Accountability: It's a tricky world

Accountability seems to be a simple enough idea. For example, a manager tells Joe to bring the coffee and Jane to bring the donuts. They are held accountable for delivering the goods. For professional jobs we usually talk about accountability in terms of big outcomes, such as hitting a revenue target or delivering a project on time. Something needs to be achieved and someone is held responsible for achieving it. But if it’s that simple, why are accountabilities a perennial challenge even for experienced managers?

In this topic we will:

  • Look at the methods for making accountability work.
  • Discuss where our attempts to create accountability cause problems.
  • Develop insight into the ambiguities which inevitably surround accountability.
Creelman, David
Analyzing Employee Performance

Arguably, the most important job of a manager is to manage the performance of employees.  Whether they use traditional performance management – goal setting with the employee followed by regular performance monitoring followed by an annual appraisal – or a less traditional method such as self-directed teams, effective performance managers, we suggest, look before they leap. Before they determine the best way to increase performance, they take the time to analyze the employee’s current performance.

Analyzing performance is a subset – albeit a critical one – of the entire set of performance management skills.  Like a doctor, your first and most important job in helping your employees is diagnosis – determining WHY an employee may not be performing as expected.

This session invites you to put on your analytic mindset and examine the performance of YOUR employees.  We will then invite ideas from your colleagues in CoachingOurselves to determine what you can do to increase employee productivity and morale.

The objectives of this session are to:

  • Follow a process for analyzing employee performance.
  • Identify the possible reasons for a performance gap in an employee.
  • Identify possible approaches for addressing the performance gap.
Traut, Terence
Appreciating Appreciative Inquiry

Appreciative Inquiry (AI) offers an alternative to the problem solving approach that dominates most organizations today.  AI focuses on what is already working within an organization and why it works in order to build from strengths that exist but may be hidden from view.

The famous management writer, Peter Drucker, argued that the task of leadership is to create an alignment of strengths, thus making weaknesses irrelevant. David has argued that organizations grow toward what they persistently ask questions about. In this session, you will ask questions to reveal the positive core within your organization.

The objectives of this session are to:

  • Differentiate between problem solving and appreciative inquiry.
  • Learn how to ask appreciative questions.
  • Appreciate how the strength and potential of your organization can flow from your personal stories and imaginations.
Cooperrider, David
Zimmerman, Brenda
Being a Catalytic Leader

As in chemistry where a catalyst provokes or speeds a reaction, catalytic leadership sparks a critical mass of action for long-term impact.

The idea of catalytic leadership has taken off recently as people begin to think about the difficulty in making change happen in situations where potential leaders might not have executive authority over various groups. There are many situations like this in organizations, especially with their increasing use of outsourcing, contractors, joint ventures, strategic alliances, multi-agency collaboration, and project groups.

The objectives of this session are to:

  • Understand what a Catalytic Leader is.
  • Examine the personal characteristics of a Catalytic Leader.
  • Explore opportunities for becoming a Catalytic Leader.


Crawley, Rick
Beyond Bickering

Much has been written about conflict management and the consequences of not dealing with major disagreements but few of us stop to think about the costs of bickering over matters of minor significance. Bickering and incivility can wreak havoc with organizations if left unchecked, contributing to low morale, decreased productivity, and staff turnover. In this topic, you will have the opportunity to investigate some issues which may be contributing to bickering within your workplace and to develop solutions to minimize them.

 This topic will provide you with an opportunity to:

  • Understand that there is a real cost to your organization and yourselves if  you allow petty differences to interfere with your working relationships.
  • Drill down to some of the root causes of bickering.
  • Develop some solutions to help prevent and deal with bickering within your organization.
Koop, Dora
Beyond Bullying

Bullying occurs when someone demonstrates a pattern of unpleasant behaviours towards someone else. It can create havoc with people’s lives and organizational performance. It is, therefore, worth investing some time in analyzing what it is, how it arises, and what can be done about it.

Whether you are experiencing some bullying problems within your organization or are interested in understanding more fully some of the dynamics around the misuse of power within organizations, understanding bullying will help you build and sustain better outcomes.

The objectives of this session are to:

  • Help you recognize different types of bullying patterns of behaviour and  how these might arise.
  • Encourage you to reflect on how you might constructively tackle situations where bullying is occurring.
Aitkenhead, Marilyn
Brand Building for Every Manager

This session takes branding out of the marketing department and puts it into your hands. A brand is more than just a product; it also represents the values and promises made to your customers. Does the brand experience you personally provide live up to your organization’s brand promise? This topic presents a holistic approach to branding in which all activities of the organization are aligned, interdependent, and integrated. 

The objectives for this topic are to:

  • Appreciate the concept of brand.
  • Be exposed to a holistic theory of branding.
  • Realize how you as an individual impact your organization’s brand.
Kotler, Philip
Candid Conversations

Pixar has made a string of great movies including Toy Story, A Bug’s Life, and Finding Nemo. Pixar’s CEO, Ed Catmull, says one of the reasons for their success is candor. People have to be willing to say they feel if a plot line is confusing, if a character looks wrong, or if a joke is not funny. This can be difficult to do, especially after a writer or artist has put their heart into the work. 

People have to be willing to speak up if a process is not working, if a manager isn’t giving clear directions, or if politics are undermining productivity. This can be difficult to do too, especially when you want to maintain good relationships with colleagues and do not want to offend your boss.

A ceaseless effort to enable candid conversations is necessary in every organization. Let’s look at how you can bring candid conversations to your work.

The objectives of this topic are to: 

  • Learn techniques to enable candid conversations.
  • Practice candid conversations.
  • Appreciate how you can personally contribute to a culture of candor.
Creelman, David
Career Anchors

Honest, transparent discussions about career goals and motives contribute to the ability of organizations to match individual and business aspirations. But this requires that employees have a clear concept of what they are good at, what motivates them, and what they value. This self-image is their “career anchor”.

Working with an awareness of career anchors, managers can increase their team outputs and facilitate an open dialogue with reports on their different skills and needs. When employees feel valued, engaged, and are aligned with strategic business goals, their organizations will better endure and thrive in today’s complex world.

