“Chop Wood & Carry Water” – Because There Are No Innovation Shortcuts

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Original Date: June 28, 2016
During this session, Raphael will lead us through a brief discussion on “how” business leaders find the leverage they need to successfully transform themselves and their organizations for the sake of better business outcomes. Raphael will argue that adopting new corporate lifestyle habits focused on building transformation muscle groups is the most effective way to support a forward-looking business strategy.
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Barbie: Hello everyone and welcome to today’s webinar. The title of today’s webinar is Chop Wood and Carry Water Because There Are No Transformation Shortcuts. This is one in the series of webinars where we connect for 30 minutes to bring to life the challenges we see in the market and what to do about them. During today’s session, Raphael, our Axialent’s global transformation lead, will guide us through a discussion around how business leaders find the leverage they need to successfully transform themselves and their organizations for the sake of business outcomes.

We will host a Q&A at the end of the session, so if there’s any question that might come up as Raff is presenting, you can use the question application in your dashboard and type in your question and we will address them later in the call. Welcome everyone and with that, I pass it to you, Raff.

Raphael Viton: Thank you, Barbie and welcome everyone. Bienvenidos a todos. I see we have a number of time zones and continents joining us live. I’m very happy to connect with you live and for those of you that are listening to the webinar later, happy to be connecting virtually with you. I don’t have an agenda, but I would like to set some expectations and intentions for our brief time together. My first intention is to very briefly shine a light on what is the, I like to call it, the underdog perspective. The seemingly kind of curiously unwelcomed perspective about the essentials required for better innovation results and better transformational results. Obviously, not unwelcomed by you, listeners, but I do believe that you and I are the minority in the stuff that we’re going to talk about as far as where the emphasis is.

My second intention is to reinforce the importance of being ridiculously, intensely focused on your training and your transformation practices, reinforcing that you stay ridiculously faithful to the process of transforming, so I’m hoping I touch on that as well. My third intention, my hope or wish is that when we’re done today, that you feel and continue to feel encouraged about your work and your role and your purpose as transformation leaders, knowing that at the end of this, even after the very brief Q&A, this is such a short time period, I want you to feel very comfortable emailing me, calling me to ask for help. We need to really make sure that we’re helping each other avoid the temptation of the distracting quick fixes that are out there getting in the way of us, getting to our transformation desired outcomes.

Chop wood, carry water. I’ve been chopping wood and carrying water for the better part of the last three decades. I’d say the first half of my career doing strategy work for Sears during the NAFTA time frame as an expat in Mexico City, doing process for engineering consulting, working on workflow or designing technology improvements and process for engineering with Fortune 500 companies, and also brand repositioning efforts with some of the biggest brands in the world. I’ve seen transformation work with those toolboxes, right?

The second half of my career, I’ve spent working on product innovation, service innovation, business model and building tool boxes in consulting services related to delivering great impact to Fortune 100 companies. Lastly, I would say the last about 10 years, I’ve been focused almost exclusively on innovation leadership, culture of innovation and that type of transformational work, that type of toolbox in the context of overall business transformation.

Usually, when I’m in the room or when I’m on the line and I’m talking and working with folks, I’m not talking about management, which is the authority and seniority to get people to do something different. I’m typically not talking about leadership, which is regardless of seniority and authority, the ability to influence people to do something different. I exclusively almost solely only talk about transformation leadership or innovation leadership, any one of the flavors of transformation that you might be more accustomed to, whatever verbiage you prefer to use. This is pretty much all I talk about and it’s not the theory or physically of transformation leadership, but the real world, in the trenches, practical application of lessons learned myself and with others and with many communities of folks going through the process of transformation.

If we talk about specifically the proverb and like most Zen proverbs there’s an obscure and deep meaning at the same time. Zen is a branch of Buddhism that’s been around since the 6th century. Started in China. The idea here is that chopping wood or, “Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment chop wood, carry water,” the idea is that achieving a version of enlightenment, achieving a version of transformation is not the end point, right? The idea is to keep moving forward. You have to keep doing the same thing even after you’ve achieved that level of transformation and enlightenment.

