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4 Ways Busy People Sabotage Themselves

You’ve left an important task undone for weeks. It’s hanging over you, causing daily anxiety. And yet instead of actually doing it, you do a hundred other tasks instead.

Or you’ve been feeling guilty about not replying to an email, even though replying would only take 10 minutes.

Or maybe the last time you needed stamps, you went to the post office to buy a single stamp because you couldn’t find the 100-pack you purchased a few months ago. You know it’s around… somewhere. But you just don’t have the time to clean your desk to find it.

These self-sabotaging patterns maintain a cycle of always having too much to do (or at least feeling like that’s the case). If you’re chronically tapped out of the immense amount of mental energy required for planning, decision making, and coping, it’s easy to get lured into these traps.  Let’s unpack the problems in more detail and discuss solutions.

1. You keep ploughing away without stepping back and prioritizing.

When we’re busy and stressed, we often default to working on whatever has the most imminent deadline, even if it’s not particularly important. Stress causes our focus to narrow to the point where we’re just keeping going, like a hamster on a wheel. We respond to emails and go through the motions of getting things done, without actually stepping back and considering what’s most important to work on. You might find yourself spending several hours on a task that wasn’t that important to begin with, even though you have a mountain of other things to be doing.

The solution is to step back and work on tasks that are important but not urgent. Use the “pay yourself first” principle to do items that are on your priority list first, before you jump to responding to other people’s needs. You might not be able to follow this principle every day, but aim to follow it for several days of the week.

2. You completely overlook easy solutions for getting things done.

When we’re stressed, we don’t think of easy solutions that are staring us in the face. Again, this happens because we’re in tunnel vision mode, doing what we usually do and not thinking flexibly. Especially if you’re a perfectionist, when you’re overloaded it’s likely that you’ll find yourself overcomplicating solutions to problems. For example, lots of busy people don’t keep enough food in the house. This leads to a cycle of stopping in at the grocery store on an almost daily basis to pick up one or two things, or a restaurant habit that ends up being expensive, time consuming, fattening, or all of the above. The solution seems horribly complicated: hours of meal planning, shopping, and cooking.

To get out of the trap of overlooking easy solutions, take a step back and question your assumptions. If you tend to think in extremes, is there an option between the two extremes you could consider? (To solve my no-food conundrum, I bought a $150 freezer and now keep at least a dozen or so healthyish frozen meals in there, as well as frozen bread and other staples. I’m not Martha Stewart, but neither am I grabbing takeout for every meal.)

On a broader level, breaks in which you allow your mind to wander are the main solution to the problem of tunnel vision. Even short breaks can allow you to break out of too narrow thinking. Sometimes, a bathroom break can be enough. Try anything that allows you to get up out of your seat and walk around. This can be a reason not to outsource some errands. They give an opportunity to allow your mind to wander while you’re physically on the move, an ideal background for producing insights and epiphanies.

3. You “kick the can down the road” instead of creating better systems for solving recurring problems.

 

When our mental energy is tapped out, we’ll tend to keep doing something ourselves that we could delegate or outsource, because we don’t have the upfront cognitive oomph we need to engage a helper and set up a system. For example, say you could really benefit from some help cleaning your house, but finding someone trustworthy, agreeing on a schedule, and training them on how you like things done feels more taxing than you can deal with right now (or ever). And so you put it off, week after week, doing the work yourself — even though even reallocating the time spent on one cleaning session would realistically be enough to hire someone else to do it.

Remedies for recurring problems are often simple if you can step back enough to get perspective. Always forgetting to charge your phone? Keep an extra power cord at the office. Always correcting the same mistakes? Ask your team to come up with a checklist so they can catch their own errors. Travel for work a lot? Create a “master packing list” so that trying to decide what to bring doesn’t require so much mental effort. Carve out time to create and tweak these kinds of systems. You might take a personal day from work to get started, and then spend an hour once a week on it to keep up; author Gretchen Rubin calls this her once-a-week “power hour.” When you start improving your systems, it creates a virtuous cycle in which you have more energy and confidence available for doing this further. By gradually accumulating winning strategies over time, you can significantly erode your problem, bit by bit.

