Thinking Like a Beginner


It used to be, the bigger the nerd you were the better the researcher. That’s changed now. Some of the best advice comes from people who know the least about a specific operation.

This isn’t to belittle experience, information, or expertise. But the key to keeping ahead of change is to learn to think like a beginner. With a beginner’s mind you will be more open to what is emerging and better equipped to anticipate change.

The beginner isn’t attached to old ways of doing and seeing things and won’t spend a great deal of time “beating a dead horse” or accumulating sacred cows. Looking at the world with a fresh eye and an open mind , the beginner will see things that the expert will miss.

Thinking like a beginner is a state of curiosity where you see situations anew, not letting old information and the “benefits” of experience cloud your judgment. Experience, after all, took place in the past, and the thinking, strategies, and information that worked in the past are often outdated and obsolete.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

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Revisiting Leadership


Human beings are designed for learning. Unfortunately, the primary institutions of a society are oriented predominantly toward controlling rather than learning, rewarding individuals for performing for others rather than for cultivating their natural curiosity and impulse to learn. The young child entering school discovers quickly that the name of the game is getting the right answer and avoiding mistakes—a mandate no less compelling to the aspiring managers.

 

Our prevailing system of management has destroyed our people. People are born with intrinsic motivation, self-esteem, dignity, curiosity to learn, joy in learning. The forces of destruction begin with toddlers—grades in school, gold stars, and on up through the university. On the job, people, teams, divisions are ranked—reward for the one at the top, punishment at the bottom. Incentive pay, business plans, put together separately, division by division, cause further loss, unknown and unknowable.

 

Ironically, by focusing on performing for someone else’s approval, corporations create the very conditions that predestine them to mediocre performance. Over the long run, superior performance depends on superior learning. A full one-third of the Fortune 500 industrials listed in 1970 had vanished by 1983.

 

Today, the average lifetime of the largest industrial enterprises is probably less than half the average lifetime of a person in an industrial society. On the other hand, a small number of companies that survived for seventy-five years or longer. Interestingly, the key to their survival is the ability to run experiments in the margin to continually explore new business and organizational opportunities that create potential new sources of growth.

 

If anything, the need for understanding how organizations learn and accelerating that learning is greater today than ever before. In an increasingly dynamic, interdependent, and unpredictable world, it is simply no longer possible for anyone to figure it all out at the top. The old model, the top thinks and the local acts, must now give way to integrating thinking and acting at all levels.

 

While the challenge is great, so is the potential payoff. The person who figures out how to harness the collective genius of the people in his/her organization is going to blow the competition way.

 

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

Mobilizing Support


Mobilizing support for change requires a blend of logic, emotions, and values. The change managers should:

  1. Developing clarity about the target audience: in an effort to achieve acceptance of any change idea, it is very important to clearly understand who the relevant stakeholders are, what are their identities, their aspirations, their values, and their influence in the organization. The target audience is never homogeneous group. These would be people who may be ready to support the change ideas quickly, people who oppose change no matter how sensible the ideas are, and people who are willing to listen but should not be taken for granted. A change manager should identify the real interests of these sub-groups and should tailor the communication and persuasion effort accordingly. In other words, the change manager should be sensitive to the fact that there would be multiple views and perceptions in an organization and it is important to be clear as to what these are.
  2. Getting people involved: When a change manager begins the change campaign by making a strong presentation and supporting it with huge data, there is a danger that employees at the receiving end may become mere spectators and skeptics. At the same time, it is not realistic to expect that people would volunteer themselves to engage in defining a change initiative. What is most useful in such a situation is ‘foot in the door’ approach. This involves asking people to make a small initial commitment, which may be in the nature of asking their views on the present situation and discussing possible courses of action. Over a period of time, these small commitments could be extended to sustain larger change objectives. This approach is particularly useful to attract skeptics to the change program.
  3. Crafting the message: A primary process in the influence effort is not change in attitude towards an object, but change in definition and meaning of the object. Once meaning changes, attitudes change accordingly. A change manager should present the idea in such a manner that it evokes sufficient curiosity among members to explore it further. The message should be simple, but clear enough in its scope. Rather than a conclusive statement, it should invite people for a dialogue. People tend to be more attracted towards stories and symbols than hard numerical data. A change manager should be able to make use of these soft dimensions of relationships to gain attention to the change idea.
  4. Timing the campaign: Many ideas are rejected because they are presented at a wrong time. A change manager should first use informal meetings to generate the need for improving present levels of performance and make people receptive to new suggestions. Change ideas should be presented only when people are willing to engage in a dialogue process. This is very similar to a gardener first preparing the soil before sowing the seeds.
  5. Sustaining the momentum: Mobilizing support for change is never a one-time activity. It takes considerable amount of time to get people involved and committed to the change idea. It should be best for people with high expertise and credibility to lead the change. People listen to those who have expertise while framing their position. Then those people should be identified who favor the change idea and they should be helped to articulate their views in public. People tend to stick to their positions that are made in public

