The inVision Edge

The inVision Edge | Navigate Innovate Activate

Category: Organizational Activation (Activate)

I want to be like Mike

Posted by on May 22, 2015 8:30 am
Keep Calm and Be Like Mike - Business Strategy - Business Strategy Execution - Innovation Engineering - Winnipeg MB Canada

There’s a trend I’ve noticed across many teams, situations, and sessions that drains speed from projects and makes people second guess their actions: a fear of failure.

It stops teams, individuals and projects from moving forward time and time again. It makes projects stretch out for months; Owners of these projects end up spending more time trying to justify why they haven’t hit a target, or met a deadline, than actually working on reaching the target! Fear of failure paralyzes project owners into thinking the only success that is possible is perfection.

Keep Calm and Be Like Mike - Business Strategy - Business Strategy Execution - Innovation Engineering - Winnipeg MB CanadaFrom my experience, perfection is a rare thing. I’ve learned that if you have a record of hitting 100% time and time again, you have a different issue you need to focus on: your target. If you can achieve 100% every time, I’d suggest it’s time to adjust your target to be higher, making you and your team stretch a bit so your growth doesn’t become stagnant. To do this, though, you need to be OK with failing, even just a bit.
The person that I eluded to in the title of my blog post is basketball superstar Michael Jordan. He said: “I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed.” Michael Jordan understood he would fail because he set unbelievably high standards for himself and the team around him. When he failed to meet those standards (which were stretch targets to begin with), he didn’t try to hide it; instead, he learned from it. He changed his approach, or his training, or his angle, and kept at it.

Let’s take a page out of Michael Jordan’s playbook and apply it to our work: let’s remove the stigma that comes with “failing” and instead see it as an opportunity to learn, grow, and develop. Let’s take some risks, see how things turn out, and learn from the experience. Learning from failure is key: it’s the quickest way to get better and learn how to move forward faster and better the next time around.

There’s a trend I’ve noticed across many teams, situations, and sessions that drains speed from projects and makes people second guess their actions: a fear of failure.

It stops teams, individuals and projects from moving forward time and time again. It makes projects stretch out for months; Owners of these projects end up spending more time trying to justify why they haven’t hit a target, or met a deadline, than actually working on reaching the target! Fear of failure paralyzes project owners into thinking the only success that is possible is perfection.

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People don’t quit jobs. They quit bosses.

Posted by on May 1, 2015 8:38 am
I Quit Post It - Business Strategy - Business Strategy Execution - Innovation Engineering - Winnipeg MB Canada

A few years ago I started off a presentation at a leadership conference with this quote on giant screen and let it sink in. To validate it, I asked the audience how many had quit a job they loved because of a boss they didn’t respect or couldn’t work with. The hands went up quickly.

We need to talk. As Canadian employers we are in crisis.

Gallup reports that 70% of Canadian employees are not engaged in their work, and another 14% are actively disengaged. 67% of employees report being ‘unhappy’ at work.
I Quit Post It - Business Strategy - Business Strategy Execution - Innovation Engineering - Winnipeg MB CanadaWhy should we care? Well, if I only use one argument to get your attention, I’ll tell you that research shows that each of these employees are costing your company between $3,400 – $10,000 in lost productivity a year. So at minimum, that means that you are losing $285,600 for every 100 employees in your company, annually.

I was recently working with an executive group where the owner of the company dominated and made some bold, negative statements about the inability of his employees to be part of a solution and contribute to saving their ‘near death’ company. As we wrapped up our meeting, I noticed a bulletin board in the room where someone had taken the time to elaborately arrange the push pins into a very sad face. No surprise.

On the other hand, I also worked with a large,successful plumbing company with employees who had really crappy jobs (insert groan here), and was overwhelmed by the demonstration of loyalty and commitment to the company owners, and encountered employees who would do anything, any time, for their bosses.

The moral of these stories? Leaders, for better or worse, set the tone.

The good news? There are are things within your control and, as leaders, you have the opportunity (I would argue that it is a responsibility) to make a real, tangible difference. I spent some time researching companies with highly effective cultures for a presentation at a local conference recently. In my research, I found several common themes.

Companies with highly effective cultures have leaders who:

1. have clear purpose and navigate the direction for their companies
2. lead expected behaviours from the top and align from there
3. do things differently and look for ways to innovate and be meaningfully unique
4. activate collaboration at all levels, across all areas
5. communicate and share openly
6. engage and empower their employees
7. reward, recognize, celebrate and have fun

So when reviewing the challenges in your company’s culture, take a look at this list and honestly reflect on how many of these things you are successfully driving as a leader. Use a mirror, if it helps.

A few years ago I started off a presentation at a leadership conference with this quote on giant screen and let it sink in. To validate it, I asked the audience how many had quit a job they loved because of a boss they didn’t respect or couldn’t work with. The hands went up quickly.

