Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Adults Rarely Change (Without Their Own Help)

David A. Kolb's Model of Adult Learning
The older we get, the tougher it is to change. This is common knowledge in most circles. Adults learn and change at a very different rate than children. Yet, the most common way adults are trained in  work settings is eerily similar to the way we teach children in traditional education settings.

Enter co-creation.

When you need to make a major shift in a mostly adult environment, it is critical to use co-creation as a tool for change. Much like the model above, co-creation counts on experience and reflection as a key driver for movement.

To get an adult to change his/her behavior, you must first change the way he/she thinks or sees a situation. The easiest way to move someone's thoughts is to engage them on a personal level. It's the old radio station analogy - what channel are most folks tuned into? WIFM - "What's In (It) For Me?" Once folks can tie something directly to their own actions or environment  - in the near term or the long term, you have a chance to change them. People need to believe that they matter especially as it relates to work or activities they spend lots of time doing.

Co-creation fills this need by actively soliciting the experiences of all participants who will be affected by the final outcome of the desired work. Co-creation takes collaboration to the next level.

Merriam-Webster defines collaborate as: to work with another person or group in order to achieve or do something. When you collaborate, you are "working together" but collaboration alone does not define the "how."

Think of instances where you were "collaborating" with someone who was determined to do things a certain way. In the beginning,  there is an implied desire to work toward the goal. However, it is clear when one party has a particular "way" they envision that goal being accomplished. Others in the group can feel pressured or bullied onto a specific path and that is a very loose description of collaboration. Co-creation, by it's very definition, comes at a challenge without knowing what the result will be.

Co-creation combines collaboration and facilitation. Co-creation occurs best when there is a neutral facilitator guiding the process. This facilitator does not always have to be a professional facilitator but they do need to be someone who will not be affected by the challenge you are intending to solve.  The neutrality allows the facilitator to guide and control the discussion without interest or ulterior motives - their goal is to ensure a robust non-partial discussion of ideas. The facilitator will also be instrumental in forcing prioritization, again without any ties to the outcomes.

Co-creation gives everyone a voice. When people have a voice, you have your best shot at implementing change.

The next time you need to change a group of adults, you may want to take a step back and allow them to co-create the change you want implement. Especially if you want that change to stick.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Co-Creation: The Inclusion & Diversity Force Multiplier

The more Relationships Matter Now speaks to organizations about their inclusion and diversity efforts, the more I'm convinced that this space is in need of an overhaul. There is value in "off the shelf" diversity trainings such as the current hot diversity topics microaggressions, unconcious bias and culutral awareness. These courses, along with the support and follow-up companies provide can be extremely helpful toward building more inclusive work environments. But those courses alone cannot create and sustain the inclusive work environment so many companies desire to cultivate. It is imperative for companies to co-create with their associates specific inclusive behaviors that can drive the business result.

Co-creation is the inclusion and diversity industry's next force multiplier.

Let's take a step back to define a few terms before we go any further.

Businessdictionary.com defines co-creation as  a business strategy focusing on customer experience and interactive relationships. Co-creation allows and encourages a more active  involvement from the customer to create a value rich experience.

In the case of inclusion and diversity practicioners, the "customer" is the associate you serve. Co-creation between the management team and the all associates in the organization will yield the best chance for long-term implementation of any strategies and initiatives that drive toward common goals.

Co-creation calls for not only gathering input from everyone but making every person in the organization a contributor to the solution of the specific challenge the organization faces.

Now, let's look at the definition of force multiplier.

Dicitionary of Military and Associated Terms defines it as a capability that, when added to and employed by a combat force, significantly increases the combat potential of that force and thus enhances the probability of successful mission accomplishment.

It was Retired General Colin Powell who first pointed out this powerful word to me at a leadership conference in 2007. He described how this military term applied to business when he listed a group of "force mulitpliers" off the battle field such as positivity and servant leadership. With all other things equal, a force multiplier increases effectiveness  and drives it users to their goal in less time with less energy.