4. You use avoid or escape methods for coping with anxiety.

People who are overloaded will have a strong impulse to avoid or escape anxiety. Avoidance could be putting off a discussion with your boss or avoiding telling a friend you can’t make it to her wedding. Escape could be rushing into an important decision, because you want to escape needing to think about it further. This can lead to a pattern of excessively delaying some decisions and making others impulsively. Avoidance and escape can also take other forms — an extra glass of wine (or three) after work, binge-watching TV, or mindlessly scrolling through Facebook. It might even be ticking less-important things off your to-do list to avoid the urgent task that’s making you anxious.

If you want to deal constructively with situations that trigger anxiety for you, you’ll need to engineer some flexibility and space into your life so that you can work through your emotions and thoughts when your anxiety is set off. With practice, you’ll start to notice when you’re just doing something to avoid doing something else.

If you can relate to the patterns described, you’re not alone.  These issues aren’t personal flaws in your character or deficits in your self-control. They’re patterns that are very relatable to many people. You may be highly conscientious and self-disciplined by nature but still struggle with these habits. If you’re in this category you’re probably particularly frustrated by your patterns and self-critical. Be compassionate with yourself and aim to chip away at your patterns rather than expecting to give your habits a complete makeover or eradicate all self-sabotaging behaviors from your life.


Alice Boyes, PhD is a former clinical psychologist turned writer and is author of The Healthy Mind Toolkit and The Anxiety Toolkit.


This article is about PRODUCTIVITY
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Younger and Older Executives Need Different Things from Coaching

Eric, 33, a high-potential vice president at a financial services firm, was elated to be selected by his supervisors to receive executive coaching. This meant he was being groomed for ascendance. His boss wanted him to be a more motivating leader to his team. In coaching, while Eric focused on learning ways to motivate the talent on his team, he didn’t address deeper issues, like his perfectionism, that could hold him back in the long run.

Frances, an executive in her forties, entered coaching after being passed over for a promotion that went to her more vocal, visible male colleague. While her goal was to increase her political savvy, she also expressed interest in delving into the root of the issue, namely her proclivities to defer to authority and shy away from the spotlight. Through coaching, she learned to project a powerful demeanor that was genuine and compelling. Within a year, she achieved the promotion she sought.

In our work coaching hundreds of executives, we have suspected a difference in how 30-something executives and those in their forties and fifties approach coaching. The 30-somethings have tended to be more difficult engagements, often requiring more directness, cajoling, and nurturing.

 Because organizations are increasingly focusing on early talent development to attract and retain young talent, it’s important to understand the best way to accelerate their growth as leaders.

We examined data from 72 executive coaching engagements we conducted from 2008 to 2014. Our data included executives’ scores on personality and emotional intelligence assessments, interviews with their managers and HR, and our case notes. The average coaching engagement lasted six to 12 months. The executives came from a wide array of industries, including financial services, pharmaceuticals, and media. We divided the sample into age decades: 18% were age 30–39; 61% were 40–49; and 21% were 50–59. The gender breakdown was 54% male and 46% female.

In each case, one of us served as the executive coach and worked with the executive to set their individual goals. These ranged from commanding greater influence to building a strategic vision, aligning their team, and refining their interpersonal and communication skills. Next, one-on-one coaching meetings focused on expanding their insight; learning and practicing skills; applying learnings to their work in real life; and reflecting on those actions and outcomes. Meetings averaged one to two sessions per month.

The goal of our research was to identify how executives in their thirties might differ from older executives when they receive the specialized attention of executive coaching. We also wanted to ascertain whether differences were due to age or generation. Our study was published in Consulting Psychology Journal in December 2016.