What we’re going to spend most of our time with today is talking through the context of those things that are required to move transformation forward inside of corporations. Typically, the goal of transformation comes in these different flavors, right? The idea is to create a whole new system, to expand agility and capability in the marketplace. Typically, that’s to be able to compete more effectively and deliver what the market says that values most, and also to cultivate new levels of energy, creativity and productivity inside of a system, inside of the sub-systems that make up the overall system, and to help change the way we relate to each other, the way we relate to customers, the way we relate to change, the way we relate to the circumstances in and out of our control through an invitation to develop new levels of relationship and understanding and ownership of what’s going on around us.

One of the last most prevalent goals of transformation strategies that we see, and then this can take on a very whole complex conversation all by itself, is to learn how to use power differently, more strategically. When you think about dominant power systems be they in business or any other, in politics, any other system, down to power systems don’t give up their power willingly. Even when it’s not in the best interest of the whole, they hang to what has worked in the past and what suits them the best as opposed to what’s in their best interest. Even when it compromises the proclaimed strategy of the leaders of that power system, so the transformation strategies actually are trying to get into how to shift from an unresourceful power system that exists that we in some ways contribute to and perpetuate to one that is more resourceful, more necessary for the time that we live in.

Some of the most notable ones that we’re all familiar with have to do with a power system where the dominant system is men over women, or the dominant system is powerful men and women over all others, or the dominant power system is human beings over nature. These are macro, big picture conversations where transformation strategy start and actually wind up being brought down into very specific strategic levels inside of organizations.

What we’re learning from the statistics over the last three decades that have been captured related to transformation strategies is that it’s really hard to do. For most, it’s an acquired taste and by most I mean only 15% actually do well at it, actually have some results to show even if they’re not even durable, sustainable results, it’s some level of results to show. That means 85% of organizational change efforts and transformation efforts fail to deliver anything that’s sustainable or even noticeable and tangible.

The question winds up being so what’s going on? What’s missing? What is it that’s lacking from the transformation strategy? How do we focus and get underneath what’s missing because there’s a lot of work being done. There’s a lot of money being invested and time and energy being spent and nights and weekends not being with family because folks are busy doing transformation work. Clearly, the results aren’t getting us where we want to from our transformation effort standpoint and potentially inside of the companies that you’re a part of.

The question is how do we all do better? The idea of transformation is easy to talk about but often the hard work, the deep work is readily avoided. Part of us would much rather substitute the deep transformation for some immediate relief from the tension that’s driving us towards transformation strategies in the first place. A nice metaphor that we typically use and typically think about is the difference between the hollow chocolate bunny and the solid chocolate bunny. The hollow chocolate bunny being one that looks good on the outside but doesn’t necessarily deliver on what we’re looking for.

The idea behind solid chocolate bunny with translation strategies is that it takes years of practice, years of sincere work. Working with Fortune 100 companies and Fortune 500 companies, we’ve been learning with them over the last number of decades about what’s really necessary. There’s a great story quote from a chief innovation officer that I worked with, who after a good five or so years of his journey down the road with the transformation strategy and the innovation program was asked, “What would I have done differently now, kind of the look back?” One of the answers that this executive behavior was that, “I was somewhat naive going in thinking that we could get solutions that we could implement innovative things and then move on to commercialize event enterprise-wide innovation as well.”

Instead what happened was we spent years grappling with the human issues around how humans are treated in the workplace, about what’s the value of their opinion, what the value of their ideas and how do you engage and empower them in a way that actually gets to better collaboration. How do we deal with major cultural and organizational themes and how do we actually work through these in a way that it supports our innovation strategy and our transformation strategy and the results that we’re chasing. It continues to be a kind of consistent theme that we’ve seen in a number of different companies whether it’s GE, Walmart, joined ventures between some of the big companies, there’s lots of expertise and yet the system itself is necessary to be a huge part of that transformation process to allow those things actually take root and take hold and actually deliver for the value to be realized.

What’s a different way to think about it before I talk about it? The step if you step back from some of those stories in where we’re at today. It’s easy to see and to recognize that innovation transformation began as a business practice even though the idea of institutional and organizational change has been talked about since the beginning of the industrial arena. Even back in the 1930s and ’40s, there are some great leaders and books written about institution change. It began as a business practice and what we’re learning is that for it to be successful, it’s becoming much more of a way of life. A lifestyle choice, corporate lifestyle choice of becoming good at being a transformed company, being transformational rather than it just being a doing thing it’s becoming much more of a being thing.

