Monthly Archives: November 2016

Who is accountable?

yellow-brick-roadIn the end, Dorothy, the lion, the scarecrow and the tin man each had what they needed within themselves to get to the end of the yellow brick road.  To build organizational capacity, leaders and team members must also travel down an unknown road into the future. This type of action in the face of uncertainty requires personal accountability by leaders and the development and support of personal accountability for team members.

Roger Conners and Tom Smith, in their book The Wisdom of Oz, share ideas on how to assume accountability for our own actions, how not be defined by our circumstances and how to take action to reach our goals.

Their Four Steps to Accountability are:

  1. See It – acknowledge your own blind spots to reality and seek out additional information to truly “see” the whole picture. This often involves asking others for their point of view – and listening to it.
  2. Own It – acknowledge your own role in the current situation and take responsibility for finding a solution or taking action to move forward.
  3. Solve It – do the work required to find a solution, or make a change. This can involve doing research, seeking input, working with others, trying options, or other techniques. But you must take ownership of finding what you need to do.
  4. Do It – take concrete action to do what you need to do when you need to do it!

We don’t always know what the future will bring but if we accept our personal accountability we can shape our own future and not be controlled by a wizard behind the curtain.

Todd Thorsgaard

 

Advertisements

Networking Made Simple

Last week we reviewed why different types of networking are important for leaders. And as a leader, you know it’s important for your staff to start building these solid networks of relationships.  Howenetworkingver, there can be challenges to finding your personal network, especially if you’re just starting.

I recently became Communications Coordinator for CUPA-HR’s Minnesota chapter, and have made some terrific connections in a short period of time.  I was asked to take on this responsibility by a co-worker who knew my skills and interests (another important aspect of networking.)  I’m enjoying this new opportunity, while learning and growing my skills in my current position – a win-win for all.

The document below was originally created as part of an Employee Onboarding Toolkit, to be shared with new employees; particularly those new to Minnesota.  It has a wide variety of valuable networking resources, across broad categories.  Take a look through it, share it with your employees or organization, and see what connections can be found.

Career and Professional Resources Guide: professional_assn (downloadable PDF)
Cindy Schneider

 

Giving thanks

As this is being pothanksgivingsted, I’ll be celebrating Thanksgiving with friends and family. I’m looking forward to hearing about my nephew’s new job and other family transitions during the past year.

While I may not be thinking about my work team over the holiday, I frequently reflect on how fortunate I am to work with a supportive group of talented people. As a leader, I probably don’t express my thanks to them as often as I should. There’s plenty of research that says acknowledgement of good work is a significant reward. We often forget about this very simple way to support innovation and advance excellence.

So thanks, Talent Management team, for working together through a challenging few months.  I appreciate the work we’ve been able to accomplish together and look forward to what’s ahead!

Dee Anne Bonebright

 

Foolish or appropriate?

teeter-totterI rode my first teeter-totter last week on my mountain bike. To me it felt like a well thought out and reasonable action to take. I have been practicing my “skinny” skills and my bike handling has improved over the past year. I have watched my brother ride teeter-totters and he has shared with me information on technique so I felt well prepared. Was I afraid? Yes! Was it scary? Yes! Was it a risk? Yes! (Did I make it? Yes!)

We all assess and take different types of risk. Leaders are asked to take “appropriate” risks and then make decisions. Your success depends on your ability to accurately understand, assess, judge and take risks.

Dylan Evans, a researcher on risk and author of Risk Intelligence, believes that we can develop our skills in this area and actually build our “risk quotient.” The starting point for increasing our risk intelligence is the ability to accurately understand and accept what we do know and what we don’t know. Research has shown that most of us are bad at estimating probabilities based on what is actually know or not known. We end up either overconfident or excessively uncertain, both of which lead to poor risk assessment and decisions.

Leaders can use the following checklist that Evans developed to better understand and improve their risk intelligence.

  1. Do you consciously review what you know before making a decision?
  2. How does what you know actually relate to the decision?
  3. How likely is each piece of information to be true and how does that likelihood influence your decision?
  4. What else do you know that might actually relate to the decision?

Purposely and consciously asking these questions and using the results will increase your ability to assess risks and then make better decisions about an uncertain future.

Good luck on your next teeter-tooter of leadership!

