Nimble Organizations Embrace and Adapt to Change

The National Football League recently held its annual rookie draft in Philadelphia. It was a life-changing opportunity for many young men. Only a handful of those selected in the draft will go on to have lengthy and successful NFL careers. Before the draft, teams looked at all the measurable factors of the potential draft picks, including height, weight, and speed. However, they also looked for intangibles, such as attitude, ability to respond to stressful situations, and work ethic.

When we think about successful leaders and organizations, there are key success factors that are identifiable and can help us predict business performance. There are also intangible factors that contribute to success and aren’t easily measured or apparent at a surface level. Responding to change falls into that second category. How we deal with and manage change is a key success factor in organizational performance. Nimble organizations and leaders that can pivot and adapt to change will have a positive impact and position themselves for success.

Both nonprofit and for-profit organizations face significant changes related to the economy, technology, customer/stakeholder expectations, and an evolving workforce. The ability to fulfill the missions of our organizations and to be financially sustainable is becoming more complicated. As organizations confront these challenges, it is important to remain nimble and responsive.

The following set of best practices are focused on how organizations and their leaders can adapt to change and remain nimble in a changing environment:

  • Practice continuous improvement
    • Teach, learn, and model key behaviors
    • Create positive individual and organizational habits
  • Manage your response to change
    • Understand your paradigms and blind spots
    • Recognize that to be nimble you must have engaged leaders and staff
  • Stay true to your vision and values
    • Do not sacrifice who you are to become someone or something else
    • Strive for positive growth

The following questions can help leaders focus on continuous improvement:

  • What are your key success factors and metrics?

  • What organizational and personal habits do you need to add or eliminate?

  • With whom should you connect or build stronger relationships?

We all recognize that change is inevitable. But you can be a game changer by focusing on positive improvements, acknowledging and addressing barriers and challenges, facilitating continuous learning and growth throughout the organization, and paying attention to coworkers, family, friends, and your community.

Paying attention to your customers, community, and staff through the development of open and systematic communications channels will help you to adapt and grow during times of change. The ability to respond to change in a systematic and timely manner is characteristic of successful and sustainable organizations and their leaders.

Reprinted with permission from the Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants.


John Park, Ph.D., Baker Tilly

John, a director with Baker Tilly Virchow Krause LLP, focuses on leadership development, emotional intelligence, and strategic planning.

 

Quick Feet, Clear Minds

QUICK FEET, CLEAR MINDS

Three Ways Walking Meetings Can Make You Happier at Work

As you may have heard, at Diamond6 we are calling October “Walking Meeting Month.”

You have surely heard about the health benefits of walking meetings. I wrote about them briefly in my last article: Killer Chairs: The Sitting Prognosis. Getting up from our desks regularly throughout the day can have benefits for our weight, heart, blood pressure, and even blood sugar levels.

I am incredibly impatient and I like to see results….like yesterday. So, while all the studies on how walking will help prevent heart disease in 20+ years, those facts are not always effective motivation for me to step away from my email. Can you relate?

What I do know is that how we feel is something we can gauge immediately. That can be much more motivating for an instant gratification person like myself. And who doesn’t want to feel better?

Instead of droning on about the obvious PHYSICAL benefits, I want to share with you how walking meetings can help you and your employees’ MENTAL health. Specifically, how incorporating walking meetings can make you happier at work.

So, in brief, are three ways walking meetings can lift spirits in the office: 

1. Moving Makes You Happy: The exact physiological reason why exercise improves mood is still being studied. However, research has shown that exercise can be an effective treatment for depression and possibly even prevent it in the first place. We have all felt the happy high after getting a good workout in at the gym, going for a run, or riding a bike – we’ve done our own research! But, it doesn’t take a 1-hour Zumba class to turn a frown upside down. A 10-minute brief, brisk walk around the office can do the same. 

2. Sunshine Smiles: Vitamin D has long been known to play a vital role in bone health. Now, researchers have found that many part of the brain have vitamin D receptors. For this reason, vitamin D has been linked with depression and other mental health problems. Sure, you can take vitamin D supplements but they aren’t as effective for mood as getting it straight from the source – the sun. So, if you can, hit the pavement or the track and soak up a little sunshine and give you brain a little happy vitamin boost. Check out the Vitamin D Council for more information on this important vitamin and how to get enough of it.

