoping that if they spark one actor the others will respond and rise to the occasion. Unfortunately, this happens in its own time. The group finds its own syncopation. Inevitably, an individual will raise his or her game and, like magic, the rest of the group will synchronize. This transformation often happens in the blink of an eye. When you look back and try to identify that liminal moment, you can’t remember when and how it happened. It just did. A similar experience happened at Platypus. One day they were in a state of chaos, where it seemed nothing made sense, and a couple of days later—coherence. The new brand unfolded before their eyes. At this pivotal scene in the process the group experienced frustration and dis- order; they were trying to make sense of their efforts. They could see the light at the end of the tunnel, but they couldn’t get there. The leaders remained sup- portive, trusting the people and the work. They, too, had to surrender to the chaos; it was necessary and essential to the process. Lessons Learned. Organizations often experience chaotic moments on the path to innovation. Rather than support the emergence, they become nervous. They Scene 5, Alignment Chaos Trust and respect Coherent thinking Impulses and chaos Wk. 6 Story Brand System/ Products Research Figure 11.5 Impulses and Chaos. cart_14399_ch11.qxd 10/19/04 1:13 PM Page 275 276 BEST PRACTICES IN LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT AND ORGANIZATION CHANGE switch to Plan B, the “tried and true” process. Who knows what could have emerged if they had only remained supportive and committed to the process. The experience of the critical instability that precedes the emergence of novelty may involve uncertainty, fear, confusion, or self-doubt. Experienced leaders recognize these emotions as integral parts of the whole dynamic and create a climate of trust and mutual support. —Fritjof Capra, The Hidden Connections 7 Scene 6: Evolution (Weeks 7–10) The brand story and system were coherent (Figure 11.6). The group needed to access its relevance to the consumer. This was structured in three phases: part- nering, building, and testing. The face-to-face meetings became an essential part of their project planning, and the concept of “stewarding” was implemented. The Wall. The wall was segmented into three sections: research, story and brand, and system and products. The People. The group realigned themselves into small teams around the seg- mented wall. Individuals volunteered to act as the point person between the group and their partners. • Stewards. A steward was someone who guided the development of a spe- cific product, process, or system of thinking. This person may have been but was not necessarily the individual who came up with the idea. Once again, peo- ple aligned themselves around ideas they felt passionate about. Someone may have conceived the original idea, gifted it, and then moved on. The steward didn’t own the idea, the group did. The steward guided the idea to its next evolution. • Partners. Partnership development was two-fold. First, as part of the big- ger mission of Platypus, it was important to include people from other areas of Scene 6, Evolution Stewards Partners Building Testing Impulses and coherence Wks. 7–10 Story System/Products Brand Research Figure 11.6 Impulse and Coherence. cart_14399_ch11.qxd 10/19/04 1:13 PM Page 276 MATTEL 277 the company in the process. Second, the team couldn’t do it alone. To bring the brand to life, it was essential for them to find and work with partners that held the expertise they needed. Each person that walked through the doors of Platypus was considered a partner in the process—from Bob Eckert, the CEO, to the service man who changed the toner in the printer. The Platypus room was a field of creativity. Everyone who entered was part of the field. Each guest was asked to leave a gift on the wall before they departed, such as an inspirational saying or draw- ing to record their participation in the larger story. • Building. The team partnered with engineers to help them cost products and build prototypes. In the spirit of Platypus they sat down with each partner and communicated the story. It was important for them to understand that their input was essential to the evolution of the product. They were not there just to cost the product and tell the team whether it could work or not. They were there to serve the vision and tell the story and to make each product better from the spark of the idea to the delivery to the consumer. • Testing. As part of the overarching mission of Platypus, products from each new brand went through two rounds of focus testing with consumers. Each test was a milestone for the project; it permitted the team to check in and see whether their ideas were resonating with the consumer. Focus Test 1: Testing of the brand thinking Focus Test 2: Brand system, fourteen product concepts in 2-D Focus Test 3: Brand system, six product models, 3-D. • Face-to-face. As mentioned earlier, the third component of face-to-face was planning. It allowed the Platypi to define the process as they went. There was an overall project schedule, but the schedule and planning for each day happened in face-to-face. Every day was valuable. If a focus test didn’t go well the night before, they had to rethink the product the next morning—they couldn’t wait a day or two. The group had to think, plan, and reach consensus quickly. When twelve people are connected and “their point of concentration” is on the same thing, the combined intelligence and abil- ity to solve complex problems is remarkable. The fluidity of the face-to-face allowed them to realign the process and create customized solutions to suit the need. The