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

Characteristics of Managerial Creativity


The creative manager must be a creative human and an effective manager. He/she tends to be characterized by following group of traits:

1) Hunger for knowing curiosity, constant questioning; strong interest in stimulating ideas, theories, and philosophies, always wanting to know the ‘how’ and ‘why of things; strong interest in trying to understand people’s motives and behavior.

2) Sensitivity responsiveness to literature, arts and other fine and delicate things; interest in meeting interesting and sensitive persons; empathy for the suffering; responsiveness to beauty and elegance.

3) Complexity intuitively finding correct solutions; being a visionary; having odd, even conflicting ideas; moodiness.

4) Venturing calculated risk-taking; preference for starting own ventures; aiming big; striking out in one’s own.

5) Independence and courage questions the status quo or established order; sticking to core convictions; listens to experts but makes up own mind; clear and forceful assertion of feelings and viewpoints.

6) Reality contact initiative taking in finding out operating constraints; confidence in managing crisis; quick adjustment to new challenges and information; grip on reality despite fantasying.

7) Self-sufficiency absorbed in challenging tasks; confident in operating in alien situations; tendency to take on tough tasks; persistence in getting ventures accomplished.

The creative manager operates in a fairly tightly regulated system in which creativity failures may be penalized; creativity needs to be directed towards organizational requirements; almost all creative initiatives require approval from superiors and acceptance by colleagues and subordinates to succeed; the cynical need to be won over; opposition of vested interests to these initiatives needs to be neutralized; dedicated teams need to be developed to execute creative initiatives; creative initiatives need to confirm to evaluate and control mechanisms of the organization; changes and creative initiatives need to be synergized for maximum impact—so on and on.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please contact www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

Information and Knowledge Entrepreneurs


People should be proactive in assessing, developing and applying their personal knowledge and experience and thinking through the implications of the information and knowledge society. Assessing its  impact upon others may enable business opportunities to be identified.

Much depends on the energy and imagination of information and knowledge entrepreneurs. They need to identify specific opportunities being created by the greater availability and accessibility of information and knowledge, and craft distinctive i and knowledge based products and services.

All entrepreneurs have to identify opportunities to add value by meeting requirements that are not being addressed, and they must be focused and tenacious and possess a clear sense of direction. Most entrepreneurs need also to be tough, pragmatic and resilient. Additionally, information and knowledge entrepreneurs need the following qualities:

  1. They must know how to acquire, develop, share, manage, exploit and capitalize on information, knowledge and understanding, and be able to help and enable others to use and apply them effectively. This may require combinations of emerging technologies to connect relevant people and organizations together, and the competencies to network with others, work and learn in new ways in order to create value, lead and manage virtual teams, and establish and manage knowledge businesses.
  2. They need curiosity and drive to undertake intelligent searches and to be able to judge or determine the significance, relevance and value of what they uncover. Many more people can access information than assess it or use it effectively. Understanding where information has come from, the underlying assumptions and how it has been compiled can prevent an enterprise or a course of action from being built upon foundations of sand.
  3. They require enough understanding of systems to be able to use an appropriate range of technologies to identify and assess relevant sources of information, knowledge and understanding. However, technical expertise is unlikely to be enough. Communication and relationship building skills are also required to interact with information providers and bring together the combination of experience and knowledge needed to assemble a package that has market value.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please contact Asif J. Mir.