Insights

Collaborative Approach to Problem Solving

Collaborative Approach to Problem Solving

To illustrate how the Ascent Process works in real life, I will describe the case of a hospital emergency room. Daily crises are the norm. Work is often a matter of life or death. Patients wait to be treated—some with serious conditions; others with minor trauma. The area is overcrowded, especially during peak hours. Nurses buzz around busily triaging patients, sometimes even in the hallways. Doctors pace from patient to patient checking their vital signs, while making small talk and deciding the best diagnosis. Overall, things are a bit hectic at the ER. Invisible to the patients, however, is the frustration the staff feels as they face budget cuts that result in lower staffing levels, cause longer patient waiting times, and add stress. Nurses say they were in a scramble before the economy hit, and now they are in a mad scramble. A resident physician in the ER agrees, saying that there is no time to communicate with other departments. They feel locked down in survival mode, just doing their jobs, not realizing how they are affecting everybody else. The sad consequence is that some patients linger in pain longer while others may be misdiagnosed. The Ascent Process facilitated a shared vision, based on values and focused on collaborative results. One nurse, Joanne, interned at the emergency room while she was an undergraduate nursing student. She decided then to make emergency medicine her career. After graduation, Joanne took a staff nursing position at the same hospital’s ER. Soon, Joanne began taking additional responsibilities as the staff began turning to her for help thinning overcrowded situations. Her sharp organization and... read more
Talent Management for Building Stronger Teams

Talent Management for Building Stronger Teams

A professional basketball coach once told me, “The key to getting the right team is not just getting all the best players, but getting the right players for the team.” In sports as in other arenas, assembling the right team of people is a dynamic challenge of crucial importance. It requires understanding each player and the interaction between members. Whether you are assembling a sports team, organizing a task force, or building a functional department at work, talent management is the process for assembling, developing, and promoting the right people. Talent management is a process that aligns people’s roles with strategy. It requires an assessment of key roles in the organization relative to people’s competency, interests and organizational needs. The talent management process starts with defining the organization’s needs to deliver its objectives. This is best done by describing the core competencies required now and in the future. With a strategic view of the knowledge, skills and experience required to succeed, you can best decide if you have what it takes within your organization, or if you have to supplement with external talent. The core competencies cannot be compromised without compromising the organization’s objectives. Once you have defined what competencies are needed, you can assess what talent you currently have. Collecting information from multiple sources, the talent assessment includes the candidate’s track record, leadership qualities, and growth potential. A combination of surveys and peer feedback, coupled with behavioral interviews helps obtain an objective and relevant of people’s competency levels and professional interests. Key Point  Getting the best possible team is far more important than getting all the best players. By conducting... read more
Recognizing The 5 Faces of Resistance to Change

Recognizing The 5 Faces of Resistance to Change

For change to work, it needs to gain the support of others. How others will respond depends on your value proposition. Resistance to change happens when the perceived costs for changing are substantially higher than the effort to change. We identified five reasons why people resist change. We refer to them as the “5 Faces of Resistance.” Each face indicates a distinctive reason for opposing the change. Recognizing each face of resistance helps us know the deeper reasons driving the response. Key Point Resistance to change happens for good reasons. Lasting solutions come by resolving the deeper concerns that cause people to resist. By addressing the root causes we can solve  a problem in a way that it stays solved. The correct actions remedy the root cause by removing the barriers of resistance. As we address the root causes behind resistance, we are able to engage people once again. When we remove the source for resistance, we immediately gain greater support. Then, change is possible. When introducing a change we recognize that some people will tend to resist it. At times, we are the ones resisting it. It is important to accept such responses not as a negative view, or an obstacle, but as the opportunity for real growth. Change without resistance will not produce growth. Resistance is for a reason. Usually what people are resisting is not the change itself, but the real or perceived pain of making the change. When making a change, we need to first consider what others want. Unless we address the root cause, the issues will persist. Ignoring these signs only makes them worse. But... read more
Accountability Without Anguish Delivers Results

