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Agile Leadership — Hubspot's Inbound 2016


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Whether it’s GE’s lean-startup inspired FastWorks program, Zappos' move to Holacracy, or the US Military's new team-of-team structure; agile, lean, and responsive organizations are all the rage. But this shift from hierarchy to network is creating a leadership gap. Mangers often can't get out of their own way and reflexively apply a top-down mindset that stifles much needed collaboration. In this talk I’ll help you understand the essential skills you need to empower and enables agile, lean, and responsive organizations.

Published in: Leadership & Management
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Agile Leadership — Hubspot's Inbound 2016

  1. 1. 1 Agile Leadership w/Bob Gower
  2. 2. Organizations are our superpower.
  3. 3. Organizations are our curse.
  4. 4. We are wired to conform. Going along with the group feels natural, safe, and normal most of the time. Conformity is the norm not the exception. Organizations win. When there is a conflict between the needs of the individual and the needs of the organization, the organization will usually triumph. Leaving groups feels life threatening. Whether we quit or are kicked out, it can be psychologically, and even physically, uncomfortable to separate from an organization. This includes work, family, hometown, religion and more. Groups win. In the 1950s psychologist Solomon Asch did a series of studies that demonstrated how susceptible humans are to group influence.
  5. 5. Organizations exert powerful influence on: ENVIRONMENT & SOCIETY All environmental and social problems can be traced back to group behavior. This can be conscious and deliberate on the part of leaders of the group — Nazis or Enron. Or can be unconscious an unintentional. Many bad things happen when people play by the rules, and try to win, a bad organizational game. INDIVIDUALS Nicholas Christakis, and the Human Nature Lab at Yale, have conducted numerous studies that show that good and bad things travel along social networks. He’s demonstrated that your personal likelihood of being obese, having a heart attack, being happy, or quitting smoking are all heavily influenced by people you spend time with. We become the people we hang out with, and we tend to hang out with people in the groups we belong to.
  6. 6. We need leaders who create organizations that bring out 
 the best in humanity.
  7. 7. Individual Workers Business Metrics Environment & Society
  8. 8. 8 Agile Organizations
  9. 9. 9 VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, & ambiguity)
  10. 10. Many of our most important institutions are running on an OS developed over 100 years ago. 11 A COMPLEX WORLD Sometime in the last 30 years this model of top-down decision making stopped working. Complexity, both inside and outside our organizations, has made things increasingly uncertain and unpredictable. The rate of change – both technological and social – is accelerating. This world requires a new way of working and organizing. We need an OS that distributes authority, increases transparency, and embraces learning. The organization is reborn as a network, a team of teams capable of delivering both outcomes and meaning. Everyone is a thinker now. A COMPLICATED WORLD The operating system that most businesses run on was invented around 1909 by Frederick Taylor. The big idea was to divide the workforce into two groups: thinkers and doers. Managers should focus on optimizing productivity, planning, and training. Workers should focus on their individual output. It worked. For decades, productivity soared. Corporations scaled to new heights. And the relationship between managers and workers, as well as a maniacal focus on efficiency, were burned into our consciousness.
  11. 11. 12
  12. 12. How do you think about people? 13 Theory X ON THE WHOLE, PEOPLE… dislike work, find it boring, will avoid it if they can must be forced or coerced to make the right effort would rather be directed than accept responsibility are motivated mainly by money and job security have little creativity, except for getting around rules Theory Y ON THE WHOLE, PEOPLE… need and want to work can self-direct in pursuit of a shared goal will seek responsibility and thrive on it are motivated by the desire to fulfill potential are highly creative, under the right conditions MCGREGOR 1960
  13. 13. A new class of company is leading the way. WL GORE NETFLIXJSOC WHOLE FOODSGOOGLE VALVE SPOTIFYMORNINGSTAR BUURTZORGRED HAT “disruptors” “exploit new technologies and approaches” “faster than the competition” “see things others don’t see” “faster” “unique culture”“maniacal customer focus” “always changing” “learning organization” “self-organized”“teal” “lean” “agile”
  14. 14. SEMCO WHAT THEY DO A diverse Brazilian company that operates in the service sector, including environmental consultancy, facilities management, real estate brokerage, and inventory support. WHY THEY’RE SPECIAL After taking over the company from his father in the 1950s Ricardo Semler modernized the management practices including employee profit sharing, flexible work hours and location, and an innovative program that allowed employees to set their own hours and salary. Video: Ricardo Semler on rules