The objectives for this topic are to:

  • Understand how the different career anchors relate to job situations.
  • Determine your personal career anchors and how they match with your current position and tasks.
  • Appreciate how this concept can inform the way you work with others.
Schein, Edgar
Chains, Hubs, Webs, and Sets

It has been popular to see organizations as chains: linear sequences of activities. But many organizations don’t fit this, and even ones that partially do can benefit from considering alternative perspectives: organizing as hubs, webs, and/or sets. This can make a huge difference to how you manage.

In this topic you will:

  • Be introduced to four ways of thinking about organizations: as chains, hubs, webs, and sets
  • Understand how varied managing can be in these different forms
  • Appreciate the impact of considering management not just atop a chain or set, but at the center of a hub and within a web
Mintzberg, Henry
Changing Things: What and How

Frustrated with how things currently work within your organization? Overwhelmed about where to start and what exactly to do in order to bring about change? Most people approach change in a piecemeal manner, failing to achieve lasting impact. This topic provides you with frameworks of “change what?” and “change how?” in order for you to better do so within your scope of responsibility. Whether you need to command dramatic change, engineer systematic change, or socialize organic change, you will develop a clearer idea as to what needs to be done within your organization, using what methods, and by what means.

The objectives for this topic are to:

  • Understand different ways to think about changing your organization.
  • Appreciate how the various processes of change interrelate.
  • Identify what you need to change and suitable methods to do so.
LeNir, Phil
Mintzberg, Henry
Coaching Others

Why does coaching play such a prominent role in today’s complex business world? In this Coaching Others session we look at how coaching can enhance your organization - at all levels. Discussing past experiences and listening to stories from your colleagues will help you clarify what it takes to be an effective agent of change. Your CoachingOurselves group may prove to be the ideal place for you to practice this invaluable managerial skill.

The objectives for this topic are to:

  • Learn what coaching is and what it isn’t.
  • Understand the role of coaching within an organization.
  • Identify key coaching skills.
  • Apply all this in coaching each other in your CoachingOurselves group.
Patwell, Beverley
Control Through Decision Making

A decision is a commitment to action; a managerial decision is usually a commitment by the manager for other people to act. This means that much of decision making is about controlling the activities of other people. In this topic, we show how the important function of control can be understood through the lens of decision making.

The objectives of this topic are to:

  • See the relationship between control and decision making.
  • Appreciate the different forms that control can take.
  • Consider how you can be more effective in your decision making and controlling.
Mintzberg, Henry
Crafting Strategy

Strategy, defined as plan, pattern, position, and perspective, is used to derive four distinct processes of strategy formation: planning, visioning, venturing, and learning. Each is considered as it applies to your organization and the session concludes with an integrative model that includes all of these.

The objectives for this session are to:

  • Understand better the concept of strategy.
  • Develop an appreciation for the various processes of developing strategy.
  • Consider this in light of the needs of your organization, or department, and what you can do about it.
Mintzberg, Henry
Dealing with the Pressures of Managing

The pressures of managing are constant, not temporary: in other words, pressure in this job is business as usual.

This topic looks at the popular myth of the manager as fully in control and replaces it with some of the facts about the characteristics of managing: the hectic pace, the fragmented work, the orientation to action. How is anyone supposed to think, let alone think ahead, amidst all this?

The objectives for this topic are to:

  • Bring managing off its pedestal, into its realities.
  • Appreciate the inherent characteristics of managerial work.
  • Consider how best to deal with these challenges.
Mintzberg, Henry
Decision Making: It’s Not What You Think

Sometimes we think too much about our decisions. Perhaps we would do better to see them more insightfully. Or just act on them in order to think about them better. This session contrasts "thinking first" with "seeing first" and "doing first" as approaches to decision making, using examples from finding a mate to handling decisions at work.

The objectives for this topic are to:

  • Get beyond thinking in decision making to seeing and doing.
  • Appreciate that we have to act in order to think, as much as think in order to act.
  • Approach some key decisions differently.
Mintzberg, Henry
Democratize Your Organization: Rethinking the 21st Century Workplace

The world is radically changing. Markets are becoming globalized. Organizations are getting leaner and flatter. Stability is elusive. Enduring growth and sustainable profits come from entrepreneurial thinking and constant innovation. 

The old ways of running a business are no longer appropriate. It’s time for organizations to rethink the foundations of their workplaces. I maintain that the only way to deal with change today is to embed democracy and greater freedom into your organization.

The objectives for this topic will invite you to:

  • Learn about six radically different management practices to democratize your workplace.
  • Discuss the benefits vs. risks of implementing some of these.
  • Determine which new practices you and your group are seriously willing to commit to getting implemented in your organization.

The model for this topic is my company Semco which has attracted worldwide attention for the unconventional approach we take to managing our employees and conducting our businesses

Semler, Ricardo
Developing Our Organization as a Community

Experiences with CoachingOurselves and the three related programs from which it has sprung suggest a set of guidelines for the development of an organization as a community. This CoachingOurselves topic presents six guidelines and asks you to consider how you can apply them in your own organization.

The objectives of this session are:

  • To appreciate how an organization can develop as a community.
  • To come up with ways to do so in your own organization.
LeNir, Phil
Mintzberg, Henry
Emotional Intelligence: Your Inner and Outer Self

Having a high IQ (Intelligence Quotient) is important for managers but so is having a high EQ (Emotional Quotient), or what is called emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is not so much a thing in itself as a convenient label for a range of interpersonal skills. Our ability to manage emotions, both our own and those of others—can play a critical role in determining our happiness and success at work.

Can you develop emotional intelligence? Many people think so—or this would be a very short topic!

The objectives of this topic are to:

  • Reflect on how well you know yourself.
  • Consider how you relate to others at work.
  • Determine how you can support others in increasing their emotional intelligence.
Creelman, David
Engagement: Beyond Buy-in

People that are engaged with their organizations describe their work experiences in marked terms. They talk about how alive they feel, how creative and emboldened. They talk about how much they’ve grown through their work and how much they look forward to entering the organization each day, even when things are difficult or stressful. Not only are they highly engaged, they are supple and responsive to shifts in both their external and internal environments or job descriptions. During this session we will explore some of the key dynamics underlying this kind of engagement.

This topic invites you to:

  • Reflect on six of the most powerful practices that we have seen within engaging organizations.
  • Explore what is possible within your own organization.
  • Look at what you can do personally to contribute to this.
Nilsson, Warren
Paddock, Tana
FeedFORWARD Instead of FeedBACK

Providing feedback has long been considered to be an essential skill for managers. Traditionally, this information has been communicated in the form of “downward feedback” from managers to their employees. 

