Four Cornerstones

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Transformation Cornerstones

1. Self Mastery

Focuses on change and improvement at the individual level. Just as an athlete works to reach top physical condition, we have found that significant mental conditioning is needed for those who undertake a transformation effort. This approach “conditions the minds” of participants by raising consciousness about deeply held ways of thinking that often hold back or slow down positive change. Here, a skilled facilitator manages dialogue around several core concepts:

  1. Increasing Levels of Effectiveness: A major theme of this approach is risk taking and experimentation aimed at enhancing individual growth. Throughout the session, individuals are encouraged to uncover and challenge their personal paradigms, to experiment and take risks, to “get out of their comfort zones,” and practice new ways of thinking and behaving.
  2. Attitude is a choice: participants are reminded that in any given situation, each of us is in total control of at least one thing — individual attitudes. Attitudes come from past experiences, and we tend to develop a “comfort zone” around current attitudes.
  3. At-cause vs. at-effect: At-cause individuals create the results they desire in their lives. They see themselves as accountable for making things happen around them. Individuals who are at-effect see themselves as victims; things happen to them; events occur outside their control. At-cause individuals produce results. At-effect individuals produce stories, or reasons about why things are less than they could be.

2. Interpersonal Mastery

Emphasizes relationship management. Experience has taught us that poor interpersonal relationships within organizations are a primary driver of problems in performance; yet few attempt to address these interpersonal tensions directly and constructively. As more organizations adopt team-based approaches to work process improvement, individuals will be called upon to manage a significant number of relationships. This approach helps break down barriers between team members by providing opportunities to improve:

  1. Management of Agreements and Breakdowns: Managing agreements is central to managing relationships. To reinforce the importance of managing agreements, ground rules are given special emphasis. Participants are asked to “live by” their ground rules.
  2. Trust: participants learn (or are reminded) that trust is something that can be established and grown. Members of the group engage in dialogue about how they define trust and what causes them to gain or lose trust for others. There is often a structured exercise that allows each individual to share his/her current trust level for others in the group and what he or she intends to do to enhance that trust.
  3. Feedback: Providing feedback is typically outside the comfort zone of the average manager, employee, and co-worker. Consistent with the notion of risk taking and experimentation, we provide our customers with a feedback tool and allow them ample opportunity to learn how to both give and receive feedback. As with the trust exercise, participants practice both giving and receiving feedback, one-on-one, as part of a structured exercise that stresses inquiry and adherence to ground rules.

3. Value Exchange

M. Scott Peck suggests that, “You gotta know your business.” Indeed, all the TQM in the world will not suffice if managers and leaders do not understand the requirements of success for their organization, for example:

  • What is the organization’s value proposition and value-driven operating model? (Treacy and Wiersema)
  • What is the right size, in terms of number of employees? What is the right mix, in terms of knowledge and competencies?
  • What are the core products and services the organization provides, and the core technologies by which it delivers these to the marketplace?
  • What are the organization’s high-leverage marketing and business development activities?
  • What is the optimal client mix (e.g., national vs. international; government vs. private sector) for the organization?

Facilitated sessions can provide opportunities to develop and share knowledge about the critical factors that contribute to an organization’s survival and success. Research shows that dialogue is enhanced significantly when the extended system is represented. Sharing knowledge and information about the business tends to improve ownership and commitment on the part of group members for the organization.

4. Change Methodology

Finally, this approach includes the method(s) by which the transformation is accomplished. Typically teams are chartered to lead large-scale, total system change and improvement, where the system targeted for improvement might be a distribution warehouse, a telecommunications corporation, a Navy program, or a Finance Division. Organizational teams are then led through the exercise of building a “wall”. The wall is a physical representation of the group’s collective knowledge about their organizational system and how best to improve it. It contains:

  • Documentation of the past (lessons learned about what worked and what didn’t);
  • The present (mission, values, key performance measures, and current performance levels);
  • A desired future for the organization (future key performance measures, vision, and great performance targets); and
  • And how to make the revolutionary and evolutionary changes required to close the gap between current reality and desired future.
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