Unleashing Breakthrough Results

May 31, 2013 — 11 Comments

Many of the approaches we take to solving problems, do just that.  Solve problems.  That works, until the next problem comes along.  To build long-term results, requires more.  Unleashing your team’s potential leads to breakthrough results.

Unleashing Fig5 300x159 Unleashing Breakthrough ResultsI’ve been intrigued by the “Unleashing” approach described in the new white paper, Unleashing the Future of Work (download for free here).

This highly collaborative methodology empowers teams to dig deeper for answers– working together to find synergistic solutions.

“The cornerstone of Unleashing™ is emphasizing the journey as an essential change and learning process rather than simply devising and implementing a solution. For it is through this journey that individuals learn and develop their ability to think strategically, collaborate and take action. This approach aims to engage and stimulate people as they go along, creating self-efficacy, empowerment and commitment in the individuals and teams. Its focus is both on the organisation as a whole and on the individuals.”

Unleashing Framework

The research-based unleashing approach, is closely aligned with the philosophical approach we’ve been discussing in our LGL community.  For example:

  • “Purpose as basis for strategy vs. Shareholder value as basis for strategy” (and driving shareholder value in the process)
  • “Shared strategic direction vs. Strategic planning”
  • “Adaptive strategy execution vs. Strategy implementation”
  • “Learning through action vs.  Classroom training”
  • “Process innovation vs. Process optimisation”
  • “Mentoring, self-directed career development vs. Metrics-based performance management”

I asked white paper co-author, Therese Kinal, about the inspiration for their research.

“…My co-founders Robert Thong, Corrina Kane and I realised that traditional approaches to Management weren’t working anymore and our industry was doing as much harm as it was good. In many organisations innovation was dead and employees had little or no understanding of their company’s strategy … and they certainly didn’t feel personal ownership and excitement about making it happen. Companies had tried to solve this through structural changes, sending their people on leadership development training or hiring innovation firms to do it for them. Consultants were forcing through simplistic solutions to complex problems…”

If you’re looking for creative ways to unleash the powerful potential of your team, it’s worth a read.   Share your comments and insights with the LGL community.

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11 responses to Unleashing Breakthrough Results

  1. @Karin, great stuff

    Amazingly, in spite of the ill effects of conventional management it takes us years to run away from its pungent results.
    Yes, we need new and radical changes to adapt management to the new realities.

    We need new actions to have new results. Actions that allow for discovery, learning by doing, adapting and observing.
    A welcome new managerial thinking.

  2. Karin – thanks for sharing this research. The first principle that realigns the company values towards purpose and away from shareholder value is an earthquake if adopted. Values are ultimately what drives company culture.

    What has been the reaction to this suggestion so far?

    While I love to see it, there are strong constituencies (i.e. the shareholders) who may oppose it. To what degree do you see this happening at established companies as opposed to startups?

  3. You bring up some good points, Greg. Personally, I think it’s important to think about purpose as a basis for strategy, but definitely not instead of shareholder value. The problem with only focusing on shareholder value and often doing that in quarterly increments, is that it limits breakthrough innovation and longer term value creation. However, we need to recognise that organisations are full of a diverse set of people who value different things. In fact, one of the most important lessons I have personally learned over the years is to be able to communicate the same proposal, strategy, idea etc. in many different ways depending on what different stakeholders value. The problem with what I call traditional management (and what most people practice) is that the assumption is that people are motivated by traditional goals such as increase in value, higher sales and profits etc. when in actual fact many, many employees will work harder and do so with joy if they feel their work has purpose or meaning. I have seen this again and agin in organisations I’ve worked with (small and large – people are people after all) and this video by Dan Pink illustrates it very well: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6XAPnuFjJc But that doesn’t mean that we should lose track of shareholder value, it just means that we need to find ways to show shareholders how focusing on indirect and more purposeful goals and objectives can get much more out of organisations and in turn increase shareholder value by much more than the traditional approach! I agree that it will take a while before larger organisations and their leaders start to adopt a more holistic, 360 degree approach to the way they do business internally and externally, but there are some interesting examples of it already happening. The CEO of Unilever, for example, has definitely made some heads turn: http://hbr.org/2012/06/captain-planet/ There are also many examples of start-ups and small companies still stuck in the dark ages, but they shall remain nameless :-)

  4. Great dialogue. Thanks so much.

  5. Oh well, I’ve read it finally and I think it have good points. However, I must say that leader and team who use this process must be extremely careful…

    It’s like a knife, in one moment you use it to eat, in other you cut yourself…

    For example, take “Diverce Team with Right Mix of Skills and Influence” on page 22, point 4. There it tells to “chose members that represent different political and strategic views.”