3. Connection, Purpose, Value: A workforce that feels a social connection to one another has a united purpose and feels valued. And obviously, those people would feel pretty darn happy at work! Getting out from behind your desk to walk and meet with employees and colleagues removes the physical barrier of your desk, creating a more open and connected conversation. Aside from having a more relaxed work meeting you also have the opportunity to get to know someone on a more personal level. This can require some vulnerability on the part of the leader. However, when you have the courage to be yourself and show you deeply care about those who work for you, you will create a safe, productive, and happier workplace. This story about the founder of a tech startup is a perfect illustration of how creating connection can be the key to making an organization succeed.


Tanya McCausland, Chief Operating Officer

Tanya is a Board Certified Holistic Nutrition Consultant through Bauman College in Berkeley, CA and the National Association of Nutrition Professionals.

Killer Chairs: The Sitting Prognosis

You have probably heard the phrase, “sitting is the new smoking”.

I have to admit, when I first read this sentence as a headline while doing research for an upcoming wellness presentation I thought, “Come on, is it really THAT bad?!”. My second thought was, “If it’s true, that is the most alarming and unhelpful piece of health information I have ever read!”.

We now live in a sitting society.

We sit, sometimes for hours, commuting to and from work every day, we sit at our desks, in meetings, at lunch and dinner. Heck, we’re mostly sitting when watching our kids play sports and perform recitals.

Don’t get me wrong. Much of the sitting we do is necessary because of the distances we must travel to get to work and the type of work we do. Naturally, I’m sitting down at my desk while I write this article – how very ironic!

So, is sitting as detrimental to our health as lighting up a Lucky Strike?

There have been several studies over the last few years taking a closer look at how prolonged sitting may be associated with increased risk of developing diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and impaired insulin sensitivity. However, the results of the most recent study published in Annals of Internal Medicine less than a month ago appear to provide the most reliable recent data. That is because previous studies relied on self-reporting to evaluate the total sedentary time. This study used hip-mounted accelerometers resulting in more objective data.

The most important contribution of this study involved the separating of two sedentary behaviors: total daily sedentary time (how much time we spend sitting each day) and uninterrupted sedentary bout duration (length of time we sit at a stretch before getting up).

Dr. David A. Alter, an associate professor at the University of Toronto in Ontario summarized the two extremes of the finding well by stating; “Persons with uninterrupted sedentary bouts of 30 minutes or more had the highest risk for death if total sedentary time also exceeded 12.5 hours per day. Conversely, in those whose daily sedentary volumes were low, uninterrupted bout lengths had little if any associated effects on mortality.”.

Yes, prolonged sitting does seem to have an impact on our health. Though the exact causes and effects are still unclear, why wait?!

You can be the most effective and respected leader when you take care of yourself and your body. Your organization’s success relies on your health!

This is why we decided to call October “Walking Meeting Month” at Diamond6. As the days start to cool down and the leaves change color we are getting up from our desks and heading outside to discuss business opportunities, brainstorm new ideas, and plan events – all while getting a little exercise and fresh air.

Come walk with us! 

Throughout the month of October, we will be sharing tips, tricks, and strategies around walking while working. Learn about some of the surprising benefits of getting outside in the middle of the day and HOW to actually make that happen.

Then, when you’re outside for your walking meeting snap a picture or take a short video. Post it to our Facebook page, share it on LinkedIn, or tweet it on Twitter, using —-> #D6WalkingMeetingChallenge.

We will be selecting a winner at random on November 1, 2017 from all submissions. The more you walk, the more pictures you take, the higher chances of winning!

Ready. Set. WALK!


Tanya McCausland, Chief Operating Officer

Tanya is a Board Certified Holistic Nutrition Consultant through Bauman College in Berkeley, CA and the National Association of Nutrition Professionals.

Many Generations in the Workplace

With so many generations in the workplace, how do you find common ground to work optimally together?

Currently there are four generations in the workplace.  They are:

  • WW II generation (born before 1943)
  • Baby Boomers (born between 1944 and 1963)
  • Generation X (born between 1964 and 1984)
  • Gen Y or Millennials (born between 1985 and 2005)

Research has shown that each generation views work and careers differently though many experts disagree on the degree to which their perspective vary.  Furthermore, it is necessary to realize that this is at best imprecise, and those born on or around a so-called boundary years (i.e. 1963 between Boomers and Xers) might very well be inclined to be with one generation or the other.

