#HRD11 final thoughts Part 2

In the last post in a series of learnings from #HRD11, I turn my attention to the interesting world of Organisational Development and Change Management. There’s a lot of jargon and titles thrown around these days when we talk about these topics that it makes my head hurt. OD consultant, change practitioner, change agent, L&OD, frameworks, models, theories, facilitation (I LOVE facilitation, but come on), blah, blah. GO SUCK AN EGG. This is a long post, so you’ve been warned.

It seems to me that we’d all be better off if we took the time to understand what OD and change management are trying to achieve. As an interesting aside, at one of the seminars I attended, we were presented with a case study of the botched redundancy announcement the Armed Forces made to those serving on the front-line. The question was posed, “as change practitioners, what change management would you put into place?”. But that’s not about change management, that’s about internal comms. And that’s arguably a department unto itself, but equally the responsibility of every person in the organisation dealing with internal and external clients on a daily basis.

I think what’s happening is we’re getting blind-sided by people too afraid to look at what the issue is that needs to be addressed and are happy throwing the monkey to someone who may or may not be the best person to deal with the situation. Everything seems to need an OD or Change Management initiative (grr, bloody initiatives). In certain projects you can see how this makes an awful lot of sense. Cutbacks demand hardcore black belt project management types to make the change happen and work hand in hand with OD types who can facilitate the people side of things. But for the most part, most organisations aren’t facing those truly organisational challenges.

For the most part, organisations are facing issues such as: “how’s our employee engagement survey coming along?” “are our internal comms effective?” “we need to refresh our competency frameworks” “Let’s take onboarding and revamp it” “our reward and recognition scheme is out of date” – WAIT, are you thinking what I am? They’re not organisational issues, they’re (mostly) HR issues? So where’s the organisational stuff? You know, the stuff that actually affects… the organisation? For all the above, I don’t believe for a second you need to have dedicated OD/change management types dealing with them. You need someone who understands how to use the skills to deal with them, and those might cross into those fields, but it’s far from being a true OD/change management issue.

So what issues should we be looking at? Have a read of Neil Morrison’s post on this very topic. There’s a piece in there about dealing with ambiguity (interestingly this came up in my post yesterday too). Organisations face truly organisational issues such as “we have to move office because our current one doesn’t suit our needs, and while we’re at it, we’ll be merging 3 offices into one building”. That’s the kind of event where you need someone who can manage that change, facilitate the change and make it happen. Is that OD? Is it Change management? Is it Project Management? As I’ve said before, I don’t think it matters, what matters is it gets done.

But, and here’s the bit I think is key, regardless of which approach you choose to take, the important piece in any of this is the discussion. Not engagement, not communication, but discussion. We’re getting so misplaced with the process (as Neil quite rightly points out) that we forget the discussion is what it’s all about. Actually what happens is, in hindsight we say, “wow, that discussion on the change was bloody amazing, we should have captured that because it was really rich”. And then when the next change comes along, we neglect the discussion again.

That’s the one thing any of your/us OD consultants/change management types need to be able to do. Enable a discussion. And the great thing about thinking about it in this way is that it doesn’t matter who knows best. We can all have a discussion. Some of us just know how to facilitate them in different ways.

So. There you have it. Thanks #HRD11, it was informative and helped me direct my thoughts on certain topics. Let’s dance again sometime. Next year perhaps?


#HRD11 final thoughts Part 1

In a range of posts recently, I’ve been posting thoughts about the sessions I attended, and the planning of #HRD11 itself. Today, I’d like to address something about the content of the exhibition and conference. If you look at both the exhibition free sessions or conference seminars, is there a particular topic which seems to be glaringly missing? Let’s take a look…

Leadership development? Check.
Organisational development? Check.
Change management? Check.
Wellbeing? Check.
Coaching? Check.
Conflict? Check.
All manner of things to do with being an effective internal L&D consultant? Check.
e-learning and blended learning? Check.
Social learning? Check.
NLP? (Trusty old NLP – *spits* > I really should write a post on why NLP sucks arse.) Check.

I’ve probably missed others, but I’m building the case for my point.

Why have attendees or conference organisers not thought to include Diversity as a topic that should be discussed? There were several suppliers present, but I saw none of them present, or the timetable didn’t have them on there. What’s going on here? How have we missed this? Seriously?

Cynicism on the topic aside, there is currently so much happening in our workforces that Diversity is pretty much the one topic that just doesn’t get enough PR. And to not include it on the rolling list of topics at a celebrated event such as #HRD11 just serves to reinforce this point.

There are a myriad of positive ways to reinforce the message of Diversity and Inclusion. The days of sitting people in a workshop to make them ‘get it’ are long gone. Well, ok they’re not gone, they still exist, but they’re so old hat it makes me sad. But let’s take a basic look at this topic. On your team, what is the mix of people you have? A wonderful mix, I’m betting. And what is your organisation doing to reinforce that mix? Not a lot I bet. But not because they’re ‘afraid’ of the topic, or because they don’t want to upset the ‘PC brigade’, but I’m betting more because they’ve just not put the right thought on the topic.