group had to look both inward and outward to further the development of the project. Communication was an essential component this phase. The small groups, the larger body, and their partners needed to stay in relationship to ensure success. Communication, trust, and relationships were crucial at this phase. Multiple processes were happening concurrently. Stewards had the trust and support of cart_14399_ch11.qxd 10/19/04 1:13 PM Page 277 278 BEST PRACTICES IN LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT AND ORGANIZATION CHANGE the rest of the group to guide the micro-processes. They relied on face-to-face to bring the larger group up to speed and to • Adjust daily planning if necessary • Ensure that all of the processes were “on brand” • Use the group intelligence to help overcome obstacles and reach solutions Lessons Learned. It wasn’t necessary for one or two people to carry the weight of the project on their shoulders. The responsibilities spread out naturally. Stewards had the trust and support of the larger body, and most important, every Platypus “owned” the story. They didn’t have to constantly check-in to make sure they were making the right decisions. How often do corporate man- agers feel like they have to micro-manage a process? If employees feel like they’re part of the big picture, and feel trusted, they are much more likely to own their processes as well. Scene 7: Communication (Weeks 11–12) The team’s findings were presented in the final week to senior management to attain buy-in (Figure 11.7). Shortly thereafter, the strategy for the next phase of design development was initiated. The presentation consisted of the process, research, brand strategy, products, and recommendations for a three-year business plan. The Wall. The wall became more refined. It evolved into a communication tool, a journal of twelve brains. As the team’s understanding of the initiative became more coherent, so did the wall. Anyone could “walk the wall” and understand the entire development process from start to finish. The People. The team had reached an elevated level of interconnectedness. They were all striving for the same goal. They were working individually or in small groups, yet they were able to shift their thinking and tasking swiftly if Scene 7, Communication Presentation Brand story and strategy System and products Interaction with exterior systems Brand Story and Strategy System and Products Wks. 11–12 Figure 11.7 Interaction with Exterior Systems. cart_14399_ch11.qxd 10/19/04 1:13 PM Page 278 MATTEL 279 necessary. They operated inside and outside of the living system with relative ease. In a group, when members reach a certain level of high interconnection, they form a similar web or matrix. The resources, talents and expertise of each member become available to the whole group. Inclusion, then, allows the group to shift from working as parts of a system to working as a whole system. —Mukara Meredith, MatrixWorks Inc. 8 The final presentation was a performance. It was a chronology of the process, content, and methodology. In some instances the members gave testimonials of their personal and work-related transformations. They felt it was vital for the audience to understand the complex journey that the individual, the group, and their ideas had taken. RESULTS AND IMPACT The results of Project Platypus have gone beyond our expectations. The first group produced a hybrid building-toy brand for girls called “Ello,” which went into full distribution in Spring 2003. According to Mattel first quarter financial reports, “Ello TM brands were up 7 percent for the quarter.” The Akron Beacon Journal reported on Thursday, October 16 that, “Strong sales of Flavas, Polly Pocket, and Ello toys led a 15 percent increase in sales for other girls brands.” “It blew me away,” said Chris Blyme, a long-time industry analyst and a con- tributing editor at Toy Report and Toy Wishes. “You rarely see something origi- nal any more in this industry. Usually, everybody copies everybody else’s ideas.” The next two brands (currently in development) are equally original. Besides providing Mattel with growth opportunities, Project Platypus will influence the culture of the company more and more as each group of employees is released back into the system. They become creative catalysts, bringing new ways of being, doing, and creating back to their previous jobs. There have been sight- ings of cubicle walls being taken down, dialogues replacing meetings, stories being told, and gifts being given every day. The appreciation of intuition and the ability to read patterns in the field suggest “future possibilities” and “imag- ination” as qualities of observation. Designers and marketers are collaborating in a different way. There is a level of intimacy and freedom of expression among those who have participated in the Platypus experience. Most important, there are a growing number of people in the division who have experienced the magic that can transpire when they come to work as who they really are, give all they can give, have fun, and be inspired at the same time. As one Platypus said, “All our truth is welcome here.” When asked what makes Platypus unique, the team responded with the comments in Figure 11.8. cart_14399_ch11.qxd 10/19/04 1:13 PM Page 279 . Page 271 272 BEST PRACTICES IN LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT AND ORGANIZATION CHANGE Scene 3, Alignment Improvisation and brainstorming Strengthening bonds Bonds. 270 BEST PRACTICES IN LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT AND ORGANIZATION CHANGE Person Obstacle Want/Need The Wall. Subjective and objective storytelling exercises
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