But there is a fundamental problem with this type of feedback: it focuses on a past, on what has already occurred—not on the infinite variety of opportunities that can happen in the future.  As such, feedback can be limited and static, as opposed to expansive and dynamic.

This session invites you to examine the way in which you provide—and accept—feedback by learning a technique called feedFORWARD.  By increasing the effectiveness of this important exchange, you can increase productivity and positively impact morale.

The objectives for this topic are to:

  • Define and demonstrate feedFORWARD.
  • Explain why feedFORWARD is more effective than feedback.
Goldsmith, Marshall
Traut, Terence
Fit to Lead

Managing is hard work: it can be wearing physically, as well as emotionally. Long hours often lead to a lack of exercise, missed meals and unhealthy compensatory eating. In this topic we present some simple tools to incorporate into your busy workday to promote a healthy lifestyle. You will be able to increase your energy levels to better meet the demands of your work and also help prevent many diseases of modern life.

As medical professionals, we have applied our expertise to a new interactive model of medicine called the Business Leader’s Health Programme (BLHP). We have used this model with over 80,000 senior managers with remarkable success. Today you will look at how to maintain a healthy physical lifestyle with our Health Action Plan (HAP).

The objectives for this topic are to:

  • Reflect on your present health situation.
  • Understand why you may make unhealthy choices and how to make healthier ones.
  • Decide how you can incorporate the Health Action Plan into your workday.
McGannon, Juliette
McGannon, Michael
Five Ideas about Teamwork

Most people like the idea of being on a team—although working on a team can be another matter. Not only can frictions create problems; the teams we work on rarely match up with the ideal vision we have of teams. When we think of a team we draw on images from sport: a small stable group of people working towards an important common goal. In organizations we might be on several teams, they may have dozens of people, and not be aligned. And a team may be virtual, so we may never even meet face-to-face.

 In this topic, we will look at the world of teamwork and give some tips to navigate through the challenges.

 The objectives of this topic are to:

  • Increase your understanding of the different sorts of teams you might work on.
  • Review some of the research on what makes teams work well.
  • Identify something specific that you can do to improve how the teams you are on function. 
Creelman, David

What prevents organizations from noticing transformations occurring around them? Why do they find themselves easily caught and surprised by a new turn of events? Why must organizations constantly revise their forecasts and change their priorities? Why do they so often lack foresight?

This topic introduces you to the power of foresight and shows you how it can be carefully cultivated by re-educating attention. Foresight is the capacity to be finely tuned in to the undercurrents of events and happenings all around us. It involves developing the ability to see what is unseen or overlooked and seeks meaning and coherence beneath the surface of things. The ability to 'read' and 'interpret’ the changing moods of markets, popular opinions, customers, and employees are vital capabilities that no forward-looking individual or business can afford to ignore.

The objectives for this topic are to:

  • Show the consequences of a lack of foresight.
  • Understand why and how we develop perceptual blindness that restricts our capacity for foresight.
  • Develop attentional strategies in your daily managing that help cultivate an awareness of the unseen, the obscure, and the overlooked.
Chia, Robert
From Top Performer to Manager

Senior management often promotes top performers into management positions, but is this always the best choice? While this may seem to be the obvious path, the skills required to be a top performer are quite different from the skills needed to be an effective manager.

The objectives for this topic are to:

  • Reflect on your own managerial path.
  • Determine which characteristics are important when filling a managerial position.
  • Discuss how you might better help individuals prepare for the role of manager.
Moore, Karl
Global of Worldly?: Diversity in the 21st Century

We hear a great deal these days about being “global”. It’s like motherhood: who could possibly question that? Maybe we all should!

If you think this topic has little to do with you as a middle-manager, whether you are working in Toledo or Timbuktu, read this and you may be surprised! What we all really need is to be more “worldly”. To be worldly has been defined: “experienced in life, sophisticated, practical.” Imagine more companies like this. To be worldly means travelling into other people’s worlds, whether at home or abroad, in order to broaden your own worldview. The discussions in this topic are designed to get you thinking about striking a balance between being global and being worldly.

The objectives for this topic are to:

  • Understand what “global” and “worldly” mean.
  • Appreciate that many companies have to be more “worldly”, and not just more global.
  • Discuss which direction you and your company need to go towards and how to get there.
Mintzberg, Henry
High Performing Teams

High performing teams increase the effectiveness of high performing individuals.  Knowing how to create and sustain high performing teams often determines a manager’s success – and the inevitable success of the initiative or organization.

Teams became all the rage in the 1980s, with a bevy of experts and opinions oozing from corporations, business schools, and theorists.  Over the years, several key truths about teams have emerged after the winds of hyperbole have subsided.

This session invites you to examine your team and compare it to characteristics of exemplary high performing teams.  Determine how to make your team a higher performing team.

The objectives for this topic are to:

  • Identify the eight elements of exemplary high performing teams.
  • Determine how to increase the effectiveness of your team.
Traut, Terence
Igniting Momentum with Customer Insights

Some companies are able to deliver sustained exceptional growth year after year: they have momentum. Companies such as IKEA, Virgin Atlantic, and Apple come to mind. What is the key to their success? An external focus promoting continual insights into their customers’ needs.

Igniting momentum in your organization starts first and foremost with customer engagement: exploring the customers’ space and then developing compelling offers. In this topic, you will discuss four paths to systematically investigating your customer’s needs in search of insights. Everything else a company does is dependent on the quality of this exploration process.

The objectives for this topic are to:

  • Appreciate how customer insights fuel momentum in organizations.
  • Investigate four paths to discovery.
  • Discuss how you can apply this to your organization and the potential barriers to success.
Larréché, Jean-Claude
In Praise of Middle Management

As a manager in the “middle”, some of you may have felt stuck between the demands of senior management and the personal needs of those in your unit. You work under tight constraints and limited resources to balance the organization’s needs, and your employees’ abilities and well-being.

My research has found that middle managers, often underappreciated, play a critical role especially during periods of change. In this topic, you will look at why and how they achieve this and reflect upon yourself in these roles.