 We gave each executive a low, medium, or high rating on the following four dimensions:

  • Responsiveness: whether they demonstrated enthusiasm for the opportunity for coaching
  • Self-reflection: how well they explored factors, such as personality style, motivation, and cultural background, to better understand their behaviors that work well and those that don’t
  • Nondefensiveness: whether they tended to accept personal responsibility for interactions or events that went awry
  • Degree of change: how much they demonstrated noticeable change in their executive style, technique, and output during and at the end of the coaching engagement

To maximize objectivity and scientific rigor, we used research-based behavioral criteria to determine each rating. For instance, one of our criteria for evaluating responsiveness was whether the individual “makes reasonable calendar accommodations to schedule coaching sessions,” which demonstrates their commitment to working on the content of the engagement. And for self-reflection, one thing we measured was whether the person “willingly examines personality issues (e.g., perfectionism, conflict avoidance) that interfere with effectiveness.” We measured degree of change based on our observations and the input of the executive’s boss and HR.

Each of us rated our own clients, making sure to cite behavioral examples to justify each rating. Of course, we recognize there is bias inherent in nonblind coding. Therefore we also scrutinized each other’s data to ensure the examples supported the rating or to suggest a modified rating.

Two statistically significant outcomes emerged. Regardless of gender, executives in their thirties had lower ratings on self-reflection, and their level of change was less dramatic than that of executives in their forties and fifties. We also found that the younger executives tended to respond to concrete recommendations and specific rules or guidelines to follow, but they often did not show interest in understanding why they did the things they did. Older executives were more curious about the reasons for their behavior — they wanted insight, as opposed to rules, to drive behavior change.

We believe three factors could be behind such differences. First, being identified as a high potential at an early age may reinforce one’s self-perception of being a winner who does things right. This could explain why younger executives treat coaching as a perk that can be beneficial, while older executives are more eager to learn more about themselves, expand their options, and welcome a confidante who challenges their thinking. In fact, classic lifespan literature indicates that adults become more open over time and less entrenched in their thinking.

Second, the younger executives in our sample tended to miss subtlety and nuance in human behavior. They were more likely to operate based on black-and-white ideals, such as, “There is one best idea that should prevail” or “I am running a pure meritocracy.” For example, Carl, 38, believed that a lack of conflict with his team members indicated agreement. He would be surprised to find out later that his colleagues were working against his agenda. In coaching, we focused on helping him learn the subtle cues that indicate people do not agree, such as a lack of timely follow-through. On the other hand, older executives we coached were already more attuned to discrepancies between what others say and what they actually do.

Finally, younger executives more often believed that there is a “right” way to do things, whereas those in their forties and fifties were typically more willing to try out different approaches. For example, Andy, 37, believed in always speaking his mind and being authentic — but his bluntness cost him trusted relationships. While Andy remained adamant about the value of authenticity, coaching offered him concrete actions for how to communicate in an authentic and inoffensive manner. On the other hand, Beth, 51, preached the “carrot over stick” approach in motivating her team. Through coaching, she recognized the limitations of this singular concept and was easily able to adapt it without concrete templates for action.

Importantly, our statistical analysis found that executives’ behavior in coaching differs by age, not generation. Ratings varied across, not within, each of the age decades we studied (30–39, 40–49, 50–59). This is consistent with classic lifespan literature that describes ongoing maturation during each decade of adulthood. The thirties are often characterized by intense activity to establish the foundation for a successful career; this involves mastering rules that win approval. In contrast, the forties often involve a turning point from novice to mentor, which may bring a deeper appreciation for life’s paradoxes. The seasoning that comes with age includes expanding one’s appreciation for subtlety, ambiguity, and imperfection.

In light of these findings, we recommend two approaches for those who manage, mentor, or coach younger executives to help them reach their full potential.

The first involves allowing them to experience a difficult “moment of truth,” as opposed to shielding them from it for fear of demotivating them. It could include disappointment about a high-visibility project gone awry, a missed promotion that was believed to be a sure thing, or unexpectedly negative 360-degree feedback. The moment of truth can instill a greater readiness to change behavior.

