The Challenge of Change in Geek-Oriented Companies

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Silicon Valley Managers and HR / OD professionals are as knowledgeable as anyone about working with highly analytical, technology-centered organizations. Technical teams need care and feeding to work well under the pressure of accelerating demands. At the same time, their members are not always receptive to efforts to engage them, impart leadership skills, or embed a customer-focused culture.

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The Challenge of Change in Geek-Oriented Companies

  1. 1. Meeting the Challenge ofChange in Geek-Oriented Companies with Lucy Freedman
  2. 2. WelcomeGoal:Increase our ability to add value inhigh-tech workplaces by betterunderstanding their world andengaging them where they are
  3. 3. Geeks are…“…the knowledge workers who specialize in thecreation, maintenance, or support of high technology.They have job titles like programmer, product manager,project manager, Quality Assurance engineer, systemdesigner, system architect, Web developer….CIO, CKO, CTO….”
  4. 4. Why Is This Important? • Economic engine • They can really benefit • It’s time to remove the firewall (if there is one)
  5. 5. Missed Opportunities • Executive role modeling • Process improvement • Product quality • Retention of top talent • Reputation with customers
  6. 6. It’s Hard to Watch This…
  7. 7. Agenda• What changes deliver the most value?• Setting the stage• Do’s and don’t’s• The SYNTAX approach• Insights and motivators• Clever hacks
  8. 8. Setting the Stage
  9. 9. OD and High Tech • Parallel growth over half a century • Culture gap • Transformative technologies • Corporations ARE people • Huge upside potential for partnering
  10. 10. Purpose of OD /Leadership Development / Change Initiatives • Increase profitability • Adapt to new conditions • Enhance culture • Increase efficiency • Manage crisis
  11. 11. OD Interventions• Consulting Skills• Negotiation Training• Meeting Format• Process Improvement
  12. 12. High Tech Workplaces • Growing population • Nature of the work
  13. 13. High Tech Workplaces • Growing population • Nature of the work • Geek factor
  14. 14. Geek Factor• Geek work is head work• Relies on discretionary effort• High need for collaboration• Over- and under-assertive styles• Low interest in leadership
  15. 15. Need for Collaboration“Sharing knowledge actually takes a hugeamount of communication anddocumentation. This can be a problem forpeople who both by personality and thedemands of focusing on mental workhave to isolate somewhat.” --from Team Geek, by Brian Fitzpatrick and Ben Collins-Sussman
  16. 16. Don’ts• Don’t force participation• Don’t target individuals to fix• Don’t assume that geeks are aware of their impact• Don’t disrupt cultures that are working
  17. 17. Do’s• Provide clear structure• Use data• Help hack the system• Respect work flows• Recognize emotional risks• Apply good design
  18. 18. Good Design• Mostly invisible• Guides behavior• Supports business strategy• Elegant• Meets people where they are
  19. 19. SYNTAX = Structure• Dovetails with culture and business needs• Has immediately observable impact• Feeds into multiple application programs• Covers full spectrum of styles
  20. 20. SYNTAX of INFLUENCE
  21. 21. SYNTAX: PLAN • Aim frame • Goal questions
  22. 22. SYNTAX: LINK • Establish rapport • Keep communication open
  23. 23. SYNTAX: BALANCE • Make clear, complete requests and agreements • Follow up
  24. 24. SYNTAX: INFORM • Gather information from their map • Use what and how questions
  25. 25. SYNTAX: LEARN• Solicit and give feedback• Try something new
  26. 26. Smart WorkThe Syntax Guide to Influence Second Edition
  27. 27. Addressing the Challenge • Facilitate, not impede • Seed interest • Allow low profile participation • Use multiple platforms • Be irreverent • Rinse and repeat
  28. 28. Idea ExchangeWhat have we learned?Insights that are helpful forconsulting in high-techorganizations
  29. 29. Idea ExchangeWhat do they want?Motivators for high-tech employeesto engage in organizational orleadership development
  30. 30. Creative Interventions • Two leaders: TL and TLM
  31. 31. Creative Interventions • Two leaders: TL and TLM • Develop tribe-to-tribe links
  32. 32. Creative Interventions • Two leaders: TL and TLM • Develop tribe-to-tribe links • No-meetings Thursdays
  33. 33. Creative Interventions • Two leaders: TL and TLM • Develop tribe-to-tribe links • No-meetings Thursdays • Design interdependence
  34. 34. Creative Interventions • Two leaders: TL and TLM • Develop tribe-to-tribe links • No-meetings Thursdays • Design interdependence • Bring food – intermittently! With thanks to Brian Fitzpatrick, Ben Collins- Sussman, Paul Glen, Dave Logan
  35. 35. Change Readiness Factors • Valid business case for change • Linkage between HR/OD and technical departments • Rumblings beneath the surface • Opening to ask for help • Ability to meet immediate need within change framework
  36. 36. More Ideas• Change Readiness Assessment https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/BL8B8KV• Successful Change Strategy Session• Team Geek• Leading Geeks• Smart Work• SYNTAX Messenger (e-zine)

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