Archive for August, 2008

Organisation Renewal is Better than Organisation Change. Build your organisation on the foundation of rock not sand!

Sunday, August 24th, 2008

Disruptive markets, competition and technology is now the norm rather than the exception. Consumers are more sensitive to bad service and poor quality products. Web 2.0 technology provides consumers with the power to create or destroy a business within hours.


Traditional change practices in organisations are too slow and expensive for organisations to use to adapt to changing business conditions.


And too many organisations continue to build their adaptive processes on sand rather than take a more fundamental approach and build adaptive infrastructure foundations on rock.


Organisation Change


Organisation change typically describes a major, transforming discrete event that impacts across the whole organisation. Transformational change has disadvantages. For example:


{    It is resource expensive and intensive


{    It exhausts managers and staff


{    the change is often just too big and managers give up.


{    Outcomes are often patchy


{    It can take too long to implement and the organisation continues to experience an alignment gap


These problems lead to managers and staff resisting new transformational change initiatives. The result is that organisational change can have the paradoxical effect of freezing the organisation preventing future critical alignment programs.


Organisation Renewal


Organisation Renewal is the process of achieving growth, agility and sustainability through the continual adjustment and synchronisation of strategy, culture, organisation, management, roles, skills, people, processes and technology.


This means developing manageable organic alignment processes and infrastructure so that organisations can continually adjust and synchonise performance factors to adapt to continually changing market conditions.


This framework can help organisations avoid the big bang, cage rattling change programs. A greater awareness of organisational renewal processes can help avoid organisation freezing and keep people open, positive and innovative all the time. This means change is sustainable!


Key Organisational Renewal Factors


Organisation renewal is a scientific, evidenced based approach to understanding the factors that enable organisations to continually adapt to their environment. The key factors are, have always been, and will continue to be;


{    Socio-Technical systems

{    Information Management

{    Culture

{    Organisation structure

{    People Capabilities

{    People engagement

{    Business processes

{    Technology

{    Knowledge Value Management – creating value from knowledge held by people in organisations


It is not necessary to be expert in these fields. However it is necessary to understand how these factors intersect and how they interrelate with each other across the organisation.  Avoiding Change Silos (see article posted in Organisation Renewal on 24 July 2008) is also critical.




Ironically, organisation renewal is not new. However in recent years it has been lost to the mumbo jumbo of change agents, fads and myths. Organisation Renewal means addressing the critical fundamentals in the organisation. Not to address these fundamentals is like trying to put icing on a cake that has not yet been baked!


Dallas Burgess



© PeopleAdvantage Pty Limited 2008.

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Identifying Executive Leadership Potential using Organisation Levels of Executive Work and Psychometric Testing

Tuesday, August 19th, 2008

“Capacity to forecast is limited by the expectation that in five years things will be the same as now only different”


Identifying executive leadership potential is about building capability for the range of anticipated needs and having the flexibility to respond to the unexpected.


There is an extensive literature on leadership capabilities, particularly behaviourally based leadership. This is generally centred around self awareness, listening skills and inspiring others. However there is far less information about how to identify potential executive leaders and what types of roles they will need to perform over a three to five years and longer time spans.


The key to identifying executive leadership potential is to apply the concept of organisation levels of executive work. To do this it is necessary to understand how executive work increases in complexity as the context within which the executive must perform increases in complexity. In broad terms it is about understanding the differences between supervision, middle management functioning and general management functioning.


How to do this


Criteria are developed to evaluate individual managers in terms of their current effectiveness level and their future effectiveness level expressed in estimated time frames eg, within 12 months, one to two years, three to five years.


An extract of the Management Levels Development Potential Assessment Criteria is provided below. The extract contains two organisation levels of work for line management. These levels relate to Operations Manager and General Manager Operations roles.


The key issue is that the Development Potential Criteria are developed consistent with standard organisation levels of work. If this approach is adopted the results of evaluations can provide a realistic indicator of the manager’s current level of effectiveness and future level of effectiveness eg, current level of effectiveness may be evaluated as middle management however there may be indicators that the manager is capable of effectively functioning at the general management level within five years.


Management Levels – Development Potential Assessment Criteria (Extract)


Effectiveness Criteria

Level 1 (Operations Manager)

Level 2 (General Manager Operations)


Business Knowledge Scope



Detailed understanding of;  the manufacturing plant’s role and its relationship with other areas in the company. 


Is able:  to coordinate with other areas and activities of the company.

