Monday, November 12, 2007

Challenging the process is a must to move from good to great

What are we doing to facilitate innovative ideas? Who are we asking and watching? What processes do we need to question as to their appropriateness in our organizations today?

This week I will be helping facilitate a Leadership Challenge workshop. I attended this workshop in the Spring and was asked to help with this session.

The Leadership Challenge concept is based on the Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership®. Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner researched that exemplary leaders practice these competencies. Anyone can provide leadership within their organizations.

The five practices are:

Model the Way which leaders voice and clarify their values and set examples for others to follow.
Inspire a Shared Vision which leaders envision the future, creating an ideal and unique image of what the organization can become.

Challenge the Process which leaders look for opportunities and seek innovative ways to improve their organizations, by stepping into the process, experimenting, and taking risks.
Enable Others to Act which leaders foster collaboration and actively involve others, making others feel capable and powerful.
Encourage the Heart which leaders recognize and celebrate contributions that individuals make.

I am facilitating this workshop with the 3 instructors from the Spring workshop. Francesca Adler-Baeder, Rebecca Dollman, and Denise Michelle Cole.

One of my responsibilities is to facilitate the "Challenge the Process" module. The point is to encourage participants to challenge the way things are done in order to find creative solutions. Doing the same things over and over will not create innovative ideas. Innovations, are not usually created by one individual, but ideas are developed by seeing other products, services, and communications outside of our normal processes. An idea can be sparked by a simple notion or a conversation.

Another point of this module is that successful change happens in small steps. These small steps invokes confidence and can more easily be used as trial and error exercises. One example used is how U. S. Mint transformed from a non-responsive agency into one with great customer service and cutting edge web presence by taking the changes in steps.

During the workshop, the participants will come up with their own ways to seek innovation ideas and to step outside of our boundaries.

As I have been preparing for this workshop, I have thought of Ron Brown's talk on the Future of Extension. Several times, he referred to Jim Collin's book Good to Great. Ron talked about how we are good, but if we want to become great, we cannot keep doing the same thing over and over and listening to ourselves.

One example that we could ponder is: We will not create a great Extension's web presence by simply moving a print format and approach and a classroom learning approach to the web. We can be good at some of this, but we cannot become great with standard approaches.

What can we do in our own organizations that will help create innovative processes? How and which successful organizations should we be observing? What do we know about what our clients want?

In addressing Web 2.0, some people want to create online communities--develop online communities based on our traditional ways of education and providing information. Moving toward existing communities and current online conversations seems to be a more appropriate way to step into the process of developing innovative ideas. In this scenario, we go to our audiences rather than them coming to us. Getting started in online conversations is a start--a beginning point.
We have more ways than ever to seek changes and involve people from outside of organizations. We have more ways than ever to seek partnerships with nontraditional organizations? The possibilities through easy connections are endless.

Another thought when preparing for this workshop, is that we should also be looking into the future. Technologies are obviously advancing, so how can we prepare our workforce to take advantages of the newest technologies? How do we prepare them so they are ready to use new technologies effectively--before these changes arrive? One way is to be knowledgeable of the development of technologies. We need to develop an understanding of the newest technologies--even if we and our clientele cannot currently afford them.

We simply cannot make decisions based on the technologies we have at-hand. The following video is an example of a telepresence technology. Thanks to Mitch Owen for the link. Mitch mentions technologies take 20 years to develop. I don't believe it will be 20 years. What are the implications? With this technology, what are the possibilities of using this technology if 5 years, 10 years? What other technologies will change the way we communicate and operate?

1 comment:

Kevin Gamble said...

Wonderful post Anne! Couldn't have been more timely.

I'm a big believer in what I have been calling the Seaman Knapp strategy. That the communities already exist and we need to be taking our program to them.

The go-to-it Web is quickly being superceded by the come-to-me Web. I hear people say, "our people are different". I'm not sure who exactly "our people" are, but when I look at the Web analytics "our people" seem to be modeling the Web behaviors of the rest of the population. The move to search, feeds, and widgets are dramatically reshaping Web behavior, and it hasn't taken 20 years.

I heard Doc Searles speak last week. Part way into his talk he says kind of out of the blue, "Remember the portal?" That got a big laugh, but is oh so true.

I'm rambling. Loved your post.Thank you!