We need to talk. As Canadian employers we are in crisis.

Gallup reports that 70% of Canadian employees are not engaged in their work, and another 14% are actively disengaged. 67% of employees report being ‘unhappy’ at work.

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We’re in this together

Posted by on April 20, 2015 9:00 am
Teamwork - Business Strategy - Business Strategy Execution - Innovation Engineering - Winnipeg MB Canada

A quick note: Don’t try this at home. We’re fortunate to have an in-house expert to lead our session; inVision offers team effectiveness workshops for leadership and executive teams as part of our Activate approach, and Wendy Ferris has several years of experience helping teams improve their effectiveness. There is no substitute for having a trained team effectiveness facilitator guide your team through a session like this. The facilitator has the experience and expertise to establish a safe environment, identify what the team needs, and recognize progress and setbacks. Contact us for more info.

Last week, the inVision team attended our first team effectiveness workshop. I know what you’re thinking: uh oh, they must be having issues. There must be something going on in the team that needs fixing. In fact, our team works quite well together. On key measures, like the Team Health Check and the Five Dysfunctions of a Team, our scores are high. But, there’s always better. As well as we’re working together today, we need to work to make sure that we stay that way and even improve. And like anything in life, that takes effort.

Teamwork - Business Strategy - Business Strategy Execution - Innovation Engineering - Winnipeg MB CanadaSo, the five of us met at the Ferris residence in Landmark, MB, for our team effectiveness workshop, led by Wendy. The main themes of the day: trust, conflict, and accountability. We didn’t know it at the time, but this session was one of the most influential experiences our team could have together.

No falling exercises here

Let’s talk about trust. Building trust is easier for some than others; we’re shaped by past experiences and trust is often easier said than done. This workshop is all about tackling the issues head-on, so we start the day by looking at our individual DISC profiles (I’m still a high “C”, for anyone keeping track), as well as our team DISC. Our team DISC assessment gives us some insight on how we work together as a group, taking into account all of the personal behaviours and traits we bring to the team. For example, our profile says that we, as a team, emphasize efficiency and results. More importantly, by studying our team DISC, we can learn how we can work together effectively. We’re developing actions that we’ll share with each other to help us work together more successfully.

Conflict is healthy

The DISC portion of the day was insightful and a warm up for the things that were to come. Next up, conflict. First lesson: conflict is a part of any healthy team. An absence of conflict is actually a sign that something’s wrong. The key is to work through conflict constructively and effectively; when a team can do that, it actually makes it stronger.

Through various exercises, our group develops a strategy that we will use to deal with conflict within the team. The great thing about this is that we’re all committed to the same strategy. If any one of us is bothered by something another team member has said or done, we now know how to approach the situation.

Accountability is key

If the DISC was the warm-up, and the conflict strategy was conditioning, the accountability portion of the day was the bootcamp. A team is only a team once its members experience this together (and I’m only half-joking). With hearts pounding and hands shaking, one by one we tell our team members one thing that they do that strengthens the team and one thing they do that detracts from the team. It was a truly emotional, therapeutic experience.

The next step? To take the feedback we’ve received from our teammates and develop two strategies that we’ll use to improve ourselves. We commit to those strategies, recognizing that we can further strengthen our team by acknowledging and working on behaviours that could hinder our success.

We’re ready

All in all, it was an incredibly productive, cathartic, beneficial day. We moved a yardstick. Trust? We’re getting there; we’re going to be real with each other and build meaningful relationships to strengthen our team. Conflict? Bring it on, we’ve got a strategy to deal with it. Accountability? Each of us know what we need to do to strengthen our team; we’ll hold ourselves, and each other, accountable to our improvement strategies.

As is tradition at inVision, we end every session by asking “What did we learn?”. I learned that as different as all of us are, there are many similarities we share; for example, how we want to be treated if someone has an issue with us, and the challenges that we face in being vulnerable and opening up to one another. At the end of the day, we share a common purpose: our team is strengthened by the desire to help each other, and inVision, do great things.

A quick note: Don’t try this at home. We’re fortunate to have an in-house expert to lead our session; inVision offers team effectiveness workshops for leadership and executive teams as part of our Activate approach, and Wendy Ferris has several years of experience helping teams improve their effectiveness. There is no substitute for having a trained team effectiveness facilitator guide your team through a session like this. The facilitator has the experience and expertise to establish a safe environment, identify what the team needs, and recognize progress and setbacks. Contact us for more info.

Last week, the inVision team attended our first team effectiveness workshop. I know what you’re thinking: uh oh, they must be having issues. There must be something going on in the team that needs fixing. In fact, our team works quite well together. On key measures, like the Team Health Check and the Five Dysfunctions of a Team, our scores are high. But, there’s always better. As well as we’re working together today, we need to work to make sure that we stay that way and even improve. And like anything in life, that takes effort.