Accountability Without Anguish Delivers Results

Even the thought of holding your teammates accountable for results and you start getting sick in your stomach. Worse yet, think of having your boss holding you accountable by watching over your every move and you may start looking for another job. In most organizations, just say the word “accountability” and you will notice defensiveness, suspicion and resentment. No wonder most managers flat out avoid the task, or plunge into it flinging emotional hand grenades. What if we were to re-frame the entire concept from a difficult and unpleasant subject to an easy and enjoyable activity. Why not turn accountability into a game. After all, in the world of sports or gaming, people thrive on performance metrics, score keeping and instant feedback. Collectively, we hold each other accountable far more effectively than under direct supervision. The inherent aspects of accountability in sports and games can be successfully applied to the game of work. In sports or at work, we face challenging goals, often imposed by the need to succeed. We can be recognized and rewarded, or criticized and penalized for team and individual performance. Our morale is bound to sink or soar with the score keeping. Athletes own their statistics and even take pride in their performance. Instead, most workers feel that performance measures are forced, unfair and irrelevant. We can change that! There is a growing accept ance for empowering employees to take responsibility for their goals, performance and consequences. The practice of holding one’s self accountable can be energizing and even fun. Instead of relying on the manager to hold subordinates accountable by setting their goals, monitoring... read more
Strategic Planning & Execution That Works

Strategic Planning & Execution That Works

For change to work, it needs to gain the support of others. How others will respond depends on your value proposition. Resistance to change happens when the perceived costs for changing are substantially higher than the effort to change. We identified five reasons why people resist change. We refer to them as the “5 Faces of Resistance.” Each face indicates a distinctive reason for opposing the change. Recognizing each face of resistance helps us know the deeper reasons driving the response. As we address the root causes behind resistance, we are able to engage people once again. When we remove the source for resistance, we immediately gain greater support. Then, change is possible. When introducing a change we recognize that some people will tend to resist it. At times, we are the ones resisting it. It is important to accept such responses not as a negative view, or an obstacle, but as the opportunity for real growth. Change without resistance will not produce growth. Key Point Resistance to change happens for good reasons. Lasting solutions come by resolving the deeper concerns that cause people to resist. By addressing the root causes we can solve  a problem in a way that it stays solved. The correct actions remedy the root cause by removing the barriers of resistance. Resistance is for a reason. Usually what people are resisting is not the change itself, but the real or perceived pain of making the change. When making a change, we need to first consider what others want. Change without resistance will not produce growth. Unless we address the root cause, the issues will persist. Ignoring... read more
Eliminating Reactionary Work by Working Smart

Eliminating Reactionary Work by Working Smart

Too much to do. Changing expectations. Competing priorities. Flavor of the Month. Scope creep. Do these sound familiar? In today’s fast-changing work environment most of us have to constantly juggle an increasing amount of work. Good, responsible, and hard working people usually respond to the escalating workload with a simple strategy: Do More. The “Do More” strategy requires that we work harder. This usually means spending more time at work, taking fewer breaks, creating extensive “To Do” lists, and staying busy checking things off. In the attempt to become everything to everyone, we take many personal life hits. “Oh well!” we might say as we shrugged off the stress. The problem with the “Do More” approach is that it leads to reactionary work. We get really busy doing lots of things that may be of questionable value. The lack of focus inherent in reactionary work is a main cause of why smart people do dumb things. Instead of allowing reactionary work to dictate what they do, the most productive people use the “Work Smart” approach. Despite what goes on around them, they stay focused on executing the most critical priorities. They filter the noise and respond deliberately. Key Point If you are feeling tired of doing more with less, try for a change to work smart. Research suggests that over 75% of what we do at work is simply reactionary work. There is a difference between staying busy and being productive. In order to get more done in less time, we need to focus on priorities. Do what matters most to achieve more with less. Looking at a regular work week,... read more