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Getting Projects into Flow

Posted 20 May 2015 | 1:07 pm

By Neville Pritchard 

So many projects fail to meet initial budgets and/or timelines. Why? When working with the underlying principles of the Talent Dynamics profile relating to I Ching it is so clear that any great project or organization strategy needs to follow the natural flow of the seasons, natural energies and relate to the positive cycle of default question.

So, what are these links and how do they apply in a project context?

‘When you’re surrounded by people who share a passionate commitment around a common purpose, anything is possible.’ – Howard Schultz

This approach relies on digging deeply at each stage. There is potential impatience in following taking time to fully consider each step before reaching ‘how’ – however, the stress caused when projects have to be pulled out of disaster or at least re-worked to incorporate more realistic timing and detail can be avoided by spending the time at this early stage.

Positive Flow

Think from NHS technology to those projects within your own organizations.  In researching a number of high profile and also smaller organization projects we have realized that whenever implementation has more closely followed the ‘positive flow’ we see high percentages of success.

The danger and where we have seen the lowest levels of success has been when either the Why has not been fully defined and when the planning has jumped from What to How. These are common issues yet a large percentage of these errors are made at the most senior levels. Often in the belief that key to speed is the ability to move thinking from what to how and an assumption that the why is obvious. Neither of these considerations are logical. When fully explored and the evidence of major project failings is so overwhelming it is time to stop the assumptions.

Stress, Timelines and Budgets

Think about the people you sit near on trains having fits of stress from phone calls about their timelines and budgets. The person I sat near last week was in deep do dah!

On listening (it was hard not to!) it was clear that so many of the ‘who’ questions had not been considered that he was now being blitzed by a range of people that he had never heard of now sending him irate e-mails. This he was passing onto a colleague to investigate and all of the action and task considerations would now need revisiting. Unfortunately this is a familiar tale.

Positive Depth

Essentially, once the ‘Why’ has been agreed at senior level and the ‘what’ defined then it is the time to pass the ‘thinking’ on the project over to a core set of project specialists and facilitators with the skills to ensure the positive flow and depth is completed.  The added value from executives can then be brought to consider a fully developed approach rather than ‘solutioneer’ a less developed frame. Time of all is better utilized.

This is not easy to achieve though; the need for trust is key. When in place though the enhanced impact on internal trust, of workflow and on people costs and people value contribution are likely to be significant and the real value of each level of contribution is focused to greater impact.

TDYP Goes to Canada!

Posted 24 April 2015 | 3:17 pm

By Teejay Dowe – Talent Dynamics for Young People

I am really excited to be back from Canada where our program, Talent Dynamics for Young People,  is being integrated in to a very high profile government backed initiative called ‘From Education into Employment’ being led by Celestica Inc. and Ryerson University.

This 13 week extra-curricular program will teach 12-14 yr old’s Talent Dynamics, Business Development Concepts and how to bring a product to market.

Through a series of coaching and workshop programs we will teach young people from who they really are and where they fit in. Our program bridges the gap between education and employment by giving young people soft skills, a sense of identity, and the ability to know what they are naturally talented at so that they can find the best roles in life, teams and business.

For one week,  16 of the most amazing minds from Talent Dynamics for Young People, Business Development, Technology and Academia were locked in a room in Celestica’s Head Offices in Toronto to put together the program that will be launched in September 15. I had many ‘pinch me’ moments as I taught the team Talent Dynamics and shared in the brainstorming and creation of our vision.

“Giving young people the courage, confidence and skills to take risk, embrace innovation, defy the status quo and create their own futures!”

I get goose bumps every time I read that! I am passionate about making a difference in the confidence and self-worth of our young people and empowering them to discover their hidden talents so that they can reach their true potentials.

And, whilst I am thrilled that I get to be a big part of this in Canada, what I really would love to do is bring this home to the UK and then to be instrumental in its spread through Canada, America, Australia, South Africa, Europe and around the world through our sponsors and Talent Dynamics for  Young People Consultants – so watch this space!

Success and Being in Flow

Posted 2 April 2015 | 11:11 am

By Helen Thomas

“Success is doing something you love, which gives you satisfaction, fun and in business, the income you need to achieve to live the life you are happy to lead.”

Sometimes we lose sight of this from failing to being in the moment, present and knowing why.

We often think we know ourselves really well, but in today’s world we have often learned new behaviours – things which, yes we do well, but can often drain us of energy.

If we know more about our natural strengths, those things which, when we are doing them, life seems to zip by, we have a great day and the sense of achievement is amazing – and if we do these more often, then success will be just that bit closer!

This is when we are truly in flow, the image below denotes the 4 different energy types if you are acting in one of you’re “learned behaviours” you step into another energy zone and this is where you will feel drained.

There will course then be gaps and challenges for us, but recognising and acknowledging these will give us the opportunity to tackle them more effectively.

Some thoughts for consideration include

  1. Know yourself well enough to use your talents wisely, ensure your role plays to those talents or delegate or outsource those tasks that don’t
  2. You are great and unique! Have the self belief which allows you to be confident and your authentic self.
  3. Ensure your style engages others authentically whilst adapting to their expectations and needs
  4. Make sure you are focusing on what you love doing and not getting tied up with what others want you to do, this is especially pertinent when looking to change roles and are experienced. Ask those questions in the interview, or if you run a business don’t swap time for time in these tasks.