The objectives of this topic are to:

  • Become aware of the valuable role middle-level managers play in an organization, especially related to managing change.
  • Reflect upon your strengths and how you can enhance your ability to enable change.
  • Apply this to something you wish to change within your organization.
Nguyen, Quy Huy
Innovate Using Generative Relationships

Generative relationships are ones which bring unforeseen, novel solutions to a complex context. Managers often face challenges where no precedents exist, such as when a company or industry faces a new competitive landscape. Relationships which have generative potential can be key to creating innovative solutions.

But how do you know whether relationships have generative potential? And how can you deliberately increase the generative potential of relationships? This topic provides you with the opportunity to look at your stakeholder relationships to determine their generative potential.

This topic enables you to:

  • Identify the generative potential of relationships.
  • Apply the STAR model to improve existing relationships and develop new ones.
Zimmerman, Brenda
Introducing Culture in Organizations

Have you ever wondered why there is so much talk about organisational culture these days and why there are so many management books written about the topic? Does your company culture matter to you, especially as it is unlikely that you personally can do much to change it?

An awareness of culture can make a big difference to how you perceive management problems and to how you act on these problems. Understanding cultures can enhance inter-group relationships, and perhaps, even help you get a promotion more quickly. 

Whether you are working in a very stable culture, or one which is constantly in transition, we will show you that you can be more effective as a manager if you understand how your culture works.

The following questions summarize the objectives for this topic:

  • What is culture?
  • Where do cultures come from?
  • How can culture affect your job and your organization?
Turnbull, Sharon
Introducing Strategy through Robin Hood

Robin Hood is Britain’s most famous outlaw. In ancient times, he was reputed to have stolen from the rich to give to the poor. In these modern times, the story of Robin Hood serves as a wonderful way to introduce some basic ideas about strategy. This session begins by considering the strategies of Robin Hood as a way of moving into the strategies of your own organizations. This case, written by Joseph Lampel has become one of the, if not the, most widely used business cases in the world.

The objectives for this topic are to:

  • Learn some basics of strategy
  • Apply this to your own organization
Lampel, Joseph
It Does Have an Off Button

I-phones, I-pads, Blackberries, Androids, and Kindles are transforming our lives: at work and at home, for better and for worse. 

These technologies offer obvious benefits but also pose hidden threats that managers need to understand. This topic asks you to evaluate the impact of these technologies on your managing and then generate some ideas for taking command of them. 

The objectives for today’s topic are to:

  • Appreciate the benefits and threats of these technologies.
  • Harness the technology to improve your effectiveness.
  • Understand the importance of soft information in managing effectively.
Todd, Peter
Mintzberg, Henry
Knowledge Sharing for Innovation -- The Wiki Way

This topic explores the difference between the traditional way of doing business and doing business the wiki way.

A wiki is a democratic process in which people share information in a way that allows others to easily review and update their knowledge. Everyone is familiar with Wikipedia, but if you looked closely, would you discover similar processes all around you? Are there informal ways in which knowledge is shared in your organization and could they be enhanced by certain policies and practices?

The objectives for this session are to:

  • Understand what the wiki approach to managing involves and how it differs from traditional approaches.
  • Explore the extent and limitations of wiki-like knowledge creation.
  • Consider the possibilities and implications for transformative change.
Gosling, Jonathan
Leading Change in Difficult Times

When the economic times are tough, everyone in your organization feels intense pressure to be profitable and keep ahead of the competition. In times like these, management’s task is to motivate employees to maintain productivity and performance. But how can you ensure employees feel inspired and genuinely appreciated when the budget is being cut and people are uncertain about the future of their jobs?

This CoachingOurselves session explores simple yet powerful methods to guide organizations through the most challenging of times.

The objectives for this topic are to:

  • Appreciate how a cycle of deteriorating morale occurs during times of crisis
  • Understand potential threats to employee engagement and how you can effectively tackle each one
  • Decide how you can best motivate and inspire your staff during a downturn
Oliver, John J.
Lenses for Leadership Insights

The management thinker Peter Drucker once stated, “Insight lasts; theories don’t.“

Breakthroughs and insights require going beyond your habitual approach to issues and seeing them in new ways. This topic offers three brief stories to help shift your perspective and promote insights on current issues within your organization. These thought-provoking stories range in topic from perfume magnates to physicists to baboons. What they all have in common, is that they provide different “lenses” through which you can view your organizational challenges.

The objectives for this topic are to:

  • Notice previously unseen aspects of issues and problems in your organization.
  • Apply new insights to resolving challenges and seizing opportunities.
  • Provide you with a method for ongoing innovative thinking.
de Jaager, Jerry
Lessons from Machiavelli and Lao Tzu

In this session, you will gain insight into leadership styles by extracting valuable lessons regarding power and empowerment from Eastern and Western classical literature. Two extreme models—autocratic, top down leadership and a more participatory, empowering leadership style—are vividly illustrated by, respectively, the political theorist Niccolò Machiavelli and the ancient Chinese thinker, Lao Tzu.

The objectives for this topic are to:

  • Contrast leadership styles derived from Machiavelli and Lao Tzu
  • Discuss how these leadership styles are or are not relevant to modern business
  • Identify examples of each style in modern business
  • Reflect on how Machiavelli and Lao Tzu can inform your own leadership style

Here's How it Works

Wagner Weick, Cynthia
Management Competency Raising

Our objective is to be competent, right?  Companies pay a lot of attention to “management competencies”. The list of possible competencies is so long that it would take you a lifetime to learn them—leaving no time to manage! The objective of this one 75-minute session is obviously not to master all of them. Rather, it will help you deepen your understanding of management competencies and reflect on how you use them.

You may have heard of “consciousness raising”. Here we are concerned with what might be called “competency raising”: raising your consciousness about competencies. You will be more aware of how you practice the key competencies by sharing your own experiences of what works well for you, and listening to what works well for other managers. In doing so, you will enhance your overall competence to practice management.     

The main objectives for this topic are to:

  • Increase awareness of the range of competencies used in managing.
  • Become conscious about how you practice some of these management competencies.
  • Expose yourself to alternate ways of practicing competencies.
Mintzberg, Henry
Sadilova, Sasha
Management Styles: Art, Craft, Science

Management is a practice where art, craft, and science meet. Most managers tend to tilt one way or another: toward creative art, practical craft, or organized science. The trouble is that when you tilt too far, your managing can go out of  balance. This session asks you to consider your managerial style: how do you see it and how do your colleagues see it? How might you want to adjust it and how can you get there?

