StrategyDriven Change Management Article

How Digital Process Innovation Can Influence Organisational Change In The Finance Sector

The finance sector as we know it is being transformed by new technology. Digital innovation is everywhere, from Big Data to risk management software, and it’s all coming to change in the way that the sector is organised and run. NEX Optimisation are undergoing an ambitious project to use distributed ledger technology to provide a single source of truth regarding financial transactions. Their services (as well as selected third parties) can then be applied within this environment. This is just one example of how digital processes can be used to streamline regulatory and financial resources, and so we’ve taken a closer look at the impact digital process innovation is having on financial organisations around the world.

Integration

As globalisation continues at a rapid rate, the financial sector is under pressure to keep up with demand. Finance leaders are expected to orchestrate change by closely controlling how their finance systems work alongside other parts of the business. The concept is simple – the finance sector needs to be able to deliver insight and risk analysis around the world, which could see them becoming integrators of information in as little as three years. The strategy, budget, forecast, workforce management plan and capital expenditure plan all need to become more integrated in order for financial organisations to be global business services offering end-to-end solutions.

Demanding More From CFOs

As digital processes innovate and change the way that the finance industry operates, CFOs will be under more pressure to perform. Technology has already made it possible for real-time, event-driven updates to be delivered which is giving CFOs new opportunities. Among these opportunities is the chance for better understanding of the processes and wider finance systems that are currently in place. They will be able to quickly identify areas where there is room for improvement or new ways of working, including making processes more efficient or even outsourcing work where possible.

This increased understanding could see a demand for a new type of finance team emerging. According to industry experts, a broader range of skills is going to be required from finance teams in the near future. Finance employees will need to be able to analyse effectively and communicate their findings with the rest of the business, instead of simply relying on their accounting skills and qualifications. They’ll need to be able to spot reoccurring patterns and problems, as well as coming up with solutions to the problems that arise in this new digital age.

CFOs Must Continue To Innovate

At the moment, innovation within the financial sector is only just beginning. Already it’s shaking the industry and prompting finance leaders to question the structure of their organisations, as well as how to achieve their targets. It’s clear that, within the finance sector, technology is becoming a force for making processes more effective and efficient. CFOs will need to continue to innovate their processes in order to stay ahead of disruption and keep up with the latest technologies, otherwise they risk being left behind. As soon as 2020, innovation could be measured, just like other essential elements of the industry such as marketing and IT. This just goes to show how valuable digital process innovation is considered to be within the financial sector.

StrategyDriven Change Management Article

Dealing with Change as Your Company Grows

While most entrepreneurs hope their fledgeling business will one day grow into a multi-national corporation, making the transition from being the head of a small, tightly-knit team to overseeing a large number of employees working across a range of departments can often present a host of unexpected challenges. The following tips will ensure you are ready to pay the price of success.

Expect conflict

Just because you have hired the best possible people for every leadership role in your company doesn’t mean they are all going to get along all the time. As the departments become larger and more focused on their individual areas, there is an increased chance some of they may end up at odds. Perhaps the marketing team is pushing for one set of goals while the sales team wants to go another way. Perhaps the technology team want to spend more time developing an upgrade to your product, but the finance team insist the money is better spent elsewhere.

You may have once been solely responsible for all such decisions, but you now need to adjust your leadership style to ensure that everyone from all the key areas of your business has a voice and is able to participate in company decisions. Foster an atmosphere of trust between the key personnel of the leadership team so they are more willing to work together to achieve whatever is best for the company.

Add by subtracting

As your company grows, many of the systems and procedures you had in place in the early days will no longer be effective and may even begin holding you back. Focus on finding new strategies to maintain and accelerate growth. For example, one senior VP of HR at Adobe eliminated the need for employees to produce performance reports, allowing them to devote their time to something more productive instead.

You should also look for ways to replace any element of your business that isn’t working as well as it should. At Twitter, team members were made to hand over their phones during meetings, and the meetings became far shorter and far more effective as a result.

Upgrade your software and systems

When the time comes to invest in specialist software for your business, ensure your system is modular so you can simply add to it, rather than having to start over from scratch. Although such a system may initially cost more, you’ll make huge savings in the long run, both in monetary terms and in terms of the time you save by not having to retrain staff.

In the very early days of your enterprise, especially one in the manufacturing sector, you are likely to have only a few facilities and a small number of maintenance workers and managers. Once your company begins growing and starts to purchase or lease a number of large, expensive pieces of manufacturing equipment, you’ll need to invest in enterprise asset management software to provide a clear, big-picture view of the operation.