Part of the question is, okay, if it’s becoming more way of life, does that mean, Raph, that you’re saying that we’re doomed to a life of disruption, everything is going to be changing? Everything has to be blown up and started from scratch, started over. Do we have to always challenge what is in the status quo, always looking for something else that could be? Or perhaps can we simply train our innovation muscles to prepare for the shift to what’s next. One of the ways we look at it is that transformation leadership, and all the data suggest this, all the research over the years and all the industry studies from some of the big consulting firms in IBM and the Human Capital reports and stuff show that transformation leadership is a learned capability. A muscle group that has to be developed, has to be trained and the good news is everybody has these muscles, everybody can transform.

It isn’t the unique secret domain of the most creative, the wildly creative folks. Everybody has these muscles, everybody has this gift of transformation but most executives, most of the world, most companies have not been trained of how to develop these muscles. They’re very well trained in many other skills and many other aspects of the work, but transformation, as viewed by looking at the results, is one of those things that has yet to be developed in a way that it can deliver adequately. If indeed, it’s the muscle group that can be trained, how do I know if I should be training these muscles? How do I know if I should be developing and working on these?

One of the simplest ways to think about it is to imagine all of us are at a current level. I’m in my own current level. You’re in your current level. Your organization has its current level. If you’re in pursuit of a next level, if you’re working on your next level then you’re in that transformation phase. I’m sorry, the transition phase. The idea is if you are transitioning to the next level, that’s how you know you should be working on this. If you anticipate a career or an industry that will be in constant flux, you know you’ll be consistently working on your next level. Every time you get to your next level it becomes your current, and you pursue the next one.

In the spirit of chopped wood carrying water, we’re always going to be in this pursuit of our next level. We’re always going to be in pursuit of what’s next for us in growth and learning and transformation so we’re always going to have to be good at the transformation process. We’re going to have to find a way to enjoy it, fall in love with it and master it as a process as opposed to as an outcome. Just to stay with the idea of strategy and the need for transformation, most corporate strategies today actually require the organization to go through some form of transformation.

It’s clear in that growth strategy, they’re working on the next level and the Economics 101 of the Sigmoid Curve, the S curve here is pretty clear in terms of how it shows at some point what worked in the past and the last successful starts to stop working because of the outside influence, the outside changes. The ideas before it gets into the downturn or before it gets so far in the downturn, how do we actually devise a new strategy? If that new strategy requires the human beings and the community of human beings to change the way they do things, change the way they do the services, change the way the platform deliver services or the distribution channel et cetera, if that’s what’s required, it’s going to wind up leading into a system or a challenging aspect here if you look at A, B, and C.

A is the current level, C is our next level. As you’re trying to get off of the Sigmoid Curve and shift from A down to C, it becomes very difficult. It becomes very difficult to mobilize the resources. Most corporations, most executives run into the challenge of wait a minute, I have a great strategy. It makes total sense. The market wants it. I think I built a great case, why is my organization seemingly reluctant to adopt? Why am I having so much trouble getting the new thing through the system, on the C curve, which would be the new master plan, the next level? Part of the reason for that is that the deeper work of transformation hasn’t been done to support the strategy in support of the forward looking plan, strategy that the company has built.

Transformation leadership comes in to help get the company more quickly, more readily, more effectively to the next level. There in section B there, by the time you take that portion of the S curve, we call that the oh crap strategy, at which point transformation and practicing and readiness, typically won’t pull you out of that. At that point, there’s going to be cost cutting, there’s going to be some other much more drastic measures because the muscles haven’t been built to support the strength, the agility, the flexibility necessary to shift off of A and on to C and to proceed to what’s next.

Back to the context of transformation leadership. I want to help give all our listeners here some 3D goggles now, a new perspective on dimensionalizing what transformation leadership means and thinking about it not just in terms of what the organization needs, what the strategy and result and performance expectations are of the said strategy. To really understand that the process of transformation to get the results of the organization requires is going to need folks that are in charge of transformation to be really looking at it in these three dimensions.

These are the three dimensions of success the transformation has to be simultaneously over achieving it. The idea of most companies are great focusing on the organizational goal of shifting from current to next and focusing on the task at hand. What’s often left out is the team current level, next level attention and the individual current level, next level. Where you get the most leverage where individuals, where human beings get the most leverage inside of organization is by focusing on the I, the individual.