The objectives for this topic are to:

  • Learn about some basic styles of managing.
  • Understand your style and those of your colleagues.
  • Consider modifying your style.
Mintzberg, Henry
Sadilova, Sasha
Managing Conflict in Teams

“Contrary to popular myth, great teams are not characterized by an absence of conflict. On the contrary, in my experience, one of the most reliable indicators of a team that is continually learning is the visible conflict of ideas … conflict becomes, in effect, part of the on-going, creative dialogue”.  - Peter Senge

Effective teams do not suddenly emerge on their own, fully developed and highly motivated. They require careful and consistent nurturing, as they evolve from a collection of individuals to an integrated, well functioning unit that unleashes the creative potential in each of its members.

One of the critical barriers to developing such teams is the conflict that naturally arises when several individuals are asked to work together. This topic will help you develop your ability to manage such conflict with confidence and skill.

This topic will help you to:

  • Learn to expect conflict in a team and value it as a rich resource for creativity.
  • Reflect on your own conflict management style and how it might be having an impact on your teams.
  • Explore skills for successful conflict management, and discuss with your colleagues how you might apply them in your work.
Laiken, Marilyn
Managing Culture Change: Beyond the Status Quo

If you are to lead a successful cultural change initiative, then you require a basic understanding of change dynamics, including the nature of resistance to change. Without this knowledge, most change projects
are doomed from the start.

In this topic, you have the opportunity to use a “force-field analysis” to clarify the forces presently maintaining the status quo in your organization. You will understand how you can best decrease
these forces and strengthen those that are already working toward the changes you want to achieve.

The objectives for this topic are to:

  • Specify a cultural change goal.
  • Understand what forces are already working towards this change and which are restraining it.
  • Decide the next action steps to start the change process.
Schein, Edgar
Managing Metaphors

Metaphors—which transfer concepts from one context to another—are typically viewed as linguistic devices used by poets. In this session you will see that metaphor can also be a powerful tool for creating and communicating new approaches to managing.  You will have an opportunity to reflect on the common metaphors that prevail in your organization today and to discuss new metaphors to inspire and spur action.

 The objectives for this topic are to:

  • Learn why metaphors are effective.
  • Create metaphors that provide insight into managing.
  • Appreciate how using new metaphors can enhance your ability to conceptualize and communicate your approach to management creatively and effectively.
Wagner Weick, Cynthia
Managing on the Edges

You, as managers, generally spend as much time “managing on the edges” – in other words out of your unit relating to other components of the organization and to the outside world – as you do inside the unit. Here we consider various roles related to this important work with a concentration on “buffering”: how to manage a delicate balance of outside forces coming into your unit.

The objectives for this topic are to:

  • Appreciate that managing on the edges is as important to most managers as managing the unit itself.
  • Understand the key roles by which managers do this.
  • Probe into “buffering”: how can managers better protect their units from outside forces without completely disconnecting them?
Mintzberg, Henry
Managing on the Planes of Information, People, and Action

This topic addresses the essence of managing: what is it that managers really do. The answer proposed is that managing happens on three planes: through information, with people, and to direct action. All are necessary, but managers often favor one plane over the others, depending on their situation and style.

In this topic, you will:

  • Come to appreciate the essence of managing.
  • Consider your own approach to managing and how you can improve it.
Mintzberg, Henry
Managing on Tightropes: The Inescapable Conundrums of Managing

Managing is full of conundrums, paradoxes or predicaments. Every way a manager turns there seems to be some strange dilemma lurking. These are part of the management process itself—they are managing! Think of them as the tightropes on which all managers must walk.

This means that most of these concerns cannot be resolved or eliminated, but have to be faced, understood, and alleviated in order for managers to be more effective. That is our purpose today.

The objectives for this module are to:

  • Explore a few of the conundrums at the heart of managing:
    • How to connect when managing is inherently disconnected? 
    • How to go deep when the pressure is to get it done? 
    • How to be confident in managing without becoming arrogant?
  • Share ways to face these in order to be more effective in your managing.
Mintzberg, Henry
Managing Time and Energy

Work is not just about making brilliant decisions. It is also about how we manage our time and energy, individually and as a team.  Almost everyone feels there is not enough time in a day, but there are days when we feel “Wow, we got a lot done”.  How do we make that happen more often?

Sometimes the problem isn’t lack of time at all, it’s lack of energy.  When we are at our best we can zip through a project, but when we are tired or uninspired the hours go by but not a lot is accomplished.

The objectives for this topic are to:

  • Identify how we currently manage our time.
  • Learn how to work with our natural rhythms so we can maximize creative and productive work.
  • Reflect on ways we can work to make the most of time and energy.
Creelman, David
Managing to Lead

Leadership is an important aspect of managing. But what does this mean in your day-to-day work? As you will see, leadership is a complex interplay of factors, which requires balance.

The objectives for this topic are to:

  • Determine which factors contribute to effective leadership.
  • Understand how to better balance your leadership style.
  • Clarify what you can do to enhance your contribution to a well-led organization.
Gosling, Jonathan
Models of Engagement: Employer-Employee Relations

In this topic we will look at what different “deals” exist between an organization and its members and what the implications of these are. What do employees owe an organization and what do organizations owe an employee?  Where do you see your organization and where would you like to see it going?

The objectives for this introduction into employment relations are to:

  • Be introduced to various models of employee engagement, with a focus on the “big three”: the family, economic, and political models.
  • Assess the realities of these models in regards to your own organization.
  • Discuss where you would like to see your organization and how you can help it get there.
Creelman, David
Negotiating Styles

Every day you negotiate with colleagues, vendors, and clients in order to achieve understanding, resolve differences, gain approval and take action. Youfrequently negotiate with people whose style differs greatly from your own, making it difficult to reach a satisfactory agreement.  Awareness of your preferred styles, their strengths and limitations, is fundamental to effective negotiating. 

This topic introduces you to five styles of negotiating and asks you to reflect on these in relation to your work.

This session will help you to:

  • Gain insight into five styles of negotiation.
  • Understand the impact of your preferred styles.
  • Identify how to adapt your styles in order to enhance your negotiating performance.
Flood Consedine, Morna
Opening Up the Moral Senses

Most of us have consciences. Despite this fact, we sometimes overlook or fail to identify moral issues that arise in the course of our work; we can fail to voice our own moral concerns directly and forcefully, and fail to pay attention when others voice moral concerns.