The second entails framing coaching advice using concrete if-then scenarios and templates for behavior. For example, we might advise an executive who is working on building better relationships with coworkers: “If you relinquish this battle, then you are more likely to create an advantageous relationship,” or “Here are the three things to say to a resistant stakeholder.” Insights delivered this way feel like “rules” for executive success, which tend to resonate with rules-bound 30-somethings.

Lois Tamir, Ph.D., is the principal of Leadership Excellence Consulting, an executive-coaching and -assessment firm in New York City. Dr. Tamir is a licensed developmental psychologist.

Laura Finfer, Ph.D., is the principal of Leadership Excellence Consulting, an executive-coaching and -assessment firm in New York City. Dr. Finfer is a licensed industrial organizational psychologist.

 

HARVARD BUSINESS REVIEW: https://hbr.org/2017/07/younger-and-older-executives-need-different-things-from-coaching?utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter_daily&utm_campaign=dailyalert&referral=00563&spMailingID=17603151&spUserID=OTA1Njk1ODMwMAS2&spJobID=1060402122&spReportId=MTA2MDQwMjEyMgS2

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What to Do When Your Heart Isn’t in Your Work Anymore

In an ideal world, our work lives would be completely fulfilling, full of meaning, and intrinsically motivating. But what if they’re not?  What if you’re stuck in a job or a career that you once loved, but your heart isn’t in it anymore?

More people fit this profile than you’d think. According to a 2017 Gallup survey, only one-third of U.S. employees feel engaged at work; that is, only one of three workers brings a consistently high level of initiative, commitment, passion, and productivity to their job. That leaves the majority of employees less than satisfied with their work.

And truth be told, there could be any number of reasons for this sense of malaise. You might feel stuck doing the same thing over and over again. You might question the ultimate meaning of the work you’re doing. You might feel micromanaged or that company leaders don’t know or care about your learning and growth. Or maybe your own growth and development since starting your career has caused you to change your passions and priorities in life.

I see and hear examples of career malaise all the time — in my work teaching and training people in companies, in discussions following my corporate talks, and in conversations with my family and friends. Though the tendency among some of us in this situation is to simply grin and bear it, current scientific research suggests ways to reimagine — or reenvision — an uninspired professional existence.

Assess what you want out of your work — at this point in your life. Not everyone wants a high-powered career. In fact, according to research by Yale professor Amy Wrzesniewski, people tend to fall into one of three categories: Some see their work as a career; others see it as just a job; and still others see it as a calling. It’s this third category of people, perhaps unsurprisingly, who exhibit higher performance and a greater sense of satisfaction with their jobs. The key for you is to determine what you care about now — what drives you, what you’re passionate about, what truly motivates you — and build from there. It’s quite possible that what drove your career in your 20s is no longer appealing. Don’t force your 40-, 50-, or 60-year-old self into your 20-year-old sense of ambition. Even if you don’t find your true calling, you will at least increase the odds of finding a meaningful work experience.

See if parts of your job are “craft-able.” There has been considerable research on the idea of job crafting, where you tweak certain aspects of your job to gain a greater sense of meaning and satisfaction. Research by organizational behavior scholars Justin Berg, Jane Dutton, and Amy Wrzesniewski has shown that people can be quite imaginative and effective at reimagining the design of their job in personally meaningful ways.

For example, if you enjoy analysis but not sales, can you adjust your responsibilities in that direction? If you love interacting with others but feel lonely, can you find ways to partner more on projects? One participant from Berg, Dutton, and Wrzesniewski’s research redesigned her marketing job to include more event planning, even though it wasn’t originally part of her job. The reason was quite simple: She liked it and was good at it, and by doing so, she could add value to the company and to her own work experience at the same time.