If you focus there, you can then, as individuals as leaders, transformation leader show up transform role modeling through the team what the expectations are and learning to work together with the team to channel all of their intelligence, creativity, courage towards the transformational goals. What happen is if the only focus on the organizational transformation leadership typically doesn’t have this team and the traction it needs to move forward.

Why it’s important is like we all know the world is changing faster than ever. We’re all going to be focusing on being able to get to the next level and the next level is going to change and the next level is going to change. Rather than just leave it as a truism, I like to dimensionalize a little bit, just make sure we have our bearings on what it means when we talk about changing fast than ever, mostly you’re on the phone, you’re familiar with the acronym, the terminology VUCA, V-U-C-A, which is a term that came out of the military over 20 years ago. Leaders at West Point were changing the way they prepare the leaders of the future for warfare and the acronym describing the environment was volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity.

Volatility is the speed and nature of change forces coming at you. Uncertainty is the likelihood for surprise. Complexity is the multi-dimensions of the change forces happening all at one time whether it’s environmental, social, political, economical and the compound effect that comes from the complexity. Then, A ambiguity is the trickiest one of all. It’s the trickiest because we all have our own perception of reality. Ambiguity is going to create the likelihood for us to misread the signs because we only have one lens to view the world through. Our meeting management system, our paradigms are limited in what they can see and the options that are available to it because of those limitations.

When we talk about the world changing faster than ever, here’s what it’s creating from a global standpoint from the trend standpoint. I will read through these, you’re familiar with all these global megatrends that are happening. From an industry standpoint, inside of individual industries, these are happening in different degrees. I’m sure when you look at these, you can resonate with more than, I’d say, four or five of these are familiar to most folks on the line regardless of the catnip you’re listing in from. All of it lead to the need to be more adaptive, more entrepreneurial, faster and nimbler and being able to adjust to circumstances outside of the organization. A lot of it comes from, a lot of the speed of change comes from the technological changes both in the military communication, in terms of mobile technology and transportation as well being globalized.

Nick Obolensky, who is the author of “Complex Adaptive Leadership” out of the U.K. has done a ton of the research and has collected and built this chart, which I’m going to share with you now. Let me orient you to the graph. This axis here is the pace and extent of change going from negligible, almost not noticeable at all, all the way up to radically changing and moving very fast. Then, on the bottom of our scale here you see the different economic era, different eras throughout history from Egyptian, Greek all the way up to modern and postmodern time.

The way these charts build on each other is from military technology, communication and mobile tech and transportation. Next leading to how does human awareness, how does the awakening of people and more people having access to more knowledge and knowing more things through the internet, through all the technology, how has that changed.

You see all of the hockey stick graph here and then you also see how leadership assumptions have grown and trailed over time. What it leaves us with is this continuity, this leadership complexity that the industry refers to and it’s very visible in IBM’s CEO study that happens every year, very visible in Deloitte’s global here in capital trends that is published every year. I think PWC and Accenture, everybody, [inaudible 00:25:19] because they all have a publication that comes out that takes the research and actually shows what this gap is causing in terms of how to live the new normal and the challenge that companies are having where most organization’s statistics on generalizing and rounding up here, 80% or more expect business environment to get more complex.

Less than half feel prepared for those changes. Less than half feel prepared that their leadership is ready to lead through those changes. The leadership gap from the Deloitte global community capital trends shows 86% of global HR leaders say their most urgent issue is leadership development. It’s one of those things where this gap that we all knew was coming, we’ve been talking about it actually for decades as well begs the question well, what have we done? Have we trained and build the muscles necessarily to close that gap? What it’s going to take now to be able to do that?

Even more than intellectually understanding this chart, the idea is, okay, how are we going to move beyond intellectual understanding of it and actually operationalize the need to build a competency, capabilities and corporate lifestyle habits that it can actually close that gap and deliver on the agility and complexity needs that come with this today?

It materializes in most companies that complexity gap shows up here in number one, the most often self-identified internal challenge is in the new normal related to change. We’ll send a link out to an article that actually lists these nine. I call them the nasty nine that show up as a result of the complexity gap. There is this historical attachment to old success formulas and outdated leadership paradigms that don’t deal with detention between now and next. That don’t vary in a very healthy way address the tension between the current level, the next level, instead are using old leadership techniques, old command and control attempts to just plow through or go through the transformation and that doesn’t work.