National understanding of:  the company ‘s major business sectors;  industry and major competitors.


Is able:  to develop national business strategies;  to monitor the operations of competitors.

Management Planning Effectiveness

Is able:  to develop annual plans;  to generate alternative plans;  to review annual planning processes and methodologies;  to Identify alternatives;  to recommend and/or implement changes. 

Is able;  to develop five year national operation plans;  to develop alternative five year plans;  to review and recommend changes to the five year planning process.


Is able:  to lead up to 300 people through a number of direct supervisors;  to ensure output meets deadlines and quality requirements;  to guide, motivate, coach and counsel supervisory staff;  to conduct performance appraisals, train and  develop supervisors;  to improve supervisors responsiveness to change.  

Is able:  to lead a group of Operations Managers;  to manage the national integration of the major operations functions;  to ensure the operations function performs consistent with the business strategy;  to ensure the appropriate development of Operations Managers.

Judgement & Decision Making

Is able:  to judge and decide based on learned experience over a number of years;  to generate alternative solutions and related consequences to complex situations;  to exercise judgement to choose the optimal solution;  to develop new approaches and methodologies to typical management issues.

Is able:  to identify major national operations issues and their impact on the business;  to develop alternative solutions and related consequences;  to generate innovative solutions based on an understanding of the interrelationships between issues and solutions;  to identify and recommend alternative national operation plans and understand their consequences on overall business strategy.



©  PeopleAdvantage Pty Limited 2008  All Rights Reserved



Psychometric Testing For Executive Leadership Potential

In conjunction with the use of Development Potential Assessment Criteria it is essential to ensure that managers selected for leadership development possess essential general management characteristics. If a manager does not possess these characteristics it is unlikely he/she will effectively perform beyond the middle management level.  Moreover, there may already be managers in middle management roles that actually only function at the specialist level i.e. Technical Professional level.


There is an enormous amount of material in the form of books, articles and training programmes espousing the characteristics of good leadership.  Moreover, there are a large number of psychometric tests designed to measure many of these characteristics. 


Unfortunately, much of this material, including psychometric testing, is aimed at the team leadership, supervisory, middle management level rather than at the general management, senior executive/Chief Executive Officer level. 


General Management Capability


Notwithstanding the preceding comments there are psychometric assessment processes that effectively test for general management capability and can assist in identifying executive leadership potential.  The characteristics identified by these assessment processes include:


Social Role Skills;


{     Strong self-confidence

{     Balanced extroversion, introversion

{     Spontaneous and not overly reserved


Reaction to pressure;


{     Initiative

{     High level of general drive

{     Positive response to setbacks

{     Balanced enthusiasm for life




{     Planning and organising in an integrated manner

{     Intuition and originality

{     Good judgement

{     Conceptual ability

{     Able to think for oneself


Some psychological characteristics which lead to failure at the general management level include:


{     Narcissism

{     Psychopathy

{     Paranoia

{     Obsessive-compulsive

{     Excessive introversion or extroversion



This brief article outlines a methodology for identifying Executive Leadership Potential. Our experience suggests that this methodology effectively identifies high potential executive leadership people. Is also cost effective.



Dallas Burgess



© Organisation Renewal Pty Limited 2008 All Rights Reserved

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Effective Cross Functional, Multi-Discipline Leadership will Power Performance

Monday, August 11th, 2008



Effective cross functional, multi-discipline leadership is the ability to effectively influence others across diverse functions in the organisation.


Competitive advantages flow from harnessing complex lateral interdependencies particularly in the areas of:


·        Executing strategy


·        Sharing the meaning of the mission


·        Ensuring values are understood and applied.


Leading across the organisation is more complex than vertical leadership. As a result managers must be lateral thinkers – unorthodox thinking to solve problems. This is critical for implementing strategy and leading complex change. 



Case Study – Leadership Development Program for a Non-Government Not-For-Profit Organisation


Key Challenge


This is a complex people intensive organisation in the disability sector. The key challenge is to cost effectively deliver multiple, diverse services. This requires effective leadership of diverse, interdependent complex functions across the organisation and within key service delivery groups. As a result effective middle management leadership is critical to achieving objectives. Recognition of this resulted in the Leadership Development Program (LDP) for middle managers.


