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Flat Army: Creating a Connected and Engaged Organization (Englisch) Gebundene Ausgabe – 25. März 2013

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Leaders of any description and department are struggling. Society is awash with social technologies; employees want to be included in the conversations and decisions; and management is stuck sorting out how teams should operate using dated leadership models in a new and technologically- sophisticated social world order. Human Resources needs to catch up with technology; Finance continues to operate in a silo; and IT is tripping over both legacy systems and newer, social technologies, while experiencing difficulty adjusting to a more collaborative behavioral model. Most importantly, employees are becoming significantly more disengaged.

Does any of this sound familiar?

There is no easy way to undo what years, and even decades, of outdated management practice have done to leaders. Command and control is rampant, evil and unnecessary. The process of change has to start with the leadership in any organization, and Flat Army is designed to prevent your organization's ship from sinking. Dan Pontefract knows and understands what happens to organizations when employees are unhappy and uncommitted. More importantly, he knows what it takes to create a leadership culture that drives engagement, empowerment and encouragement amongst continued execution. In all of the corporate leadership roles he has had, he held a steadfast belief that a collaborative, connected and participative leadership framework is the only way in which to operate.

Pontefract is currently the Head of Learning and Collaboration at TELUS—an international telecommunications organization of 40,000 employees—where he and the TELUS team instituted concepts such as the TELUS Leadership Philosophy; a formal, informal and social learning model known as Learning 2.0; and a plethora of open, social and collaborative technologies that, in part, helped TELUS augment its approach to leadership and engagement.

Today, employee engagement at TELUS sits at 80 percent, the highest in Canada for large-sized organizations and in the top one percent globally. TELUS and Dan have received multiple awards from ASTD, CLO and Skillsoft in recognition of the growth of a new culture of leadership, collaboration and learning.

Prepare to be entertained, shocked and engaged. Challenge yourself. Challenge the status quo. Flat Army pushes the boundaries of organization change. It can change yours.


FLAT: to be on a level surface, not in a hierarchy

ARMY: a large group of people who share similar aims or beliefs

FLAT ARMY: an unobstructed flow of corporate commonality

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HASH(0x9b2f815c) von 5 Sternen How to strengthen engagement, empowerment, and execution, then leverage them for a decisive competitive advantage 16. April 2013
Von Robert Morris - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
In recent years, we have observed a tsunami of books, articles, and events that focus on employee engagement. Much of what hey provide and discuss is based on research by highly reputable firms. In Flat Army: Creating a Connected and Engaged Community (Jossey-Bass/Wiley Imprint, April 2013), Dan Pontefract cites an article in the Gallup Business Journal that characterizes an engaged employee as someone who will "work with passion and feel a profound connection to their company. They drive innovation and move the organization forward."

In my review of The Enemy of Engagement, I suggest that what sets this book apart from other recently published books on the problems of employee engagement and how to solve them is Mark Royal and Tom Agnew's focus on employees who were once actively and productively engaged and have either become passively engaged ("mailing it in") or actively disengaged and, in some instances, perhaps even hostile and toxic. During exit interviews of highly-valued employees before they depart to work elsewhere, they express frustration with working conditions (especially those who supervise them) that prevent them from personal growth and/or professional development.

Dan Pontefract shares my high regard for The Enemy of Engagement, quoting this passage:

"Though frameworks for understanding engagement vary, the concept is commonly understood to capture levels of commitment and discretionary effort exhibited by employees. Engaged employees can be expected to display high levels of attachment to an organization and a strong desire to remain a part of it. Consequently, engaged employees are more likely to be willing to go above and beyond the formal requirements of the job, contribute organizational citizenship behaviors, pour extra effort into their work, and deliver superior performance." Well-said.

As explained in detail Chapter Three, the "flat army" to which the title of Pontefract's book refers to a shared philosophy. It is a combination of Connected Leader Attributes or CLA (e.g. 15 behaviors) plus the Participative Leader Framework or PLF (e.g. four characteristics and two key actions), and the Collaborative Leader Action Model or CLAM (e.g. 6-step process to connect, consider, communicate, create, confirm, and congratulate). If I understand Pontefract's nomenclature, the word "army" could also be "community" or "tribe" as in Seth Godin's concept. Those who comprise this "army" are "at war" with whatever and whomever threaten positive and productive engagement at all levels and in all areas of the given enterprise. Here's Pontefract's definition of engagement: The state in which there is reciprocal trust between the employee and leadership to do what's right however, whenever, wherever and with whomever."

