Organizational Culture That Supports Learning Curves

Organizational Culture That Supports Learning Curves

Have you seen the LinkedIn post that everyone is talking about? The one about the “crying CEO.”

If you need some context, take a quick look at this CNBC article: CEO posts crying selfie on LinkedIn after laying off employees – and it goes viral.

To start: No, this is not another comment on, critique of, or complaint about the original poster. Instead, I would like to address the impact of the publicized angst that has resulted from the original post.

So many of the team leaders I know and work with are trying to create an environment of psychological safety. This is not about whether I agree or disagree with the substance or style of the message delivered. I think it’s important to talk about the overwhelming number of comments and the overarching tone of responses to the message itself.

Each and every one of us is bombarded with so much information – some true, some valid, and some simply a waste of our intellectual energy. Many of us spend a great deal of time and energy just parsing this information down to “yes, I should pay attention to this” OR “no, this is not worth my attention.” But beyond that decision process, we still receive messages and perceived dispositions about topics that are not helpful.

When someone sends a message, whether you agree with it or not is not always the point.

Do you have to comment on it? Do you consider how your response will affect the whole? And do we have to reinforce an ethos that says one mistake or one bad delivery will be the defining factor of our reputations?

It is all too easy to take a lesson from this that will not help us encourage contribution, creativity, or foster psychological safety. The message coming from this is that the only real safety we have is to not say anything at all. If you say something, and you’re wrong, or you’re awkward in delivery, just remember there are thousands of people who will gladly point that out to you. That makes the learning curve even steeper, posing a problem for the leaders who are encouraging their teams to create an environment and culture that is both diverse and inclusive. A culture where we will make mistakes and learn rather than make mistakes and burn.

So, if we’re talking about the “crying CEO” – let’s talk about the environment behind the responses to the post. What kind of culture are you trying to create and how do you encourage learning curves in your teams?

#KSP #ProjectManagement #TechnicalProfessional #EthicalLeadership


Owning the Learning Curve

Owning the Learning Curve

It’s one of the most satisfying and potentially frustrating experiences in life.

Learning something new. Applying something you know in a new way.  Either way you put yourself on a learning curve.

Somewhere in growing up, however we faced an interesting choice.  It was interesting, in part, because we aren’t always aware a) there is a choice and b) we’re choosing.

The choice?

We decide whether or not we can bear the impact of not being perceived as being REALLY good at it (whatever ‘it’ is). This poses a problem all ‘round.

Our learning curves are not just ours – they also belong to and affect the rest of the teams we work within.

One leadership challenge is accommodating and even encouraging the learning curve.

Without a learning curve individuals and organizations go stagnant.

That said, with a learning curve there are mistakes, missteps, and a period when progress seems surely slow rather that slow and sure.

How much stagnation are you willing to risk to avoid the growing pains of a learning curve?

If you believe in the value of leadership in teams check out our videos on leadership driven project management on the KSP Partnership YouTube channel at https://tinyurl.com/KSP-Partnership-YouTube


Resurrecting the Project Manager Role

Resurrecting the Project Manager Role

I stopped and blinked at a headline on a Linked In post and choked back a chuckle.

It was titled ‘The Death of The Project Manager’.

The provocative title (for project people, that is) did its work. I clicked in.

The author, a professor named Andre Barcaui, suggests that the increasing use of the Agile approach with a ‘flat’ team dynamic – ‘team leads’ swapped out for guiding ‘coaches’ –  is part of the decline of the project manager’s role.

The second part is the rise of AI (artificial intelligence) and its ability to crunch data sets and proffer logical outcomes and conclusions. Theoretically, this leads to one logical outcome.

He also suggests that decisions made from ‘instinct’ may be not just outdated but even harmful.

And there you have it: ‘The death of the project manager.’

To which I say, “Hold on Huxley, that’s a huge stretch”.

But first a caveat. Christina “CK” Kerley, a top technology futurist, suggests in her speeches and sessions that we want technology to take over tasks – those tasks that require lots of processing but little judgement.