Such software will give you the ability to compare asset performance and the relative costs of different facilities while also keeping tabs on regulatory compliance, both across facilities, departments and locations, and without it, your business will not be able to continue to succeed.

Sharon Drew Morgen

Questioning Questions

Decades ago I had an idea that questions could be vehicles to facilitate change in addition to eliciting answers. Convention went against me: the accepted use of questions (framing devices, biased by the Asker, that extract a defined range of answers) is built into our culture. But overlooked is their inability to extract good data or accurate answers due to the bias of the Asker; overlooked is their ability to facilitate congruent change.

What Is A Question?

Questions are biased by the expectations, assumptions, goals, unconscious beliefs and subjective experience of both the Responder and the Asker and limit responses accordingly. In other words, questions can’t extract ‘good’ data. They’re certainly not designed to lead Responders through to real change or accurate revelations. (What? Did you really say what I think I heard? offers a broad discussion of bias.) Here are the most prevalent ways we limit our Communication Partner’s responses:

Need to Know Askers pose questions to pull conscious data from the Responder because of their own ‘need to know’, data collection, or curiosity. An example (Note: all following italicized questions are posed as a mythical hairdresser seeking business) might be: Why do you wear your hair like that?

These questions risk overlooking more relevant answers that are stored beyond the parameters of the question posed – often in the unconscious.

Pull Data Askers pose questions to pull a range of implicating data considered useful to ‘make a case’ in a ploy to obtain their desired results (i.e. sales, leadership, marcom, coaching). Don’t you think it might be time to get a haircut?

These questions run a high risk of missing the full range of, or accurate, responses. Certainly they offer no route to enabling choice, decisions, or collaboration/buy-in. They encourage resistance, partial/missed answers, and lies.

Manipulate Agreement/Response Questions that direct the Responder to find a specific set of responses to fit the needs and expectations of the Asker. Can you think of a time you’ve felt ‘cool’ when you’ve had short hair? Or Have you ever thought of having your hair look like Kanye/Ozzy/Justin? Or What would it feel like to have hair like Kanye/Ozzy/Justin? Wouldn’t you say your hairstyle makes you look X?

These questions restrict possibility, cause resistance, create distrust, and encourage lying.

Doubt Directive These questions, sometimes called ‘leading questions’ are designed to cause Responders to doubt their own effectiveness, in order to create an opening for the Asker. Do you think your hairstyle works for you?

These narrow the range of possible responses, often creating some form of resistance or defensive lies; they certainly cause defensiveness and distrust.

Questions restrict responses to the Asker’s parameters, regardless of their intent or the influencer’s level of professionalism and knowledge. Potentially important, accurate data – not to mention the real possibility of facilitating change – is left on the table and instead promote lost business, failure, distrust, bad data collection, and delayed success. Decision Scientists end up gathering incomplete data that creates implementation issues; leaders and coaches push clients toward the change they perceive is needed and often miss the real change needed and possible. The fields of sales and coaching are particularly egregious.

The cost of bias and restriction is unimaginable. Here’s an especially unfortunate example of a well-respected research company that delayed the discovery of important findings due to the biases informing their research questions. I got a call from one of the founders of Challenger Sales to discuss my Buying Facilitation® model. Their research had ‘recently’ discovered that sales are lost/delayed/hampered due to the buyer’s behind-the-scenes change issues that aren’t purchase-driven and sales doesn’t address – and yay for me for figuring this out 35 years ago.

Interesting. They figured this out now? Even David Sandler called me in 1992 before he died to tell me he appreciated how far out of the box I went to find the resolution to the sales problem (He also offered to buy me out, but that’s a different story.). The data was always there. I uncovered this in 1983. But the CEB missed it because their research surveys posed biased questions that elicited data matching their expectations. Indeed, even during our conversations, my Communication Partner never got rid of his solution-placement (sales) biases and we never were able to find a way to partner.

What Is An Answer?

Used to elicit or push data, the very formulation of conventional questions restricts answers. If I ask ‘What did you have for breakfast?’ you cannot reply ‘I went to the gym yesterday.’ Every answer is restricted by the biases within the question. I’m always disappointed when I hear sellers say “Buyers are liars” or coaches say “They didn’t really want to change.” Or therapists or managers or leaders say “They’re resisting”. Askers cause the answers they get.

