Hundreds of scientists, engineers and technicians stood around a table draped in black cloth. Beneath the cloth was a small replica of an old rocket. The ritual, organized by leaders at NASA, symbolized the death of a massive rocket program that lasted almost two decades, but had to be terminated due to the emergence of new technologies. The following blog series discusses the importance of addressing the past when implementing organization change and the danger of resisting. (Click to continue) Read more >
BMW has a “living history” museum. American airlines has a museum tracing back its history 80 years. Goldman Sachs employed anthropologists to unearth key themes of its history. The following blog post explores what these companies already know: the critical role history plays in leading change. (click to continue reading)

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“It is often stated, more as conventional wisdom than verifiable truth, that history repeats itself…History never repeats itself because every historical moment is unique. Nevertheless, the process of history does admit to a poetic quality that more accurately depicts its true character. History rhymes -- not repeats -- in revealing parallels between the events, actors, and outcomes from different periods. Implicit in this approach is the idea that the subject of history is not only continuity, but also that history is about development and change.” The following blog series builds on Professor Gary Field's eloquent point about the rhyme of history and dives deep on a topic often neglected when leading organization change. (Click to continue reading) Read more >
Tell me if this sounds like a meeting you’ve attended:

Sally, the group’s leader, has a problem for the group to solve. She opens the floor for discussion and Bob and Jane immediately start talking. Each talks over the other for a few seconds until Jane relents. Bob then restarts his sentence, fully aware no one could hear what either was saying before. Bob starts to wind down which cues Jane and Barbara to start speaking over his final few words, to let it be known they are next to speak. Jane, having been thwarted by Bob already, will not be stopped again; this time she raises her voice letting Barbara know it’s not her turn. Jane’s point turns out to be completely unrelated to Bob’s. Once Jane finishes, Sally decides to step in to reiterate the problem, hoping people will see they are talking past each other. George takes the opportunity to thank Sally for refocusing the group as it was clear they were “having trouble communicating.” George proceeds to lay out his position, failing to respond to anything either Bob or Jane said. Everyone in the meeting wishes they had called in sick. (Click through to read more.) Read more >
We are all familiar with the dark side of working in groups. We may acknowledge the benefits of having a team, but the mental stamina it takes and the helpless feeling of losing time to never-ending aimless discussions (passive-aggressive arguments) really test our patience and ability to persevere. Often, if not most of the time, these problems are the result of poor group process (that is, how things get done, as opposed to what gets done), so if you hope to be a leader (or rather, an effective leader) it is your job to attend to the group’s process and spare your team the painful tedium of unproductive group meetings. In my last post, I introduced group process by telling the story of how I accidentally set up a group for failure. This post tells the story of how I began to set things right. (Click through to read more.) Read more >
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