Organizations who utilize co-creation to solve challenges versus other methods report higher engagement and greater positive long term business results. We are not going to list the names of companies that use this method as it is a list that will immediately make more traditional companies cringe. Relationships Matter Now is proving to non-Silicon Valley orgs that co-creation works. In addition to several Employee Resource Groups/Networks projects with Fortune 500 entities, RMN utilizes co-creation on projects of all types and the results are the same. Co-creation enables organization to face challenges and achieve goals more quickly and more efficiently than other methods.

At the 2014 Forum on Workplace Inclusion, Relationships Matter Now proved co-creation's effectiveness with diverse group of diversity and inclusion leaders. Debuting at the 26th annual conference hosted by the Opus College of Business at the University of St. Thomas  in Minneapolis, RMN Managing Partner Denise Barreto led a learning session entitled Co-Creation: D&I’s Next Force Multiplier and Trusted Technique to Spark Greater Engagement for Your ERG Participants. The session was ranked #1 out of 65 learning modules over the 3 day conference. Driving that ranking was the participants perceived ability to implement techniques learned in the session. The session itself was a "work in progress." And while the facilitator directed and guided the discussion, the key takeaways from the session were "co-created" together. The session was lively, energetic and clearly gave attendees the confidence to try a new technique when they returned to their businesses.

Built on the known fact of how adults learn and retain information, co-creation is the next big driver in inclusion and diversity strategies and will lead the space into its next era of change.

Over the next serveral weeks, we will explore how co-creation works and why teams need to use this technique to drive immediate results in their inclusion and diversity efforts.

Join the conversation.

Monday, May 5, 2014

A Different Spin On A Mother's Day Tale

Identical to the band I bought myself in 2000 for Mother's Day
For the last few weeks, promotions for Mother's Day have been inescapable. And while Mother's Day can be a joyous occasion for many, for others it's a mixed bag and that was me for a long time, even after I became a mother.

I had to look no further than my jewelry box to be reminded and empowered by a small act from Mother's Day 2000.

It is a thin but beautiful platinum diamond band I gifted myself leading up to that Mother's Day. I remember precisely why I did it.

I was in the mall preparing for a trip to see my sister who had recently become a mom for the 3rd time. I was buying gifts for her and her now three kids. I remember feeling somewhat sorry for myself, I was 28 1/2 with no prospects for marriage nevermind that motherhood seem like a distant dream. All my closest friends were married and three were already moms. The one bright spot that spring was the fact that I was headed to Spain to live. I'd decided at the beginning of that year that I'd save and move to Spain that fall. Perhaps my "prospect" was in land of jamon, olives and great wine.

As I walked by jewelry stores that weekday afternoon leading up to mom fest, the Mother's Day specials were staggering. I slipped into one of them and the platinum band you see above caught my eye. It was deeply discounted and literally spoke this to me...

"You may not be a mom but you certainly serve as a mother figure to many. You share your wisdom with the younger gals in the office, with the girls in the soccer programs you attend every week and any person you encounter in need. Why not celebrate that now and forever?"

With that inner monologue, I bought the ring on the spot. As the clerk cleaned and polished it, she asked if it was a gift and I replied proudly,  "Yes, it's for me, for Mother's Day." I ignored her fighting the inclination to feel sorry for me buying my own Mother's Day gift. She feigned a smile and showed me the ring upon finishing her work. I took it and slipped it on my right ring finger right away. It was the most beautiful piece of jewelry I owned to that point.

That small act was a defiant bold move toward the life I wanted. While I was not certain I wanted to be a mom, I did want the possibility. I was not shying away from that and buying myself that platinum band that day just sent my desire hurling into the universe. If you know me, you know that a few months later and 13 days before I left for Spain, I met the man would become my husband and make me a mom just one year later.

No, the moral of this tale is not about me getting my husband and starting my family. The moral of this tale is that I valued myself enough not to wallow in a feeling of inadequacy or "less than" because I was not a mom at that moment. I had plenty to celebrate Mother's Day 2000 and I did. Even now, all these years later,   I wear that platinum band to remind me to continue to make bold moves toward what I want.

So this Mother's Day, what is it you want? What are you afraid to move toward? Why not use the occasion that celebrates motherhood to birth your dream? Regardless of your mother status or if your actual mother is around, use Mother's Day 2014 to celebrate you and all the things you mother including that dream or deep desire that is waiting for you to birth it.