Steve Jobs is gone…but there’s is something about the Think Different commercial that is so powerful. Every time I see it, I’m reminded again of the intangible creativity and innovative design vision that Steve brought to the table.
Archives For Change
Feel stuck? Looking for a way to renovate some aspect of your life? Jolt: Get the Jump on a World That’s Constantly Changing by Phil Cooke might be just the ticket. One of those rare books that’s both an easy read and a challenging personal change roadmap, Jolt could turn out to be the inspiration you need to take some important next steps.
If you’re familiar with Cooke’s previous book, Branding Faith: Why Some Churches and Nonprofits Impact Culture and Others Don’t or his work as a Hollywood producer, you might wonder about his credentials for a book on personal change. I think once you’re into Jolt you’ll find yourself repeatedly caught up in the combination of personal stories and life-change anecdotes that fill the book.
The book is organized in a way that’s very conducive to guiding a personal makeover. Each of the five sections has 5 chapters and each chapter is designed to provide practical steps that will help you move from where you are to where you want to be; to jolt some key areas of your life (overall direction, priorities and habits, personal growth, motivation and accountability, future and legacy).
I found particularly helpful the set of questions at the end of each section. In what can be a kind of checklist or summary, these questions provide a set of takeaway assignments that can push you further in a new direction.
This really is the kind of book you’ll find yourself breezing through and then being suddenly stopped by a bullet point or an idea that just pops out on the page. It’s not hard reading; in fact, Cooke’s objective was not a “complex business book filled with jargon, diagrams and intricate strategy that only a PhD could understand (p. xix).” Instead, it’s about “navigating changes in the world that will result in a new perspective on living, a better understanding of the world around you, the ability to recognize new opportunities, and a stronger vision for the future (p. xxv).”
Need to make some changes? I think you’ll find Jolt a helpful source of inspiration and practical next steps.
If you lead meetings and need to be more innovative…you’re going to want to pick up a copy of Gamestorming: A Playbook for Innovators, Rulebreakers, and Changemakers. Wow! What a great resource!
I caught co-author Sunni Brown on a presentation she gave for Duarte Designs and knew I needed to check this book out. I was not disappointed.
At the outset, Gamestorming points out that while in “industrial work, we want to manage work for consistent, repeatable, and predictable results,” that won’t produce breakthrough ideas. Since the goal isn’t “to incrementally improve on the past but to generate something new,” you’re going to have to do things to make it possible for your team to “imagine a world that we can’t really fully conceive yet.”
You’ve probably heard of the way the military uses game playing to develop and teach strategy. That’s the concept here. At over 250 pages, this book is really a toolbox full of some of the best practice concepts used by many of the most creative companies.
After establishing a basic pattern (gamestorming involves opening exercises that are divergent, exploring exercises that are emergent, and closing exercises that are convergent), the rest of the book is made up of tools that you can learn to use as you put together your own opportunities to gamestorm.
Each of the included exercises features the object of play, the number of players that can play, the duration of play, a brief explanation of how to play, and the strategy for its use.
Gamestorming is one of those books (kind of like Dan Roam’s Back of the Napkin or Doug Hall’s Jump Start Your Business Brain) that you’re going to want figure out a way to use right away. While you’re going to recognize a few of the games, unless you’re really a visual and experience guru, there are going to be plenty that you’ll react like I did when you see them. I want to try Campfire! I want to try The 4Cs! I want to try the Pain Gain Map! And so will you.
Leaders move people from here to there…The first play is not to make there sound wonderful. The first play is to make here sound awful. Bill Hybels
If you’ve been following the action here at StrategyCentral for any length of time, you know that change is an important topic. How to help people move from the status quo to what’s next is a huge part of what our conversation has been. So you’ll understand when I tell you that the newest offering from Chip and Dan Heath is a must read. If you lead an organization that is doing anything of significance…you need to be reading this book.
Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard is very practical. On top of practical, it introduces a language that has the potential to permeate your organization and become part of the way your team talks about bringing change.
As was the case with their previous book, Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die, Switch is a very story-driven book. Written in a style made popular by Malcolm Gladwell (The Tipping Point, Blink, Outliers), the Heath brothers make every point by referring to the example of a research project or case study. This makes for a very engaging read.
The book takes a core metaphor and teases it out to make three big ideas easy to understand and tempting to act upon. The metaphor is that while our emotions often spur action or a predictable pattern of response (referred to as The Elephant), our rational side can play a role (referred to as The Rider). The three big ideas are that:
- It’s possible to direct the rider
- The elephant can be motivated
- The path that rider and elephant take can be shaped
For me, one of the most important aspects of a book is its immediate application. I ask the question, “How can this be applied?” Switch is a book that I devoured. It started out a page turner and got better as the authors began to tie together the concepts. It’s really marked up. There were never more than a few pages turned that I wasn’t thinking, “This can be applied to that!” In addition, it stayed applicable right to the end. In fact, the last section on smoothing the path might have been the most practical and application oriented part of the book.
How tuned in is your organization? I asked a friend who had just moved to a new organization, “How’s the new reality?” He said, “To borrow a phrase from Leonard Sweet, I live in the Google Era, but my work environment is Gutenberg Era.”
Makes you think, doesn’t it? How many of our organizations are operating as if the Gutenberg press was still an exciting new idea? Okay…maybe none. But how many are operating as if yesterday is still the present?