In most cases, it’s evidenced by the cultural bondage behind leadership team’s level of transformation themselves. Many leaders in big companies I hear them, they say all the time, they tell, my culture just doesn’t want to change. What they wind up learning and work through on with some help as well is the fact that the culture is stuck behind the awareness level, the consciousness level of the leadership. Not that it’s easy, but it’s simple. It’s a simple correlation between moving beyond and not being able to move beyond the leader’s level of conscious transformation, which is why the leadership deep work is so important prior to just imagining or wishing that the culture is going to change.

Often, what’s behind a lot of that too is weak leadership alignment around the things that matter most. There is this assumed, implied assumption that the vision, purpose and values really are all felt the same way, really are held the same level of importance, really understood the same way, typically not the case.

Organizational silos and inconsistent interdepartmental communication exist, collaborations, challenging, the time-constrained employees, the idea that there’s nothing we can do, we don’t have any time, the scarcity mindset, learn helplessness is very evident as a result of this leadership complexity gap. Additional, I think the misuse of engagement programs, which were actually driven to teach to the test and improve numbers around engagement without necessarily implementing sustainable habitual change in a way that aligned with the strategy.

Just wanting to help the engagement scores get better and the people automatically are happier as opposed to some of the deeper work the organizational change work that has happen for that to be a true and authentic experience. The same goes for empowerment, the idea that we can mandate empowerment and empower people when [inaudible 00:30:06] is nobody can empower anybody, you have to create the environment and the conditions where people can empower themselves. That nuance itself changes the way you train and practice to build that.

Lastly, driving much of the strategic challenge is corporation’s tendency to be internally focused lacking in consumer empathy and understanding. In most cases, not really being channeled into even being curious about their own lack of curiosity and building true relationship just … not because they don’t understand it, but because there’s typically a higher value placed on some of the operational needs as opposed to empathy and understanding. Most customer experience strategies are changing right now and it’s a great catalyst for organizational change but still the deep work necessary is often bypassed.

We’re just running first base really with what the speed of change is going to be. The good news is it will never be this slow again. Now is a great time to be training and working on it. We have no idea what we’re in for in terms of the speed of change of the industry and technology and whatnot and we’re typically pretty bad in estimating that.

What we do about it? This is a perspective of how we need to focus on developing those muscle groups that will help us all, and I have a bucket of these. There’s way more detail and depth behind what these actually hold inside of these three buckets, but the idea of muscle groups that help leaders see more, work better, and feel stronger. I talked about these and these groups because there’s the idea that you see yourself, I notice the days if I go to McDonald’s and I get a Big Mac and a shake for some reason I also buy a diet Coke, as if somehow the diet Coke is offset all the other calories in that meal. In similar, many companies look at their transformation programs the same way. We’re going to try a few of these workshops. We’re going to some leadership development. Not necessarily really well integrated. We’re going to hope for the best in between these sessions and we’re going to … maybe we’ll do a study later on to see if it’s making any progress.

The idea is, the rest of the time, we’re just going to do business as usual as opposed to actually building a training ground making the organization itself be the dojo where the transformation work has to happen in and around all of the strategy work, integrated with the strategy work, integrated with business unit leaders as much as the HR and learning development teams. Just quickly looking at the three buckets here. The idea of seeing more, it’s giving leaders new eyes and giving the organization new eyes, giving the team new eyes. The ability to develop muscles that help us see beyond our own biases, expanding the visibility of options and choices available to us.

The only way to do that is to build the muscles that actually help us work more authentically, more curiously, exploring were possible and overcoming the fear that’s associated with our attachment to what we know in our bias against uncertainty and ambiguity. There’s muscle groups here that we would need to work on to see more even, and not just in terms of possibilities around the industry and around in our business, but also in how we think and relate to each other. How we open ourselves up to more. How we are actually liberating ourselves from the reactivity that keeps us trapped.

This winds up being some of the most fun and rewarding work for leaders and teams as they go through it and it changes the perspective in a way that the system itself is very happy about moving forward. It creates the opportunity for the work better category. The work better category, if we’re developing those creative collaboration muscles more quickly get to the complex problem solving and it’s about how do we fuel ourselves, how do we fuel the culture, how do we fuel our own recovery, how do we work on both strength and endurance and the motor skills in a very authentic and vulnerable way so that we’re building these things together. Most of the transformation doesn’t happen in the workshops and the trainings, it happens in the environment where people are learning to use these tools together, experiencing the learning together.

