Change, Risk, Innovation, and Opportunity: A Way to Approach the Pandemic

Nelson Soken, Ph.D, Chief Innovation Strategist

Light Bulb: Change, Risk, Innovation

During this time, I find myself spending countless hours absorbing information about the pandemic from both a health and an economic standpoint. At times, I am emotionally drained and anxious like many of us; however, at some point, my optimistic spirit emerges and my focus moves toward a positive future, filled with opportunity.

In our Intelligent Risk-Taking, Strategic Thinking, and Managing Innovation workshops, we introduce the concept of the change formula adapted from Gleicher’s research for change (Dannemiller, K. D., and Jacobs, R. W. (1992). “Changing the Way Organizations Change: A Revolution of Common Sense.” The Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, 28(4), 480-498.)

The formula is as follows D x V x S > R ->C where:

The left side of the equation is:

D = Dissatisfaction with the status quo
V = Vision of a preferable future
S = Support for and assistance in making the change

And the right side of the equation is:

R = Risk (perceived) of the loss of tangible or intangible resources (money, opportunity, “face,” etc.)
C = Change

Thus, If D, V, and S are not present in some form, the intended change will not occur; to support and drive change in people and organizations, the strength or impact of D, V, or S must be increased, or R needs to be reduced.

Interestingly, this formula describes the typical organizational situation we face during the current COVID-19 pandemic. We have been forced into a dramatic situation where an external force (a virus) has dictated that we make dramatic health, social, and economic changes within a matter of weeks.

To respond to the current circumstances, it is critical for us to use the power of creativity and innovation. This situation requires us to “color outside the lines” in order to manage our businesses. Examples of such creativity are described in a Washington Post article by Rachel Siegel, “Cheeseburger,” (April 11, 2020) where restaurants are tapping into their supply chain contacts to do whatever it takes to generate revenue, continue operations and provide value. Some restaurants are going beyond curbside take-out orders and providing other “essentials” that customers need, such as produce, meats, and other food staples; even selling or providing toilet paper as an incentive for customer orders. In a Forbes magazine article by Jason Wingard entitled “Pandemic Pivots: These 3 Companies are Making it Work”, Wingard describes how companies have pivoted in different ways: designers making face masks, distilleries making hand sanitizer, a taco restaurant creating an “emergency kit” which includes supplies to make 40 tacos plus a free roll of toilet paper. This is innovation in a time of crisis and aligns with the old saying, “necessity is the mother of invention.” So, what does the future look like and how will we navigate it, starting right now? Read more ›

Constructive Debate? Or the Meeting after the Meeting?

Building Better Ideas BookWhy do we have to have the “meeting after the meeting,” that intense discussion about what we should have said, but didn’t. In Kim Barnes’ soon-to-be-published book, Building Better Ideas: How Constructive Debate Inspires Courage, Collaboration and Breakthrough Solutions, she begins by discussing the all-too-common scenario in which ideas and honest opinions only show up in the “meeting after the meeting.”

Kim makes a compelling case for engaging in “Constructive Debate,” an open process for considering, vetting, and improving ideas. She has compiled her experience and research in her new book, to be published in October by Berrett-Koehler. Follow the link below to read a substantial excerpt from the book.

From the excerpt:

“Organizational or team cultures that discourage disagreement and debate risk missing ideas that could transform their business results, create greater efficiency, or help them to become a great place to work, attracting the best talent. Those ideas, or the seeds of them, walk out the actual or virtual door of their company every day between the ears of team members.” #constructiveDebate, #buildingBetterIdeas

Read the excerpt on LinkedIn

Soft Skills: Not “Soft” at All!

Soft Skills

Photo by B. Kim Barnes

Barnes & Conti CEO Kim Barnes, wrote a piece recently arguing that so-called “soft-skills” are completely misnamed. The article, entitled “Why We Shouldn’t Call Them ‘Soft Skills’” presents a compelling case that these skills, including influence, communication, leadership, and more are hardly “soft” in the sense of easy, but are among the most challenging and virtually unteachable to robots and artificial intelligence.

According to Kim:

“As someone who has studied, written, taught, and spoken about skills such as communication, influence, conflict resolution, and leadership, I can attest to the fact that these skills are in no way “soft” – in the sense described above. In fact, they are among the most difficult to teach and to learn. (Perhaps this is why robots haven’t as yet learned them.) For a long while, we (in my company, Barnes & Conti Associates) have been calling them “the difficult skills.”

Read the complete  article on LinkedIn

#softSkills, #influnce, #leadership

Article: Keeping the Human in Human Resources

Soft SkillsThinking about the impact of emerging artificial intelligence? Nelson Soken, Ph.D, Barnes & Conti’s Chief Innovation Strategist, gives thought to several of the issues, in the article entitled, “How to keep the “HUMAN” in Human Resources and Talent Development in the Global and Digital Age.”

Nelson makes a convincing case that certain human skills–so called “soft skills”–can never be replaced by machines. He also details helpful suggestions geared towards HR professionals in developing these critical skills for today’s workforce.

According to the article: “…companies are grappling with how to continually identify, retain, and build the skills of their workforce in an ever-shifting business climate. The challenge is to provide timely and cost-effective skill-building and talent development offerings that ultimately drive company growth.”

Read the article on our website.

#softSkills, #talentDevelopment, 

New Article on Risk-Taking and the Social Cost of Innovation

Have you ever wondered why certain innovations that are clearly superior to the technologies already in place take so long to catch on?  Kim Barnes recently wrote an article that discusses the “social cost” of innovation as one of the risks involved in developing “new” technology, the fork, the umbrella, and the emerging technologies of our day and age.

According to Kim, “When we think about taking a risk, we may not consider or acknowledge these social costs. In our Intelligent Risk-Taking program, we identify seven arenas in which individuals take risks; financial, business, career, interpersonal, intellectual, physical, and image. Often, participants in the program, while thorough and thoughtful in assessing the risks they may face in promoting or supporting a change or innovation, overlook planning for any risks they face to their image and reputation… Risk-taking and innovation require you to think about the role that emotion and social influence play in the process of technology adoption.”

Read the article on our website
Read about our Intelligent Risk-Taking program
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