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Beyond the Conference Room Solution

January 18, 2013

Embedding Corporate Strategy

In an article in last month's Harvard Business Review, How to Help Employees Get Strategy, authors Charles Galunic and Immanuel Hermreck discuss how business leaders want their company’s strategy to be understood and accepted by employees—or, as they call it, “embedded.” They argue that “embeddedness” helps ensure that workers’ daily decisions and behaviors support the firm’s competitive intentions.

The authors analyzed more than 60,000 confidential responses to an employee-­satisfaction survey and found that not surprisingly, higher-level employees, employees who are happy with their compensation and work-life balance, and employees whose overall view of their company is positive are more likely than others to understand and agree with the company’s strategy.

They also found that top management has a profound impact on how well employees grasp and support strategy—far greater than any other variable they had examined, and far greater than they had expected.  The implication is that for companies seeking to increase “embeddedness”, senior leaders must have a unique understanding of their company’s strategy and their position at the top is powerfully symbolic, giving them more credibility and authority than others have.

With these considerations in mind, companies need to find ways to bring senior management closer to the workforce.  An important consideration to bridge the ever-present gap between senior management intent and front-line interpretation is to ensure the messages addresses the six core human needs: security, inclusion, power, control, competence, and fairness.  Linda Ackerman Anderson and Dean Anderson describe the core emotions as:

Security
Needing to feel secure and physically/ emotionally safe.
“I need to know things will be okay. I need to feel physically and emotionally safe, without threat.”

Inclusion/Connection
Needing to be invited into what is happening, in relationship with others, and cared about.
“Will I be on the team that is doing this work, or overlooked as a result of this change? Will I be a part of the future?”

Power
Needing to have direct influence on the process and outcome of the change.  Change causes people to question what level of power and influence they will have in the future:
“Will I lose power through this change, or will I gain it? Will I be able to influence things to go the way I want?”

Control
Needing order in the change and a predictable map to follow. “I need to be in charge of what’s happening and know there is a good plan.”

Competence
Needing to be—or be seen—as capable, effective, skilled, and right. These people want to know they will be capable of succeeding and to be seen by others as competent.
“Will I be able to perform and succeed in the new organization and be seen as competent?”

Justice/Fairness
Needing things to be fair and equitable.  Change can cause these people to question whether decisions will be fair to them, or based on politics, whim, or nepotism: “Will the decisions and outcomes of this change be just and equitable?”

Each of these human concerns, Ackerman and Anderson suggest, although often unconscious, has its predictable positive and negative dynamics. If you are unaware of the power these forces have over human behavior, then you will likely inadvertently “cause” resistance to your change effort by not designing your change to minimize their disruptive impact. However, if you are sensitive to these dynamics and can identify your organization’s most important concerns, you can build your change strategy and process to minimize them. Then audience will hear what you are saying.

Blog Mission

"When I have fully decided that a result is worth getting I go ahead of it and make trial after trial until it comes." - Thomas A. Edison

Let’s start with an explanation of the title, Beyond The Conference Room Solution. In all of my workshops and in many of my lectures, I refer to the phrase, The Conference Room Solution as a far too common approach used by organizations use to solve many of their most challenging issues.

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Q-Loop

The Q-Loop by Brian Klapper

How does an established organization filled with long-time employees, a deeply entrenched culture, and a history of drawn-out planning and development cycles become nimble, innovative, and responsive in today’s challenging business climate? Published by Bibliomotion, The Q-Loop: The Art & Science of Lasting Corporate Change delivers an actionable strategy to help your company rapidly achieve lasting transformational change.

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