How to Get “Unstuck”

Are you ready to effectively manage organizational change?


In Part 2 of the series “Stuck in the Run,” Ray Attiyah, author and founder of the leadership innovation firm, Definity Partners, defines successful organizational change and the steps leaders must take to get “unstuck.” Ray discusses leadership style, day-to-day team management, and proactive change management strategies to improve processes and systems. He also identifies the hardest element leaders face in nurturing innovation and preparing for the future.

In Part 2 of the series “Stuck in the Run,” Ray Attiyah, author and founder of the leadership innovation firm, Definity Partners, defines successful organizational change and the steps leaders must take to get “unstuck.”

So the elements of transforming from stuck in the run into grow, first step would be define the behaviors of the organization that you want. What behaviors? How do we want to behave? And one of them is we want our frontline to own the day-to-day running of the business. We should be able to run the business on a day-to-day basis without any management involvement. That is true leadership. True leadership is transform accountability from us holding people accountable to them holding themselves accountable to excellence. And one way to start that is by getting your top performers and inspire them and spark them by removing the hurdles.

The next step in that evolution is to simplify the run for them. Our job as leaders is to simplify the complex, so once you do that, then you are able to upgrade the management systems and what that means is really saying we're going to simplify how we manage. We're still going to lead but the number of meetings we have, the number of reports that we do, the emails, I have to start removing or liberating myself and them from the structure that has been in place because of the systems that we had around mediocrity.

We're going have systems around excellence. When you do that, you liberate managers, and what you liberate them to work on is proactive improvements. These are the improvements that are building the organization for the future.

So proactive improvements are the hardest most courageous element of run, improve, grow because you're working on things that are not broken. You're preparing yourself for the future. That is the hardest element of this run, improve, grow because there's nothing broken and as a leader our job is to see the future and get people to prepare for it. Anybody can fix a problem. Our job as leaders is prevent those from happening and that's what proactive improvement is. And part of that process as you're building that management team that's working on proactive systems, you build the grow team and create a grow team. The grow team is folks who are able to think and be conceptual about what's possible.

Okay, these folks should not have their job description or the title start with the word "senior vice president." These are folks who are able to deal with conceptual ambiguities, the fuzzy front end. We don't know what it looks like. So we want "what" people in this process not "how." We will bring in the "how" people afterward. This is people who are dreamers, who are thinking about what world Walt Disney Disneyland can look like. What could an iPod be? What could a Telsa be? What could Amazon be? These are dreamers who say you know what we can build a car for the middle class America, then we'll figure out how to do it.

That's the grow team and what you want to do is that grow team should report directly to the CEO and nurture this team outside of the current business. That's how you have breakthrough ideas and innovation. If you're trying to do within the same structure of the business, what you end up doing is that inertia that business stifles that chance.

Imagine an oak tree with acorns on the ground. If those acorns stay within the drip line of the tree, their chances of growing into a future oak tree are nil. There's no place for them to be planted to grow.

Not every idea is going to live. But let's at least give it a chance to live. So part of that is really having the courage to have proactive improvement in this grow team who is able to really try to disrupt and transform our business model the way it is because if we're not doing it somebody else is.

And the final one is really start scouting for talent and I believe that part of our growth is about bringing in new talent and new skills and new capabilities to the organization and I use the word "scouting." Too often we don't hire until we start having a position and I believe in scouting. We want to become to talent magnet. How do we create a place where the best and brightest not only want to work here but tell others to come here because we're now really competing for talent and that talent is going to drive business opportunities.

So as a leader that's the stages you go through and really transform from designing your culture all the way through becoming a talent magnet and in that process you're really building an organization of excellence.


Ray Attiyah

Ray Attiyah is an entrepreneur, innovator, master teacher, and optimist. He is the Founder and Chief Innovation Officer of Definity Partners (a training, process and leadership improvement firm who works primarily with mid-sized manuf...

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