The Task


The LDP involved 25 middle managers representing the full range of functions and service delivery programs. A key feature was 360º Leadership Feedback. Whilst ensuring confidentiality and ethical practice the program included:


Feedback:                  360º leadership assessments to identify strengths and areas for development. Individual feedback provided to the manager and their senior manager. Senior managers provided with an organisation overview of middle management Leadership strengths and areas for development.


Training:                    Two day Leadership development workshop including development of Leadership Development Plans


Coaching:                  Individual coaching for managers




Middle managers reported significant insights into their strengths, current leadership styles and areas for development. Their senior managers reported significant improvements in the effectiveness of their middle management team in dealing with the myriad of complex issues that inevitably arise when providing multi-discipline critical care to clients.


Middle managers are now alumni and provide leadership support to each other.


An effective strategy implementation culture at the middle management level now exists.





Lateral Leadership is critical for powerful execution of strategy and performance. Chief Executive Officers cannot neglect this factor and must continually review and enhance cross functional, multi-discipline leadership processes.



Dallas Burgess



© Copyright Organisation Renewal Pty Limited 2008 




























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How to Improve Competitiveness

Tuesday, August 5th, 2008


To achieve significant improvements in competitiveness it is essential that:


·        Sufficient in-house expertise in role design and remuneration exists


·        Effective collaborative mechanisms exist to ensure staff agree to, and adhere to key change outcomes


Job Design and Remuneration


Conduct an audit to determine the effectiveness of current job design and remuneration practices. Key indicators of poor job design and remuneration practices include:


·      People are unclear about their roles and do not understand what is expected


·      Pay is perceived to be inequitable; and it cannot be demonstrated that there are no such inequities


·      High performing people are not sufficiently rewarded


·      People cannot see the possibility of a career path and do not understand what they have to do to progress within the organisation


·      Focused, structured learning and development systems do not exist


·      Effective internal selection systems and procedures do not exist and the organisation cannot ensure that the right person is selected for the job


The existence of any of the above will result in staff resisting significant improvements in their work. 


Case Study


An organisation was experiencing lack of trust between management and professional staff due to the existence of the above problems. To improve trust the client needed to design new roles, career paths and a remuneration framework for the professional staff.


We helped the client to develop clear, transparent, objective role requirements, realistic career paths and a fair market based remuneration framework. As a result the professional staff enthusiastically embraced the new organisation direction.


Effective Collaborative Processes


Effective collaborative processes are not the same as consultative processes. Too many organisations confuse these concepts. The strength of the consultative committee can also be its weakness. Yes, it is essential that the people who do the work are involved in changing their work (strength), but change is threatening and this can deter many from pursuing major changes to their own jobs (weakness). Consultative committees can also be the platform to continue long standing conflicts rather than the basis for developing and implementing change. 


The alternative is to conduct collaborative based workshops. These are structured so that jobs and work practices are redesigned at the same time. Redesigning jobs and changing work practices simultaneously is complex and usually requires the assistance of an expert facilitator – it is the most cost effective method for identifying and implementing significant change.


Management can evaluate the proposals generated during the workshops and determine the impact on the business. Healthy facilitated workshops result in trust between management and staff to quickly reach agreement on what, how and when to implement the new jobs and work practices.


Organisations often forget, or ignore, that staff are knowledgeable about how to save costs and increase productivity. Structured collaborative processes are an effective means of tapping into the intellectual assets of the organisation. 


Alignment of Staff Performance to New Business Objectives


Collaborative based workshops cause staff to directly focus on critical business objectives. These objectives become the benchmarks or standards against which all proposed changes are matched. A proposal that does not meet the criteria is quickly eliminated.


Healthily structured collaborative workshops facilitate staff commitment to change.  Why is this so?  Because the more anxious staff feel about a change the greater is the resistance to change. However, healthy workshops provide a bridge between the old ways of working and the new. They provide the psychological security that staff need during the transition. This can have the effect of reducing staff anxiety resulting in greater openness, innovation and commitment to change. This is critical when the business is marginal and/or facing dangerous competitive threats.



Case Study


A client needed help to lead a consultative committee through the process of role redesign, development of performance criteria and modernise remuneration practices.  The consultative committee had been meeting for eighteen months with very little progress. By applying tested and proven role design principles and facilitating collaboratively based workshops the company was able to redesign roles and career paths, define performance criteria and develop a modern remuneration framework in less than three months.




To achieve significant improvements in competitiveness ensure the business has access to expertise to collaboratively redesign roles.


Dallas Burgess


ã Organisation Renewal Pty Limited 2008 All Rights Reserved.






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