Jun 19, 2011

The DuPont Analysis

I realise that a lot of my focus in recent times has been on personal skills. Here is a post on a related topic , what to change

Dupont analysis is used to illustrate how different factors impact important indicators of financial performance. As such, this can be used to compare companies in a specific industry.This can also be used to conduct 'what-if' analysis.

A change agent starting of analysis on what to change can enter basic information in the model (e.g. sales,liabilities,costs,equity etc) and then get a basic view of current profitability.

This can then be used to identify where possible improvements can be made and their effects.

Jun 13, 2011

Celebrating 1000 visitors

A personal milestone. onimprovementmatters has finally seen 1000 hits. Not sure how many unique readers that made up the 1000 hits. Took me two years (!) with many gaps in between .Interestingly most visitors come based on web searches .. and seem to come from all parts of the world. Most read area is benefit-dependency model.

May 9, 2011

Another set of 'characteristics' for change agents

There is this fairly old book, by Robert E. Kelly "Star performers" (1998, Orion). Here is a list of characteristics (which are very relevant in a change agent context too)
  • Initiative : Blazing trails in the organization's white spaces
  • Networking:Knowing who knows by plugging into the knowledge network
  • Self management: Managing your whole life at work
  • Perspective: Getting the big picture
  • Followership : Checking your ego at the door to lead in assists
  • Leadership : Doing small-L leadership in a big L world
  • Team work:Getting real about teams
  • Organizational savy :Using street smarts in the corporate power zone
  • Show and tell :Persauding the right audience with the right message
I am hoping to dig deeper into each of them in subsequent posts..

May 8, 2011

Buy In .. Kotter strikes again

Had this wonderful idea.. which never got implemented ? Got shot down by colleagues and friends whom you thought were allies ? Sure you don't want the experience to repeat?

John P. Kotter, in his latest book 'Buy in'( HBR 2010) gives some practical advice on obtaining buy in. Like one of his previous books ,' The ice berg is melting' this is also written partially in the form a story. The focus is on meetings and how good proposals get derailed.The author(s) hopes the book would enable a proposer to get people to buy into a new idea

Based on the ways people tend to behave Kotter has identified 8 'typical' characters and their approach in meetings
  • Pompus Meani [ Self importance above being good-wants to show power]
  • Heidi agenda [Has an undisclosed personal agenda for opposing]
  • Avoidus riski
  • Spaci Cadetus
  • Allis Wellis
  • Lookus Smarti
  • Divertus Attenti
  • Bendi Wendi [Blows with the wind]
According to the author these people kill ideas using one of the following tactics
  • Fear mongering (raise anxiety)
  • Delay
  • Confusion
  • Ridicule (or character assassination)
Kotter has characterised these attacks into 24 types and also suggested a response. See attached table

The authors suggest the following
  • Don't be afraid of distracters.Handled correctly,they can actually help you!
    • Don't scheme to keep potential opponents,even the sneakiest attackers,out of the discussion.Let them in.Let them shoot at you.Even encourage them to shoot at you
  • Always respon in ways that are simple,straight forward, and honest
    • Don't try to overcome attacks with tons of data;logic and yet more logic;or lists of reasons why unfair,uninformed,or sneaky attacks are wrong,wrong,wrong.Instead do what might seem to be the oppoiste
  • Show respect for everyone
    • Do not try to crush attackers with ridicule,counterattacks or condescension,eben when it seems as though people deserve it,even when a part of you really want to do just that,and you have the skills to do so
  • Watch the audience(not just the people shooting at you)
  • Anticipate and prepare for attacks in advance

Feb 27, 2011

On taking decisions

In the past I have provided links to how great leaders arrive at solutions to problems that apparently had no apparent solutions. Being able to make sense of and take the most appropriate decision is an key change agent skill.

In his book ;"Why Great Leaders don't take Yes for an answer", Michael A Roberto talks about how leaders can enhance the quality of their decision making processes. According to him, leaders ( and in our context;change agents) must cultivate constructive conflict so as to enhance the level of critical and divergent thinking,while simultaneously building consensus so as to facilitate the timely and efficient implementation of choices that they make.

The author distinguishes between cognitive conflict     ( Constructive debate that can enhance the decision to be made) and effective conflict(when personality clashes emerge).Similarly consensus in more about every one understanding the rationale of the decision than uniformly agreeing to it. The author then build the following picture on decision success..
For a decision to be a success, it seems what is needed is a process.. a process that effectively balances conflict and consensus. The key elements to be considered in establishing a process of taking a decision include

  • Composition: Who should be involved
  • Communication:What are the means of dialogue among the participants
  • Context: In what types of environment does the decision take place
  • Control : How will the leader control the process and the content of the decision?
Many approaches ( e.g. Edward Debono's Thinking hats) have been recommended and practiced to enable organizations find the right balance.