  1. Because we enter conversations with an agenda, intuition, directive, etc., the answers we receive are partial at best, inaccurate at worst, and potentially cause resistance, sabotage, and disregard.
  2. There are unknown facts, feelings, historic data, goals, etc. that lie within the Responder’s unconscious that hold real answers and cannot be found using merely the curiosity of the Asker.
  3. By approaching situations with bias, Askers can only successfully connect with those whose conscious biases align with their own, leaving behind many who could change, or connect when their unconscious data is recognized. And conventional questions cannot get to the unconscious.
  4. Because influencers are unaware of how their particular bias restricts an answer, they have no concept if there are different answers possible, and often move forward with bad data.

So why does it matter if we’re biasing our questions? It matters because we are missing accurate results; it matters because our questions instill resistance; it matters because we’re missing opportunities to serve and support change.

When sellers ask leading questions to manipulate prospects, or coaches ask influencing questions to generate action, we’re coaxing our Communication Partner in a direction that, as we now recognize, is often biased. Imagine if we could reconfigure questions to elicit accurate data for researchers or marcom folks; or enable buyers to take quick action from ads, cold calls or large purchases; or help coaching clients change behaviors congruently and quickly; or encourage buy-in during software implementations. I’m suggesting questions can facilitate real change.

What Is Change?

Our brain stores data rather haphazardly in our unconscious, making it difficult to find what we need when we need it, and making resistance prevalent when it seems our Status Quo is being threatened. But over the last decades, I have mapped the sequence of systemic change. Following this route, I’ve designed a way to use questions as directional devices to pull relevant data in the proper sequence so we can lead Responders through their own internal, congruent, change process and avoid resistance. Not only does this broaden the range of successful results, but it enables quicker decisions and buy-in – not to mentiontruly offer a Servant Leader, win/win communication. Let’s look at what’s keeping us wedded to our Status Quo and how questions can enable change.

All of us are a ‘system’ of subjectivity collected during our lifetime: unique rules, values, habits, history, goals, experience, etc. that operates consensually to create and maintain our Status Quo; it resides in our unconscious and defines our Status Quo. Without it, we wouldn’t have criteria for any choices, or actions, or habits whatsoever. Our system is hard wired to keep us who we are (Systems Congruence).

To learn something new, to do something different or learn a new behavior, to buy something, to take vitamins or get a divorce or use new software or be willing to forgive a friend, the Status Quo must buy in to change from within – an inside job. Information pulled or pushed – regardless of the intent, or relationship, or efficacy – will be resisted.

For congruent change to occur – even a small one – appropriate elements within our Status Quo must buy into, and have prepared for, a possibly disruptive addition (idea, product, etc.). But since the process is internal, idiosyncratic, and unconscious, our biased questions cause the system to defend itself and we succeed only with those folks whose unconscious biases and beliefs mirror our own.

  1. People hear each other through their own biases. You ask biased questions, receive biased answers, and hit pay dirt only when your biases match. Everyone else will ignore, resist, misunderstand, mishear, act out, sabotage, forget, ignore, etc.
  2. Due to their biased and restricting nature, your questions will not facilitate those who are not ready, willing, or able to manage internal change congruently regardless of the wisdom of your comments or their efficacy.
  3. Without the Responder being ready, willing, and able to change, ACCORDING TO THEIR OWN CRITERIA AND SYSTEMS RULES, they cannot buy, accept, adopt, or change in any way.

To manage congruent change, align the Status Quo, and enable the steps to achieve buy-in – I’ve developed Facilitative Questions that work comfortably with conventional questions and lead Responders to:

  • find their own answers hidden within their unconscious,
  • retrieve complete, relevant, accurate answers at the right time, in the right order to
  • traverse the sequenced steps to congruent, systemic change/excellence, while
  • avoiding restriction and resistance and
  • include their own values and subjective experience.

It’s possible to help folks make internal changes and find their own brand of excellence.

Facilitative Questions

Facilitative Questions (FQs) employ a new skill set that is built upon systems thinking: listening for systems (i.e. no bias) and Servant Leadership. Even on a cold call or in content marketing, sellers can enable buyers down their route to change and buy-in; coaches can lead clients through their own unique change without resistance; leaders can get buy-in immediately; change implementations won’t get resistance; advertisers and marketers can create action.

Using specific words, in a very specific sequence, it’s possible to pose questions that are free of bias, need or manipulation and guide congruent change.

Facilitative Question Not information gathering, pull, or manipulative, FQs are guiding/directional tools, like a GPS system. Like a GPS they don’t need the details of travel – what you’re wearing, what function you’re attending – to dictate two left turns. They lead Responders congruently, without any bias, from where they’re at to Excellence. How would you know if it were time to reconsider your hairstyle?