  15. 15. WL GORE WHAT THEY DO An American multinational manufacturing company best known as the developer of Gore-Tex fabrics. WHY THEY’RE SPECIAL Followership: You become a leader at Gore by attracting people to your project not by being placed above them. Dunbar’s Number: “By trial and error, the leadership in the company discovered that if more than 150 employees were working together in one building, different social problems could occur. The company started building company buildings with a limit of 150 employees and only 150 parking spaces. When the parking spaces were filled, the company would build another 150-employee building. Sometimes these buildings would be placed only short distances apart.” — Malcolm Gladwell, “The Tipping Point”
  16. 16. BUURTZORG WHAT THEY DO A Dutch home health-care organization founded in 2006 byJos de Blok and a small team of professional nurses who were dissatisfied with the delivery of health care. It has become the largest neighborhood nursing organization in the Netherlands. WHY THEY’RE SPECIAL They are organized around self-managing teams of 10-12 nurses who serve about 50 patients each. A 2009 Ernst & Young study found that Buurtzorg uses close to 40% fewer hours per client than other nursing organizations. All while taking time to connect with clients over coffee and encouraging patient autonomy. Patients stay under care about half as long as in other nursing companies that see patients as products.
  17. 17. VALVE WHAT THEY DO An American video game developer founded in 1996. They developed Half-Life, Counter-Strike, Portal, Day of Defeat, Team Fortress, and Left 4 Dead video games as well as the software distribution platform Steam, WHY THEY’RE SPECIAL Valve is a flat organization without bosses and uses open allocation system that allows employees to move between teams at will. The Valve employee handbook gives two guidelines for new hires: find something to work on and find other great people to work here. Oh, and your desk has wheels.
  18. 18. MORNING STAR WHAT THEY DO A California based company that processes 25% of California’s tomato production, and supplies approximately 40% of the U.S. industrial tomato paste and diced tomato markets. It has 400 employees and revenues of $700 million. WHY THEY’RE SPECIAL They have no supervisory management and encourage workers to innovate independently, define their own job responsibilities, and make equipment purchasing decisions (in consultation with experts). One especially innovative technique is the Colleague Letter of Understanding (CLOU) where individual employees create a kind of contract with each other about what specific activities they commit to.
  19. 19. 20 Agile Leader
  20. 20. Shifts for Org Agility DOING to THINKING & DOING Expect, encourage, and reward strategic thinking at all levels of the organization — especially the “front line.” RISK AVERSION to SAFE TO TRY Make many small bets and remove barriers to action. A mediocre decision is better than no decision. A definitive “no” is (almost) as valuable as a “yes.” PERSONAL SUCCESS to GROUP OUTCOMES Create incentive and accountability systems that reward and encourage good group behavior. CONTROLLING to COACHING Help people become the best versions of themselves rather than micromanaging and directing. KNOWING to CURIOUSITY Ask questions and seek increased clarity, never assume the answer you have is the final answer.
  21. 21. Values of the Agile Leader SYSTEMS even over FREEDOM Set up the rules of the game — collaboratively — and play by those rules yourself. No one owns an organization. TRUST even over EXPEDIENCY A system that has a strong foundation of trust requires less time, energy, and money to run. Strong leaders never sacrifice trust for short-term gain. LEARNING even over SUCCESS Projects are measured in how much your organization grows and learns more than how much money they make (but that’s important too!) EFFECTIVENESS even over EFFICIENCY Focus on the outcomes you’re trying to achieve, including team engagement and impact. Cost-out consolidation efforts may not be worth it.
  22. 22. Leadership Tool: Collaborative Decision Making “yes” Integrative Decision Making (IDM)
  23. 23. Leadership Tool: Collaborative Decision Making “yes” “no way” Integrative Decision Making (IDM)
  24. 24. Leadership Tool: Collaborative Decision Making “safe” Integrative Decision Making (IDM)
  25. 25. Leadership Tool: Psychological Safety After years of intensive analysis, Google discovers the key to good teamwork is being nice
  26. 26. Leadership Tool: Psychological Safety STEPS TO FOSTER IT 1. Frame work as a learning problem, not an execution problem. 2. Acknowledge your own fallibility. 3. Demonstrate curiosity and ask lots of questions. [re:Work] Manager Actions for Psychological Safety

  27. 27. Leadership Prime Directive: Create Trust Connect, Then Lead Cuddy, Kohut & Neffinger warm / caring strong/competent
  28. 28. Leadership Prime Directive: Create Trust Connect, Then Lead Cuddy, Kohut & Neffinger TRUST warm / caring strong/competent
  29. 29. Leadership Core Skill: Emotional Agility “Abandon the Idea of Being Fearless Instead walk directly into your fears, with your values as your guide, toward what matters for you.” Emotional Agility Susan H. David
  30. 30. Leadership Core Skill: Emotional Agility Emotions are Data not Directions Emotional Agility Susan H. David
  31. 31. 33 Organizations are 
 People-Growing Machines
  32. 32. Thank You 34 @bobgower