Tuesday, August 24, 2010


A journey is not a trip or a commute. Properly understood, a journey is a worthwhile, remarkable, and exciting undertaking that proceeds into the unknown, finds value in discovery, and faces up to the risks involved.

Development is a special form of change that is initiated from what is (present state) and aims to create new and higher order states through;

• Pursuit of higher purposes
• Advancing the character and integrity of culture
• Step change in essential skill and capability to do value adding work

These characteristics apply to personal and organization development.

Each developmental journey is unique and at the same time follows known and predictable patterns. Unknown and unexpected opportunities and hazards present themselves along the way, although a wise leader with the help of an experienced guide, will find advantage in opportunity as well as in hazard.

Making a journey involves four stages, initiating, organizing, launching and evolving. Stages proceed in a natural sequence although they are iterative and overlap.

• Development occurs in a climate of healthy dissatisfaction with the current state.
• Activating a shift from current organization state is grounded in core values from a nucleus of those who will lead the journey.
• Journey is focused by leader’s vision of a better, future state for themselves and others in which core values are expressed.
• Potential for movement is energized by missions that stimulate values of those who would join the journey and attract them to work for its success.
• Planning Teams of capable leaders are formed to initiate the journey.

Five fully integrated roles are essential for success in the journey. Each of these roles is focused on journey’s purpose (consistent with leader’s vision) and invested in its mission.

• Role of leading challenges the organization to draw on unique capabilities and focus them on objectives that simultaneously achieve business advantage and a more highly developed organization. No person or organization ought to embark on a journey or expect to develop, in the absence of effective leading. Planning Teams of capable leaders have played this role in initiating many successful journeys..

• Role of managing uses principles as guides to a high road of thinking, action, and behavior in the organizations journey. Managing is ideally applied to things but must also be appropriately applied to people (in the role of supervising) when they lack capability to self-manage to principles. This role is normally filled by Leadership Teams who challenge individual members to proactively lead or supervise their own organization as appropriate. As objectives become more demanding, managing excellence becomes more critical.

• Role of working obligates all organization members to step up to roles and perform functions that make measurable contributions to success of their unit, site, and business. Each person has accountability to produce explicitly stated results that achieve current standards, work for success of business/site/unit objectives, continuously improve self, and uphold principles of the organization. Engaging every member of the organization at this level continues to be a significant challenge, and proactively choosing to lead or supervise at all levels is the key to engaging the entire organization as full time workers for the journey.

• Role of coaching builds into the organization and its members functional and behavioral skills required to do their work successfully and perform their roles at increasingly higher levels of capability. Coaching is done in the context of “real work” by individuals who are credible in terms of their personal experience, commitment to the journey, and desire for success of their pupils. Coaching and related role of mentoring aim to develop the individual as a part of increasing their functional capability. Examples of coaching successful journeys include; role redesign, networking, safety, developing functional teams, leading edge technology programs, etc.. Essential nature of effective coaching becomes clear when people commit to roles that are beyond present capability and call for training and development to close the gap.

• Role of guiding includes the presence and active involvement of someone who has experience in similar journeys. This experience makes it possible to see the journey as a whole, including the relationship of day to day events to its intended destination and to see opportunities and hazards that are invisible to the less experienced. Guiding brings an external perspective and source of support for all other roles with primary support for leaders.

Launching involves activating essential roles, infusing them with initiating force and energy and connecting them such that they are able to pull together in pursuit of shared goals. Part of the journey at this stage is to develop and agree on a number of critical factors that individually determine success or failure in the journey. These include;
• The business must increase its competitive position and strength.
• Sites must make distinctive and measurable strides toward operational excellence.
• Primary external customer connections must follow the material flow vs. chain of command or functional silos.
• Each person and unit needs to measure their contribution in terms that support site and business goals. Status must be routinely audited, with feedback and course correction as needed.
• A core methodology for organization design and development needs to be selected, invested in and practiced throughout.
• Work on objectives and projects follows a clearly laid out, comprehensive plan of attack. Everyday work follows agreed to written procedures with intent to achieve specifically stated performance and behavioral standards.
• Every organization member has made a conscious choice to step into a role that makes an essential contribution. Taking a position on the sidelines or in the bleachers is unacceptable.
• Boundary interface with headquarters needs to be managed such that positive energy flows both ways and attention is diverted from guarding boundaries to cooperation across the interface.

The conduct of a successful journey evolves along the way as a consequence of activities and events that are initiated, experience gained from impact of unforeseen influences, increased access to useful resources and developed thinking of leaders. For many organizations these include;
• Self-designed and self-led leadership team meetings..
• Extension of goals, objectives, key measures, and useful techniques from leadership teams into the organization through networks, task teams and chain of command.
• Involvement of leadership team members and others in strategic planning process focused on business results supported by operational excellence.
• Increased direct involvement of headquarters personnel in leadership team events and activities.
• Islands of potential development are scattered throughout, although a broad scale wave of change is yet to come that realizes their potential.
• Changing membership of the management team such that current members are inclined toward teamwork, are credible in their own organizations and aim to develop as effective leaders.
• Resolution of issues that lead to an unsatisfactory level of execution. These include unclear roles, lack of confidence in being proactive as leader or supervisor, grip of “old culture environment”, absence of well-designed and practiced audit, feedback and course correcting process.
• Recognition that a complex and challenging journey is subject to the law of entropy and must from time to time re-new and rededicate itself.

Degree to which these factors are in place, understood, and are influential has been spotty in many organizations and should be a high priority subject for attention and upgrade.

Of all the factors that define what a journey is and whether it is likely to succeed, none is more critical than personal core values of its leaders. Without a leader there is no journey, nor is there development and without conscious dedication to uphold own core values, there is insufficient will to persevere as a leader. It is necessary to differentiate core values from other forms and depths of value. For example a common functional value is to support safety and environmental programs. At greater depth is value that no one or the planet gets hurt. And at the core of personal values is commitment to work for the physical and psychological well being of others. Regeneration of the journey must include discovery and sharing of core values among its leaders.

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