These are among the dozens of passages that caught my eye, also listed to suggest the scope of Pontefract's coverage:

o The Organization vs. Life Itself (Pages 18-20)
o The Connected leader Chasm, and Falling into the Chasm (50-54)
o The Connected Leader Attributes (61-66)
o The Participative Leader Framework (63-69)
o The Collaborative Leader Action Model (69-70)
o Trusting (74-77) and Empathizing (79-82)
o Cooperating (101-105)
o Measuring (116-119)
o The Untutored Eye (132-134)
o Putting It All Together (145-152)
o Hierarchy Is Not Anarchy (158-160)
o When to CLAM and When Not to CLAM (178-181)
o Does Organizational Learning Matter? (190-192)
o Formal Learning, and, Informal Learning (196-303)
o Collaboration Technologies (215-221)

o Context (227-233)
Note: Pontefract draws a brilliant analogy between context and an MRI. He observes, "Context gives meaning; it shines on your leadership style and your leadership interactions."

o Flat Army Philosophy (263-266)
Note: In essence, "Flat Army in its simplest form refers to the point at which all employees act as a unified corporate organism through the use of clear and succinct goals...It is no longer a culture of 'command and control,' but rather one of 'engage and empower' combined with effective execution."

To repeat, it is imperative to have leadership at all levels in all areas of the given enterprise. More specifically, Dan Pontefract suggests leaders must be transformational and transactional, collaborative and considerate, daring and decisive, inclusive and insistent, playful and formal, harmonious, and humble, encouraging and results-driven. In a word, Flat.
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HASH(0x9b2f81b0) von 5 Sternen Learning at the speed of need 24. Juni 2013
Von Jeff - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
Here is a leadership book that doesn't preach from a soapbox or rant on endlessly with a 'is this guy getting paid by the word?' kind of feeling. It will help you think differently about the next meeting you walk into, and more importantly the company door you go through each day.

Are your employees disengaged? Are your departments working in silos? Is hierarchy a key part of decision making? Dan argues that the future is about creating connected and engaged organizations. The question is, how?

If you are a leader who is working to embrace this transformation, about half of this book is filled with practical, easy to consume ideas about how to adjust your way of thinking and behaviour - how to become a connected leader and foster real collaboration.

The other half is focused on the company you work in, and how to shape it into one that learns at the speed of need (the brilliant title of chapter 9). Dan spearheaded this concept at TELUS, a massive Telco in Canada, shaping how people collaborate and the technology that supports them by expanding the definition of learning into one that frankly better reflects the consumer market around us.

When you sit down to learn something at home, where do you go first? Probably Google.

Now think about that same problem at work... the search box is probably the *last* place you go. Time to pick up the book and get started. It is a long road ahead. The best part? This transformation represents the kind of competitive advantage now that the assembly line Dan refers to represented in the past.

Let's get cracking.
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HASH(0x9b2f85e8) von 5 Sternen Organizational Connection 24. Juni 2013
Von Karin - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
"An unobstructed flow of corporate commonality."

Dan has deftly connected the wisdom of many other organizational behaviour and business research authors, added his own brand of organizational dynamics, and woven in his experience of employing these ideas in currently successful businesses. A rarity in leadership writing, offering the theory, research and practical application from the cyber desk of someone who can say, I researched it and also applied it.

Flat Army is an excellent reading choice for anyone who wants to 'see' the future of organizational hierarchy and recognizes that they will need to rethink their own career development path. Currently businesses are operating across three different economic eras: Industrial, Knowledge and Digital. The historical references, the recent data cited, and the link to 'in place' application all equal Organizational Connection.
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HASH(0x9b2f899c) von 5 Sternen A new language of leadership 2. Juli 2013
Von Tom - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
While the title may initially evoke images of hierarchical militaristic leadership, the core message is the polar opposite. The book encourages leaders and aspiring leaders at all levels to move away from command and control and towards engagement and employee empowerment. It does this by defining a number of key principles such as collaboration, participation, learning and technology that are at the heart of the modern organization. Other leadership books usually stop there, but Flat Army provides a number of models and frameworks that provide practical tools that help put the principles into action. Some of the models hang together more successfully than others, but the best provide succinct roadmaps to the behaviour change needed to move toward the engagement and empowerment ideals clearly held by the author.

The author writes very personally using stories, metaphors and analogies drawn from personal and professional experience. This alone helps the book stand out from the sterile and academic approach to many leadership books and makes for an enjoyable read. Clearly leadership is a very personal issue for Dan Pontefract and not simply an abstract concept.

