Sunday, February 26, 2012

Novel approach to staff development: deep dive to transform the organisation

In 2009, IRL - a Crown Research Institute in New Zealand - conducted the novel "What's Your Problem NZ?".  This program has  been analysed and evaluated by staff in the Victoria Management School of Victoria University of Wellington.  The reports can be found here:

The program itself was novel and exciting: but even more exciting  was the fact that it was a program that emerged for the leadership development program conducted by IRL.  This program has been running since 2007 and has resulted in many projects been initiated, planned and executed by multifunctional teams drawn from across the organisation.  

Rather than tacking a more traditional approach of focusing on culture and skills/attitude change, the professional development activities of IRL focus on real organisational needs - projects to directly improve productivity, new ways of doing business, and the development and piloting of new services to client.  The staff learn from the strategic transformation of the organisation.

In term of the following diagram, the IRL development program operates on the right hand side - effecting deep change.  Projects benefit from intense ownership by participants who are mentored by members of the executive (whose roles are strictly advisory and are expected to remove organisational impediments to project delivery).  It is a deep dive process. 

A key aspect of the program is that management does not take the idea and manage it's implementation - rather the project is approved and total planning and execution is left with the teams undertaking the program. (I acknowledge my experiences with IMD in  Lausanne, Switzerland for the  pedagogical framework.  See  IMD )
Recent reviews of various of our research groups has reported widespread change in language and engagement of staff, indicating that culture and skill changes are resulting, and probably more quickly than more traditional approached that tend to focus on change management, rather than organisational transformation.

The above mentioned report gives a flavour our the results.

A leader must break free of the wisdom of the herd, and strike out in bold new directions.

In 2002 Steve Sample, Tenth President of the University of Southern California penned the book, “The Contrarian’s Guide to Leadershi...