Brave New Work – Are you ready to re-invent your organisation by Aaron Dignan

 
I want to help you to grow your mindset and to share my passion for impact. Thus, in this blog series, I have hand-picked the bestselling publications and essential managerial tools. This enables you to make a sustainable renewal to your business and personal life. The goal of this first season is to build a common body of knowledge and starting platform for you. Depending on your experience with the subject matter, some of the issues represented might be obvious to you. However, try to dig deeper and connect any missing dots for your own benefit. By reading further you will:

  • save your scarce reading time on renewal, culture and the best performing teams
  • extend your leadership toolbox to support your business decisions
  • build your personal growth-mindset, required to excel as an evolutionary leader

Re-inventing organisations

The Brave New work (2019) by Aaron Dignan is about unleashing the full potential of complex human systems. It can be done by changing the fundamental principles and practices (ie. the operating systems) that shape organisational culture.
My purpose is to give you insights and make you think about some of the new ways of working with evidenced growth in terms of financials and people motivation. By reading this blog and watching the vlog:

  • You learn how to recode the future of work through self-determination, trust and transparency.
  • You are introduced to the key concepts of people positive and complexity conscious.
  • You get two, easy to apply, managerial tools to grow your leadership capabilities.

Future of Work

According to studies referred to in the book, return on assets (ROA) is declining and the financial and technical debts of organisations are simultaneously growing globally. There is constantly more organisational debt – meaning any structure or policy that no longer serve the organisation is present. In addition, nowadays people are nowadays expecting more presence and mediation of continuous participatory change from their leaders.
As referred in my last blog about Netflix building a culture of radical freedom and responsibility the winning organizations looks quite different in their DNA than we are used to in our taylorism driven world of economics. According to the writer, the future of work is about organisations that reflect in their leadership culture and operating systems purpose, transparency and reputation as an employer. Brave new work is built around freedom and responsibility.

People Positive and Complexity Conscious

Aaron Dignan introduces two core concepts of brave new work: people positive and complexity conscious. What do these terms mean in practice?
People positivity is about a positive mindset towards people´s potential. Any individual is seen more as a contributor rather than a cost. People positivity has its roots in the human work motivation and management research work by Douglas McGregor while he was working at the MIT Sloan School of Management in the 1950s, and developed further in the 1960s. The two theories of X and Y 1 proposed by McGregor describe contrasting models of workforce motivation applied by managers in human resource managementorganisational behaviourorganisational communication and organisational development. Theory X explains the importance of heightened supervision, external rewards, and penalties, while Theory Y highlights the motivating role of job satisfaction and encourages workers to approach tasks without direct supervision, the latter is presented as the driver of people positivity.

Also, the self-determination theory (SDT) of Edward Deci and Richard Ryan highlights people´s desire for autonomy, competence development and relatedness. The researchers claim that humans are inherently proactive with their potential and mastering their inner forces (such as drive and emotion). Humans have an inherent tendency toward growth development and integrated functioning. Optimal development and actions are inherent in humans, but they don’t happen automatically.2
In short people positive means that, as a leader, we assume and expect the best of everyone as a starting point.
Complexity conscious tells us how we see and define the world around us. For example, how do we differ complicated challenges vs. complex ones? The main difference is that complicated matters are causal systems that can be controlled and fixed. On the other hand, complex ones are dispositional, they can be predicted and influenced, but not controlled. The complexity conscious idea stems from the Cynefin decision framework 3 by Snowden published in 1999 (see picture below).

Cynefin framework, source 

New Operating System
The operating system is the DNA of an organisation. It is where people work and how the organisation works. It lays down the foundations of co-operation, motivation and success. As W. Edwards Deming (the “father of total quality management”) already said decades ago:
“94% of the problems in an organisation are caused by the system, only 6% by people”
The traditional management mindset is that errors and defects are caused by bad employees or employees who just don’t care. This might not be the case, as mentioned earlier, with people positiveness and complexity consciousness. Is your organisation like an intersection where cars need to stop and wait, or is it like a smooth roundabout? A working operating system is the latter one.
One tool presented in the book is the OS Canvas with the following 12 key critical domain. A clear understanding of these is required for any leaders to succeed. They are the following:

  1. Purpose
  2. Authority
  3. Structure
  4. Strategy
  5. Resources
  6. Innovation
  7. Workflow
  8. Meetings
  9. Information
  10. Membership
  11. Mastery
  12. Compensation

Currently, the OS Canvas is its second edition with same themes, but a new version of a 3X3 type matrix. However, the initial OS Canvas purpose has not changed. The concept is to pick a domain topic and work it through one by one with the following questions:

  • What are our principles in this area?
  • What do we believe?
  • What are our current practices in this area?
  • What do we actually do in this area?
  • Are they (actions) serving us?
  • Are our actions and outcomes consistent with our values?

In short, getting to the root-cause of any development area and defining it clearly whilst, at the same, time taking into consideration the organisation´s strategy, purpose and values. By building those domain themes together with an in-house or external facilitator helps you to create a common visual and documented guide for your new successful operating system.

Psychological Safety
No frank, honest and successful operating systems can be achieved if psychological safety is not felt present at work. In my experience within a multitude of industries in various countries, to create such an environment of trust, transparency and appreciation should be the number one task for a great leader with a willingness to grow.
How to excel? How to build psychological safety in your organisation? One good tool presented in the book is ICBD method4 by Alexandra Jamieson. The method is a discussion/questioning format where you can get your people heard, engaged and make them raise their concerns proactively in order to pursue, together and at the same pace, your strategic intent and goals. The sequence of questions asked is the following:

  1. Intentions – ask “why do you want to be a part of this project?”
  2. Concerns – ask “what are you worried about in our team or plan?”
  3. Borders – ask “what rules or standards will help our team to be the best?”
  4. Dreams – ask “how will we feel, where we will be?”

These earlier questions can help you to build trust, the foundation of every successful team or group which is very well stated by Patrick Lencioni in his bestselling management book of The Five Dysfunctions of a Team.
To conclude, when you create an environment of psychological safety, you can unleash the untapped potential of your people and make miracles happen without heavy investments. You can get growth and incremental results fast.

The key question for you to ask yourself when becoming a leader with a growth-mindset

  • What is stopping you creating the best workplace of the future, today?

My next blog will be published in early January 2020. It will be about tribal leadership and getting organised in a new way to grow. Keep following.
Sources:
 
1 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theory_X_and_Theory_Y
2 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-determination_theory
3 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cynefin_framework
4 Getting to Hell Yes: The conversation that will change your business (and the rest of your life),Jamieson and Gower, 2018

About
Jere Talonen – Your co-pilot helping you to bridge the gap between strategy, values and behaviours from the boardroom to the shop floor by combining EX with CX. In the blog series, he shares his learnings from a multi-industry international career extending over 20 years as a leader, entrepreneur, business coach & consultant, as well as an executive team and board member. Currently, Jere acts as Principal Consultant – Recoding Culture and the Future of work at Gofore Plc.

Jere Talonen

Jere Talonen

Jere works at Gofore as a lead and service culture development consultant. He has over 20 years of management level business experience from global consumer brands in nine countries and three continents. In addition Jere is also a seasoned entrepreneur of start-up ecosystem and network building.

Linkedin profile

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I​ was sure I’d fail. In my earlier attempts to cut down minutes,​ hours and days I spend on social​ media, I had managed to avoid it for some time, but ended up using it either as much or even more when I allowed it back into my life. I needed another strategy.​​

More​ than anything, I wanted to understand what I was looking for in these technologies. You see, I didn’t know. What I knew was that something wasn’t quite right. That’s when I discovered digital minimalism.​

Hiding​ in bare daylight​

According​ to a 2011 study, 47% of the U.S. adult population is estimated to have suffered from maladaptive signs of at least one addictive disorder during the last 12 months. There are several hooks available, social media being only one of them.​

Adam​  Alter, a professor of psychology and marketing at New York University and author of​ Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive​ Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked describes​ each behavioural addiction to include one or many of the following elements:​

  • Compelling​ goals that are just beyond reach​
  • Irresistible and unpredictable positive feedback​
  • Sense​ of incremental progress and improvement​
  • Tasks that become slightly more difficult over time​
  • Unresolved tensions that demand resolution​
  • Strong​ social connections​

