Organizational Promises Chart

An organization exists to fulfil a certain promise. One powerful interpretation of looking at an organization is as a ‘network of promises, to fulfil a larger promise’ .

An organization exists to fulfil a certain promise. One powerful interpretation of looking at an organization is as a ‘network of promises, to fulfil a larger promise’i.

Let’s begin with, what is a promise?
A promise is a declaration of a future you commit to produce. Promise is taking a stand that you are responsible for the outcome of the promise. When we make a promise, we do not act to ‘do the best we can’ (unless this is what we promised), or to do ‘do what is appropriate and see what happens’ and then use breakdowns and excuses for non-fulfillmentii.

Who makes organization’s promise?
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the organization makes the organization’s promise (or any one else with a similar title who is the head of the organization). The CEO has been granted the authority by its shareholders, through its board, to make these promises. However, the CEO cannot fulfil this promise alone.

An organization is a network of promises, to fulfil a larger promise

The CEO then needs to ensure that he has promises from his leadership level 2 (L2) laddering up to his promise. The CEO requests the different functional heads, and the different business unit (BU) heads for promises (those that ladder up to his organizational promise and ensure that he fulfils his promise). The heads are leaders of these business units and functions. These leaders make the promises, however, the ownership for the fulfillment of these promises needs to be taken by all members in the entire business unit or the function.

The BU or the function leader is the person coordinating, internally and externally, by making these promises and then by effectively managing these promises. The leader has to ensure that the promise they make will have a buy-in from the entire team, if not, this will lead to dissatisfaction. More importantly, without the entire team taking ownership, there is a small chance, if any, that the promise will be fulfilled.

Organizational Promises Chart

These leaders may further make more requests to teams and individuals reporting in to them to help them fulfil their promises. This loop continues. You now have an entire organization – not of roles, but of promises.

Having this structure in an organization, of promises, is building a culture of commitment. As simple as this seems, and as powerful as this is, this is not necessarily easy to implement. To begin with, often the CEO is not clear what is his or her organizational promise is. And till that does not happen, the CEO does not know what promises he or she needs from his or her Level 2 leadership team.

“You now have an entire organization – not of roles, but of promises.”

More importantly, the leaders across levels don’t just make and receive promises – what they need to make and receive are ‘trustworthy promises’. In our work with organizations, often we have observed people to be flaky, making promises that they themselves do not trust.

At the Institute for Generative Leadership, we have worked with many organizations with supporting them in building this structure. However, this is just the first step. Managing this structure is perhaps where the rubber meets the road.

As a CEO, or head of large team, if you need help in designing and putting this structure together; and in building a culture of commitment in your team, we invite you to a conversation with one of our leaders.

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[i] I learnt this from Bob Dunham, Founder, Institute for Generative Leadership, USA
[ii] ibid

THE ART AND PRACTICE OF TEAM CONVERSATIONS

So, finally, the last week of IPL 2018 is here. The Orange Cap holder (the highest run scorer) at this stage of the tournament, when each of the 8 teams have played 14 matches each, is Rishabh Pant from Delhi Daredevils. The Purple Cap holder (highest wicket taker) is Andrew Tye of Kings XI Punjab, Rishabh Pant made 684 runs in 14 innings and Andrew Tye took 24 wickets in 14 matches.

Image source: thewinin.com

So, finally, the last week of IPL 2018 is here. The Orange Cap holder (the highest run scorer) at this stage of the tournament, when each of the 8 teams have played 14 matches each, is Rishabh Pant from Delhi Daredevils. The Purple Cap holder (highest wicket taker) is Andrew Tye of Kings XI Punjab, Rishabh Pant made 684 runs in 14 innings and Andrew Tye took 24 wickets in 14 matches.

And guess what’s surprising. Neither of these two players are in the teams qualified to move to the next round. Out of all the 8 teams, Rishabh Pant’s Delhi Daredevils is right at the bottom having won only 5 matches.  And Andrew Tye’s Kings XI Punjab is second from the bottom having won 6 of the 14 matches played. The highest run scorer and the leading wicket taker’s teams are number one and two teams from the bottom of the point’s table!