    Suppose you choose by all that criterion.

    And, you put them through “The Battle” as the authors call taking action on a complex problem.

    If you take people with just a little bit more-than-usual “different political and strategic views.” and put them in “The Battle” you could cause fire in organization and team.

    So, I think it can be useful, however, the person implementing it should be careful. Little higher conditions than normal, and it can become ticking bomb.

    • @Marco. Your comment is subtle and I couldn’t stop from responding. You are quite right with your observation “It’s like a knife, in one moment you use it to eat, in other you cut yourself”. I agree.
      In fact, your observation is extensible to many more systems and ideas. Eating is an example. Eating moderately is great, but eating or or less than a certain limit is unhealthy. We always need to strike a balance between the opposites. You need the team members to “battle” their minds and ideas up to a certain limit. Exceeding this limit is harmful in both directions (more or less).
      As I promised Karin to share, if interested see my presentation “The Iceberg of Opposites”.

      http://www.slideshare.net/hudali15/the-iceberg-of-opposites
      The last four slides in the presentation are me.

  6. Thanks for sharing The Iceberg of Opposites, Ali – wonderful lessons and imagery! In particular I like the focus on positive thinking.

    Marko, Diverse Team with the Right Mix of Skills and Influence and The Battle both refer to a recipe for how to go about organisational and culture change in an organisation. By chosing such a team you are increasing (1) your chances of breakthrough thinking and solutions and (2) the ripple effect as those people develop into change agents that influence colleagues in their functions/departments and who share their views. I agree that you should be careful, however selecting a more mono-cultural team and minimising their emotional journey by cushioning or eliminatng the battle/struggle, will not lead to successful change on an individual or team level and thus not on the organisational level. Thus the whole effort is wasted and in many ways a higher career risk. The fire as you decribe it is an important and necessary part of the change journey. That said, I think it is crucial to use a coach/facilitator who is skilled and experienced in leading teams through change, because managing this battle is not an easy task!

    It is important to note that if you are not embarking on a change effort, using this approach is not right. But the diversity aspect of the team is something you should consider in any complex problem solving or innovation process. You might enjoy something I wrote on the topic: 1+1=3. Why Real Collaboration is a Rare Find (http://tskinal.com/2012/08/29/113-why-real-collaboration-is-a-rare-find/)

  7. @Ali Anani

    Thank you for responding so promptly.

    Yes, what I’m talking about is extensible to many systems and ideas (if not to all). But in some cases you need to be very careful when implementing, and others you can let things go their way … In this case, you need to be careful…

    Of course, there are too many situations with too many factors… that could be discussed only in practical examples.

    @Therese S. Kinal

    I totally agree with you Therese. Of course, the manager doesn’t need to choose mono-cultural team and minimize their emotional journey. That would be wasteful action… as I said, this could be discussed only in practical examples.

    A great article by the way … principle you are discussing there (“1=1=3.” — a team + stakeholders) will definitely benefit to a modern organization. Any organization that uses “lone hero” or other approaches could get the opposite results.

  8. This is just beautiful dialogue. So much fun to see the interaction. Ali, I love your illuminating slides, and the important idea of using our darkness to inform.

    Marko, you raise important points, fantastic to have you adding to the conversation. As leaders it’s vital that we understand potential consequences of our approaches.

    Therese, thanks for sharing your fantastic white paper, and more importantly for taking the time to dialogue with the LGL community.

  9. It’s my pleasure … I really like your website Karin, you did an amazing job.

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