According​ to Alter, any experience that a person returns to compulsively in the short term even if it has a negative impact on a person’s well-being in at least one aspect in the long term counts as a behavioural addiction. The damage can have a mixture of social, physical​ and financial aspects. When compared to substance addictions, behavioural addictions are easier to hide which can maintain the unhealthy situation for a long time.​

Because​ behavioural addictions are common, it may be tempting to question the need for their diagnosis and normalize the situation. However, we need the diagnosis for comparing reality to what is normal and healthy. The big picture should scare the hell out of us,​ and then trigger us to action, including me as a designer. We​ at Gofore aim at developing ethically sustainable solutions. In the end, our values define what kind of impact we want to create in this world. What actually happens depends on the actions that stem from those values. Supporting sustainable technology use​ is one way of caring for humanity and taking responsibility.​

What​ is digital minimalism​

Digital​ minimalism offers building blocks for sustainable technology use. By definition, it is a philosophy of technology use in which you focus your online time on a small number of carefully selected and optimized activities that strongly support things you value,​ and then happily miss out on everything else. Cal Newport, an associate professor of computer science at Georgetown University, describes the approach in detail in​ Digital Minimalism: Choosing​ a Focused Life in a Noisy World.​

The​ idea behind digital minimalism is to increase one’s awareness of optional technologies and to help in making deliberate decisions on what to use, for what end and how. It is about throwing a strategy at something we can’t otherwise control,​ knowing that​ there are products that are addictive by design, taking more than we intend to give.​

In​ order to adopt the lifestyle of a digital minimalist, Newport suggests a rapid digital declutter process:​​

  • Take​ a 30 days break from all optional technologies in your life.​
  • During​ the break, look for activities and behaviours that you find meaningful.​
  • ​After​ 30 days, reintroduce optional technologies into your life. For each technology, evaluate the value it serves. You should allow the technology back into your life only if it serves something you deeply value, is the best way to serve this value, and has a clearly​ defined role in your life, including information on when and how you use it.​

​There​ is an option to avoiding everything, however. It is possible to create predefined rules for selected technologies which would apply during the declutter period. It would mean using a certain technology but changing something in the way to use it. If you’re​ binge watching alone, for example, you could set an episode limit and ask a friend to join you.​ 

But​ why all this trouble? The declutter period is there to help you​ to clear your mind before rushing to conclusions about the value each technology serves. But avoiding technologies for some time isn’t the hardest part. It is being honest to yourself that can be excruciating, and that happens at the very end of the declutter​ period, when you return to evaluate each technology. If the technology offers you only some value, you should let it go. At the same time, you are leaving behind that part of yourself, and farewells are always hard.​

My​ experiment​

My​ rules were simple. No Twitter, Instagram, Facebook or LinkedIn. I moved the app icons away from my phone’s main screen so that I wouldn’t touch them out of habit. As suggested by the book, I had planned activities for those moments where I’d normally reach​ for my phone. Nothing fancy there. I needed these activities the most during the first week when I had to remind myself for being in charge of the situation I had put myself into.​​

On​ the third week, a disturbing thought flickered across my mind. A sense of freedom, the kind you’d feel after an escape. But was I running from technology, or myself as a user?​ Is there a difference?​​

I​ could tell you what I did with the time that was released by avoiding technologies, but what I find far more interesting is the evaluation process that followed the declutter period. I got stuck at the very first question of the technology screening: does​ this technology directly support something that I deeply value? I simply didn’t know what those values were. That part of the big picture was gone.​

This​ was a fundamental moment. As most people, I have a narrative for each application to rationalize my usage, but there was a mismatch between my goals and behaviour I couldn’t explain away. What was most upsetting, however, was the fact that I couldn’t connect​ those goals to the values I care deeply about. The arrows pointed somewhere else. It didn’t end there, of course. I knew better ways to reach those goals, too. As a final punch, when it comes to living to my values, I have a long way ahead of me.​

After 30 days, ​I re-entered social media​. After a while, I raised my gaze and made a decision. I’m still here, somewhere beyond, and for now, I’ll stay.

