Archive for the ‘School’ Category

It’s Official: I’m an Employed Graduate.

December 22, 2009

Well…it’s official. On Saturday, I accepted my diploma cover, shook a few hands, smiled for a few pictures and walked across a long stage in my second Palm Beach Atlantic University graduation ceremony. Funny enough, I was the next to last person to be called in the ceremony! That was so funny to me…having a last name that starts with “P,” I don’t think that’s ever come close to happening to me. At any rate, I am officially finished with my Master’s in Organizational Leadership. Crazy!

Definitely official.

And, then…on Monday, I started my new job at Give Kids The World Village in Kissimmee. I’m excited about it! Job or no job, God is good, but once again He is proving His faithful provision in my life. And…who wouldn’t love a job where orientation day starts out with a big “hello” from Mickey and Minnie?! 🙂

All in a day's work.

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Organizational Change :: Vision [7]

July 1, 2009

We’re in the homestretch…here’s the end of my paper:

Scattered

While a good vision statement provides incredible focus for an organization, a poor or nonexistent statement sends efforts into very scattered directions. If a reasonable and imaginable end goal is not put in front of employees, they may assume that any project, program or decision will be suitable. Organizations may survive this way for a time, but eventually the distraction of so many options and choices will cause good leaders to pull back and re-evaluate.

No one wants a “transformation effort [that] easily dissolves into a list of confusing and incompatible projects that can take the organization in the wrong direction or no where are all” (Kotter, 2006, p. 244). This will ultimately lead to increased frustration, employee exits and uncontrolled chaos.

Havoc

Action without clear direction is chaos. Multiple actions of many people in an organization, without any idea of the desired outcome, create havoc. As previously mentioned, without a compelling purpose or vision, individuals tend to forge ahead making decisions that benefit their segment of the organization. Change management then becomes chaos management and leaders are forced to put out fires and pick up the broken pieces. God designed the human world to function in order. A vision statement can provide that order at every level of an organization.

Looking beyond what was to what could be is not easy. “Few of us can see beyond the present. Each of us must see into the future, and thus help create it, if we are to successfully accomplish our mission” (Jones, 1996, p. 72). Leaders must carefully guide their teams to understand their part in creating the future of their organization in an orderly, purposeful way.

Conclusion

Developing a clear and compelling vision is the third step in Kotter’s eight-stage change process. None of his determined stages can drive change independently of the others, but communicating a vision that people can get behind is crucial to the success of any change project. A good vision will drive action and demand a response from those following. Leaders can choose for their organizations to flourish under a clear vision or watch them quickly perish without clear direction.

[Jones, L.B. (1996). The path: Creating your mission statement for work and for life. New York: Hyperion.]

[Kotter, J. (2006). Leading change: Why transformation efforts fail. In J. V. Gallos (Ed.) Organizational development a Jossey-Bass reader (pp. 239-251). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.]

Organizational Change :: Vision [6]

June 30, 2009

I know, I know. Some of you are so over this. Bear with me…it’s been my life for the last eight weeks. 🙂

Some more of my paper and more of what can happen without a clear, compelling vision…

Resistance

Generally, people are very resistant to change. The transition feels unsafe and unpredictable. The “way things used to be done” does not seem to matter anymore. Kotter shares one example, “a company gave out four-inch-thick note-books describing…procedures, goals, methods and deadlines. But nowhere was there a clear and compelling statement of where all this was leading…most employees were either confused or alienated” (2006, p. 245).

A good vision statement can help alleviate some of this expected resistance. The goal would be to get as many people as possible to “buy in” to the new plan, therefore reducing the confusion and alienation.

Indecision

Indecision can be eradicated with clarity of direction. When a clear vision is established, it drives all decision making. Rather than wondering what next step to take, or whether to implement this program or that strategy, leaders can ask “one simple question—is this in line with the vision?” (Kotter, 1996, p. 69). If not, the answer is simple.

Clarity of direction also eliminates compromise. Because the vision drives decision making, critical decisions can be made ahead of time. Leaders are not left to ponder whether or not a certain proposition would be a good idea. Much of that has already been outlined in the vision statement and one must only consult it to determine the next right step.

[Kotter, J. (1996). Leading change. Boston: Harvard Business School Press.]

[Kotter, J. (2006). Leading change: Why transformation efforts fail. In J. V. Gallos (Ed.) Organizational development a Jossey-Bass reader (pp. 239-251). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.]

