Accountability at the Top: Leadership Lessons From the HealthCare.gov Debacle

NUGGET : Leadership in change is not just a matter of vision. For people in formal management roles, vision and policy are just the beginning. The true test is in the less glamorous and often messy work of execution. It disturbs me to hear that a project as large and complex as HealthCare.gov appears to have been badly managed. It’s not the fact that there are technical problems – there are few big system implementations that don’t have them. What concerns me is the apparently poor change management along the way. I’m not privy to the details, so at this point I can only comment generally about the change management… Read More

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The SHADOW side of the Pyramid Organization

NUGGET : Be sure that the way you draw your organization corresponds to how you want it to work – and be aware of both the “light” and the “shadow” of the assumptions that underlie your mental model. In leadership programs I often ask people to draw their organization. Before you read on, imagine how you would draw yours. Your drawing reflects your implicit assumptions about how the organization works. Most people draw a pyramid or a cascading organization chart. Many organizations today – possibly including yours — are managed as a traditional “pyramid.” The cascading organization chart within the pyramid shows job boundaries and where people fit, maps how… Read More

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Think BIGGER About Change The Case FOR Failures

NUGGET : Failure is a critical ingredient for complex change and today’s “failure” may be an important step in a larger journey. Don’t give up when somebody says, “We tried that and it didn’t work.” Rather check whether the change is worth pursuing now. Then ask, “What worked and didn’t work last time? How are our needs today different or more intense? What did we learn that can help us be successful this time? Some people are surprised about the emerging global policy changes related to Syria and Iran.  I am not.  When seen through the lens of larger change dynamics, the new openness and global consensus related to both… Read More

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Think BIGGER About Change: The Case FOR Polarization

NUGGET : We demonize polarization (it does have its dark side) but it’s an important dynamic that helps fuel complex change processes. When it is most intense, it is a signal that the likelihood of breakthrough may be near. So, don’t be afraid of polarization. Stimulate it, and then find ways to transform it into more robust and next generation solutions and agreements. Okay, we in the US (and you in the rest of the world) are probably fed up with the polarization in the US Congress. It is befuddling, frustrating and could leave a long tail of destruction even if and when compromise or new kinds of solutions occur.… Read More

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