Kati Virtanen

Kati Virtanen

Kati Virtanen is UX designer helping organizations learn from their customers and discover what truly matters together with them. One of her methods is user testing, where the client has an active role in all phases.

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Some ten years ago I took part in training about agile software production methods. There were about two dozen information technology professionals present and again I was the only woman – a situation I’ve become very accustomed to, working in a male-dominated field. Along the years, I’ve called my experience the Smurfette feeling.
You remember the Smurfs? They are the small, blue, apparently male creatures, all dressed in a white hat and trousers. They live in Smurf village and they all seem to lack a personal identity and personality. And then there’s Smurfette. Smurfette has long blond hair and a white dress, and she’s the only female Smurf.
Our trainer gave us a group assignment that required innovation. We were divided into four groups, and each group was given a number. Then the trainer wrote a number on a piece of paper and put it aside, saying that this was the group that would win.
Our group, the one with the only woman (me, Smurfette) was by far the fastest and most efficient. And in the end, we found out that the trainer was right about the winning team, explaining that having been training people around the world it had become clear that if a male-dominated group has a team with at least one woman, that’s the team that will almost always win. The trainer had understood a key lesson: diversity feeds creativity. Being a woman was not the magic word. Similarly, in a female-dominated group, a team with a man in it is probably going to be the most efficient. The winning team may be diverse also ethnically or in terms of the age distribution. The team that represents the most different viewpoints and approaches regarding the problem will be the most innovative and efficient.
Later I have noticed that international studies have confirmed this phenomenon over and over again. Diversity feeds creativity and increases productivity and the number of innovations. Different people find different angles and new approaches to problems. And it’s not just about diversity helping to find new angles, it also forces you to be better prepared, explain your own point of view better and in all ways take your team members better into account. What’s more, the experience of equality that is the requirement of genuine diversity makes people enjoy their work better and also feel safer. It also makes people more committed.
Hearing out all viewpoints is important not only in order to increase productivity and innovation, but also for the sake of being just and equal. In terms of social fairness, it is not insignificant which challenges we begin to solve, whose problems are considered such that mental capacity and resources are invested to solve them and what is the direction we should be taking our world.
The society of the future will be digital. It is based on solutions provided by information technology. This is why we, experts in digitalisation, have a large role to play and also shoulder much of the responsibility of what kind of society and services will be built. And it’s not insignificant who the people are that are involved in this building work.
In order for diversity to work, we not only offer everyone the same opportunities, but also take into account any special needs people may have. The needs of a young single person in a wheelchair are probably different from those of a sole parent with three children. A person recently moved to Finland for work probably needs different kind of attention than a Finnish, semi-retired person with lots of experience. Each individual will also bring their own, unique strengths into the equation. A good employer will spot these strengths and provide the best conditions for their development. And this palette also changes during each person’s life cycle, sometimes quite abruptly.
Neither must we be blind to the fact how our old structures and operating culture may feed the success of certain people at the expense of other groups. We are often so accustomed to these structures that we need a proper shake-up to step into the shoes of another person to realise that things could also be done differently.
I would also challenge Smurf village totalitarianism in which the blue Smurf with a white hat is the norm and anyone deviating from it is only seen as a representative of their own special group, as a person that doesn’t fit in with the rest. In reality, almost every individual represents, seen from a specific viewpoint, at least one minority, and more often several. So the blue and white uniformity of the Smurf village may actually be a mirage, hiding many different colours, personalities and individual opinions. Recognising them and expressing your viewpoint clearly and respectfully of others will open the door to enriching interaction.

Kristiina Härkönen

Kristiina Härkönen

Kristiina works at Gofore as Chief Sustainability Officer - her dream job. She has always been passionate about building a better future for both people and for the planet. She believes that technology and digitalization can be important factors helping to solve some of our time’s biggest challenges. In some respects, they are also their causes. Technology in itself is neutral, it is us, the people who must decide how to use it. We must decide the goals where we apply our limited brain capital. It is also imperative that companies understand their responsibility for creating a more sustainable future. Kristiina has worked at Gofore since 2003 and during that time has seen the company grow from five people to over six hundred. She has worked as a software developer, project manager, architecture and project management consultant, in sales and as a business director. Out of work, Kristina enjoys relaxing with nature, exploring the forests with her dog.

