1 - LEARN ABOUT VERTICAL DEVELOPMENT:
Vertical development has been around for some time now, popularised by Leadership Development authors such as Nick Petrie, Robert Kegan and more recently Frederic Laloux, in his book ‘Reinventing Organisations’.
Unfortunately, very few HR and OD professionals fully understand vertical development enough to integrate it successfully into their leadership development approaches.
Why is vertical development so important?
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Many of us are aware of the 70/20/10 methodology, for a long time now it’s been the gold standard in learning and leadership training approaches. For many It's been the go-to model for many human resource and learning and development professionals.
In my experience, we spend far too much time developing our leaders in a classroom context with the expectation that they can convert ‘theory’ back in the workplace. A workplace which is often more complex and fraught with numerous ‘operational variables’ unique to their environment and far more multifaceted than the case study examples provided in a text book.
One of the positive attributes of the 70/20/10 model is that it places far more emphasis on the art of practice and on-the-job learning. And for the most part, this is exactly what is needed in many of today's workplaces.
You don’t have to look too far to realise that the world of work has become more complex in the last 10 years than it has ever been. The last 5 years has been a bumpy ride, as we all struggle to keep up with the effects of digital disruption and a globally connected workspace.
Our timelines are shorter and the expectations placed upon our organisations/customers, are greater than we ever imagined. The pace of every aspect of business and organisational life has reached fever pitch and it’s becoming all too obvious that we are struggling.
If you have a look around the current business environment, it doesn't take long to see how technology has affected not only our lives, but also the way we work. Now more than ever the way we work is impacted by forces that are less tangible and controllable.
The ways in which we previously run our businesses and the processes that control them have not really changed despite the fact that the very nature of how we work in many roles is fundamentally different. So what do I mean by this?
Waves are one of the most dynamic and constantly changing contexts you will ever find. They remain relatively static for large lengths of time as they cross the vast stretches of ocean, before finally building their momentum and exploding onto the shores.
Occasionally we are placed in the right place at the right time to harness and use their energy in creative and beneficial ways, not unlike surfing. At other times we can be quite unprepared for their aggressive arrival, as they rear up out of the depths and break upon us, while causing a great deal of stress and discomfort.
Everywhere I go at the moment risk is floating in the winds, like an eagle telescopically focused on its next potential prey. The more I’m exposed to it, the less I see it as a genuine strategic problem mitigation mechanism, and more as an excuse. But an excuse for what? This is the twenty million dollar question.
Have you ever wondered why all of a sudden collaboration is so important?
As the rate of change has increased dramatically over the last 20 years, so has the complexity of nearly all leadership and management roles and their associated task demands. Managers and leaders now have more moving parts than ever. Put simply complexity breed’s vulnerability.
We all have our opinions about what good leaders are and how they should perform. My vocation allows me to explore these preconceptions more than most.
Here’s the dilemma:
During the last few years I have begun to notice a trend. One where the opinions about the performance of the leaders in their business and the execution of their organisation's strategy just don't align.
Every so often a book comes along that changes the way you think about a certain subject. I've encountered a couple in my life, the first of which was Ken Wilber's Sex, Ecology and Spirituality. It contained ideas that were so revolutionary about the integration of mind, body and soul that I could literally feel my consciousness expanding with every turn of the page. It also made me ask the question "Is this actually possible?" Ken Wilber’s book was about the evolution of the personal domain. Reinventing Organisations is about the paradigm shifting evolution of the business domain.
Are you walking into the future looking backwards?
I have the conversation about strategic thinking a couple of times a week, and every time the first question I have is:
"Tell me what you mean by Strategic?"
The response is nearly always the same, a list of activities or a ‘To Do’ list that is either operational or tactical, and not really strategic as all. At best I would estimate that less than 5% of conversations actually refer to true strategic thinking,