• Case Study 1: Strengthening a Change Management Culture in a IM/IT Management Team

    The work began at the IT management table as we designed, developed, and facilitated a series of sessions to provide assessment, training, and group coaching. The purpose was to enable the management team to define and explore the strengths and weaknesses of their current change management culture. Much of the training offered new change management best practices including: systems thinking, adaptive change, and complexity theory. These offered a very different perspective than the accepted best practices, such as Project Change Management, used at most IM/IT organizations.

    The client’s organization had very sophisticated internal processes that offered structure, repeatability, and high quality of outputs. We employed our work using a process maturity framework (People Capability Maturity Model from Carnegie Mellon University) as the foundation for a model of best practices in the management and development of an organization’s workforce.

    “...the emotional human dynamics of change was the main driver."

    Through a process consultation, we designed and developed a process to analyze and identify the strengths and weaknesses of the process-centered framework and the people-centered framework. Meanwhile, we built the internal capacity of a group of respected change-agents within each directorate of the organization.

    We helped this workgroup establish a strong Change Management Culture. This was accomplished by supporting the development of leadership skills, managing the change process, modifying frameworks, reviewing current data available, adjusting the monitoring system, and working with human resources.

    We overcame many challenges during this project. The most noteworthy challenge was defining and explaining a new cyclical and emergent mental model. The new model shifted their linear framework to a dynamic framework where the emotional human dynamics of change was the main driver. This was a challenge because it required managers to embrace ambiguity and leverage the management of human behaviour, in order to work towards sustainable change.

    Tasks Performed

    Phase 1

    • High-level assessment of the implemented organizational change process.
    • Start to build a shared understanding of the current project with the IM/IT Management Team.
    • Assess and make recommendations to adapt the Organizational Competency Dictionary to address change management and adaptive change.

    Phase 2

    • Use two sets of survey results and engage the Senior Leadership Team in identifying the steps required to move the project forward.
    • Introduction of the project to the Leadership Team at the Leadership Forum.
    • Work with Leadership Team to define scope and action items for project.
    • Work with Leadership Team to define Steering Committee and identify the Change Agents for the Project.
    • Work with Steering Committee and Change Agents to design the approach and foster the learning environment for the development of the changes.
    • Support IM/IT in all aspects of engagement and communication though the different project phases.
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  • Case Study 2: Developing Leadership Skills With Coaching Circles

    Coaching Circles are one of the best tools to support Senior Managers integrate their day-to-day work with new leadership skills. In a complex and rapidly-changing world, it takes more than the ability to solve problems to be an effective leader. One must take the opportunity to reflect on their experience, draw meaning, and turn their insights into effective actions when facing new situations.

    To support implementing Coaching Learning in the Leadership Development program, we used this practical definition based on action learning: “It is both a process and a powerful program that involves a small group of people solving real problems, while at the same time focusing on what they are learning and how their learning can benefit each group member and the organization as a whole.” (Marquardt, 1999).

    We used Coaching Learning in the Leadership Development program to help a struggling executive team that was not working together. The team’s level of interaction was minimal and they only talked about their own initiatives. We discovered that they were limiting the amount of information they shared to avoid criticism and blame. Employees felt that asking questions, offering advice, or challenging decisions made by their colleagues created tension and sometimes led to verbal attacks. Needless to say, their level of creativity was low, the capacity to reach the best solution as a whole was nil, and they felt alone and in great need of support. Additionally, since the organization was undergoing a major structural change, employees were still learning and adjusting to their rapidly-changing environment.

    “...improve the organization’s capacity to learn and work as a team."

    One of our initiatives was to set up Monthly Learning Circles to improve the organization’s capacity to learn and work as a team. It transformed not only the way the employees interacted, but it also increased their capacity to adapt and influence the organization.

    With the help of the CEO, we designed full-day meetings that focused on sharing information. During that period, each director received an equal amount of time to address the issues relevant to their particular project. Projects were defined in terms of results to be achieved. The specific projects were chosen based on a three-way conversation between the CEO, the Director, and the consultant.

    During their time to speak, the attention of every group member was on the issue being presented and the speaker’s request to the group. The request became the focus for the group’s inquiry. When one was not a speaker, attention was shifted toward helping other members think more deeply about the underlying issues of their challenge by asking non-judgmental questions.

    Although the first session was a struggle, all the other sessions were a success. Everybody stuck to their old habits during the first session. People were being polite, but not taking any risks or asking challenging questions. Despite conversations with each of them prior to the meeting, their old habits were stronger than their individual will. As facilitators, we chose to focus on the specific pattern using the Coaching Circle methodology. This non-judgmental methodology helped them look at their own team dynamic with new eyes. At this point, there was a fundamental shift in how the team worked together. They started to dig deeper into their teammates problems without blaming anybody. The team did not only change their own pattern; they were able to transform the whole organization from a team full of executives, to an executive team.

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  • Case Study 3: 360 Degree Feedback: Moving Toward Leaders Full Potential

    To support and promote the development of the directors, we designed a Leadership Development program that includes a 360 Degree Feedback process. This process is used to assess the skills of the directors, and support the development of their leadership competencies. The program also supports the development of a positive and efficient team dynamic that promotes continuous learning. 360 Degree Feedback is a process where employees can feel confident giving and receiving feedback to/from their peers and supervisors.

    We used this program for a client who had recently made significant changes in their organizational structure. When the program was implemented, there was no major resistance from employees, but managers were still adjusting and not totally comfortable in their new roles. The relations within the management team were positive, and several young directors were still in the “honeymoon” period. The performance level was adequate, but some managers needed support to fully take on all their responsibilities.

    “Our intervention aligned the team on what is required of them as leaders..."

    We chose to base our intervention and the 360 Degree Feedback on the Key Leadership Competencies of the Federal Public Service. Our intervention aligned the team on what is required of them as leaders in the Federal Public Service. One of the challenges of 360 Degree Feedback is the openness to actually receive feedback. We worked with the team to design the feedback process, and define the intentions and goals of the initiative. We developed training on the culture of feedback to ensure this initiative was a success and that the employees were aligned before they completed the survey.

    For each of them, we:

    • Prepared and analyzed the results of the survey.
    • Presented the results individually to each candidate to identify a specific focus for their development plan.
    • Supported them in identifying specific goals and steps for their development plan.
    • Coached them on a regular basis to support and challenge them moving forward.

    In the end, the initiative was a success for most employees. They were enthusiastic about what they discovered with regard to their strengths and weaknesses, and were able to identify opportunities to improve themselves and their leadership skills.

    One of the directors was extremely resistant and even felt attacked by his personal results. It was difficult for him to acknowledge some of his lower scores. It even created some tension within the team. To move forward in a positive way, the consultant increased the coaching hours with him. The first few sessions were about his reaction to the feedback, and not about the results themselves. We worked with him to understand how his perception of himself was different from his colleagues. We also conducted a three-way conversation with his boss (whom he trusted) as a reality check. After a couple of weeks, he came to grips with the results. This example demonstrates how difficult it can be to receive feedback and consider the opinions of others. After working with him, he began to work on receiving and offering feedback, which improved his performance in the workplace.

    Once we had implemented 360 Degree Feedback and had the survey results, we looked at the aggregate results of the data to identify a development plan for the team. With the initiative’s success, the client decided to pursue team coaching and work specifically on their communication skills.

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