Thursday, September 29, 2011

Ritz & Disney at Grandma’s House

You need to take your seriously ill child out of town to a doctor that will give them the best care possible.  Where do you stay? 

If Grandma lived nearby it would be nice to stay with her, where you know you would have a loving and caring environment.  But she doesn’t live there.  It would be great to stay at a Ritz where you know you would have a high quality hotel room and world class customer service.  But who has the money for that?  After a long day of tests and treatments, it would be cool if your child could experience the magic of Disney when they arrive at their “home away from home” that night.  But how could that be possible?

It’s all possible at Ronald McDonald House.  “Ritz meets Disney meets Grandma’s house.”  That’s how Sandy Pagnotti, Executive Director of Ronald McDonald House Charities of Baltimore, describes her vision of what the ideal “guest experience” would be for families at the “home away from home” that she, their staff, and their legion of volunteers provide.

It was my privilege to recently spend the day with Sandy and other leaders of the RMHC-Baltimore as they initiated their strategic planning process by creating an ideal vision for the organization.  It was both thrilling and moving to hear the passion that Sandy and the Board leaders have for providing such a caring, magical, and high quality experience for kids and families who are going through such challenging times. 

The RMHC – Baltimore is already a wonderful place for families and children; it is an inspiring place to visit.  But the leaders there want it to be even better – more and better space, even more caring, more magic, and even better quality.  They truly created a future vision in the spirit of “if we could have it any we wanted it.”

I am not sure how long it will take before the new space they are envisioning is ready with all of the added touches of Ritz, Disney, and Grandma’s House.  But I can’t wait to visit.  And it better happen soon.  Sandy is so excited that “I don’t think I will be able to sleep!”

Ritz & Disney at Grandma’s House.  That’s what I call making a Mission Impact.

Three ways that RMHC – Baltimore gets Vision Right:

*It’s from the Heart.  The leaders asked themselves what they truly care about and how they want to make a difference.

*Its Bold.  It is not a collection of ideas to make small improvements.  It represents a “healthy disregard for the impossible.”

*Its Vivid.  I can picture a kid arriving “home” after a day of tests with his frowns turning to smiles as he enters a warm and caring place where people know him, where he can have some fun, and where everything is done in a first class way.

Monday, September 19, 2011

How to Predict the Future

Don’t try to predict it.  Create the future!

Some people spend a lot of time and effort trying to predict the future.  They study all kinds of data and trends to try to figure out what the future is going to look like.  And then they create a vision and goals that they think will fit with their future prediction.

Instead, I suggest that organizations start by identifying their aspirations.  I ask questions like:

*What would your organization be like if you could have it any way you wanted it?

* What difference do you want to make? 

*What goals do you want to set to pursue those aspirations?

Use your answers to these questions to Create Your Future.  Then do your analysis and see what is going on in the environment.  Work to adapt the environment to your vision and goals.  George Bernard Shaw once said that this approach is the source of all progress.

When you do your analysis, consider trying out Scenario Planning.  While you cannot accurately predict the future, you can come up with some ideas of what the most likely future scenarios are for changes to your environment.  Identify these and take some time to discuss what actions you will take so that you can prepare for each scenario ahead of time.  If you are facing severe uncertainty about the future and feel you need a more advanced approach, check out the book 20/20 Foresight: Crafting Strategy in an Uncertain World, written by my friend and our Vice Dean at the Smith School of Business at Maryland, Hugh Courtney – a former McKinsey consultant.

Create a future vision for your organization and those you serve based on your aspirations and what you care about.  And then do some analysis to help you to be best prepared to make even more of a Mission Impact.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Quick Tips from the book “Drive”

“Carrots and sticks are so last century.  Drive says for 21st century work, we need to upgrade to autonomy, mastery & purpose.”

That’s the “Twitter Summary” – provided by the author himself – of Daniel Pink’s most recent book, Drive.  It’s a good summary, but here are my take-aways along with some of my interpretation added in.

Most organizations today are run like factories were 100 years ago.  This is not a fit for today’s work or workforce.  Pink argues that successful organizations today will seek to fulfill the intrinsic motivations of their workforce – what they care about.

To do this, organizations first have to be clear on what their purpose is.  Why does the organization exist?  For for-profit organizations it has to be a purpose bigger than making money.  Then people need to see a connection between their personal purpose and the organization’s purpose.  Leaders need to help people on their team draw these connections.

Next, people need to be given an opportunity to develop mastery in an arena of their work.  For me, this is what the folks at Gallup have been saying for years about matching people into jobs where they can use their natural talents.  You can read more about this in StrengthsFinder 2.0.

Finally, once people are working for an organization where they see they can advance their personal purpose and they have a job that fits their talents, let them loose and give them autonomy.  A key here is to identify the results, the outcomes, that they person is responsible for producing.  Pink gives examples of workplaces that have become ROWE organizations – Results-Only Work Environment.  This is again consistent with the Gallup approach which you can read about in First, Break All the Rules and ways to set outcomes are also brilliantly explained in Doug Smith’s book, Make Success Measurable.   

Focus your management efforts on connecting to people’s purpose, helping them develop mastery, and giving them autonomy.  You will make even more of a Mission Impact this way.

So there’s a summary of one book you don’t have time to read and a suggestion of three more to read once you do make the time.  Let me know what you think of any of these if you have read them!