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TCPI News Vol. 3, No. 1

December 29, 2002

In this issue:

  1. The Trouble with the Future
  2. Taking Charge of Change
  3. Building Strategic Alliances and the Relationship to Learning

Past Issues

Please visit our website for past issues of TCPI News

1.     The Trouble with the Future

It has been a while since we have had the time it takes to gather thoughts for this newsletter. And, although we’re certain that most of you have not languished at the temporary loss of our periodic musings, we want to apologize for the tardiness of this little electronic intrusion. We do have an excuse though. Like most practitioners in OD, training, and related fields, we have been battling the forces of diminished client budgets and the ongoing wave of downsizing affecting every sector of the economy. We are pleased to report that we have prevailed and are once again experiencing a healthy growth curve for the immediate future. But, I doubt we will continue to look at the world quite the same as we did only a few years ago. Or, as the poet Paul Valery said, "The trouble with our times is that the future is not what it used to be." [’valery’quotes.php]

A recent sermon I attended focused on the changes of the past two years and concluded that it was a period of deconstruction of myth. So many of our cherished beliefs were called into question that the very foundation of our security was fundamentally altered: the belief that we were safe as a nation, that our corporations and their leaders were greedy but operated within the law, that the accountants were the trustworthy watchdogs of the family nest egg, that our children were safe at church.

It is a given that change happens. Our observation is that what is driving change is different. For the better part of this century, change has been driven primarily by technology. The change we are currently experiencing is primarily driven by human factors. For many, there has been a paradigm shift in what is important in their lives, how they want to spend their time, how they will structure their relationships to their families, their habitat, and their work. Around 2,500 years ago Heraclitus wrote about the constancy of change, and consultants like us have been selling change management services ever since. If we are to be of any real use, we need to incorporate an understanding of this shift in individual concerns in every action we take. Whether we are training, coaching, counseling, or setting policies for personal and professional development, here are five guidelines that we have adopted in order to move with the times and remain effective.

  1. Embrace your own insecurity. Realizing that you as well as those you interact with have dropped a few notches on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs scale helps you to "keep it real" when you’re helping others define their course. []
  2. Don’t undervalue what you do. If you have been good at what you do, you still are. Make necessary changes to adapt, but don’t fundamentally alter your approach to life or work. Present a consistent self in your work and your dealings with others.
  3. Be responsive to constructive criticism and forget complex ROI schemes. I have yet to see one approach to measuring the payoff for training, coaching, or other change initiatives that accounts for all of the phenomenological variables that each learner brings to the event.
  4. Pursue objectives that have a clear payoff. The rapid shifts in organizations over the last few years have placed a multitude of people in positions for which they lack the core competencies. For example, many of today’s young managers who come out the technical space were individual contributors and were not exposed to the variety of competencies needed to be effective managers.
  5. Explore and adapt constructivist models for your training. Today’s time constraints and the need for learners to get up to speed quickly calls for an emphasis on modeling and case study in training designs. and

Some things don’t change. HRD professionals have always faced the anomaly presented by difficult economic times. We are both the first and most frequently targeted as expendable and, at the same time, are the most needed element in the survival of the organization.

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2.  Taking Charge of Change

In her very focused article, Sheri Caudron discusses the Seven Principles of Successful Change:

  1. Accept your worth and acknowledge others’ worth.
  2. Generate trust.
  3. Learn by empathy.
  4. Embrace change.
  5. Unleash the synergy.
  6. Discover champions, depend on masters and find a sage.
  7. Liberate decision-making.

[Seven points from: "The Eagle & the Monk: Seven Principles of Successful Change" by William A. Jenkins and Richard W. Oliver (United Publishers Group, 1998).]

Caudron points out that change doesn’t come easily because despite the speed and prevalence of external changes, our internal human needs actually change very slowly, if at all. We have established expectations, and when those expectations change and we feel we can’t control the changes, we go a little crazy. While people can cope with a little less control for small amounts of time, give us too much change over too long a period and our coping abilities are overwhelmed. Like sponges, we can only absorb so much.

She offers ten steps for controlling the pace of change and explains each with definitions and examples.

  1. Become a scholar of the change process.
  2. Cultivate personal resilience.
  3. Focus top management’s energy on a key set of change initiatives.
  4. Know your purpose and vision.
  5. Involve employees in the change process.
  6. Establish performance measures.
  7. Let the external market guide decisions.
  8. Allow mistakes.
  9. Manage paradigm life cycles.
  10. Pursue continuous learning.

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Learn More

Learn more about Gottlieb and Conkling's book, Managing the Workplace Survivors: Organizational Downsizing and the Commitment Gap.

Table of Contents

3.  Building Strategic Alliances and the Relationship to Learning

TCPI has been working with one of our clients on strategies to promote strategic alliances within a complex organization, and fundamentally alter the manner in which even the most successful people are currently conducting business. Learning is a key element in driving this change. Management consultants have begun to underscore the importance of learning to accomplish business goals. Nick Palmer of Accenture in his article "Alliances: Learning to Change" points out that while learning has always been an element of alliances, traditionally it has been more or less a secondary concern. Now, however, more organizations are making learning an explicit alliance goal, right alongside the well-established economic objectives. (\outlook\pov\pov_learning.xml)

In the most recent Accenture Alliance Issues and Trends survey, learning was cited as a critical goal in 41 percent of the alliances maintained by respondents, a fraction expected to exceed 50 percent by 2002. The deliberate focus on learning appears to be closely related to success with alliances overall. The survey identified alliance "winners," that is, executives who report high levels of satisfaction with alliances, and whose alliances have resulted in increased value. Results showed that such winners are almost five times more likely than non-winners to include "learning" as an explicit goal for their alliances.

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