These shortcomings in moral seeing, speaking, and hearing can be costly to our organizations, our fellow workers, and our own sense of integrity. In this session we look at examples of these failings and explore how moral concerns can become more open and active within our organizations. 

The objectives for this topic are to:

  • Learn what is meant by “morals”.
  • Explore what role morals play, and  should play, in your organization.
  • Discuss the most important moral issues facing your organization today.
Bird, Frederick
Ordinary People, Extraordinary Leadership

To embrace the type of leadership the 21st century most needs, managers must return to their most profound personal perspective, imagination and wisdom. This session challenges you to take yourselves as seriously as you take the people whom you most admire. Grant your own perceptions, ideas, images, feelings, and dreams the same respect that you give to your most respected leaders.

The objectives for this topic are to:

  • Identify admirable leadership qualities.
  • Reflect on your own strengths and talents.
  • Reclaim your leadership skills.
Adler, Nancy
Political Games in Organizations

You may have noticed that people play political games in organizations. Not you of course - other people. Nevertheless, it is important to understand how they do it and why.

Little time needs to be devoted to the dysfunctional role of politics in organizations. It is divisive and costly, burning up energy that instead could go to the pursuit of the organization’s mission. It can also lead to all kinds of distortions – the sustainment of outmoded powers or the introduction of unjustified new ones.

Less widely appreciated, however, are the conditions under which politics serve a functional role in organizations — the positive side of politics and what it can do to help an organization. This topic gives you an opportunity to understand why and how political games are played and when they can be useful.

In this topic, you will:

  • Look at the various types of political games most commonly played in organizations.
  • Understand when and how they can advance the organization's goals.
Mintzberg, Henry
Practical Tips for Leading Meetings that Matter

This topic is dedicated to any of you who have ever said, “Oh no, not another meeting.”

Leading “meetings that matter” is a critical leadership skill that promotes learning and support among participants, and facilitates responsible action. By applying simple techniques to your meetings*, you will be able to guide participants towards common ground and shared goals, while making creative use of dissenting opinions. These techniques have proven strong antidotes against the “shorter, faster, cheaper” meeting syndrome and the challenges of running meetings in a multi-cultural world.

The objectives for this topic are to:

  • Learn practices to keep groups whole, open, and task focused.
  • Decide how to apply these practices to enhance meetings within your own organization.
*Our focus here is on interactive, face-to-face, group meetings.
Janoff, Sandra
Weisbord, Marvin
Probing Into Culture

People often talk about changing their corporate culture and building a “new culture” within their organizations but can you imagine  trying to change the culture of the United States or France? Whether your organization’s history is long and stable or short and intense, its culture is complex and deeply ingrained in its people and operations. In order to successfully effect change, corporate culture must be taken seriously. Examining it at all levels uncovers the assumptions that determine the organization’s goals, strategies, and means of action. This knowledge is the stepping stone to promoting change within your organization.

In this session, we explore culture by looking first at the symbols or “artifacts” of culture, then at the claimed or “espoused values” of culture, and finally, probing beneath these layers into the “basic underlying assumptions” of an organization’s culture.

In this topic you will:

  • Probe successively more in depth into the three aspects of organizational culture.
  • Better understand the culture of your own organization.
Schein, Edgar

How often do you wonder not just about what happened but why it happened and how it differs from other happenings?

This topic introduces the importance of reflection in managerial work. Reflection is about getting the meaning from everyday experiences. Managers may too easily allow ‘doing’ to drive out ‘thinking’ and ‘thinking’ might miss out on the clues provided by feelings and intuition. By bringing conscious awareness into the moment, the result will be more informed, effective action for the future.

The objectives for this topic are to:

  • Learn from your own experiences and the experiences of others through reflection.
  • Appreciate the importance of collective and individual reflection in managerial work.
  • Find ways to combine managerial reflection and action.
Gosling, Jonathan
Seeing Beyond Belief: Observation Skills for Managers

In today’s busy work environment, we spend so much time doing that we often forget to just stop and take notice of what is happening around us. When we are really able to observe, we are more able to pick up on clues to overlooked problems and opportunities.

But observation is a skill far more complex than just noticing details; this topic asks you to turn a critical eye on how you observe in order to shed light on how you manage.

The objectives for this session are to:

  • Improve your observation skills.
  • Appreciate how you observe the world and interpret events.
  • Understand how this impacts on your managing.
Gosling, Jonathan
Silos and Slabs in Organizations

Many of today’s organizations are highly-structured and complex, which can make communicating and getting the job done difficult. We look at two characteristics of their formal structures – silos and slabs - and the challenges they present to managing, and then investigate ways to manage across and beyond them.

This topic will provide you with an opportunity to:

  • Understand the effects of silos and slabs within organizations.
  • Understand how these structures can act as barriers to getting things done.
  • Challenge yourselves to manage together beyond formal structure.
Mintzberg, Henry
Simply Managing: From Reflection to Action

Welcome to CoachingOurselves! You will be getting together on a regular basis for 90 minutes to learn about management, while developing yourselves, each other, and your organization.

This first topic introduces CoachingOurselves through the lens of five “mindsets” basic to the practice of management. We call them Reflection, about managing self; Collaboration, about managing relationships; Analysis, about managing organizations; Worldliness, about managing context; and Action, about managing change.

In this session, you will:

  • Appreciate the basic mindsets that underlie the practice of managing.
  • Understand how CoachingOurselves works in terms of these mindsets.
Gosling, Jonathan
LeNir, Phil
Mintzberg, Henry
Sadilova, Sasha
Smart Investments in Talent

Instead of developing your talent equally across the board, you must recognize that certain jobs and tasks are pivotal.

This topic goes beyond your organization’s HR strategy. It’s about how well your entire organization connects decisions about talent to its strategic interests. Talent decisions lie not so much with HR as with executives, managers, and supervisors. They make decisions about who to hire, what skills to develop, what results to reward, and generally where to invest time and money in improving talent.

This topic provides you with opportunities to  determine unique ways to nurture talentship within your organization and not just mimic what has worked for others.

