Understanding how to live the Goal Vs Soul Paradox
A Snapshot of our work with clients
USING FRACTAL STRUCTURES TO CREATE SUSTAINABLE LEADERSHIP PIPELINES
At one of our client meetings the client told us that the big problem they have in the Organization was that there was too much escalation from the levels below. This was causing disruption to the Executive Leadership team's ability to focus on the Strategic break-thrus they needed to make as they were getting sucked into daily fire fighting situations. The CEO therefore felt that the solution was for us to train the next level of management to deal with the customer and to plan pro-actively to manage their accountabilities....
This situation is not unique. Typically we have found that most clients who are looking at scaling up their operations struggle to get the next line of management to step up and pick the mantle of leadership. This despite attempts to tell them they are empowered to take responsibility.
In one case the CEO of the Organization actually told us that he had tried desperately to push decision making down the hierarchy but it only resulted in either very poor decisions costing the company seriously in terms of business losses as well as erosion of good will with existing customers or far too many escalations to him despite his clear statement of empowerment. So much so that the CEO actually retracted the empowerment over time and reverted to centralizing all key decisions. This obviously resulted in slowing the growth of the organization and thwarted its scaling ambitions
We have seen Organization after Organization struggling in a similar manner with the business of scaling up operations, whether as an Organization as a whole or even within divisions of large organizations.
There is a fear in the senior leadership, not unjustified, that the next layer of Management is not willing to pick the gauntlet of leadership in a way that will give them the confidence that the quality and speed of decision making will be protected.
Empowerment is a dual-edged sword. Those who have it feel the stress of it especially if they are ill equipped for it and those who don’t constantly hanker after it!
When we excavated the Systemic forces using our Tatva Model™ that emphasizes systemic interdependencies and gaps rather than linear root cause analysis, we discovered an interesting fact. The real gap, the Difference that made the Difference lay in the misalignment between the SKY (Mission, Vision, Strategies and Goals of customer delight and scalable operations) and the EARTH (the Organizational Structure, Decision Making Structures, Accountabilities).
To meet its ambitious growth plans it was imperative that the next layer of leadership take much greater ownership and accountability for decision making, allowing the Executive Management to focus on strategic aspects and the increasing complexity of the business. However, Decision Making Structures within the organization were not amenable to permitting this. This in turn was leading to an inability to Scale smoothly.
B. Envisionment of the Solution Design:
Leadership Development to be pointed and meaningful in an Organization has to be driven by a context and a vantage point. The most powerful context in any Organization struggling with Scaling is the vantage point of the Fractal Structures™ (Fractals were first identified by the mathematician Mandelbrot as nature’s method to manage seamless scaling; of bringing a mathematical programming to nature’s seeming chaos).In the context of Organizational scaling, a Fractal is the replicable, integrated building block that allows seamless scaling at any level and across geographies.
Typically a FractalStructure™ in an Organization has three components:
a. Decision Making Structures: This covers all key decisions, their devolution to appropriate levels, identification of support groups along with the decision makers, ring fencing to manage the fears of devolution , deep democracy that enriches the process of decision making and leverages diversity of opinion
b. Performance Orientation: In a sense this is the production engine of the Organization. This is the process by which any organization delivers consistent and high quality value to the customer. This is also to do with ownership, accountability and consequence management
c. Joyful community: This is the energizing cycle of the Organization. This part of the design enables the continuous build up and release of energy in the system. It encompasses the setting up of structured processes that enable the celebration of achievements and talent; as also the sucking up of the poison that gets generated when the friction of accountability generates excessive heat and leads to misalignment between people.