Or, consider this activity: Imagine that you’re a job architect, and do a “before” and “after” sketch of your job responsibilities, with the “before” representing the uninspiring status quo and the “after” representing future possibilities. What novel tweaks can you make to redesign your job, even slightly? Sometimes even the smallest adjustments can lead to qualitatively meaningful changes in your work experience.

Ignite your passion outside of work.It might be a latent hobby you’ve told yourself you don’t have the time for, a personal project that isn’t related to your job or career, or a “side hustle”where you can experiment with innovative or entrepreneurial ideas on a smaller scale. Having an outlet for your passion outside of work can counterbalance the monotony of nine-to-five daily work. These inspirational endeavors can even have unintended positive spillover effects at work, giving you energy and inspiration to craft your job or reengage with parts of work you actually like.

If all else fails, make a change. Think about changing your career like you’d think about changing your house. When you originally bought your house, you had certain requirements. But since then, your priorities may have changed or maybe you have simply outgrown it. Do you move, renovate, or stay put? You can think the exact same way about your job and career. Have your priorities and needs changed? Can you tweak or “renovate” your job? Or do you need to move on?

Of course, if you choose to change your career, you’ll want to think it through and prepare yourself before jumping in with both feet. Network with people in professions you might be interested in, get your finances in order, and test out the new career (perhaps on the weekend or at night) before making the change. It can feel daunting to change everything so suddenly, but it’s important to consider the option if you’re truly feeling a deep sense of malaise at work.

The most important thing, though, if you’re finding your interest waning at work, is not to lose hope. You can find ways to ignite your passion again — or at least make slight changes so you won’t feel so hopeless. You’ll likely be surprised at how resilient and resourceful you are as you walk down the path of career renovation.

Andy Molinsky is a Professor of Organizational Behavior at the Brandeis International Business School. His forthcoming book, Reach: A New Strategy to Help You Step Outside Your Comfort Zone, Rise to the Challenge, and Build Confidence is to be published by Penguin Random House in January 2017. For more information visit andymolinsky.com and follow Andy on Twitter @andymolinsky.

 

HARVARD BUSINESS REVIEW: https://hbr.org/2017/07/what-to-do-when-your-heart-isnt-in-your-work-anymore?utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter_daily&utm_campaign=dailyalert&referral=00563&spMailingID=17628354&spUserID=OTA1Njk1ODMwMAS2&spJobID=1060720754&spReportId=MTA2MDcyMDc1NAS2

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Changing Company Culture Requires a Movement, Not a Mandate

Culture is like the wind. It is invisible, yet its effect can be seen and felt. When it is blowing in your direction, it makes for smooth sailing. When it is blowing against you, everything is more difficult.

For organizations seeking to become more adaptive and innovative, culture change is often the most challenging part of the transformation. Innovation demands new behaviors from leaders and employees that are often antithetical to corporate cultures, which are historically focused on operational excellence and efficiency.

But culture change can’t be achieved through top-down mandate. It lives in the collective hearts and habits of people and their shared perception of “how things are done around here.” Someone with authority can demand compliance, but they can’t dictate optimism, trust, conviction, or creativity.

At IDEO, we believe that the most significant change often comes through social movements, and that despite the differences between private enterprises and society, leaders can learn from how these initiators engage and mobilize the masses to institutionalize new societal norms.

Dr. Reddy’s: A Movement-Minded Case Study

One leader who understands this well is G.V. Prasad, CEO of Dr. Reddy’s, a 33-year-old global pharmaceutical company headquartered in India that produces affordable generic medication. With the company’s more than seven distinct business units operating in 27 countries and more than 20,000 employees, decision making had grown more convoluted and branches of the organization had become misaligned. Over the years, Dr. Reddy’s had built in lots of procedures, and for many good reasons. But those procedures had also slowed the company down.

Prasad sought to evolve Dr. Reddy’s culture to be nimble, innovative, and patient-centered. He knew it required a journey to align and galvanize all employees. His leadership team began with a search for purpose. Over the course of several months, the Dr. Reddy’s team worked with IDEO to learn about the needs of everyone, from shop floor workers to scientists, external partners, and investors. Together they defined and distilled the purpose of the company, paring it down to four simple words that center on the patient: “Good health can’t wait.”