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Powerful: Building a Culture of Freedom & Responsibility at Netflix by Patty McCord

 
I want to help you to grow your mindset and share my passion for impact. Thus, in this blog series, I have hand-picked the bestselling publications and essential managerial tools. This enables you to make a sustainable renewal to your business and personal life. The goal of the first season is to build a common body of knowledge and a starting platform for you. Depending on your experience with the subject matter, some of the issues represented might be obvious to you, however, try to dig deeper and connect any missing dots for your benefit. By reading further you will:

  • save your scarce reading time on renewal, culture and the best performing teams
  • extend your leadership toolbox to support your business decisions
  • build your personal growth-mindset, required to excel as an evolutionary leader

Netflix Culture of Freedom & Responsibility 

The focus of this episode is on the best organisational culture practices of Netflix during the time when Patty McCord was working as chief talent officer in the company. The basis of this blog is her book published in 2018 and the Netflix open-source culture deck.
The first slide of Netflix´s culture deck, viewed over 15 million times, communicates that the company has two values; freedom and responsibility, which work together to create a mutually inclusive whole. Both cultural themes of Netflix are co-dependent and mandatory. The second slide of the culture deck sets the cultural standards for the organisation to seek excellence. The role of the company´s culture in achieving that is clearly stated.
“Our culture focuses on helping us to achieve excellence” 
My purpose is to dig deeper into these expected ‘best cultural daily behaviours and practices’ at Netflix that have generated them financial growth with higher employee motivation. By reading this blog and watching my related video:

  • You learn, concretely, how a small market entrant company can swiftly conquer an entire industry
  • You see, in a compelling way, how responsibility and freedom, normally considered as counterforces, can work well combined
  • You get insights into the Netflix combination of EX and CX creates growth and excellent financial results

Culture = Values + Behaviors

As mentioned in my previous blogs; cultures are a group phenomenon and unique to every single organisation in relation to time, operating system, market environment, managerial legacy, espoused values, resources available and personal relationships involved. Culture is the way people behave and the output is the evolution of the organisation, hopefully into an expected direction. Therefore, there doesn’t exist a right or wrong culture and “the Holy Grail of the best culture” can not be found. Culture is one of the most profound and, at the same time fragile, competitive advantages of any organisation and cannot be just copied to any other organisation.
What is important to understand is that the building blocks of culture are shared values, but in the end, it is the daily behaviours are those that count. As Simon Sinek defines in his new book2, “Culture equals values plus behaviours”. Culture is constantly progressing. This evolution should be systematically led and communicated but, unfortunately, according to Harvard Business Review1 study, this vital leadership action is very often neglected, leading to situations where the strategic intent of management doesn´t materialize.

Netflix Operating System

Before going into the radical freedom present at Netflix, let´s look at where their success comes from. The growth drivers of Netflix have been a high-performance focus and leadership through context, not control. The basis of leadership is trust in people rather than over-controlling them. However, trust doesn´t mean allowing for any possibility to deviate from the ethical code of conduct. At Netflix, leaders are expected to not lie, cheat or steal and to not tolerate these from anyone in the company hierarchy.
These two drivers related to performance and leadership have created the space for Netflix to grow in a fast, big and bold way.  In addition, the way people operate on a daily basis at Netflix makes a difference. People at the company say that they are surrounded by “stunning colleagues”. At Netflix people do not consider themselves as a family, but rather like a sports team playing for a common goal helping each other to succeed during good and bad times.
The seven building blocks of Netflix culture are:

  • Values are what we value
  • High performance, without accepting free-riders
  • Leadership thru context, not control
  • Teams are highly aligned, but loosely coupled
  • At the high end of market compensation
  • Promotions and development are primarily within the company
  • Operating with freedom and responsibility 

Talent density

The key to Netflix success has been to increase talent intensity meaning acquiring a higher number of the best talent and keeping them in-house when they adhere to the Netflix culture buildings blocks. How does Netflix increase talent density?