Today’s topic will provide you with an opportunity to:

  • Appreciate that the best place to invest in talent is sometimes non-intuitive.
  • Learn methods for determining where an investment in talent will yield the highest return.
Boudreau, John
Creelman, David
Some Surprising Things About Collaboration

The word “collaboration” has a very positive connotation these days. Collaboration helps us break out of our “hierarchy fix” as well as our “market fix”. It also helps us direct more attention to how people connect with each other as capable adults. But we also have to appreciate the negative, as well as positive. So the four of us have collaborated on this topic to bring together a set of points that we have found surprising about collaboration.

The objectives for this topic are to:

  • Distinguish the various types of collaborative relationships with which you may be involved.
  • Realize what contributes to effective collaboration.
  • Apply this to enhancing your collaborative relationships.
Dougherty, Deborah
Jorgensen, Jan
Mintzberg, Henry
Westley, Frances
Stimulating the Entrepreneurial Imagination
“The difficulty lies not so much in developing new ideas, as in escaping from the old ones.”
               - John Maynard Keynes
The word entrepreneur is derived from two words, entre, meaning  to ‘enter’ or to ‘penetrate in between’, and prendere, meaning to ‘grasp’ or ‘seize hold of'. Therefore, an entrepreneur is one who penetrates the spaces between established boundaries and seizes opportunities that are overlooked by others. It is precisely this ability to challenge the dominant worldview and ‘think the unthinkable’ that gives those with an entrepreneurial imagination a decisive advantage over those who pursue strategies based on conventionally held ideas and beliefs.  
This topic provides you with some thought strategies to stimulate your entrepreneurial imagination and invites you to shift the focus of your attention to creating added value for your organization. 

The objectives for today’s session are to:

  • Understand how the entrepreneurial imagination is created through shifting paradigms or worldviews.
  • Develop paradigm-shifting strategies to innovate new value-adding products/services/practices within your organization.
Chia, Robert
Strategic Blindspots

Is your decision making guided by assumptions which are out of touch or out of date? Organizations invest a lot of time and energy in strategy but invalid beliefs and biases may be derailing your success. These strategic blindspots distort your perception of competitive reality, so that even the most seasoned managers may fail to foresee major events affecting the environment. The consequences for your organization can be frustrating at best and disastrous at worst.

In this topic, you will be introduced to some of the most common organizational blindspots. You will then investigate a number of your taken-for-granted assumptions and discuss how your organization can move beyond them.

The objectives for this session are to:

  • Increase your awareness of strategic blindspots and specifically those most prominent in your organization.
  • Investigate unexplored opportunities.
  • Decide how you can capitalize on your insights.
Métayer, Estelle
Strategic Thinking as Seeing

Strategy is not something reserved for so-called “top” management. There are plenty of examples of regular employees coming up with ideas that changed their company. But here our intention is less ambitious: to recognize that every manager has to think strategically in his/her job, whether it be a sales manager finding a new approach to reach customers, or a hockey coach figuring out how to beat a rival team.

One way to do it is to “see it”.

This session will not make you a strategic thinker. No session or a book can do that. But it can enhance the strategic capabilities you already have—we all have some!

The objectives for this topic are to:

  • Better understand what strategic thinking is.
  • Enhance your capacity to “see” strategic issues.
  • Work as a group in addressing some of your key strategic issues.
Mintzberg, Henry
SWOT for Strategy

Clear strategic thinking depends on a solid assessment of your organization’s internal and external environments. SWOT, which stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats, is one of the simplest and yet most powerful tools that you as a manager can use to bring your strategic situation into sharper focus.

Let's begin this introduction to SWOT where so much has begun: with the Tower of Babel. This topic suggests a SWOT analysis of the Tower of Babel project and then asks you to SWOT one of your own strategic issues.

The objectives for this topic are to:

  • Understand the basis of SWOT analysis.
  • Apply a SWOT analysis to a strategic issue within your organization.
Lampel, Joseph
Talent Management

This CoachingOurselves topic challenges you to diagnose and clarify your own talent “mindset”. How can you best maximize the talent around you and build on your employees’ strengths? Discuss and create strategies with your colleagues to bring the talent mindset into action.

The objectives for this topic are to:

  • Understand what talent management is.
  • Appraise your own talent mindset.
  • Decide what you can do in your day-to-day work to get the most out of the talent in your unit/ organization.
Creelman, David
Ten More Ways to Release Change

Is it time to change how you go about change? Organizations frequently embark on large-scale change endeavours when minimalist interventions may in fact help them quickly achieve their goals and at no added cost.

This topic presents ten such methods to release change within your organization. These methods will stimulate you to reframe how you approach change and provide you with new ways to intervene. Furthermore, by appreciating the dynamic nature of change, you will come to understand the profound impact your actions can have in your organization.

The objectives of this session are to:

  • Open up your understanding of the nature of change.
  • Learn new methods to release change.
  • Investigate the implications for your organization.

Note: This topic can be an alternative to the topic “Ten Ways to Release Change” or can supplement it, providing further opportunities for exploration.

Engelstad, Alan
Ten Ways to Release Change

Is it time to change how you go about change? Organizations frequently embark on large-scale change endeavors when minimalist interventions may in fact help them quickly achieve their goals and at no added cost.

This topic presents ten such methods to release change within your organization. These methods will stimulate you to reframe how you approach change and provide you with new ways to intervene. Furthermore, by appreciating the dynamic nature of change, you will come to understand the profound impact your actions can have in your organization.

The objectives of this topic are to:

  • Open up your understanding of the nature of change.
  • Learn new methods to release change.
  • Investigate the implications for your organization.
Engelstad, Alan
The Play of Analysis

Analysis is pervasive. Managers read and write lots of reports and do quite a bit of number-crunching. Yet we all know of situations where decisions were wrong because they just weren’t well thought out (“extinction by instinct”), and we know of others that were analyzed interminably without getting anywhere (“paralysis by analysis”). 

Paradoxically, we sometimes seem to over-analyze the little decisions and under-analyze the big ones. How and why does this happen? What can we do about it?

The objectives for this topic are to:

  • Understand how and why analysis is used.
  • Consider situations where we overdo it or underdo it.
  • Think about how to get the balance right.
Langley, Ann
The Players of Cultural Change

We know that culture figures prominently in changing an organization. Where it has been and what it stands for, will significantly determine where it is able to go. You have to manage culture to manage change. To manage culture you have to understand who plays what role in sustaining, challenging, and shifting that culture.