Organizational Change :: Vision [5]

June 29, 2009

So…to summarize. A clear and compelling vision has the following characteristics:

V: Value
I: Inspirational
S: Strategy
I: Intentional
O: Oneness
N: Niche

And…moving on with my paper:

PERISH

In as much as a good vision statement can drive change in an organization, the ambiguity caused when the vision is lacking can be incredibly detrimental. Following are six reasons to avoid the chaos of a poorly defined, or nonexistent, vision. Each coincides with the letters in the word “perish.”

Perplexity

Without a sense of where an organization is headed, individuals grow increasingly perplexed, frustrated and confused. A lack of trust in leadership can develop and individuals begin making their own decisions based on what they believe is in their best interest, giving no regard to the greater good or the bigger picture. Individuals desire order and purpose, but “without a shared sense of direction, interdependent people can end up in constant conflict” (Kotter, 1996, p. 70). By providing even a basic framework for where things are heading, a clear vision takes away the perplexing questions and ambiguity.

Exit

Without a clear vision, critical team players may often face thoughts of planning their exit from the organization. It is very hard for individuals to continue their day-to-day tasks, which may be mundane, without understanding where they are headed. Even if it is not possible to understand all the “whys” associated with their position, leaders must help their employees see their part in the bigger picture.

Leaders should consider the strengths and weaknesses of their teams and design strategies based on the vision that will utilize the knowledge and skills of their employees. To lessen turnover during any change effort, leaders must “build synergistic relationships with their employees, which stimulate them to achieve personal and organizational excellence” (Gilley, Boughton and Maycunich, 1999, p. 170).

[Gilley, J., Boughton, N., & Maycunich, A. (1999). The performance challenge. New York: Persus Books.]

[Kotter, J. (1996). Leading change. Boston: Harvard Business School Press.]

Organizational Change :: Vision [4]

June 28, 2009

Alright…if you’re just joining us and you’re lost, go down about three posts to the beginning of this “series” on Organizational Change and Vision. This post will wrap up the acronym for “vision” and then we’ll move on to “perish.” Lost? Go here…Organizational Change :: Vision [1].

And…once again, directly quoted from my paper…

Oneness

Organizations are made up of individuals. These individuals, when led by good leadership and a compelling vision, can make up a team that is far greater together than any one person could be on their own. Building an effort on the unity and oneness of a team will increase the likelihood of long-lasting change within an organization. “With a shared sense of purpose, you can achieve anything” (Bennis, 2002, p. 104).

Before crafting a vision statement, leaders should take great care in determining who on their team might help in writing it. As part of the change effort, the guiding coalition (a hand selected group of formal and informal leaders within the organization) could assist in developing the vision. Even the greatest of leaders should not attempt to write a vision statement without the input and consideration of their team. As Kouzes and Posner explained, “leadership is not a monologue, nor should the creation of a vision statement be done individually and without the active involvement of others” (2006, p. 532)

In order to successfully guide a team of people through change that will last, it is critical to establish a group of individuals who are committed to seeing the new vision become a reality. Leaders must emphasize the need for teamwork, trust and a common goal. At its basic function, a team works together toward one common end. At its core function, vision should unify individuals and “align [them], thus coordinating the actions of motivated people in a remarkably efficient way” (Kotter, 1996, p. 70).

Niche

Providing focus, and a determined niche, is a key benefit of a well-written vision statement. Because vision paints a clear picture of where an organization is headed, the statement also helps anyone who reads it understand exactly what can be expected. With this in mind, it must be easy to communicate. Simplicity is essential and people on the team should be able to explain the vision to others, even outsiders, in less than five minutes.

As an example, Give Kids the World Village, located in Kissimmee, provides a very succinct and simple vision statement. Even someone not familiar with the organization can read it and understand the niche they’ve chosen to focus on. It reads, “Give Kids the World is a non-profit organization that exists only to fulfill the wishes of all children with life-threatening illnesses and their families from around the world to experience a memorable, joyful, cost-free visit to the Central Florida attractions, and to enjoy the magic of Give Kids the World Village for as long as there is a need.” Because the leadership at Give Kids the World has chosen a specific vision, their niche in the marketplace has been defined.

[Bennis, W. (2002). Become a tomorrow leader. In L.C. Spears & M. Lawrence (Ed.) Focus on leadership: Servant leadership for the 21st century (pp. 101-109). New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.]