What’s even more interesting is that none of the teams of the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and the 5th highest wicket takers made it to the next round:

What does this show us?
Clearly, individual brilliance in a team sport, does not lead to games being won. A team sport is a team sport. Every member of the team has a role to play, a promise to fulfill. How well team members play that role, or fulfill their promise will determine whether or not the team will win or lose. Beyond a point, individuals excelling will mean little or nothing.

Does this happen in organizations too?
Absolutely. All the time.

You see sparks of brilliance, and some super stars in organizational teams delivering kick-ass results, but all of that goes to vain, because the others in the team do not fulfill the promise of their role. Often, they do not even know what is expected of them. Leaders have their role cutout. They need to have the right team conversations. These team conversations are non-discretionary. If you do not have these conversations, you pay a price for not having these conversations – which is, you lose games (And I don’t only mean games on the cricket field. I also mean organizational results)!

I had once heard “the captain is as good as his team”. I think differently, you could have a fabulous team on paper, and yet lose games. My claim is, “The captain is as good as the conversations he has”.  Remember the 2008 IPL. The winner of that IPL season was Rajasthan Royals.

Before the commencement of the first season of IPL, many considered Rajasthan Royals to perhaps be the weakest team giving them little chance of competing well in the tournament. Other teams had individual superstar players.  At that time, Shane Warne was the captain of Rajasthan Royals – he built a strong team, and clearly seemed like he had the right conversations with his team. Not only did they win the first ever IPL tournament, we also had new comers like Yusuf Pathan, Ravindra Jadeja and Shane Watson emerge. All these players eventually went on to play match-winning performances not only for Rajasthan Royals, but also for their respective national teams.

I cannot over emphasize the importance of having the “right” team conversations. And there is no formula for this. Leaders need to learn the art and practice of effectively managing teams. What may be “right” in one scenario can be completely different from another. Which is why, I call this an art. And you can only master an art through practice.

As a CEO, or head of large team, if you would like to learn about the  “Constitutive Team Conversations”, and how to build and manage effective teams, we invite you to a conversation with one of our leaders.

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Did You Make A Powerful Entry into 2018?

A fascinating year just came to an end and we are already a few good days into 2018.

I invite you to do a review of the last year (2017) and take stock. Below, I recommend a set of questions that you should ask yourself. I have broken these questions into 2 parts – one that reviews and completes 2017, and the other, that helps you make new declarations for this year.

A fascinating year just came to an end and we are already a few good days into 2018.

I invite you to do a review of the last year (2017) and take stock. Below, I recommend a set of questions that you should ask yourself. I have broken these questions into 2 parts – one that reviews and completes 2017, and the other, that helps you make new declarations for this year.

Here are the 6 essential questions for you. I am suggesting these questions after having completed this exercise for 5 consecutive years in a row, and I can state out of experience, once you have done so, you will be making a very powerful entry in to the New Year. Not only that, if you act inside of your commitments, you will make 2018 your best year yet.

What have you achieved in 2017?
Begin by identifying the important areas of your life and list out your achievements in each of your areas of care in 2017. Just writing down your accomplishments in each of these areas hopefully will give you a sense of achievement and a lot of power to declare audacious and bold goals for this year.

What is it That you Want to Acknowledge Yourself for in This Year?

This is the time of the year to step back for a few moments and pat yourself on the back for all the good that you are, and, all the good that you have done. Take these moments and acknowledge yourself. Actively look for all the good in you.

What is it That You Missed Out on This Year?

This is an important question to get connected to what areas of your life matter to you, and in these areas, what results were not achieved. By simply becoming aware of what you missed out in the last year, will help you re-evaluate your promises and the ones that continue to hold its importance in your life. The promises that still have value for you can then be commitments for 2018. And the others that do not matter any more can be revoked.

What are Your Promises for 2018?

There are two ways to approach any promise in your life – one is to first identify ‘what’ is your promise and then figure out the ‘how’. The other is to first look at the resources that you have, the effort that it will take, and then determine your promise.

A lot of people first look at the ‘how’, and based on the `how’, they decide the ‘what’, i.e., their promise.

I am firm believer that you need to figure out the ‘what’ first and the ‘how’ will start to reveal itself once you get into action. It’s pretty much like driving in dense fog. When you leave your home, you know where you want to go (your promise), but you cannot see the road. You commit to driving. You can see only a few feet ahead. However, when you travel the few feet, you see the next few feet.