I love having data crunched by tech. That allows me to do critical thinking, the creative problem-solving that is the sweet spot of any project manager or team. There are absolutely large data sets that I am happy to have crunched and parsed for me.

But that isn’t what the article suggests. It sees a world where leaders are replaced by a sort of group dynamic.

Nice try. Groups and teams are essential to the development and production of a project but there always needs to be one that takes the lead and ultimate responsibility for the process and end result.

In practical terms in the scenario by Barcaui, there would be a room full of well-meaning people on deadline day pointing fingers at each other for the failure to deliver. Blaming the AI will never get anyone very far.

The role of the project manager gone?

If you agree that the project manager’s leadership means more than creating massive archives of records, and you agree team dynamics, the culture of the team’s productivity and progress, are primary responsibilities of the leadership role of the project manager, I would suggest that the opposite is true.

Better tools mean the best project leaders will shine, and a project team will stay tightly focused on the process and deadline.

If you believe that how your people shine as project leaders counts, please sign up for KSP Academy where leadership driven project management respects people – and uses tools and methodologies.


Is Happiness at Work Over-Rated?

Is Happiness at Work Over-Rated?

After reading an article from a Robert Half newsletter that I saved in my ‘to post-fodder’ file, I starting thinking about the whole subject from a different angle.  The article’s main suggestions state there are:

  • universal factors that affect workplace happiness
  • unique elements that drive joy for each age group, experience level and industry
  • a link between happiness and performance

This connected in my mind with the book ‘Drive’ by Daniel Pink. He outlines the changes in thinking regarding motivation. Pink’s research into what makes motivation work now versus the old carrot and stick approach is interesting. And it took my curiosity down to this question:

What is the link between what you can call happiness or what I would call motivated performance, and productive performance? And do you need happiness in the workplace or fulfillment?

Just semantics, you say?

I would argue no.  The way that people interpret words ultimately decides what that word means for each of them – and for each of them as they connect with the person who said it. Clearly defining anything in a practical sense includes context.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary: (for brevity I’ve shortened the actual definitions – you can find the full definitions in the hyperlinks)

happiness /ˈhapɪnəs  /
noun [mass noun] the state of being happy:

Hmm. So let’s go one step further with this one.

happy /ˈhapi  /
adjective
(happier, happiest)
1 feeling or showing pleasure or contentment:
2 [attributive] fortunate and convenient:
3 [in combination] informal inclined to use a specified thing excessively or at random:

And now let’s look at the other side of the question:

fulfilment /fʊlˈfɪlmənt  / (US fulfillment)
noun [mass noun]
1 the achievement of something desired, promised, or predicted:
2 the meeting of a requirement, condition, or need:

As leaders, project managers are held to high standards – and some of the highest come from within ourselves. One of those high standards is how we work at keeping a balance between what the people on our teams need and what the project needs from our people.

Which do you think we have the strongest responsibility to help our teams develop – happiness or fulfillment?

If you find these types of discussions interesting, if you enjoy stretching your ideas around leadership, join our video academy and continue the conversation (and collect PDU’s)!


What is the Foundation for Your Leadership’s Strength?

What is the foundation for your leadership’s strength?

Recently there was a splash in the news about someone whose leadership is based in fear. People were informed that their jobs were on the line if they sided with facts and science over statements – true or not – based on the source of those statements.

If that person’s leadership is founded on fear of consequences if crossed there will continue to be strongly worded editorials and quietly expressed concern about the impact this will have.

So what is your leadership founded on?

KSP’s leadership driven project management is founded on the principle that leadership of any project team can be based on many different things. We suggest a basis of mutual trust and the establishment of safety will, in the end, be more productive – and therefore more profitable – than a basis of fear and negative consequences.

In her book ‘The Non-Obvious Guide to Emotional Intelligence’ Kerry Goyette suggests that negatively based motivational approaches might, in fact, torpedo the very progress you are trying to achieve!

Interested in learning more about a leadership driven model for high performing project teams?

Contact us at kziemski@ksppartnership.com and schedule a fast assessment of how your teams’ dynamics can affect your project’s ultimate performance.


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