You’re number one. Now comes the hard part.

Watching the Olympics I recognized something about the participants that I hadn’t noticed before.

Many of the athletes that scored gold in 2012 were still performing at the same level as they did 4 years ago  – but nonetheless today they were coming in fourth, fifth and sixth.

Why does that happen?

Because it’s tough being number one. You only get there through hard work, perseverance and a never look back attitude. But it’s even harder to stay number one. So how do you do it?

Once you’ve set the bar for performance and achievement  there is a temptation to simply repeat the formula that got you there in the first place. The problem is that the bar is always rising. And unless you continually look at who’s coming up the outside, you’ll get caught in the backdraft as your competitors speed by.

When you’re chasing the competition, it’s much easier. But when you aren’t, it’s really hard because you don’t know how close they are behind you.

Being number one means you have to compete against yourself while watching the competition. And that requires an entirely different strategy from the one that got you there.

Whether you’re looking to be number one or working on maintaining your lead, please get in touch with LloydParry to talk.

Learning environments own the competitive edge

I think it’s safe to say that most employees like to know what they’re supposed to do at work. Without having a fairly specific idea of what’s expected it’s hard to identify, and easily get distracted from, mission-critical tasks.

In the old days this kind of muddling through the day was an accepted part of office life. But this isn’t the “old days” and management needs to adapt its style so that staff have deeper understanding of not only the “whats” of a job, but also the “whys.”

That’s because when there is an understanding of what is expected AND why it’s expected staff are themselves better prepared to adapt in order to accomplish goals rather than tasks.

Today, a productive work environment must see managers, strategists and staff learning at ever increasing rates. Just doing your job really isn’t enough. You must be experimenting, reconsidering processes and learning as you go. And you have to share that with your collaborators, within the organisation.

Sound impossible? Well not only is it possible, it’s becoming essential.

Learning is no longer a “nice-to-have” byproduct of work in an organisation. It’s a “need-to-have” outcome baked into every decision. The pace of change has created a business climate where customer needs demand a  real-time response.

Is it easy? No, not really. But it’s not impossible.

It requires personal commitments from staff and a careful redesign of the work environment –  the work climate –  to encourage, foster, and develop learning for everyone from the shop floor to the board room.

The end result is a much more dynamic environment where contributions from all players are valued. It’s also creates a culture where people want to work for those very reasons. Staff feel valued because they are in fact more valuable to the company.

At Lloyd Parry, we measure how well organisations learn at every level, identify learning gaps in the process and design change solutions to put learning on a competitive footing.

To explore how we can transform your organisation into a learning one, please get in touch.

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The dark and the light of being a change agent

Occasionally, at speaking engagements, managers approach me with questions about being a change agent. They see their business falling behind and / or apart and want to know how to effect the change necessary to stop it.

I don’t have a list of actions to offer them. Nor do I have a prescription. But I do give them the advice they need to be a change agent.

To be an agent of change, they need to develop an almost unflinching honesty along with the courage necessary to speak the truth to power. But it’s not about finger-pointing. What I tell them is that they need to cut through the culture and find clarity about what the real issues are that are killing the organization.

Fear of causing waves and disturbing the corporate status quo may give some pause. That’s understandable. But they must be fearless if they really want to help their organization overcome its ingrained problems.

The challenge is to get organizations to see what is working and what’s not, assessing problems without getting caught in the irritating dance of balancing reality with a dollop of ‘good news’, to soften the blow.

If it seems like the above requires less tact than politesse, you would be mistaken. Delivering the message requires using the A3 structure as an objective framing device to present an improved and balanced ‘complete picture’.

The point is to focus on the issue, not those who might perceive the analysis as an attack on them.

There is also the matter of stamina, of sustaining that A3 focus in the face of a corporate culture designed to prevent any light from being cast on the organization’s problems.

Facing reality is never easy, all the more so in an environment with a history of denying it.

And its possible that your newfound role as a change agent could derail your career in a company.

But ask yourself the question. Do you want to stay with an organization living in a  bubble so airtight that it suffocates all within it? Or do you want to be known as the one who sounded the alarm before the ship sank?

You know the answer. I know you do.


A3 thinking: not a process

When discussing A3, I often find myself having to clarify that it’s not simply a process you can implement. It’s a mindset that influences everything within an organization.  It’s a crucial distinction.

A3 thinking is entirely about developing intelligence, not processes, methods or even solving problems.

It’s about the individual responses to a challenge and not the challenge itself.  An A3 thinker develops a mindset, a way of looking how problems should be tackled, and what issues need to be considered.

Sometimes the solutions are unknowable. But discovering that is in itself invaluable.

The quest becomes the development of thinking to gain better insight into reality, transforming the learning process into a de facto training experience.

An A3 review is a transformative experience for the user. If they’ve had biases and fears about a subject they’re working with, A3 thinking strips that away.

So if you come across references to an A3 ‘process’, raise an eyebrow. There is no A3 process only an individual’s approach that is invariably more honest, focussed and incisive.

To learn more about how A3 thinking can transform your organization, please click here to review our two-day A3 Tutorial Session.