Todd Thorsgaard

 

Networking for Change

Your organization needs to change a process, but you and your team are having trouble making it happen.  You’ve tried brainstorming, process mapping, collaborating and other good change methods, but keep hitting a dead end, with no solid plan to move forward.  What else can you do?

Networking is an important tool that can be overlooked when working through challenging organizational changes.  When staff are too close to a process they may have been using for multiple years, it can be difficult to think about it differently.

Effective networking could help bridge this gap.

This article from Harvard Business Review showcases how three different types of networking can help your and your organization succeed.

Operational: These are the people in your organization; both within and outside of your work unit, at different levels.  This is the networking that most people default to, whether they realize it or not.
“But as a manager moves into a leadership role, his or her network must reorient itself externally and toward the future.”

Personal:  It’s often thought of as “Who You Know”, but it can be more valuable to think of it as “What Do They Know?”  Information and advice can arise from unexpected places, especially when you purposefully get out of your comfort zone.
“According to the famous six degrees of separation principle, our personal contacts are valuable to the extent that they help us reach, in as few connections as possible, the far-off person who has the information we need.”

Strategic: Sometimes dismissed as simply “playing politics”, if it’s done honestly and transparently, it can lead to great things.
“Hearing about their problems and techniques allowed him to view his own from a different perspective and helped him define principles that he could test in his work.”

After reading the article, please share how networking has helped you lead a change or come up with a new idea!

Cindy Schneider

 

 

 

 

Barriers for innovation

whitewaterWhen building organizational capacity, our Minnesota State leadership competencies include these two behaviors:

  • Engages and supports appropriate risk-taking
  • Identifies and removes barriers to innovation

According to a white paper from IBM, these two are closely linked. In fact, the paper describes risk avoidance as one of the top five barriers to innovation. Since higher ed is not known for its capacity for risks, this is important to us as leaders. Just like the team in the photo above, sometimes we need to navigate into rough waters in order to get where we want to go.

Here are some tips for creating an environment that encourages appropriate risk-taking:

  • Use appropriate techniques to measure the risks of an activity, and also look at the risks of not taking action
  • Anticipate objections and prepare logical responses, as well as stories that provide a compelling context
  • Pilot test activities and take small-scale steps before large-scale implementation
  • Take others’ concerns seriously by identifying and mitigating risks

The authors say that “a clear-eyed view of risks balanced against benefits can create an environment where innovation is nurtured rather than killed.” What strategies do you use to support the risks needed to navigate rough waters?

Dee Anne Bonebright

Tough collaboration!

barbed_wireIt is pretty easy to collaborate with close colleagues, it gets much trickier when we need to collaborate across boundaries. It can even get downright painful!

Today, I am excited to share an example of collaboration across boundaries to ensure future success. The Minnesota State system of colleges and universities announced at today’s Board of Trustee meeting that we will guarantee admission to students who students who complete the Minnesota Transfer Curriculum and earn a minimum 2.0 GPA* in an Associate of Arts (AA) degree from any Minnesota State college to every one of our seven Minnesota State universities with junior year status.

This required collaboration across multiple boundaries, including; community and technical colleges, state universities, administrators, faculty, labor organizations, local admissions offices, system office leaders and just a whole bunch of individuals with strong opinions.

As Dan Sanker highlights in his book, Collaborate! The Art of We, collaboration like this is required for success in the complex and competitive world we face in higher education (and all fields.)

I was not a part of the work to develop the admissions guarantee collaboration but I imagine it contained most of the elements that Sanker describes as essential for successful collaboration:

  • Ongoing communication – even when it gets tough
  • Willing participation – not up front agreement but a willingness to explore
  • Brainstorming – open to alternative ideas
  • Teamwork – all must participate
  • A common purpose – the crucial starting point that requires clarification and alignment
  • Trust – requires both time and demonstrated behavior
  • A plan – turn ideas to action
  • A diverse group – provides the unique perspectives to develop innovative ideas and action
  • Mutual respect – foundation for work
  • A written agreement – creates a shared understanding
  • Effective leadership – not just a single title but actions to keep the group focused and help when the process goes off-track

Each of us are responsible for creating the conditions that will support collaborative efforts on our teams and across work groups on our campuses. Sanker’s list can help our teams avoid getting stuck on the barbed wire fences that pop up at work.

Todd Thorsgaard