Some of these actions are straightforward, no-brainers. Unfortunately, they are often not prioritised, and effort is not put on them in our organisations. Why it is so? What stops us acting in the same way?
In short at Netflix this means:

  • To attract the best talent and nourish them with top-line compensation
  • To give people the freedom to create impact, making daily work more meaningful
  • To demand high performance and integrity from everyone, especially leaders

As we all know, recruitment is very costly in time, effort and money. When the talent finally has been hired, it is important to proactively think about how to keep them happy and performing. The keeper test – the question at Netflix, which is also valid for every leader is:

  • Which of my people would I fight to keep at my company?

Radical Freedom

Radical freedom at Netflix means to question time-consuming company policies and approvals procedures constantly to find a better way. The goal is to have less and less of them to serve the company´s purpose and to achieve better customer delivery.  If there is a need for such policies, they should always be short & sweet like, for example, “Act for the company’s best interest”, nothing else. There is no need for a hundred pages of manuals.  At Netflix flexibility comes first, efficiency second.
Building a culture of freedom and responsibility at Netflix means scaling talent density with radical freedom. This means understanding as a leader that people have power, they will make or break your business. It is vital to surround people with other stunning colleagues who have ‘high performance’. This also increases talent flexibility that supports growth. Diminishing the number of policies, approvals and other unnecessary not value-generating internal procedures speeds up the business and decreases related costs. At the same time increasing motivation and meaningful work. This requires a leadership style beyond command and control based on trusting your people more. More trust allows for faster growth as an individual, team or organisation.
A key question for you to ask yourself when becoming a leader with a growth-mindset
 

  • Are your people allowed to disagree with authority? When? How often?

 

 
 
My next blog will be about self-directed successful workplaces, where empowered and happy people deliver sustainable performance. Keep following.
 
Sources:
1 HBR, Jan-Feb. 2018 : Changing your organization’s culture can improve its performance by Groysberg, Lee, Price, and Yo-Jud Cheng
2 Simon Sinek, The Infinite Game (11/2019)
 
About
 
Jere Talonen – Your co-pilot helping you to bridge the gap between strategy, values and behaviours from the boardroom to the shop floor by combining EX with CX. In the blog series, he shares his learnings from a multi-industry international career extending over 20 years as a leader, entrepreneur, business coach & consultant, as well as an executive team and board member. Currently, Jere acts as Principal Consultant – Recoding Culture and the Future of work at Gofore Plc.
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Jere Talonen

Jere Talonen

Jere works at Gofore as a lead and service culture development consultant. He has over 20 years of management level business experience from global consumer brands in nine countries and three continents. In addition Jere is also a seasoned entrepreneur of start-up ecosystem and network building.

Linkedin profile

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Information on parenting and learning is crucial for families. Gofore is involved in several Finnish early childhood education projects, aimed at creating better digital services for families. The projects are also important steps towards creating smarter cities.
A child’s education path begins in day care and continues far beyond. Ensuring a smooth and happy daily life depends on understanding how a child experiences and explains an issue to its parents, as well as communication between parents and day care and teaching staff.
A tremendous amount of knowledge is accumulated along the learning path – even before day care begins. Can we use such knowledge to make everyday life smoother and happier? Can we provide services which families with children do not yet have – or develop activities currently viewed as challenging? Although the key communication forum is the dialogue between parent and child, we can develop other interaction through digitalisation.
Gofore is involved in several early childhood education development projects in Finland. In addition to improved service interaction for families with children, a smarter city is being built. Data can be used to make everyday life easier and respond proactively to residents’ service needs.
“At Gofore, we are strongly involved in the SmartCity development project, exploring how to use data more intelligently for the benefit of urban citizens, and how it can help people to make smarter and more sustainable choices,” says Simo Turunen, Business Manager, Cities, at Gofore.
Towards a unified digital education path in Helsinki
Day care centres in Helsinki have lacked a digital system that enables communication between early childhood education professionals and parents. This is now being developed, while shaking up digital systems along the entire education path. Wilma, the school communication system used in Helsinki schools, is obsolete and must be developed alongside other services.
The development project for ASTI (common transaction information system), a public interaction system launched in Helsinki, aims to create a unified digital education path for children: from early childhood education through to secondary school. This is an outstanding opportunity to consider what we really want from a digital interaction system – now and in the future. Gofore is strongly involved in developing a digital system for early childhood education. For Simo, the project involves a much larger mission than this suggests.
“The public debate in Helsinki has largely been about replacing Wilma, but we need to see the bigger picture. Digital systems for teaching and early childhood education will become much more comprehensive, service-oriented and customer-friendly.” 
Towards development and an end result that responds to change
Digitalising early childhood education in Helsinki is no small project, but a joint development effort that will take years. Our multi-talented team at Gofore will ensure that future technology meets the requirements in question, and works. In addition, the collaboration between the public and private sectors will be strengthened, as city officials join forces with software development teams to shape development work.
“If we just go ahead and make a ‘finished’ product, it will be obsolete in 10 years’ time. People love digital products, but who ensures that such products are kept up to date? Deeper cooperation between businesses and the public sector will provide a range of opportunities for urban service development,” Simo explains.
Developing – or creating new and better –  services is not always about big investments and budgets. It is more about challenging existing practices and taking them to a new level. Can we genuinely create savings by developing our current practices and activities?
Gofore has a strong track record of steady development of urban services through agile development principles. Instead of thinking that we know everything from the start and working to a pre-set plan, we believe in moving forward on a thoughtful and collaborative basis.
“By identifying current operational problems and finding user-friendly solutions in close collaboration with a range of stakeholders, we can create well-functioning services and ease the everyday lives of residents,” says Simo.