[Kouzes, J. & Posner, B. (2006). Enlist others. In J. V. Gallos (Ed.) Organizational development a Jossey-Bass reader (pp. 518-539). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.]

[Kotter, J. (1996). Leading change. Boston: Harvard Business School Press.]

Organizational Change :: Vision [3]

June 27, 2009

Alright…here’s a little bit more of my paper. Knock yourselves out. 🙂

Strategy

While a good plan can only take an organization so far, an action-provoking vision can help leaders determine the proper strategy and direction for their organization. By specifically explaining where an organization is headed, leaders give their teams a framework that helps “clarify the direction in which an organization needs to move” (Kotter, 2006, p. 244).

Vision is a broad look at where an organization is headed while strategy is more narrowly focused. Strategy centers on the specific steps and actions a team must take in order to see the vision come to fruition. The options may be numerous, but ultimately the vision will determine what action is taken. For example, “strategy says, ‘we’re going west, but we ran into this grand canyon. We can go around to the north or south. Let’s choose south’” (Robbins, 2006). If vision is communicated properly, teams will be empowered to make decisions regarding the strategic direction of their organization.

Intentional

As previously mentioned, a good vision statement provides the direction needed to allow leaders to make intentional decisions that will continue to shape the organization. This keeps ambiguity low as it relates to the change effort. Rather than tossing ideas, strategies and programs against the wall to see what sticks, leaders can use a compelling vision to help make deliberate decisions about what will be successful in the organization.

Vision also helps leaders put parameters around what behaviors will be acceptable in the new life of the organization. This gives employees an idea of what is expected and allows leaders to model what they are asking of their teams. When it comes to making intentional decisions about individual actions and behavior, Warren Bennis suggests that leaders “specify the steps that behaviorally fit into that vision, and then reward people for following those steps” (2002, p. 105).

[Bennis, W. (2002). Become a tomorrow leader. In L.C. Spears & M. Lawrence (Ed.) Focus on leadership: Servant leadership for the 21st century (pp. 101-109). New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.]

[Kotter, J. (2006). Leading change: Why transformation efforts fail. In J. V. Gallos (Ed.) Organizational development a Jossey-Bass reader (pp. 239-251). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.]

[Robbins, S. (2006). Successful vision, strategy and tactics. Retrieved on June 21, 2009 from http://www.steverrobbins.com/articles/vision-strategy-tactics.htm]

Organizational Change :: Vision [2]

June 25, 2009

Moving on with part of my final paper from the Leading Organizational Change course I just completed. If you’re lost, check out yesterday’s post.

And here’s some more…quoted directly from my paper…

VISION

A convincing vision is the foundational driving force behind any successful organization and change effort. While there are innumerable benefits to a thought out vision statement, following are six that coincide with the letters in the word “vision.”

Value

While providing a picture of the future of an organization, a vision that motivates teams to take steps toward change also provides significant value and purpose to those actions. In many ways—socially, emotionally and monetarily—the value an organization receives from a compelling vision statement cannot be tangibly measured.

Leaders should take great care in crafting a statement that will help their teams grasp the purpose behind the impending change. By answering questions like, “How does this change add purpose and value to our decisions and actions?” leaders can give their teams a sense of the greater picture. Ultimately, Kouzes and Posner suggest that leaders be “convinced of the value of that vision themselves and share that genuine belief with others.”

Inspirational

Creating an effective and compelling vision requires both head and heart. Visions that inspire create an emotional connection with team because most individuals are looking to be a part of something greater than themselves. Good leadership will inspire action and change with a vision that demands a response.

As it relates to the process of change, leaders are charged with some of the most difficult tasks. After determining the vision for their organization, they must take what is intangible and make it concrete. By using powerful language and positive communication, leaders can inspire their teams to move forward in appropriate action. A compelling vision motivates everyone involved—even those on the fringe of an organization—to see the future dream become a reality. This hope for a new future reality, “breathes life into a vision [and by] making the intangible vision tangible, leaders ignite constituents’ flames of passion” (Kouzes & Posner).

[Kouzes, J. & Posner, B. (2006). Enlist others. In J. V. Gallos (Ed.) Organizational development a Jossey-Bass reader (pp. 518-539). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.]