The way we relate to each other in the moment, in those moments of truth where the tension is high where it’s not where we disagree with each other or where we’re working through a breakdown and we all have different ideas and we all want our idea to win. How do we work through those things in a way that actually gets closer to the result and build strong relationships while we’re doing it and helps me as an individual feel authentic and full of integrity as I’m doing that with my team and delivering for the organization.

In addition to working those types of higher level work better efforts there’s the skills that exist around creativity and design thinking divergence and convergence, how do we do risk taking. How do we work through the risk taking practice? How do we develop more of a portfolio mindset about research and development and experimentation and rapid prototyping? All these things working together are part of the work to be better and applied to not just innovation work, but applied to all aspects of our transformation.

Finally, how do we look at the work that helps us feel stronger, the work to be done around feeling stronger. Office building very tangible assets I call them sources of certainty that leaders use to make decisions to take action in the face of uncertainty. The training, the readiness, the practice, the new toolbox helps you feel strong and therefore more comfortable. That’s the state of mind that makes you more depth performing under stress all of the stress and influencing change and delivering outcomes.

Those three things together and again, it’s another way of saying we’re going to work through muscle groups that actually help us be good at managing polarities not solving for polarities, not evaluating which is better, which is right, which is wrong, but developing muscles that help us find a balance between things like control in the form of rules as well as VUCA tolerance and the ability to work with minimal boundaries. The idea of managing both explicit individual objectives as well as meaningful and unified purpose at the same time, the good of both of these things. How do we manage that polarity? How do we manage knowing versus learning, the idea of how much we value expertise and at the same time value humility and curiosity? How do these things work together?

Another way of referring to all of that, all of those buckets and to see more work better feel stronger and balancing is getting to complex adaptive learning. From complex adaptive leadership requires complex adaptive learning or a vertical learning, which is the idea is that just learning more horizontal learning, which is very valuable and important, it doesn’t cut it when it comes to transformation. What we’re trying to do when we’re getting to that next level is we’re trying to bring all the stuff we learned from the horizontal level up to a higher level of operating.

We’re trying to learn in a way that actually upgrades the entire operating system from top to bottom so that we can develop a more complex perspective. One that brings on line all of those other skills and competencies but at a much higher level operating at a much more effective format for the transformation results that are desired.

This is an adaption … work and Bob Anderson for the leadership circle and many others where it’s been documented that if you look at the four quadrants that are necessary to lead organizational change, number two and number four are frequently taken care of frequently addressed first, skills and structure. As opposed to and they will call those the organizational or the it. The skills and the structure pieces are the ones that we feel very comfortable addressing. The reason for that 15% success rate that we talked about at the beginning is that the I, the identity part, and the we part are often not addressed. All four have to be worked on together in a very integrated way for the transformation results to happen.

That’s the only way to get to those hidden social norms. The invisible and undiscussables that are holding the organization back in terms of changing the way we relate to each other, our level of performance, our level relationship. We have to work through some of these crisis and identities that come from this kind of change and some of the tension that comes from putting these word views together in service of having more options to choose from.

We have to focus on all four of those, and I’m rounding out the story here, we talked about quick fixes before and the idea that we’re all likely to be tempted, our transformational programs are likely to be tempted by the quick fix, the shortcut, the six pack in six weeks et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. Those things don’t help us. The simple and easy don’t get us there. The idea of what’s really necessary is we know what we … we actually all know what we need to do, we need to do more of this deep work to get the results that we want.

The idea of, I’m defining transformational leadership in conjunction with the chop wood carry water so we can get to questions is, it is an ongoing mutual process, ongoing meaning it’s never ending, we’re always working on the next level, it is a lifestyle choice as opposed to a program that starts and stops. It’s mutual meaning that it covers those three connections of success, the self, the team and the organization, the system. It’s a process. Most complex adaptive processes are irreversible. It never goes back to the way it was, time doesn’t stop and go back to a simpler time.