People ‘get’ Diversity and Inclusion on an intuitive level. And that’s fab. But the trouble is organisations are not intuitive, and there’s too much scaremongering going on that enables a culture to be rich with this type of thinking.

Using positive psychology to create change at work

Continuing my learnings from #HRD11, one of the sessions I found truly useful was delivered by Sarah Lewis. She is a psychologist and has a particular focus on using concepts such as social constructionism, positive psychology and strengths based views. She has published a book called Positive Psychology at Work. Regular readers will know I have a bias towards positive psychology, and I was glad to not be let down by Sarah.

The following is a summary of various actions that can be used within a work context. As usual, this is only intended to provide a base level of information, there are nuances and details that I won’t be going into, and as such, this should provide some thoughts for things currently happening that you would like to change.

Sarah reinforced the importance of seeking positive experiences as part of building an environment of positivity. Previously, psychology used to be about helping those with issues increase their wellbeing from a state of -5 to 0 (-5 being unhealthy, 0 being healthy). Positive psychology aims to help individuals move from 0 to +5 (healthy to vibrancy). As such, we should aim to have a ratio of positive experiences higher than negative at about 3:1 at minimum, and at a maximum 12:1.

In organisations, there needs to be increased connectivity. A powerful motivator for a lot of people (be you an introvert or an extrovert), is to be able to connect with others. This is not exclusive to physical connections, particularly now in the ‘connected’ world we live in. Organisations have to allow for their people to be able to connect in meaningful ways. This is not to be confused with making people connect. People simply need to know there are options available, and they are fully capable themselves of deciding how they want to connect.

We should build social capital. An interesting turn of phrase with a good list of benefits:
– Reduces transaction costs
– Facilitates communication and cooperation
– Enhances employee commitment
– Fosters individual learning
– Strengthens human relationships and involvement
– Enhances organisational performance
– Facilitates organisational resilience

If we allow ourselves to act virtuously and positively, we create around us a network of people who see this happening. People are easily influenced by others’ actions, and we have long known that phenomena like peer pressure are incredibly powerful in directing how individuals will behave. Similarly, if you see someone doing something positive and virtuous, you understand there is a benefit to this, and are likely to seek out doing something yourself.

We should create micro-moments of High Quality Connections. This is about intimate, meaningful connections where we enable positive behaviours to happen. The way to do this is to allow ourselves to recognise when someone needs our time. We had an expression at my old workplace called ‘be here now’. By doing this, you build a connection with the person you’re talking to, allowing these micro-moments to happen.

Positive Energy Networks. This was really interesting for me. Who is a positive energy network? What is it? Perhaps the way to answer this is by looking at what a PEN can create:
– A stimulated environment
– Attentive to others
– Energising those around them
– Responsive behaviours
– Being hopeful and allowing others to have the same
– Generating new ideas
– Willing to devote discretionary time

In relationship to change, this was a useful way for Leaders to think about it: Most successful approach to change is to understand and work with it as an emergent phenomena.

#HRD11 Presentations on Change

In a series of interesting posts this week, Neil Morrison has been talking on the XpertHR blog about Commercial HR. It’s been a fascinating series and links in with thoughts I had from last week’s #HRD11 conference organised by the CIPD.

Change seems to be the hot topic of the day and I’m keen to learn more about what this looks like. So I sat through 3 different presentations, all discussing change. In this post, I’ll share the learnings from them, and in a later post this week I’ll share my thoughts on what I think is happening.

The first was a talk by Mike Clayton about how to handle resistance to change. He’s written a book on it for the Management Pocketbook series.

He described how he helps groups to understand how to deal with change by using an Onion analogy. If you peel one layer at a time you can start to understand what level of resistance you are facing:
– I don’t understand why we need to change
– I don’t understand why this change
– I don’t like this change
– I don’t like you
– I like to resist

Each of these needs to be dealt with specifically. If one layer doesn’t resolve the resistance, then you need to move on to the next.

He had a nice opening to the session – Respect your resisters.

I then attended a session with Irving Allen who talked about Change Agents.

I honestly found this a difficult session as the exercises they were asking the group to take part in were not suited to the environment we were in. Also the pair of presenters were not practiced enough with each other to deliver the material side by side. As a result I honestly took little away from this session. Except that they said you had to identify in the organisation who were:
– The targets for change
– The Change Agents
– The sponsors of the change
– The Change advocates

The last session was with Naomi Standford. She wasn’t the greatest facilitator I’ve had in a session, but she did help to deliver some very good models (Ha! Refer to earlier post about models) on how to manage change and how to communicate change.

She started by getting the group to discuss our understanding of what is the rate and scope of the change happening. I hadn’t considered this before and it’s a good reflection piece as as a change practitioner you often need to develop this understanding before you can launch into action.

The Change Management model she presented doesn’t seem to have a reference, so I’ll attribute it to Naomi, unless otherwise informed. She described a seven step process we should go through. This is:
– Set Direction
– Design and Plan
– Mobilise
– Deliver
– Transition
– Consolidate
– Improve

This process helps to realise that even though change may have been delivered, there are several important subsequent steps that need to be followed up.
She also presented this Communicating Change model. Again there seem to be no reference so I will attribute to Naomi.

