Turning Point Method Assumptions
Change is here to stay, we need to get with it. Given the rate of change in the world, which is not expected to decrease, it makes sense to create organizations where continuous improvement is a a way of life for all the members of the organization. The days of settling into a stable, unchanging job are over.
Build your organization around teams. The best way to structure organizations is to network teams which are built around processes and functions. Teams provide the highest leverage, highest job satisfaction work design, probably because they resonate deeply with our tribal past. The individuals in these teams need to know specifically who they serve, either inside or outside the organization so it becomes possible to get real time feedback on performance.
Everybody has something to learn. If every team member is to contribute to creating an adaptive organization, all must be able to serve as leaders and as followers, depending on the demands of the moment. This means everybody must be able to listen and to speak their mind, all must be willing to take responsibility for independent action within their role, and take direction regarding matters that are beyond their scope of decision making. This means everybody has something to learn, and should be developing to the point where they have something to teach.
Organizations have an intelligence of their own. An organization is more than an abstract concept or a collection of people. Properly lead, organizations develop a collective intelligence, a level of integrated timing, and a power of feeling that allows the organization to carry its members through great challenges and to unique accomplishments. The Turning Point Method builds the collective mind and heart of an organization by cultivating leadership teams, enhancing communication, and establishing the conditions required for engagement, alignment, continuous learning, innovation and Flow.
Identity and Meaning The journey begins with the top leadership team, reviewing, renewing, or creating the essential ideological structure of the organization. By ideological structure I mean what is commonly called the mission, values vision, strategy, and brand identity that guides the organization. These elements must be designed and understood in a rigorous enough way that they can serve as the “DNA” of the organization. These are the fundamental tools that will guide every key decision that is made. Then it is possible to translate these abstract terms into more objective descriptors such as specific measurable goals that are required if the organization is to succeed, as well as key desirable and undesirable behaviors which, taken as a whole describe the target culture.
Effective Leaders and Managers When the target culture is defined, it is then possible to identify a leadership model that defines the qualities and behavior required of leaders. At this point a 360 degree assessment of leadership team members is undertaken and individual development plans are developed and shared among the team. Sharing development plans in this way builds trust and understanding among team members and makes it possible to support each other in their development. Sometimes conflict resolution work must be done at this stage of the process in order to reestablish or build provisional trust sufficient to work together effectively. Often this requires working through ego and power issues and the tendency to work in siloes or to seek excessive control. In this stage of the work, team members grow in self-knowledge through personality profiles, coaching and feedback from each other. Some need to learn to be more assertive leaders and some to be more receptive followers. The goal of the work at this stage is to make it possible for the leadership team to function as a real team, which is less common than you might think in senior level teams.
Performance Framework We then refine the objective structure that defines the “game” of the organization, the “positions” each member plays, and the “scoreboard” that provides the data required to evaluate progress and the health of the organization, and the expectations of how people will work together – how they are expected to cooperate and serve each other. This design includes:
The strategy: a concise description of how the organization will win and succeed,
A plan which explains how the organization’s strategy will be executed, consisting of (to whatever extent is possible; measurable goals and objectives, the action steps required to achieve them, individual accountabilities for action steps, goals and objectives, and deadlines.
Competency profiles for each key position which describes the critical native abilities and skills required to succeed in a given position.
Service and Collaboration Philosophy Most organizations do not have standards for interpersonal behavior that are adequate to support a collaborative culture. Simply avoiding destructive behavior is not enough. Everyone in the organization needs to understand the service attitude and communication behavior that is expected of them to support the success of the organization. The service and collaboration philosophy describes the quality of relationship, communication, service, problem solving, collaboration and conflict resolution that is expected by the organization, because it is required for success. It should describe the standard of interpersonal behavior required to support the strategy and mission.
The Team/Process Structure organizes people into the organization into small groups which can develop the quality of relationship and cooperation needed to function at the highest level. It integrates activities into processes through which teams work together to create value. Virtually every effective organization improvement methodology focuses in one way or another on building teams and processes as the organizing principle. The creation of a team/process structure is not a one-time event. Most organizations already have a team structure of some kind, and the team structure must continually evolve. What is necessary at this point in the process is an evaluation of the how effectively teams are being used to determine how to enhance the use of teams.
These three elements comprise the “Design for Flow” elements which, taken together make it possible to organize in a way that people understand the game, how they fit in and, through the scoreboard and performance feedback know how they are doing and what they need to do to improve their game.
The elements described above are typically developed by the senior leadership team and then refined through iterative cycles of dialog with people at other levels of the organization. It is through this dialogue that the DNA of the organization is refined, understood, and assimilated to the point where it motivates behavior. As the DNA is considered in various parts of the organization, people consider how their part of the enterprise is informed and impacted by the DNA, and through this consideration, the behavior of individuals and the processes and systems of the organization begin to evolve. This dialogue requires a transparent communication system, which usually takes the form of a set of interlocking meetings which occur on a scheduled, cyclic basis top down and across the organization.
Transparent Communication System For better or for worse, organizations think and solve problems in meetings whether they are face to face or in a virtual environment. Unfortunately, meetings are often very meaningless or negative experiences. This is particularly tragic when one considers the amount of time people spend in meetings and it is how the organization manifests itself. Email and social media are important vehicles for sharing information, but very poor ways to solve problems, resolve conflicts, or make critical decisions.
Adaptive organizations therefore need effective meetings, and these meetings must be integrated in a way that information can transfer top down and across the organization. Conducting meetings in a way that enables high quality problem solving and decision making is a very sophisticated skill that many managers lack, and often little thought is put into how to make meetings productive. Putting a viable communication system in place usually requires some decisions be made about what is expected of managers and employees regarding comunication and then provideing training and coaching on conducting effective meetings.
Recruitment and Development Adaptation requires changing how people work, which means changing how they live their lives and support themselves. It means changing their identity, their sense of who they are. People will resist change if they believe they are not going to receive the training and development support they need to succeed. To participate in change, people need to know the competencies that are expected of them and be provided with the training and development support required. Given the rate of change these days, organizations are hard pressed to keep up with the level of training and development required. This means paying more attention to the human resources as a strategic function. This includes refining recruitment as well as training and development because the quickest way to change an organizational culture is to hire exemplars of that culture who possess the competencies that are needed.
Learning Culture It is one thing to train and develop people and quite another to create a learning culture. To do so requires both technical and cultural elements. Information technology significantly enhances the capacity of an organization to store, access and share learning. Social media provides very promising ways to establish networks within and outside the organization. Think of it as creating an organizational brain, a neural network comprised of meeting structures, social media, and other networked structures. Typically these networks are built around the organization’s structure, especially the team and process structure discussed earlier, and provide an alternative to management based communication. There are currently examples of organizations which have almost entirely eliminated middle management, instead organizing and monitoring work through intranet based systems.
Ongoing Organizational Renewal Building an adaptive organization is by definition a task that is never done. Conditions continue to change, people evolve. The DNA of the organization must continue to evolve, and with it all the elements of the adaptive organization must be reconsidered. One of the goals of this work is to engage ever more members of the organization in the process of evolution. As more and more people understand the business, wake up and pay attention to what is working, what is not, and see opportunities for improvement, as the communication system and learning culture develops, it becomes increasingly possible to change more rapidly as an organization.