Friday, May 25, 2012

May 17 Meeting Notes - Camille Smith on Data and Dialogue to Develop People [Ravi Ganesan]

On May 17th, Camille Smith, a Leadership Coach, who does Work in Progress Coaching, gave a very insightful and thought provoking presentation on data and dialogue to develop people.
Camille began the session soliciting the audience for the questions they would like to ask about the mysteries they encounter at work and find answers for. She listed the following questions raised by the audience on the white board: What makes them happy? Why are they angry? What’s going on between their ears? What motivates / excites them (to perform better)? Why do they react like they do? Why don’t they get it? How can they have so many ears? Why don’t they self-regulate? How could they think it was a good job? Why read between the lines – Just say it?

She highlighted the frequency and pace of changes occurring at work: (1) Economic Landscape (2) Technology (3) Leadership and workforce. The key for addressing these changes at work is in recognizing the following:

• People power the business. We have to work with people and solve their issues so they can solve the business problems / challenges
• We need to crunch numbers and mine information effectively in order to know what’s going on with the people doing the work
• Leadership needs different command and control structures that are aligned to face business challenges

Business leaders won’t really know what’s going on with the people within a company since numbers (from conventional tests, reviews) never represent the whole person or provide the whole answer.

She presented the contrast between Debate and Dialogue.

Debate has the following focus: Speak to be right, Express only certainty, Only my point of view is valid.

Dialogue has the focus: Speak to reveal, Express uncertainties, There are many points of view.

A video clip was shown from the movie Houston Rockets movie based on Michael Lewis' book ‘Moneyball’.

Camille highlighted the need to identify data that connected people’s talent directly to business performance in order to:
• Link talent to the required function roles
• Reveal friction points ahead of time
• Forecast how decisions would be embraced (or not)

Typically, businesses rely on objective analysis and intelligence derived from experience, intuition, etc. for making decisions. However, there is also a need to augment such decision making with Talent metrics derived from style (preferences) and ambitions of the people doing the work to produce the desired outcome.

Camille conducted an exercise with the audience for about 45 minutes with charts. She split the audience into 4 groups of about 12 people in each group. Everyone in the audience participated by marking on 4 vertical columns their individual preference styles. Each column is representative of a preference style when faced with the following:

C: How do you tend to deal with problems? The extremes range from Commanding to Collaborative
O: How you tend to relate to people without prior context? The range is from Outgoing to Objective
R: How you relate to pace of your work place? The range is from Routine to Rapid
E: How you relate to processes, procedures? The range is from Exacting to Easy-going

Unlike other personnel tests that bucket a person, the CORE scoring permits the flexibility of ratings in the mid-point, quartiles etc. of the range.

The individual scores (markings on the vertical column) were aggregated into a bigger chart for the 4 groups. Now the clustering of the CORE scores brought out the similarities and contrasts across the 4 groups. Camille highlighted that people tend to move up and down the range of each CORE score based on the context.

Camille then provided case studies of aggregated scores representing preference styles of different function roles in Marketing, Sales groups. Alignments and Misalignments of styles were quickly noticed by the audience.

The key message, as a take-away from this exercise for each of the audience:

• If you know your CORE scores, you know where you tend to come from (the preference style when you work in a context that is your comfort zone – for e.g. say, your ideal work situation)
• You become self-aware about yourself, and you become more aware of others around you.
• If you need to operate outside your preference style, You know that you need to negotiate, have a dialogue, engage with people and ask questions (e.g. Is this working for us?)

Camille then described the use of scores of 1 thru 7 for Role Profiles to identify Individual Ambitions for each of: Creative, Theoretical, Theoretical, Authoritative, Altruistic, Individualistic, Political (Competitive), Economic. A score of 1 is highly desired by the individual while 7 being the least desired score.

The above CORE scores designating individual preference styles and Role Profiles designating individual ambitions constitute Talent Metrics. Camille mentioned the availability of software that identifies individual Talent Metrics and aggregates them for a group of people (say within a department). The individual and aggregated metrics are displayed as Talent Meters. A new addition to the group is surveyed and this person’s scores are compared with those of the group.

When used improperly, Metrics can cause mistakes and result in humans being treated like interchangeable widgets. Examples include:
• Keeping a metric alive when it has no clear relevance to the business
• Assessing only simple measures likes grades, test scores which can fail to predict success

All of above mentioned skills, styles are required; they need to be applied when a business needs them. Periodic monitoring and Training are necessary to interpret the metrics effectively.

The Talent Metrics help a business to make effective predictions and forecast at different levels, across different departments to address its challenges in a rapidly changing environment.

Now Camille went back to the various questions listed by the audience at the start of the session. The audience acknowledged that the Talent Metrics would enhance self-awareness to engage, have a dialogue and find the answers. A key requirement is a commitment for the desired outcome across the board.
Ravi Ganesan has over 20 years of experience in Product and Engineering Management. As General Manager of TIBCO India, he was responsible for all fiscal and operations planning. He hired dozens of engineers, coordinated with external organizations and set up processes and procedures for development, facilities, finance, IT, release, support, and travel. Similarly, as a Senior Director in Adapter Engineering, TIBCO he was responsible for product management and engineering execution for over 25 adapter product lines (about 15% of company revenue). He has proven himself to be highly effective at Program and Process Management. He was responsible for the day-to-day management of two off-shore contracting companies in India, with a total of close to 100 employees. Among the areas for which he was responsible: setting product requirements and specifications; on-time delivery; budget management; designing SLAs and performance metrics; and coordinating and communicating with other organizations (marketing, sales, alliance contracts, legal, release, etc.).

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