Commit to action. Take the first step. Subsequent steps will automatically open up. Waiting to see the entire path before you take the first step will lead you to one of two things; inaction, or setting small goals.

Think of all the areas that you care for; in each area think of where you would like to be this time next year; make promises in these areas; make these promises specific, measurable and put a deadline. If you bring in intention and action, nothing can stop you from achieving your promises for 2018.
What New Will you Learn in the New Year?

To commit to new learning means to commit to building new capacity for action, and building capacity for generating new results. What new knowledge are you committing to gain in 2018, and how will you act and practice on this new knowledge that you gain in 2018. While knowledge is important, what is critical is what new practices are you committing to for the New Year?

Feel free to add more questions if you would like. The more you question yourself, the more you will seek answers from yourself.

Once you have done this, I invite you to share your promises with some one who can hold you accountable. If you have a learning team, share these promises with your learning team. Create a structure of people around you who continuously support you in fulfilling your promises.

I can guarantee you, once you have done this, you will make 2018 a great year.

Make 2018 count in your life!

Good luck and have a blast!

Entrepreneur India

#5 Key Conversations CEOs Must Have with Their Teams

The role of the CEO is to have ‘effective’ conversations. If his or her conversations are effective, then the organization will generate results, and if not, the results of the organization will get impacted.

The role of the CEO is to have ‘effective’ conversations. If his or her conversations are effective, then the organization will generate results, and if not, the results of the organization will get impacted.

In my experience of interacting with some top CEOs, several of them miss these basic, and yet critical conversations, with their teams. And interestingly, some others avoid having these conversations — because each of these aren’t necessarily easy conversations to have.
Often, it is learning to take the bull by the horns. And many CEOs I know who have mastered these conversations and have generated great results.

Here are what I assess to be the 5 key conversations CEOs must have with their teams. These are not discretionary conversations. These must be had for the sake of results of the organization:

Co-create a Future that the Organization Commits to

If the organization is not working to achieve a well-crafted future, my claim is the organization is in drift. The first key role of the CEO is to co-create with their team an empowering future for the organization. A future that will take care of the core reason for the organisation’s existence, and empower its people to get to work daily.

Have the Senior Management Team, and People under Them own the Future

This is the organization’s future — not just the CEO’s future. This future must be fully owned by the senior management team of the organization. Which is one of the reasons why this future must be co-created with other senior people in the organization. Because others have participated in the creation of the future, they are more prone to own the future.

It is not unusual that a few members of the senior management do not own the future. This is when the CEO needs to step in and have the appropriate ownership conversation with these team members. The CEO needs to ‘listen’ and understand their concerns and effectively deal with these concerns.

Take Care of the Mood of the Organization

Teams can either be in disempowering moods or empowering moods. When teams are disempowered, they are disempowered about how the future looks to them.

The mood of a team is directly related to how they assess the future of that team / organization will be. And when they are empowered, it is because they assess the future is achievable, and that this future will take care of what matters to them.

In my opinion, the CEO is directly responsible for the mood of the organization. If the mood is disempowered, then there are missing conversations the CEO needs to have.
Imagine the difference in the results of the organization when a team is disempowered as against a team that is empowered.

Inculcate a Culture of Learning

Learning in this case doesn’t mean theoretical learning. Learning means enabling people to do what they haven’t done before; allowing them the opportunity to fail; encouraging people to go out of their comfort zone – on a regular basis; inviting people to play big games – those that they haven’t played before; coach and provide coaching support (top CEOs spend a majority of their time coaching their teams).

Teams that are not expanding; those that are not questioning status quo are teams that are not growing. Sooner or later, their results will slow down.

Manage the Promises of the People to Fulfill the Larger Promise

The job of the CEO is to effectively manage promises of their teams. This is a skill largely not present in a lot of CEOs that I have coached and interacted with. Many CEOs are expert ‘doers’. What is missing is the skill to effectively seek promises and to then ensure these promises are managed well. There are generative leadership conversations around managing actions that CEOs need to first understand and then practice to gain mastery.

As I have stated above, these conversations are not discretionary. Results of any organization are directly related with whether or not these conversations are happening, and if so, how effectively are these being managed.

Of course, there are many conversational distinctions that the CEO needs to master, but in my assessment, these are the absolute key conversations.

Entrepreneur India