You saw the chart that shows the leadership complexity gap, it’s not going to go back to a time where we can all just address everything in a simpler way. Some of the simple philosophies still hold true today and many don’t. Either way, we have to be transforming and being better at discerning which ones do. An ongoing mutual process that raises one another, raises each other, helps us shift to higher levels, higher standards of progress, higher standards of relationship and higher standards of performance. We have to be overachieving in all three of those as opposed to just overachieving in the organizational needs, we need to be overachieving in the I, the we in order to deliver and overachieve on the end.

Lastly, it’s too more effective to get to the complex adaptive problem solving, that’s how we get to the better outcomes brining all of everyone’s energy, everyone’s creativity facilitating a highly engaged, lots of trust, lots of respect high performing group of human beings to accomplish problem solving, to explore more options and get to the better result.

It takes putting in the reps. It takes that deep work. It takes that commitment of everyday chopping wood and carrying water. When we think we’re done, we have to just realize, nope, we have more wood to chop, more water to carry. We need to get into the reps train. Build it into the fabric of everything we do so that even if at first it’s a must do it idea, we realize we must do it so we just do it. Eventually, we’re going to love to do it, not eventually because we’ll be just be brainwashed into loving it, but if you do it right, you’re experimenting and learning what stuff really aligns with you and your purpose and what matters most to you and to your team and to your organization and you’re learning which pieces of the regimen actually work in a way that they’re sustainable just like any workout routine, just like any health and nutrition program. A lot of them are short term, they’re all lifestyle choices to get any kind of results.

The trick is to fall in love with the process of transforming. That’s what’s meant by this proverb. Fall in love with the process itself, not the end. The question for all of us, myself included, my team included is always, are we ready to embrace transformation as life? The more of us are ready, the farther we will all get. Clearly, it’s time to train. Because one day, we’re going to wish we adapted quicker, we’re going to wish we trained harder. The question most often again is well, how much training, how soon do we need to train, how ready do I really need to be? The answer is it depends, it depends on your context, it depends on your priorities, it depends on your desired results and most importantly, it depends on your level of dissatisfaction with your current level results. It depends on your team’s level of dissatisfaction with their current level of results.

That gap between where you are and where you want to be is the fire for driving change and for driving how much readiness and when and how much you need to train, that’s what drives it. Do note, not everything needs to change, not everything needs to shift, transformation is also about being very selective and very strategic of what element need to transform, what’s the sequence of such transformation and how do we keep some stability, some sources of certainty while we’re going through a constant transformation. I ran through that fast. I think we have a bunch of questions.

Barbie: Thank you, Raff, we sure do. The first question is how can we keep the transformation conversation alive when we have reached the oh crap moment of cost cutting?

Raphael Viton: How to keep the transformation alive when we reach the oh crap stage? All right. It’s definitely going to help the recovery. I hear the energy in the question around noticing how important it’s going to be to have some of this good hygiene in terms of transformation skills being put into practice as you’re going through the more painful recovery. That highlights a very important point. We’re all going to lead a transformation, the question is how gracefully will we lead it? Will we wind up with our team with our organization in the oh crap moment where we realize, oh crap we should have trained so much harder so many years ago to have avoided this suffering, this unnecessary suffering and unnecessary damage. What could we have done differently? At that point, it is too late to go back in time so the idea is how hard do we have to train now?

We, any organization in that oh crap strategy moment is going to have to use it as a way of drastically changing the lifestyle habits right then and there and it’s going to be a rapid adaptation and rapid adoption. There’s going to be no choice. Typically, what winds up happening is a drastic change in leadership, drastic change in resources, drastic change in strategy and the transformation happens and the recovery is hopefully guided by some of the transformation muscles that we talked about and it will have to be imported at that point because we can’t build it, you can’t get the six pack in six weeks, you can’t lose the 30 pounds in 10 days. Mostly you have to import it in if that’s … I hope that helps answer the question.

Barbie: Yes, thank you. That leads to another question, that how do I make this as important as the strategy?

Raphael Viton: It’s a great question. It has to be just as important. It has to be so integrated into the strategy and into the execution and implementation plans of the strategy in order for it to work. I think it’s a alignment between the business units and the functions that are affected by the transformation itself and of course by HR and learning development to be contributing and leading and providing guidance to the business unit leaders who are counting on you to provide some of the structure around how the program should be developed. About how to help build into the everyday operations that’s going to be necessary for this transformation, how do we help build it in so that [it stick 00:48:53] as opposed to what most of the organization will recognize is just a band aid approach.