I found this particularly useful as a way to help understand what I need to do to communicate change effectively.

#HRD11 – Conference planning

I’ve been at HRD11 organised by the CIPD for the past two days, and it’s been an interesting event. For me, it provides an opportunity to see what’s happening in the wider L&D world, what the suppliers are saying, and what the ‘practitioners’ are saying. I have some very clear points about the sessions I’ve attended which I’ll be writing about later. But, first I wanted to highlight some thoughts on the ‘Planning’ front. This is true of any conference, and not restricted to #HRD11 in any way.

Free WiFi

This seems so trivial, but so important in the world we’re now in. Yes, there was WiFi available, but either you had to pay for it from the venue, or you had to go to a specific vendor who had free WiFi available. Come on now. You want PR for your event? You want people outside of the venue to know what’s happening? You want people to feel they’re not ‘trapped’ by the conference? This is almost a basic need.

Briefing the Speakers

This is two fold. First is to ensure you’ve briefed the speakers about who is likely to be in the audience. For exhibition and for conference delegates this may well be different, but it is important to get a fair understanding. Some of the exhibition sessions I attended were far too basic for my purpose. This means either my expectations were too high, or my understanding of the session was misrepresented.

Second is to try and cater for different levels of experience in the audience. Not seniority mind, but experience. I’m no senior manager but equally I have a lot of experience across L&D and so expect a high level of engagement and learning. Is it possible to have ‘feather-weights’ sessions, ‘mid-weights’ and ‘heavy-weights’?

The Speakers

1) If you have exhibition speakers, and they’re there to represent your brand, make sure you have someone who presents well. How this is overlooked is beyond me. You’re in a space where you will be speaking to at least 100 people for 45 mins, and you haven’t either practised/prepped/realised you’re pretty shit? There is no harm in getting someone to speak for you. You’re there selling a product, so why not give it a good show? Just because you’re connected to the brand, does not mean you are its best representative.

2) For those of you that do choose to speak, get your language right and know your audience. One presenter made a comment “put your hand up for me, don’t hold it behind your back, you’ll look like a retard”. Erm, sorry? Did you seriously just say that? His follow up comment “you’re not allowed to say that now, oh well”. Hmm. #epicfail. In fairness I think the moment got the better of him and he didn’t think it through, but my word is this just plain wrong.

3) If you’re going to get the 100 attending your 45 min slot to do exercises, make sure they’re easy to do and appropriate for the space you are in. Discussions need to be short, tightly defined, with a clear brief. Leaving it open because you want to ‘see how it goes’ is poorly thought through and you should not be on the stage.

The Style of Presentations

*checks calendar* 8th April 2011. What’s that? We’re no longer restricted to PowerPoint as a delivery format you say? We’ve moved beyond the flipchart? Pull the other one! I didn’t see one Prezi, pecha kucha, or any other style of presentation. And we’re meant to be the leaders of information delivery? And we’re meant to be the ones who know everything there is to know about presentations? Attending the various sessions, you really wouldn’t think so.

The Supplier Stands

Dear Suppliers, please find completely new and different ways to make yourselves more inviting. Not one of you made it compelling for me to visit. And using the Twitter backchannel is not the way to do it. #thatisall

Conference Speakers

So this is going to cause some issues. Particularly because it’s just not the done thing. Why am I restricted to one conference session? You run 3 concurrent sessions from 0930-1100 and I can only attend one? Well what if it’s boring me silly and I want to see what the others are about? Sure, there are things around “oh but they won’t understand the full context of the session”, but do you forget that we are adults and fully capable of filling in the blanks? No? Want to treat us like school children who need ferrying and can only attend to one thing at a time? Oh, ok then.

Break free! Take an #unconference approach. Dare to be different. I guarantee it will be a better experience for your delegates and the richness of information being shared will be amazing. Don’t believe me? How do you know different?

And please conference organisers, do not choose a conference speaker just because they are an expert in their field. Please be sure to vet their ability to run a conference session. I’m paying good money to be present, and want a good facilitator present. It doesn’t matter how many groups they work with on a daily basis, a conference session is different. Expectations are to learn something, and go away brimming with ideas.

In Complete Fairness

I enjoyed the 2 days. The interactive board outside the HRD Interactive Zone was a great addition and a great way to showcase the buzz happening in and around the event.

I loved that the #tweetup was taken seriously and given appropriate time during the day. It gave me a superb opportunity to connect and network with those I know in the online world.

The delegate refreshments is a nice touch and makes me feel like I have a small perk as a delegate.

The free brochure is great and helps me to navigate timings of sessions as well as decide the supplier stands I want to visit.

It was a well organised and from my perspective seemless delivery so well done to all involved. Events on this scale are never easy, and I wish you continued success with them in the future.

A Side Note

This event is for L&Ders in the main right? Did you have an L&Der help you plan it?