 But instead of plastering this new slogan on motivational posters and repeating it in all-hands meetings, the leadership team began by quietly using it to start guiding their own decisions. The goal was to demonstratethis idea in action, not talk about it. Projects were selected across channels to highlight agility, innovation, and customer centricity. Product packaging was redesigned to be more user-friendly and increase adherence. The role of sales representatives in Russia was recast to act as knowledge hubs for physicians, since better physicians lead to healthier patients. A comprehensive internal data platform was developed to help Dr. Reddy’s employees be proactive with their customer requests and solve any problems in an agile way.

At this point it was time to more broadly share the stated purpose — first internally with all employees, and then externally with the world. At the internal launch event, Dr. Reddy’s employees learned about their purpose and were invited to be part of realizing it. Everyone was asked to make a personal promise about how they, in their current role, would contribute to “good health can’t wait.” The following day Dr. Reddy’s unveiled a new brand identity and website that publicly stated its purpose. Soon after, the company established two new “innovation studios” in Hyderabad and Mumbai to offer additional structural support to creativity within the company. 

Prasad saw a change in the company culture right away: After we introduced the idea of “good health can’t wait,” one of the scientists told me he developed a product in 15 days and broke every rule there was in the company. He was proudly stating that! Normally, just getting the raw materials would take him months, not to mention the rest of the process for making the medication. But he was acting on that urgency. And now he’s taking this lesson of being lean and applying it to all our procedures.

What Does a Movement Look Like?

To draw parallels between the journey of Dr. Reddy’s and a movement, we need to better understand movements.

We often think of movements as starting with a call to action. But movement research suggests that they actually start with emotion — a diffuse dissatisfaction with the status quo and a broad sense that the current institutions and power structures of the society will not address the problem. This brewing discontent turns into a movement when a voice arises that provides a positive vision and a path forward that’s within the power of the crowd.

What’s more, social movements typically start small. They begin with a group of passionate enthusiasts who deliver a few modest wins. While these wins are small, they’re powerful in demonstrating efficacy to nonparticipants, and they help the movement gain steam. The movement really gathers force and scale once this group successfully co-opts existing networks and influencers. Eventually, in successful movements, leaders leverage their momentum and influence to institutionalize the change in the formal power structures and rules of society.

Practices for Leading a Cultural Movement 

Leaders should not be too quick or simplistic in their translation of social movement dynamics into change management plans. That said, leaders can learn a lot from the practices of skillful movement makers.

Frame the issue. Successful leaders of movements are often masters of framing situations in terms that stir emotion and incite action. Framing can also apply social pressure to conform. For example, “Secondhand smoking kills. So shame on you for smoking around others.”

In terms of organizational culture change, simply explaining the need for change won’t cut it. Creating a sense of urgency is helpful, but can be short-lived. To harness people’s full, lasting commitment, they must feel a deep desire, and even responsibility, to change. A leader can do this by framing change within the organization’s purpose — the “why we exist” question. A good organizational purpose calls for the pursuit of greatness in service of others. It asks employees to be driven by more than personal gain. It gives meaning to work, conjures individual emotion, and incites collective action. Prasad framed Dr. Reddy’s transformation as the pursuit of “good health can’t wait.”

 Demonstrate quick wins. Movement makers are very good at recognizing the power of celebrating small wins. Research has shown that demonstrating efficacy is one way that movements bring in people who are sympathetic but not yet mobilized to join.

When it comes to organizational culture change, leaders too often fall into the trap of declaring the culture shifts they hope to see. Instead, they need to spotlight examples of actions they hope to see more of within the culture. Sometimes, these examples already exist within the culture, but at a limited scale. Other times, they need to be created. When Prasad and his leadership team launched projects across key divisions, those projects served to demonstrate the efficacy of a nimble, innovative, and customer-centered way of working and of how pursuit of purpose could deliver outcomes the business cared about. Once these projects were far enough along, the Dr. Reddy’s leadership used them to help communicate their purpose and culture change ambitions.