Read More

Done is better than perfect (or, How I learned to embrace imperfection)

Posted by on February 27, 2015 8:30 am
Done is better than perfect - Business Strategy - Business Strategy Execution - Innovation Engineering - Winnipeg MB Canada

I’ll never forget the first time I heard this philosophy. I had joined inVision not a few weeks earlier and we were in a team meeting discussing the development of a new product. After much discussion and wordsmithing and getting into the weeds of detail, Wendy Ferris, Partner at inVision, said “Done is better than perfect, guys”. It was a mind-blowing moment for me (an “aha moment”, as Oprah would say). I would later come to learn that this quote is a well-known phrase from the Facebook offices; to me, it was a profound statement that turned the way I approached everything up to this point on its head. I was in a new job at a new company, and I knew at that moment it was going to be unlike anywhere I had ever worked before.

Done is better than perfect - Business Strategy - Business Strategy Execution - Innovation Engineering - Winnipeg MB CanadaI should preface this by sharing that I am a high “C”. For those not familiar with DISC assessments, that means I tend to be accurate, precise, and detail-oriented. I’m analytical, systematic, and I do a lot of research before I make a decision. Admittedly, I have been known to dwell on sentence structure and colour-matching. To hear that “done is better than perfect” meant that I had to start letting go of the details that could slow me down and prevent me from satisfactorily finishing a project. I had to be happy with getting it as close to perfect as I could and forfeit getting it to “perfect”.

Now, there is a caveat to this. As Ben Barry, a designer at Facebook, has pointed out “That doesn’t mean making crap – I believe you should always strive for the highest quality you can – but you have to finish.” Make no mistake, I’m big on quality. But I like the feeling of a job well done even more.

And so began my journey to change the way I work — and it has been a journey. It is easy to fall into the trap of trying to reach perfect – obsessing over details in copy, visuals, etc. But at some point you realize that it’s more efficient to get the project to the best it has be instead of to perfection. Often, the time it takes to go from “good” to “great” is time that is better spent on moving another project forward.

“Done is better than perfect” has been embraced around the inVision offices and it has served us well. It has taken the pressure off to produce the “perfect” marketing materials or the “perfect” reports, yet we’re doing great things every day, pushing the yard stick and accomplishing remarkable things. For me, I’m still learning. I often remind myself that done is better than perfect when I feel like I’m getting caught in the trap again, obsessing over minor details that are inconsequential. I’ve realized that when you’re working on projects that challenge and stimulate you, perfect is not the goal – learning is.

I’ll never forget the first time I heard this philosophy. I had joined inVision not a few weeks earlier and we were in a team meeting discussing the development of a new product. After much discussion and wordsmithing and getting into the weeds of detail, Wendy Ferris, Partner at inVision, said “Done is better than perfect, guys”. It was a mind-blowing moment for me (an “aha moment”, as Oprah would say). I would later come to learn that this quote is a well-known phrase from the Facebook offices; to me, it was a profound statement that turned the way I approached everything up to this point on its head. I was in a new job at a new company, and I knew at that moment it was going to be unlike anywhere I had ever worked before.

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Results or Excuses?

Posted by on February 20, 2015 8:30 am
Results or excuses - Business Strategy - Business Strategy Execution - Innovation Engineering - Winnipeg MB Canada

You can have results or excuses. Not both.” –  Jeremiah Kite

I have heard this quote effectively applied to fitness goals, but it recently popped into my head during a board meeting as I listened to a senior leader awkwardly explaining why he hadn’t achieved the expected results in his project. What amazed me was that in a room full of business leaders, his excuses were accepted and left unchallenged.

Results  or excuses - Business Strategy - Business Strategy Execution - Innovation Engineering - Winnipeg MB CanadaDon’t get me wrong; I expect roadblocks, distractions, or what we call “death threats” when pursuing any initiative or goal. But I believe there is a solution to every problem, and that is not a lack of resources but a lack of resourcefulness that holds us back.

I read that there is a quote on the office walls of facebook that states “Done is better than perfect.” How often do we get sidetracked or paralyzed by the need for perfectionism and the fear of failure that we hesitate to take action or never fully realize success? We can set the vision, create the plan and establish the goals and KPIs, but without alignment and activating the team to execute with a rhythm of accountability, planning is useless.

If it is important enough to plan for or dream about, it is important enough to achieve.

I believe that we all can do great things. We can have results or excuses. The choice is ours.

You can have results or excuses. Not both.” –  Jeremiah Kite

I have heard this quote effectively applied to fitness goals, but it recently popped into my head during a board meeting as I listened to a senior leader awkwardly explaining why he hadn’t achieved the expected results in his project. What amazed me was that in a room full of business leaders, his excuses were accepted and left unchallenged.

Read More
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