The other dimension of Leadership Development is the multiple strands of developmental paths that need to be pursued simultaneously in an inter-twined way. We call it the TripleHelix™ of Leadership Development – since it encompasses essentially three intertwined strands:
a. Self Leadership: Developing the Leaders’ own capabilities to perform, helping them to confront their fears, deep rooted belief systems that might be helping or hindering performance, value systems, mental models in the context of own accountabilities
b. Shared Leadership: The manner in which Leadership works together as a lateral team and is able to leverage each other’s capabilities, add to each other’s performance and act as the sounding board to each other in moving the Organization forward. This is also about how they role model warmth, trust and confidence in each other and leverage diversity within the group
c. Group Leadership: This is to do with how the Leader operates within the pyramid that she is the Leader of; how she empowers, drives accountability and performance, how she helps generate energy through inspiring , role modelling, celebrating success as well as confronting constructively
All the three elements of the FractalStructure™ operate simultaneously and need to be instituted and managed by the Leadership Team. The focus of the TripleHelix™ of Leadership Development is the FractalStructure™.
C. Execution Steps:
a. Co-Create and design the Devolution of Power (DOP) Matrix covering key decisions taken at the Leadership level and one level below. Also ring fence the decisions to manage the fears of deterioration of quality of decision making
b. Socialize the next layer with these. Bring back any push backs/contrary viewpoints back to the leadership team to resolve and finalize the DOP Matrix
c. Conduct the Get Real (getting real in the context of the three elements of the TripleHelix™ of Leadership Development) workshop first for the Leadership team and then for the layers below in sequence.
d. Set up and conduct the governance mechanism that in a disciplined manner reviews the progress of the devolution, the quality of the decision circles implemented. It is also the mechanism to build Self and Shared Leadership and to review Group Leadership development of each individual in the context of the FractalStructure™ Implementation
e. Reform or tweak the Performance Management System to reflect the devolution of powers and consequent accountability
f. Conduct Cathartryst™ sessions and other enabling sessions for the leadership team to be able create and sustain both Performance Orientation as well as a Joyful Community
g. Continuously Evaluate the progress of the assimilation of the FractalStructure™ within the Organization as well as its impact
Typically this approach delivers the first results within 3 months of implementing the Fractal Structure. However it is also true that it might also get worse before it gets better! It is not easy for the various layers within the Organization, starting from the Top Management to adjust to the new ways of working. Imagine a situation where I am used to taking a decision from my boss and implementing it, and now I have to actually take the decision myself and live with the consequences of it. Or for that matter I have to let somebody else take decisions that I am used to taking; and living with the quality of it or the effects of it! It takes discipline and time and confidence to be built up for the design to take effect. However perseverance with the model and commitment to it tend to deliver results
For instance in the example we started with, the following impact had been measured in the first four months of the implementation:
Creating the Fractal Intervention
Decision Making Structures
Guidelines for making decisions
Verticals as Fractals
PMS in consonance with DOP Matrix
Consequence Management System
Review of existing Leadership Development Programs
Regular Governance of Journey across all Pillars
The Devolution of Power Matrix
A Powerful tool to enable the organisation to strike the right balance between freedom and constraints is the Devolution Of Power Matrix. It permits the organisation to deliberately and systematically take decision making, its accountability and support structures deep into the layers of the organisation. It creates an ability to manage both the skills and fears connected with Devolution of Power with confidence.
To see a sample of a DOP matrix click here.
Collective Goal Setting at Executive Levels
One of our clients wanted to bring clarity, focus and alignment within their top management towards the organization's Vision as well as create aligned strategies and goals/actions plans to make the vision a reality. The top leadership team was relatively new and carried ambitious aspirations for the future. Hence we created a journey of Collective Goal Setting with the clear objectives as follows:
The Collective Goal Setting journey comprised a 2 day leadership offsite to kick off followed by a series of workouts within the department teams to finally arrive at the aligned and measurable Org, Dept and Individual level Strategies and Goals. The critical element was that each team discussed the interdepencies with each other to create a common aligned plan with collective ownership. This was then put on a dashboard for strategic governance to ensure focus and review.
Some formats that were used :
Double Loop Learning