Gofore Oyj

Gofore Oyj

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The Culture Code – The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups by Daniel Coyle

I want to help you to grow your mindset and share my passion for impact. Thus, in this blog series I have hand-picked the bestselling publications and essential managerial tools. This enables you to make a sustainable renewal to your business and personal life. The goal of the first season is to build a common body of knowledge and starting platform for you. By reading further you will:

  • save your scarce reading time on renewal, culture and the best performing teams
  • extend your leadership toolbox to support your business decisions
  • build your personal growth-mindset, required to excel as an evolutionary leader

Common ground

In this episode, our focus is on the extensive practical research on the best performing groups done by Daniel Coyle.
 

  • You get an outlook of common factors and themes of how the best performing groups operate, what makes those groups tick and how team cohesion is created.
  • You get insights on what are those verbal and physical cues of safety, vulnerability and purpose that keep these groups performing and co-operating extremely well.
  • In short, you learn what makes the best performing groups in any industry, at any time.

Any culture is always a group phenomenon, as it was reflected on in Edgar Schein´s life-time research covered in the first episode of this series. The building blocks of an organizational culture are its espoused values and daily behaviors. Therefore, no organizational culture change program should be performed, if no real clearly defined performance development challenge or problem of a group exists. Otherwise more harm than good is done throughout the organization, which is very difficult to correct later.
Coyle´s recent research was performed in the fields of education, entertainment, the military, sports, and even crime. This cross-industry organizational research pinpointed best practices of team behaviors within the Pixar and Google design teams, US Special Forces / SEALS and the San Antonio Spurs NBA basketball team. Let´s dig deeper into those verbal and physical cues that keep these groups performing and co-operating extremely well. 

Building Safety

How to build psychological safety in a group? According to Coyle group chemistry doesn´t happen by chance. As a leader you need to focus more on your listening skills and body language in different interpersonal situations. As you might have heard earlier, if you want to succeed, use your communication means (eyes, mouth and ears) in the same ratio that you have been provided with them. Think about your leadership communication – do you speak more than you listen to your team and colleagues?
Another way to make your fellow members safer in a group is to show transparency by being approachable, treating others warmly and encouraging people to participate. As it has been tested by MIT psychologists and evidenced in real-life, at Google, without a status or seniority way of working this encourages people to become closer to each other. The outcome has been to produce more innovative ideas to the market faster.
Thus, in order to feel a sense of belonging to a group there must be safety, some type of connection established, and an expected future shown. In the book there was a great example of such an environment created by the head-coach, Gregg Popovich, of the San Antonio Spurs NBA basketball team. He has been famous for being extremely rigid on the court, but very caring, thoughtful and warm outside the court. He went out of his way to find ways to show caring towards his team of coaches and players both during moments of joy and hardship. He had a high mutually inclusive respect towards his team which resulted in high motivation and consecutive successes as a unified coherent professional basketball team.