I believe it is still important for effective leaders to be aware of these potential differences in perspective if they are going to maximize performance and fully understand how different members of the team may approach a problem or work/life balance.   This is also not an “airy fairy” effort to achieve an artificial diversity goal but can be of value to any team for a number of reasons.

  • An expansion of the number of creative ideas available to you
  • Better contacts with your customer or client base
  • Access to a wider range of problem solvers
  • Reduction in tensions and hostilities across demographic and generational lines
  • An increased appreciation of different people, ideas, and general respect for others

Research has shown that perhaps the biggest factor in working across the “divide” is establishing trust with each other across generational lines.  This may often times require a good deal of listening by the leader to determine why and how alternative approaches are proposed.  For example, in general, Boomers tend to value competence. Xers value relationship/communication and seem to have a greater need for open discussion.

Probably the best place for the leader to start is to get the team to focus on what they agree on.  It is also important to keep in mind that other factors affect how individuals confront problems and work effectively on teams.  It should not be surprising to learn that generally men and women often have different perspectives of what leaders do and how they do it.  The literature further suggests culture also influences individual perceptions, roles and identities. Surveys of cross-generational teams also indicates that in addition to culture, gender, age, and education are important, and these factors influence each other. If you only look at one factor, it may lead you to mistaken conclusions.

It is critical to keep in remember that not every member of generation is “that way”.  Failing to keep this in mind can potentially create biases in dealing with other generations.  Finally, it is useful to keep in mind the words of Winnie the Pooh!  What makes me different…is what makes me….Me!

-Dr. Jeff McCausland

Great Organizations Do Small Things Well

Great Organizations Do Small Things Well — Find the Long Snapper

I have been thinking about what do great organizations do that differentiate them from good organizations, and there are a number of things. But one that sticks out to me is that great organizations do small things very well. Let me give you an example that I observed while watching the end of the 2016 college football season.

By any measure you would have to accept that the University of Alabama football team is successful at what they do despite losing in the NCAA football championships to Clemson University earlier this year. The Crimson Tide have won 16 national championships including four in the last eight years. They have made more bowl appearances (64) than any other team in NCAA history. Alabama has won 30 conference titles and had 11 undefeated seasons. Currently, there are 24 committed recruits to the Alabama football program in 2017. Five are ranked number one in the nation at their position, including Thomas Fletcher from Washington State. Thomas graduated from the prestigious IMG Academy and is a long snapper. [1]

Now for those of you who may not be football aficionados, a long snapper is a center who only snaps the ball on punts. This means he will likely only be on the field for seven or eight plays per game. But those plays are often crucial. Place kickers have gotten better and now may attempt field goals from well over forty yards. Consequently, punts normally occur when a team remains in their own territory. A badly handled snap can result in disaster. The long snapper must snap the ball between his legs and send it approximately fifteen yards in 0.75 seconds. He must do this accurately and repeatedly during some of the most pressure packed moments of a football game. Furthermore, he knows that as soon as he snaps the ball he is going to be hit by at least one (if not more) 300 pound defensive lineman.

After years of success, clearly Alabama’s head football coach is leaving little to chance and will consistently bring in the best players he can. But many Division 1 teams still rely on a walk-on or fourth string player who is still learning to become their long snapper. But Saban wants to insure that his organization has every advantage as they confront their competition — and all leaders can take a lesson from this. This is not encouragement to micro-manage but rather the need for successful leaders to try and “see around corners,” think a little out of the box, and encourage their team members by their actions to be thorough and relentless in the pursuit of perfection in what each does for the overall success of the team. If the leader stresses the need to “find the long snapper” then the entire team will focus on what are the small things that can potentially make a difference.

If you still find this unconvincing, consider the following: Where did Nick Saban acquire his relentless focus on insuring his team did small things well?  He was mentored by a master, Bill Belichick, head coach of the New England Patriots. Saban worked under Belichick from 1991 to 1994. Last year Belichick stunned many in the NFL when the Patriots selected a long snapper in the fifth round of the NFL draft. 

But if you’re still not buying this idea, I suggest you simply call the Atlanta Falcons and ask them their opinion.

-Dr. Jeff McCausland

[1] Sam Borden, “An Upside-Down Priority”, New York Times, December 26, 2016, p. D1.