Gear Box for Engagement
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Gear Box for Engagement

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The Arceil GearBox is a simple but powerful analytic model that imposes a straightforward structure on the work of leadership. It consists of a 4 x 5 matrix. The four column headers--Awareness, ...

The Arceil GearBox is a simple but powerful analytic model that imposes a straightforward structure on the work of leadership. It consists of a 4 x 5 matrix. The four column headers--Awareness, Understanding, Acceptance, and Commitment--refer to dimensions of employee orientation and disposition toward an organization’s success and growth. The five rows represent levels of alignment around leadership vision and strategy.

The best level is at the top: strategic focus, curiosity, passion, and courage. The worst is at the bottom. In between are three middling levels, the higher the better.


The four column headers, taken from our proprietary Rainbow model, are: Awareness, Understanding, Acceptance, and Commitment. They represent the four successive stages that any leadership initiative, strategy, or change program must go through.

Arrayed beneath the column headers is a 4X5 matrix. It provides a structure for gauging the relative orientation of employees (or members, or volunteers, or supporters) toward the organization's mission or toward a particular initiative or strategy. The five rows reflect levels of disposition. We named them for the gears of a transmission.

We hope the Gear Box will bring a sense of order to your organization. We have seen it work wonders.

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Gear Box for Engagement Document Transcript

  • 1. Self-Assessment of Engagement A Diagnostic Exercise Based on the Arceil GearBox™ © Copyright 2010 Arceil Leadership Ltd.The Arceil GearBox is a simple but powerful analytic model that imposes a straightforward structure on the work ofleadership. It consists of a 4 x 5 matrix. The four column headersAwareness, Understanding, Acceptance, andCommitmentrefer to dimensions of employee orientation and disposition toward an organization’s success and growth.The five rows represent levels of alignment around leadership vision and strategy. The best level is at the top: strategic focus,curiosity, passion, and courage. The worst is at the bottom. In between are three middling levels, the higher the better. Awareness Understanding Acceptance CommitmentOverdrive Focus Curiosity Passion CourageDrive Attention Clarity Trust CooperationNeutral Acquaintance Familiarity Ambivalence InertiaPark Distraction Confusion Apathy NeglectReverse Alienation Denial Cynicism ResistanceThe four column headers, taken from our proprietary Rainbow model, remain the same: Awareness, Understanding,Acceptance, and Commitment. They represent the four successive stages that any leadership initiative, strategy, or changeprogram must go through.Arrayed beneath the column headers is a 4X5 matrix. It provides a structure for gauging the relative orientation ofemployees (or members, or volunteers, or supporters) toward the organizations mission or toward a particular initiative orstrategy. The five rows reflect levels of disposition. We named them for the gears of a transmission.Five Levels of PerformanceThe very best level is at the top. Think of it as creative engagement. For casual reference, we have dubbed it Overdrive. Weregard this as an operational definition of engagement in the work place: employees in a state of strategic focus, curiosity,passion, and courage. Here is where you find high-engagement organizations like the Mayo Clinic, Apple Computer,Nordstrom, Google, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, championship sports teams, victorious political campaigns, the Ritz-Carlton hotels, and the legendary Skunk Works R&D operation of Lockheed Martin.The next-best level appears one level down. Think of it as active engagement. For the sake of the metaphor, we call it Drive.We regard this as basic employee support: attention, clarity, trust, and cooperation. It is hard to imagine a cohesive,competitive work force in a dynamic market without this basic support.
  • 2. Importantly, any organization competing on the basis of innovation, service, technology, creativity, culture, research, speed,or quality must minimally be at active or creative engagement. Anything less runs the risk of abrupt defection of keycustomers or employees and the sudden erosion of market share.The middle level is Neutral. You can think of it as passive engagement. It is really mediocrity. We regard it a sense ofaffiliation, not much more. The descriptors we chose for this level are: acquaintance, familiarity, ambivalence, and inertia. Awork force at this level may be enough to survive in commodity or generic markets, but it is inadequate for competing onturf any more demanding than price discounting.Another level down is Park. Think of it as passive disengagement. It is inferiority, a state of internal, corrosive disregard.Here you will find distraction, confusion, apathy, and neglect. It is dangerous territory. Unfortunately, all too manyorganizations wake up here after years of treating their people like depreciable assets. From here, it is imperative to climbup, lest you stagnate or even slip further down.The very worst level we call Reverse. Think of it as active disengagement. We regard it as an operational definition of socialtoxicity in the work place. It consists of employees (or even the executive suite, as in the cases of companies whosemanagement was corrupt) in a state of alienation, denial, cynicism, and resistance. Only the saddest organizations findthemselves here. This is where non-represented labor forces are actively seeking to organize, where unions threaten to strikeat any perceived offense, or where particularly venal employees engage in sabotage or other demonstrations of contempt. Itis possible to climb out—indeed, I have seen it—but it requires a sustained and concerted effort.The ExerciseThe exercise is simple in form but quite compelling in impact. Here is an overview; in our consulting engagementsand workshops, the discussion goes quite a bit deeper and drills into the particulars of your organization.Begin by reflecting on the entire chart, one column at a time. Now, in privacy, pinpoint the level of your management teamwithin each column. Next, do the same for the organization as a whole, thinking in terms of the typical non-supervisory,non-managerial person. Keep your choices to yourself.Now, ask yourself these questions:  What would full strategic focus look like? Where do you already see it? Where do you instead see distraction or even alienation? How do media and social “noise” affect this? What can you do to heighten awareness of your business environment, vision, and strategy? What obstacles are in the way? How do you get around them? What have you done that interferes with strategic focus?  What would broadly based, strategic curiosity look like? Why do you want it? Why is curiosity even more important than clarity? Where do you already see it? Where don’t you? How much confusion and denial are there? What can you do to cultivate greater understanding of the implications of strategy on day-to-day work? What obstacles are in the way? How do you get around them? Which of your own behaviors must you change to demonstrate by example?  What would real passion look like? Why is it important? Passion for what? Where do you see it? Where do you only wish you saw it? Where do you instead see apathy and cynicism? Do you see real passion in yourselves? In one another? In what ways? What specifically can you do to nurture enthusiastic acceptance of your vision? What is in the way? How much apathy and cynicism is there? How does emotion complement reasoning toward full engagement?  What would genuine courage look like in business? Do you ever see it? Where, if at all? Where instead do you see neglect or resistance? What emotions do you see when you peel back the neglect and resistance? In what ways is courage in the workplace important? What does it have to do with commitment? What specifically can you do to build more commitment to this organization? What should you refrain from doing? What stands in the way? * * * For onsite/offsite facilitation of a GearBox exercise, contact Thomas J. Lee by email at info@arceil.com or by telephone at +1-847-247-2241.