This question is a guiding mechanism to efficiently enable a route through the Responder’s largely unconscious path to congruent change.

Here’s the big idea: using questions directed to help Others efficiently recognize their own route to Excellence, and change as appropriate vs. using questions to seek answers that benefit the Asker. This shift in focus alone creates an automatic trust.

An example is a question we designed for Wachovia to increase sales and appointments. Instead of seeking prospects for an appointment to pitch new products (i.e. using appointments as a sales tool), we designed questions to immediately facilitate discovery of need, taking into account most small businesses already have a banking relationship. After trialing a few different FQs, our opening question became: How would you know when it’s time to consider adding new banking partners, for those times your current bank can’t give you what you need? This question shifted the response to 100 prospecting calls from 10 appointments and 2 closes over 11 months, to 37 invites to meet from the prospect, and 29 closes over 3 months. Facilitative Questions helped the right prospects engage immediately.

When used with coaching clients, buyers, negotiation partners, advertisements, or even teenagers, these questions create action within the Responder, causing them to recognize internal incongruences and deficiencies, and be guided through their own options. (Because these questions aren’t natural to us, I’ve designed a tool and program to teach the ‘How’ of formulating them.).

The responses to FQs are quite different from conventional questions. So when answering How would you know if it were time to reconsider your hairstyle?, the Responder is directed by word use, word placement, and an understanding of systems, to think of time, history, people, ego, comparisons, family. Instead of pulling data, you’re directing to, guiding through, and opening the appropriate change ‘boxes’ within the Responder’s unconscious Status Quo. It’s possible Responders will ultimately get to their answers without Facilitative Questions, but using them, it’s possible to help Responders organize their change criteria very quickly accurately. Using Facilitative Questions, we must:

  1. Enter with a blank brain, as a neutral navigator, servant leader, with a goal to facilitate change.
  2. Trust our Communication Partners have their own answers.
  3. Stay away from information gathering or data sharing/gathering until they are needed at the end.
  4. Focus on helping the Other define, recognize, and understand their system so they can discover where it’s broken.
  5. Put aside ego, intuition, assumptions, and ‘need to know.’ We’ll never understand another’s subjective experience; we can later add our knowledge.
  6. Listen for systems, not content.

FQs enable congruent, systemic, change. I recognize this is not the conventional use of questions, but we have a choice: we can either facilitate a Responder’s path down their own unique route and travel with them as Change Facilitators – ready with our ideas, solutions, directions as they discover a need we can support – or use conventional, biased questions that limit possibility. For change to occur, people must go through these change steps anyway; we’re just making it more efficient for them as we connect through our desire to truly Serve. We can assist, or wait to find those who have already completed the journey. They must do it anyway: it might as well be with us.

I welcome opportunities to put Facilitative Questions into the world. Formulating them requires a new skill set that avoids any bias (Listening for Systems, for example). But they add an extra dimension to helping us all serve each other.


About the Author

Sharon Drew MorgenSharon Drew Morgen is a visionary, original thinker, and thought leader in change management and decision facilitation. She works as a coach, trainer, speaker, and consultant, and has authored 9 books including the New York Times Business Bestseller Selling with Integrity. Morgen developed the Buying Facilitation® method (www.sharondrewmorgen.com) in 1985 to facilitate change decisions, notably to help buyers buy and help leaders and coaches affect permanent change. Her newest book What? www.didihearyou.com explains how to close the gap between what’s said and what’s heard. She can be reached at [email protected]

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Jim Dewald

Overcoming the Barriers to Corporate Entrepreneurship

How do organizations achieve longevity, the kind of longevity that survives long past the founder or any particular leader or leadership team? Professors of business and corporate strategy (which includes me) research and lecture about the goal of long-term “sustained” competitive advantage, driven by grand plans that mesmerize and seduce the most seasoned leaders and leadership teams. On reflection, though, I find that the evidence does not support competitive advantage as a path to longevity. Instead, longevity is based on entrepreneurial thinking and innovation – in exploring ways to adapt corporate and business strategies in response to market, technological, and social and cultural change.


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About the Author

Jim DewaldJim Dewald is the author of Achieving Longevity: How Great Firms Prosper Through Entrepreneurial Thinking. He is the dean of the University of Calgary’s Haskayne School of Business and an associate professor in strategy and entrepreneurship. Prior to entering academe, Jim was active in the Calgary business community as the CEO of two major real estate development companies and a leading local engineering consulting practice, and president of a tech-based international real estate brokerage company.