When we know who we are, allow our thinking processes to follow a natural path and present ourselves to others from this perspective, confidence will grow and success will follow.

Featured image used with thanks to Neil Walters

How Sustainable is Your Team’s Energy?

Posted 26 March 2015 | 3:04 pm

The environment and sustainable energy has been a core feature in news for several decades now.  We are all aware that fossil fuels are a finite resource and to safely secure our future alternate, renewable energy is a must have.

Big Issue, Small Application

Yet how often do we think about our team’s energy?  We all know the feeling of being supercharged with energy and we also know the feeling of being flat.  Where is the source of this energy and how can it be made sustainable?  This blog was spurred by the following conversation overheard between two employees (paraphrased for space):

“Employee 1: I’m not having fun in work any more.  It’s just a real grind now”

“Employee 2: Well work isn’t supposed to be fun is it?  Otherwise it wouldn’t be called work”

Both employees are clearly verbalising a feeling of low energy.  Work not being fun any more.  A real grind.  One employee is clearly suffering because of it, the other seems to have come to terms with the fact that the work they do isn’t fun.

Can Work = Fun?

Employee 2’s point of view is quite common, even if it isn’t verbalised.  Fun and work are mutually exclusive.  You can’t be working and have fun, you can’t have fun if you’re working.

Without going into the detail around what counts as “work” and what counts as “fun”, the principles of Talent Dynamics would disagree with this view.  If you are doing an activity or task that you are good at, you enjoy or are trusted in, chances are you are going to feel supercharged, a state referred to as flow.  If you are in flow you will be having fun (that is not to say there won’t be pressure, that’s a different thing).

And this is the key to understanding how to ensure your team’s energy is supercharged and sustainable.  Ensure that the activities and tasks are given to the right people.  Not necessarily with the skills and experience but the ones who will enjoy it the most.  They will be super productive (even over the ones with skills and experience) and they will enjoy what they are doing.  Enthusiasm will be high and people will have more energy.

Employee 1 sounds like they used to be given the tasks and responsibilities they enjoyed but perhaps because they were so good at it, they have been promoted, moving them out of where they are trusted and away from where they found their flow.

Employee 2 sounds like they have never been given tasks they enjoyed so never experienced flow (and likely not have a high level of trust).  They have come to terms with this fact by switching off and disengaging.  They are in it for the money, not for the pleasure of a job well done or for helping their team achieve success.

Which employee would you want in your team?  How sustainable is your team?  Have you asked which tasks your team would enjoy doing?

Featured image used with thanks to Paco Cepas

DT’s Tower: A Team Without A Supporter

Posted 11 March 2015 | 8:54 pm

We don’t live in an ideal world do we?  On paper (and the Talent Dynamics square) it would seem to be a simple matter of getting a Supporter to lead your team productively, ensuring everyone was doing the things they most enjoyed, inspiring them and delegating new tasks effectively.

So what happens when there is no Supporter, not even as a secondary profile?  If the Supporter is the natural team leader, with their focus on people and relationships, its opposite profile, the Lord (with a focus on spreadsheets and structure) must be seen as the worst team leader. Right?

A Lord leading Creators

As I’ve mentioned previously… I’m a Lord (and yes, spreadsheets, flowcharts and numbers is where my mind naturally goes) and I lead a team of Creators.  Not a Supporter in sight but as a team we work well together and certainly find our flow. Structurally and creatively 🙂

This has got me thinking about how this works and what can be learned from it.  A core principle of Talent Dynamics is that the path to Flow is based on your natural talents.  What comes easily to you.  And by layering different talents together in a team you should be able to cover all potential situations.

Change What You Do, Not Who You Are

So the answer to the Lord leading a team isn’t by acting as a Supporter.  That takes me right out of Flow.  What puts me into Flow is information and structure.  So this is how I can help the team, I can effortlessly shape and relay the information so the Creators can concentrate on creating what is needed as efficiently and as accurately as possible.  Where Creators might float around a bit(!) working out what needs to be done, who needs to do it and by when I can help impose a structure (but not too much… they are Creators after all) that helps provide boundaries through organisation and project management.

Yet that is not all that the team needs.  And this is where there have been struggles.  Creators crave significance.  They don’t (always) need their ego stroking but they do need to feel that what they are doing has an impact.  As a Lord, heavy on the detail and big on the numbers I can lack the warmth of a Supporter (read: my highest praise is a nod of satisfaction with a bullet point list of feedback on what could be improved) so I needed to think hard on how to ensure the team gets what they need.

A Final Challenge

I’m still working on it! (I am a Lord after all) What I have come up with so far is to ensure that each team member has their own ‘area’,  a little fiefdom where they can take the action that they feel needs to be taken (using their initiative to best effect) and can immediately see the benefits of what they are doing (boosting their significance).

Yet Creators can often leave chaos in their wake, so I lean on my high Tempo energy to ensure that they know they can talk to me (one to one obviously) and together we can fix the problem in the long term (they’ll have already jury rigged something) and I can tweak the detail to ensure it isn’t likely to happen again.

A final thing that I am trying to do is lean on my Steel energy to tell ‘the story of the numbers’ behind their actions.  Using quirky visuals and plenty of colour they will be able to see what they are doing is having a significant impact and give them ideas of what can be done next (without boring them with black and white figures).  Thus starting the cycle again.

I just have to try hard to ignore their desks…

😀

Featured image courtesy of Glenn Pebley

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