When a culture change program has been launched, it is tempting for leaders to move straight on to other challenges, often taking their eyes off the ‘cultural ball’; but this is exactly the time when leaders need to be most alert to what is happening on the ground.

The objectives for this topic are to:

  • Recognize the range of different behaviour patterns that emerge once a culture change has been launched.
  • Understand what these responses mean, why they occur, and how you can work with them to ensure sustained change.
  • Learn to gauge how people are really feeling about the change.
Turnbull, Sharon
The Power of Social Learning

Our world is evolving at a rapid pace. In order for companies to remain globally competitive, they need to support continuous learning and the ongoing creation of new ideas and skills. Social learning, especially in small groups, provides a powerful tool to nurture innovation and productivity. As the flow of ideas and knowledge increases within your unit and organization so does the reliability of the information from which you make your strategic decisions.

The objectives for this topic are to:

  • Understand what social learning is.
  • Appreciate how you can make your social learning interactions more effective
  • Decide how you can use your CoachingOurselves group to develop your social  learning skills for the benefit of yourself and your organization.
Brown, John Seely
The Rewards of Recognition

Recognition is one of the most powerful, least used management tools.

Few would disagree with the argument that employees who feel appreciated and valued are much more likely to perform better than those who don’t but how often do you recognize the people around you? Most organizations fail to ensure that the recognition of good work happens with sufficient frequency and effectiveness. If your organization is one of them, you should see this as a huge opportunity. Statistically, your competition probably hasn’t figured this out yet either, so you still have time! Take recognition seriously and the result will be increased motivation, greater acceptance for ongoing change, and improved organizational performance.

The objectives of this topic are to:

  • Appreciate the importance of recognition for the performance of the organization.
  • Understand the fundamental characteristics of good recognition.
  • Decide how you will implement these practices into your organization.
Oliver, John J.
Thinking Entrepreneurially to Grow Your Business

Often middle-managers are given a mandate to grow their organizations. Some managers attack this challenge with self-confidence while others break into a cold sweat.

After interviewing more than 50 successful growth leaders operating in established companies, we have discovered entrepreneurial techniques that you can use to help influence the success of your organization. Thinking entrepreneurially will help you uncover new opportunities while keeping your risks in check.

The objectives for this topic are to:

  • Understand how to think entrepreneurially.
  • Explore techniques for actively molding your future  and that of your organization.
  • Generate a plan to drive new growth.
Liedkta, Jeanne
Time to Dialogue

Discussion, debate, negotiation, and information exchange are the most common forms of communication in organizations, and although helpful in many ways, they rarely push us beyond our current paradigms of thought and action. This session is an introduction to dialogue, a more creative and collaborative mode of communication that increases our capacity to address complex organizational issues.

The objectives for this topic are to:

  • Understand what dialogue is and how it differs from other forms of communication.
  • Practice specific behaviors that can help us move towards a more dialogue-based way of communicating.
  • Consider ways of cultivating dialogue as a sustained organizational practice.
Nilsson, Warren
Paddock, Tana
Turning the Tables: Unusual Seating for Creative Problem Solving

How do you usually sit at work meetings? Is one person in charge, sitting at the front, and everyone else lined up according to status? At recurring meetings, does everyone always sit in the same place, maybe next to those they know best? Do these meetings take place at a rectangular table so that people can hardly see the people to their sides? Ask yourselves: Is this the best way to foster open discussion?

This CoachingOurselves topic considers a variety of novel seating arrangements that contribute to a spirit of openness and stimulate learning for both small and large groups alike. You will have opportunities within this session to put these into action and discover firsthand how they enrich your group dynamic.

In this CoachingOurselves topic you will:

  • Discover six ways ways you can sit in groups for creative learning.
  • Consider how you can use each of these in your everyday work.
Gosling, Jonathan
Mintzberg, Henry
Two Models of Change

We are two business school professors of Organizational Behaviour who have studied many organizations to find out how they encourage and achieve lasting changes. With our colleagues, we have each come up with models of steps for effective change; seven in one, six in the other. In this topic, we ask you to consider, compare, and perhaps combine our models.

The objectives for this topic are to:

  • Appreciate the “7 Universal Principles for Making Change Happen” and the “6-Step Critical Path to Change”.
  • Compare and combine them for managing effective change.
  • Learn from and about using models for management.
Beer, Michael
Ulrich, Dave
Understanding Organizations

Understanding how your organization functions can seem overwhelming; where to start? In this session, we start with four common forms of organizations and investigate their strengths, weaknesses, and implications. You will come to a better appreciation of your organization and others, seeing them as the interplay of specific forms and forces.

The objectives for this topic are to:

  • Understand the various species of organizations, in particular four forms: entrepreneurial, machine, professional, and adhocracy.
  • Appreciate the dynamic forces of each form.
  • Clarify how your organization fits into this framework and where it could be strengthened.
Mintzberg, Henry
Understanding Stakeholders

Stakeholder relationships are a fact of life for every manager and every organization. Managers need to take account of their stakeholders and deal with their differing, and sometimes competing, interests. The goal is to have relationships that support and sustain performance. Understanding stakeholders is one of the keys to developing effective relationships.

The objectives for this topic are to:

  • Introduce the stakeholder concept and the factors that influence the way managers think about stakeholders.
  • Become aware of the role that stakeholders play in managing organizations. 
  • Deepen your understanding of how you and your colleagues perceive different stakeholders.
Sloan, Pamela
Visionary Management: The Art of Seeing
Some decisions defy pure step-by-step logic.
Excessive analysis with words and numbers can kill “vision”, so today we’re asking you to be “visionaries” by collaborating on a visual representation of a key organizational issue. Instead of dissecting your issue through analysis, you will integrate your differing perspectives through pictures and visual symbols to “see” the bigger picture and experience first-hand another mode of decision making. This can be a powerful way for managers to access insight, to explore, and to innovate.
The objectives for today’s topic are to:

  • Contrast “seeing” an issue with just thinking about it.
  • Appreciate how creating a piece of collaborative art can change your perception of a key issue and of decision making in general.
  • Enhance your capability as a “visionary”, seeing a cohesive whole from seemingly separate elements.
Mintzberg, Henry
Westley, Frances

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