Harness networks. Effective movement makers are extremely good at building coalitions, bridging disparate groups to form a larger and more diverse network that shares a common purpose. And effective movement makers know how to activate existing networks for their purposes. This was the case with the leaders of the 1960s civil rights movement, who recruited members through the strong community ties formed in churches. But recruiting new members to a cause is not the only way that movement makers leverage social networks. They also use social networks to spread ideas and broadcast their wins.

Leadership at Dr. Reddy’s did not hide in a back room and come up with their purpose. Over the course of several months, people from across the organization were engaged in the process. The approach was built on the belief that people are more apt to support what they have a stake in creating. And during the organization-wide launch event, Prasad invited all employees to make the purpose their own by defining how they personally would help deliver “good health can’t wait.”

Create safe havens. Movement makers are experts at creating or identifying spaces within which movement members can craft strategy and discuss tactics. Such spaces have included beauty shops in the Southern U.S. during the civil rights movement, Quaker work camps in the 1960s and 1970s, the Seneca Women’s Encampment of the 1980s and early 1990s. These are spaces where the rules of engagement and behaviors of activists are different from those of the dominant culture. They’re microcosms of what the movement hopes will become the future.

The dominant culture and structure of today’s organizations are perfectly designed to produce their current behaviors and outcomes, regardless of whether those outcomes are the ones you want. If your hope is for individuals to act differently, it helps to change their surrounding conditions to be more supportive of the new behaviors, particularly when they are antithetical to the dominant culture. Outposts and labs are often built as new environments that serve as a microcosm for change. Dr. Reddy’s established two innovation labs to explore the future of medicine and create a space where it’s easier for people to embrace new beliefs and perform new behaviors.

Embrace symbols. Movement makers are experts at constructing and deploying symbols and costumes that simultaneously create a feeling of solidarity and demarcate who they are and what they stand for to the outside world. Symbols and costumes of solidarity help define the boundary between “us” and “them” for movements. These symbols can be as simple as a T-shirt, bumper sticker, or button supporting a general cause, or as elaborate as the giant puppets we often see used in protest events.

Dr. Reddy’s linked its change in culture and purpose with a new corporate brand identity. Internally and externally, the act reinforced a message of unity and commitment. The entire company stands together in pursuit of this purpose.

The Challenge to Leadership

Unlike a movement maker, an enterprise leader is often in a position of authority. They can mandate changes to the organization — and at times they should. However, when it comes to culture change, they should do so sparingly. It’s easy to overuse one’s authority in the hopes of accelerating transformation.

It’s also easy for an enterprise leader to shy away from organizational friction. Harmony is generally a preferred state, after all. And the success of an organizational transition is often judged by its seamlessness. 

In a movements-based approach to change, a moderate amount of friction is positive. A complete absence of friction probably means that little is actually changing. Look for the places where the movement faces resistance and experiences friction. They often indicate where the dominant organizational design and culture may need to evolve.

And remember that culture change only happens when people take action. So start there. While articulating a mission and changing company structures are important, it’s often a more successful approach to tackle those sorts of issues after you’ve been able to show people the change you want to see.

Bryan Walker is a Partner and Managing Director at IDEO San Francisco.

Sarah A. Soule is the Morgridge Professor of Organizational Behavior an Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

 

 HARVARD BUSINESS REVIEW: https://hbr.org/2017/06/changing-company-culture-requires-a-movement-not-a-mandate?referral=00563&cm_mmc=email-_-newsletter-_-daily_alert-_-alert_date&utm_source=newsletter_daily_alert&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=alert_date&spMailingID=17494906&spUserID=OTA1Njk1ODMwMAS2&spJobID=1041540949&spReportId=MTA0MTU0MDk0OQS2

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