Organizational Change :: Vision [1]

June 24, 2009

So…just to catch you up to speed (in case you missed something)…for the last eight weeks I took two grad school classes at once–one in class on Monday nights and one as a directed study. Both classes were good and I enjoyed them.

For my directed study class, I wrote a final research paper on the topic of developing a compelling vision in the midst of organizational change. I came up with a little acronym based on a familiar verse from Proverbs. I thought I’d share parts of my paper here. I’ll split it up in sections because it’s pretty long.

I’m not silly enough to believe that this will interest all of you, but maybe someone will get something out of it. 🙂

Quoted directly from my paper:

Introduction

A compelling vision is central to all change efforts. Even the most basic vision statement serves three purposes. It helps to clarify the general direction for change, motivates individuals to action and coordinates the efforts of a group of people. A unifying vision is so critical that Solomon even mentioned it in Proverbs: “Where there is no vision, the people perish” (Proverbs 29: 18, King James Version).

Based on this verse, I developed an acronym using the words “vision” and “perish” that describe the benefits of developing a compelling vision and the pitfalls of disregarding this critical step in a change effort. A useful statement of vision will: add value; provide inspirational motivation; define the best strategy; give leaders the ability to make intentional decisions; unify the team in oneness; focus an organization on a particular niche. Without the focus that vision brings, teams are: plagued by perplexity; inclined to make swift exits from the organization; experience increased resistance; guided by leaders driven by indecision; follow ideas and programs that are scattered; disband because of havoc. I will outline, in more depth, the benefits and pitfalls associated with vision.

Transition vs. Change

June 3, 2009

I am reading a very interesting book for my directed study class. My class is on Organizational Change and one of the books is about leading people through transitions. Because of my current state of transition, I have found William Bridges’ book Managing Transitions very interesting. Here’s part of a paper I wrote, that I have adapted for my blog:

In the first chapter of this book, the author makes a point that was new to me. He distinguishes between the action of change and the psychology of transition and suggests that there is a three-step process for successfully moving through transition.

First, he says you must learn to let go of the old. In a sense, you have to allow yourself  to grieve what you are leaving behind in order to embrace the new horizons ahead.

Next, you should expect to spend some amount of time in what Bridges refers to as the “neutral zone.” Many try to rush, skip or ignore this phase because it may seem painful or dangerous. However, because of the psychological nature of transition, allowing yourself adequate time in the “neutral zone” may be the most critical stage in the process. Bridges proposes that this time of limbo is “the time when innovation is most possible and when the organization [or person] can most easily be revitalized.”

Finally, you must begin to come out of the transition and embrace the new beginning (change). Moving into this phase gives you new purpose which provides the catalyst for solidifying change within an organization or your own life.

So…in case you haven’t been able to tell lately, I know that I’m in the “neutral zone.” Reading this book at this time, I’m sure, is no coincidence. I’ve really been able to relate to this book in a lot of ways, and even pass on some things I’ve learned to others. The funny thing about change and transition is that we’ve all be there, will be there, or are there now. However, I know for me, when you’re processing through it, it feels like you’re the only one. More on this book to come…

Thriving in 24/7 :: Strategies 4,5,6

April 23, 2009

Continued from my paper for school about Sally Helgesen’s book Thriving in 24/7.

Strategy Four: Weave a Strong Web of Inclusion

Creating a strong network is critical in today’s world of work. No organization or individual can expect to be successful in today’s global marketplace without a network of interconnected partnerships and relationships. “Networks are powerful in proportion to their size” (p. 171) and, whether via email, phone call or social networking sites, Helgesen recommends individuals work on increasing the size of their web every day.

Strategy Five: Build a Clear Brand

Just as companies and organizations strive to develop a distinguishing brand in their markets, Helgesen suggests that individuals create a personal brand. Personal branding is a way to “publicly express our core values” (p. 204). This comes through in the “day-to-day details of how you operate” and “being consistent is the most crucial aspect of establishing your brand” (p. 208). Delivering consistently excellent projects, results or products will increase the value of your personal brand, and therefore increase your value to organizations.

Strategy Six: Practice the Rhythm of Renewal

No one can function in the world of 24/7 work and thrive without taking necessary steps to rest. Helgesen recommends incorporating “acts of renewal into our daily lives” (p. 228). Something as simple as getting outdoors for thirty minutes a day helps to disrupt the routine of the day, allowing the mind to refresh. Multitasking should also be avoided.