Tools for growth-minded leaders

What & why?

  • Group chemistry builds powerful connection
  • To be safe and close allows more innovation, and faster
  • Presence of safety strengthens belonging

How?

  • More listening. less talking
  • Showing transparent leadership
  • Being approachable and thankful

Sharing Vulnerability

Historically, a leader’s role in organizations has been the authority who knows everything and makes no mistakes. This is quite different to the new expected role of leadership to be vulnerable. Vulnerability in a business leadership context means to be able to admit and accept one’s own weaknesses, as well as to ask for help whenever needed. This does not happen when there is no trust towards every single member of the group.
Developing trust within a group is to open individual insecurities and weaknesses for the entire group. Many recent studies have evidenced that for a group to perform at its best, there needs to be trusted relationships present. This means in practice that as a member of a group you must be able to put your own well-being and priorities after the group´s success. You need to show a habit to develop your courage and candor. Be authentic in speaking the truth out loud and be able to listen objectively to find solutions together. Genuinely caring and showing empathy towards your group members are key competencies of a leadership growth journey which are expressed in words of ‘we’ and ‘us’, rather than ‘me’ and ‘I’.

Tools for growth-minded leaders

What & why?

  • Showing weaknesses leads to increased co-operation
  • Calmness helps in coping with stress and pressure
  • Vulnerability loop, insecurities tackled, set trust in motion within a group

How?

  • Sharing mutual weaknesses as a group, it’s the leader´s responsibility to start
  • Putting the group´s well-being over personal needs and wants
  • Developing a habit of helping others

Establishing Purpose

Purpose is the common noble cause towards which the best performing groups are heading while helping each other. Often this intent is expressed in credos which are short action and future-oriented taglines. The credo is showing everyone’s purpose in the organization, common shared identity and how success will look like. It promotes direction and togetherness.
In order to achieve a group´s purpose there needs to be proficiency and creativity simultaneously that drives the group further. Every group member must be reminded often thru a multitude of communication means, both individually, and as as a group of their sense of belonging. Ranking priorities helps to clarify focus. Acceptance and readiness to fail speeds up innovations and results.
In short, for the team to perform at its highest level, there needs to be mutual respect, trust, transparency, mutual support and internal motivation for continuous learning.

Tools for growth-minded leaders

What & why?

  • Credos describe everyone´s purpose within the group
  • Common identity and goal
  • Empathy over others comes before skills

How?

  • Sharing signals of mutual support, motivation and connectedness, often
  • Ranking business priorities in a group
  • Giving a sense of direction with readiness to fail

Secrets of highly successful groups

  1. Relationships > prioritizing harmony to build up a strong foundation and safety
  2. Authenticity > showing vulnerability creates a platform for ultimate performance
  3. Purpose > building identity by clarifying individuals’ purpose and key tasks
  4. Parallel focus > proficiency (= same quality all the time) and creativity (new things from scratch)
  5. Catchphrases & Credos > though cliché, important for common direction and sense of belonging
  6. Transparency > in information, leadership, weaknesses and mistakes
  7. Retrospectives > learning and growth approach for better results

 
Key question for you to ask yourself when becoming a leader of high performing groups
 

  • How well are you prepared to express safety, vulnerability and purpose in public?

 

 
The next blog will be about building cultures of freedom and responsibility. Keep following.
 
About
 
Jere Talonen – Your co-pilot helping you to bridge the gap between strategy, values and behaviours from the boardroom to the shop floor by combining EX with CX. In the blog series, he shares his learnings from a multi-industry international career extending over 20 years as a leader, entrepreneur, business coach & consultant, as well as an executive team and board member. Sharing is caring. Currently, Jere acts as Principal Consultant – Recoding Culture and the Future of work at Gofore Plc.
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Jere Talonen

Jere Talonen

Jere works at Gofore as a lead and service culture development consultant. He has over 20 years of management level business experience from global consumer brands in nine countries and three continents. In addition Jere is also a seasoned entrepreneur of start-up ecosystem and network building.

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