It has to be fully integrated, fully part of the strategy and implemented just like it was part of the strategy.

Barbie: How long does a typical transformation journey last? How long does it take?

Raphael Viton: That’s an interesting question if I was able to talk to the person that asked the question, I would have more questions to get to what’s behind that question. Here’s an answer that nobody likes, the typical transformation journey just takes forever because you will forever be chopping wood and carrying water. Nobody likes that but that was the whole point of this webinar. If I want to give a rule of thumb, I would tell a major corporation that it takes three to five years to deliver on any kind of substantial transformation that’s going to have the roots and traction desired.

That is with lots of work and practice and habitual change built in starting with the leadership and cascading to other groups of the population of leaders as we go.

Barbie: Great. Considering the 15% rate of success, it seems easier to think of those who have not been successful at it. Can you share an example of success?

Raphael Viton: Successful ones. There’s certainly no shortage of books and case studies to read whether it’s in the conscious capitalism community and [inaudible 00:50:43] terms of endearment where those are listed but the one I like to point to you is very topical right now. LinkedIn that was purchased by Microsoft just last week seems very timely and newsworthy. That’s an organization that’s very progressive already, right, it came out of the digital age.

The way they had been very thoughtfully and deliberately working on a continuous level of transformation on chopping wood and carrying the water is they, as evidence of their belief in that, they actually embedded one of the founders of Axialent, Fred Kofman, into LinkedIn as the head of leadership and has been working on, I think my terminology around see more work better feel stronger implementing those practices, implementing those skill sets, implementing that training and operationalize it in a way that I think really only LinkedIn could do it.

I’m not saying that everybody should follow what they did but the idea of embedding the philosophy, the resources, the practices so that it isn’t a program, it is a way of life, is a great example and a very timely example of, oh man, that’s how you build it into the system in a way that you clearly mean business that matters to you, it matters to your purpose and you’re going to get the results much faster than organizations that treat it as kind of bolted on type of a program.

Barbie: Great. I have another question. What is the most important muscle that you feel is missing in our organizations?

Raphael Viton: The most important muscle, this makes me want to describe different actual muscle groups, like anatomic muscle groups or describing metaphors related to it. I’m going to go with the ocular or the eye muscles as the ones that I think missing most or the hardest to change or the slowest to change or the ones that unlock the development of … of many of the other ones and it’s the ocular ones because it helps us see more, helps us be open to more things. It’s the idea of being able to see our biases and see how we think. I think we’ve mentioned on previous webinars, the problem isn’t that we have biases, the problem is that we deny that we have them.

We don’t even recognize that they could be inhibiting us from seeing all the opportunities and possibilities that we’re really trying hard to see and we need to work on those ocular see more type muscles I think first.

Barbie: Thank you, Raff. Last question, how can I start a conversation with my boss? What can I do to contribute?

Raphael Viton: To start a conversation with my boss, let’s think. I think, again, aligned with what we talked about, the idea of talking to your boss in service of delivering on the strategy, in service of you as an individual fulfilling your commitment to the boss, to the team, to the organization is the way to go. I think the ability to make that connection between in a very passionate and engaged connection of, I as an individual and committed to my responsibility and my role in the organization and its contribution to the strategy.

Therefore, I’m also in charge of a team of people and they’re counting on me to lead them through this transition or to our next level and I’m going to need help. I’m aware I need help. We all need help. We all need help getting from our current level to our next level. I think the ability for the individual to talk about it this way and then say, so what I ask is and propose, at least the start of a conversation or the start of how we as an organization as a company as a team get help internally from our very-well established transformation teams that are available to us but maybe we’ve never accessed or externally, you will get that help.

If this really is the last question, I would encourage everybody listening live or later with the recording, don’t hesitate to get help. Don’t hesitate to shoot me a note via email, make a phone call. If I can’t help, if my company can’t help, I’ll do my best to connect you to somebody who can. I’ll be happy to point you towards resources and communities and transformation dojos that I continue to practice in where I know many Jedi transformation folks train together. You might have access to some of that learning and be able to think about how to integrate it into your strategy.

Barbie: Thank you so much, Raff, and I hope that everybody enjoyed today’s session. If you’d like to reach out to Raff or provide any feedback or ask any questions, here’s his contact information, we’ll share it with you. We look forward to seeing you on one of our next webinars. Thanks everyone, have a great rest of your day.

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