It’s not easy to stay up with the times. It is a challenge. But if you’re looking for help, I want to recommend Chief Culture Officer by Grant McCracken.
“To reach people no one else is reaching we must do things no one else is doing.”
That line seems like a no-brainer. Obvious. And yet, when I heard Craig Groeschel say that at Willow’s Leadership Summit last year I scrambled to write it down and then had trouble thinking about anything else for the rest of the day.
“To reach people no one else is reaching we must do things no one else is doing.” Got it. Definitely. Makes a lot of sense. If what you’re doing right now is not reaching the people you’re trying to reach…then you’d probably want to try something different.
I want to figure out how to do that, which is why this diagram from Change by Design by Tim Brown leaped off the page when I saw it.
Here’s the gist. When you’re preoccupied with the needs of your existing customers…you’ll focus your attention on providing incremental improvements.
If you want to do anything beyond the status quo, you’ll need to begin making evolutionary changes (extending beyond existing offerings or adapting to reach new users).
Really, Groeschel was referring to revolutionary innovation. Maybe we find it difficult to reach people no one is reaching because we’re unwilling to go to the lengths of creating new venues and new methods that are beyond incremental.
Reacting to Craig Groeschel’s line, Andy Stanley said, “You can change the music, the style, dress different and take out the pews, they still aren’t going to be reached.” If you want to reach people no one else is reaching, you’re going to have to do things no one else is doing. You’re going to have to create. Incremental change will never get it done.
How does arriving where you’ve already been sound? Depends I guess. If you like where you’ve been, you might want to go there again. After all, there are places we’ve been that we love going back to. At the same time, as a metaphor for vision…most of us are dreaming of arriving somewhere we’ve never been. And arriving where we’ve already been is the last thing we’d set out to do.
And yet…when it comes to strategic planning, we’re often hung up by the fears of the agents of status quo who prefer consistent, predictable outcomes. “Will it pay for itself?” “Will we get buy in from the core?” “Are you sure this will work?” Sound familiar? These are the sound bites of those seeking reliability and “the goal of reliability is consistent, predictable outcomes (p. 37, The Design of Business).”
On the other hand, if you’re dream of arriving somewhere you’ve never been, a desired objective,…then you’ll be looking for a different route than you’ve taken so far. You’ll be looking for a path that goes to a different place than you’ve been before. That route or path is found in the search for validity, not reliability. And the discovery of what is actually valid is the only way to get from where you are to where you want to go.
One of the key concepts in Roger Martin’s The Design of Business is the notion that the pursuit of reliable or predictable results keeps many organizations from the kind of exploration that pursues the next opportunity (or the more current opportunity). This is big for all of us, but to really catch the significance you need to think about how an understanding of what works develops. I detail it in this discussion of the difference between heuristic and algorithm. Trust me…I know this sounds way technical…but it is worth the journey. Take 5 minutes and check it out right here.
Once you’ve caught on, the next step is recognizing that when the stakes are high, it is much more palatable for most organizations to settle for tried-and-true and predictable…even when the world has changed. That’s why so many of us are still doing what worked in the 80s and 90s (or 60s and 70s)…even though we shake our heads when it doesn’t quite work the same way now (or anywhere close). We want to explain is away, but we have a harder and harder time.
Need an example? Think about McDonald’s being late to the healthier-menu-item game. Their sense of reliable kept them focused on the path that had been so successful in the past. Their next steps were based on what had always worked. And when Subway burst on the scene with a healthier fast food concept, McDonald’s was caught unprepared. It was some time before they conceded that the world had indeed changed. Only when they recognized that the tried and true no longer worked did they begin to “emerge from the trough.”
An example from my world? There was a time when participating in the activities of a church was an all day affair. Church-goers rode into town on a wagon, attended a worship service as a family, went to a Sunday School class, stayed for dinner-on-the-grounds, worshiped together again at an evening service, hitched up the horses and went home. Although that time is clearly in the past, many churches still operate with that worldview still intact. Shaking their heads, they wonder why churches are growing that offer a more streamlined approach.
Settling for reliability is guaranteed to miss the main chance when the world changes. On the other hand, the pursuit of validity is a high-stakes gamble that doesn’t always produce a big win (or even a win). It’s risky. It’s a venture into the unknown. It seems crazy. And yet, you cannot move to a new trajectory without the willingness to search for validity; an understanding of what is actually happening.
One of the highlights of Drive ’08 was Andy Stanley’s talk, Random Thoughts On Leadership. I’ve referenced it before and it is a great talk. Really one of those talks that the audio hangs in the consciousness for years. The basic gist was that Andy took 5 memorable quotes that had affected his thinking and riffed on how they were impacting his leadership and North Point’s front-of-mind decisions. I highly recommend that you purchase it and listen to it over and over. Great insights to be had.
In the 18 months since it was delivered Andy and the North Point crew have taken the talk and dealt it out in its 5 key ideas, the random thoughts, in 5 podcasts that were part of their Andy Stanley Leadership Podcast series. You can find out how to download the most current additions right here. Unfortunately, the podcasts aren’t archived permanently. Being an enthusiast…I’ve archived them right here. Here are the quotes and the audio:
Assumptions “If we got kicked out and the board brought in a new CEO, what would he do? Why shouldn’t we walk out, come back in and do it ourselves?” Andy Grove, Former CEO, INTEL
When memories exceed your dreams: “When your memories exceed your dreams the end is near.” Chuck Bentley, President of Crown Ministries