Many of the leadership behaviours described in the book such as participation, collaboration and empowerment have been around for a while in other guises, but the book recasts them in the language of the modern workplace for a new generation of leaders and that's a good thing. Technology is not a common topic in leadership books, but here technology (read social media) is seen as an indispensable tool for a leaders to be truly connected and participative. Participative technology is seen as central to the leadership role, not just another tool in the leaders communication toolkit. Participative technologies also play large in the section on learning, with an emphasis on informal and social learning driven by new media.

As useful as the book is as a guide for existing leaders who want a more current framework and tools for leading, I think it's greatest value will be to a new generation of aspiring leaders looking for a new language of leadership to help them structure their understanding of how to lead in the modern knowledge based organization.
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HASH(0x9b2f8a80) von 5 Sternen Dan Pontefract's Flat Army: A Review 24. Juni 2013
Von S. William Ives - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
Flat Army: Creating a Connected and Engaged Organization is an excellent new book by Dan Pontefract It "arms you with powerful tools for overcoming resistance to change and creating a culture of collaboration, engagement, and employee empowerment." The book offers an integrated framework integrating collaboration, open leadership, technologies, and connected learning. It provides useful ways to flatten your organizational pyramid and engage with your people in more collaborative and productive ways without undermining management's authority.

I have known Dan Pontefract and his excellent work for several years through his blog. He is the Head of Learning & Collaboration at TELUS (www.telus.com). Dan is responsible for the overarching leadership development, learning and collaboration strategy for the company. Here he implemented the strategy set forth in this book to make significant changes in the 40,000 person organization.

The organization writes on its blog. "Thanks to the remarkable efforts of Dan and his team, we're moving beyond traditional models of learning and leadership at TELUS towards more of social, informal and participatory framework." This is a goal that all organizations should be aiming for in today's market conditions and opportunities. The useful ideas in the book will help you achieve these goals.

He explains the title as not a reference to war but to a medieval Latin term, armata, used first in 1533 to depict a fleet of things moving together. He further explains that the essence of an army is "a group of people striving, leading together to achieve a common goal." This is what you want your company to become. For most large organizations that I have seen that would require a complete transformation. Almost every one I have observed is a group of people, each after their own agendas, even if it conflicts with the overall goals of the organization.

I really like historical contexts. Dan also offers the origins of the concept of hierarchy. The term dates back to the 14th century and it combines the Greek terms for "holy" and "ruling" or head priest. By the 17th century the terms was linked to church organizations. Now it has spread to military and business use. The origins thus provide almost all power and intelligence to top of the hierarchy.

Dan also notes that the Industrial Revolution cemented the link to the hierarchical approach to management. Fredrick Taylor called this "scientific management." It rose to influence in the 1880s and 1890s within the manufacturing industries. Its peak of influence came in the 1910s but it often was badly received by workers. The Wikipedia reports an interesting story from that time, as well as the image of Taylor.

"Under Taylorism, workers' work effort increased in intensity. Workers became dissatisfied with the work environment and became angry. During one of Taylor's own implementations, a strike at the Watertown Arsenal led to an investigation of Taylor's methods by a U.S. House of Representatives committee, which reported in 1912. The conclusion was that scientific management did provide some useful techniques and offered valuable organizational suggestions but it gave production managers a dangerously high level of uncontrolled power. After an attitude survey of the workers revealed a high level of resentment and hostility towards scientific management, the Senate banned Taylor's methods at the arsenal."

Despite this negative reaction many aspects of hierarchical and scientific management remained in place. We have all seen them. Dan provides some interesting examples.

Now new tools open up communication up and down the different levels of the organization. This cross level communication was often consciously blocked by middle managers or just got lost in the chain of command. Now company conversations can be out in the open for anyone to take them in and join. Collaboration tools can turn Taylorism on its head so learning goes up and down the enterprise and the whole structure is flatted (image of Taylor from Wikipedia). I would certainly agree with Dan's views here. However, precisely because of this transformative change in communication it takes a cultural change to work. This is much of the content in Dan's very useful book.

He writes how leaders can reverse the traditional heirachical leadership model and become a connected leader. He defines open leadership as, "the act of engaging others to influence and execute a coordinated and harmonious conclusion." If you can harness the thinking of the entire company to solve problems, you will be creating a much more effective organization. There is much value to be gained from this connection. For example, McKinsey found quantified benefits from the connected enterprise in both 2010 and 2011. Now they have doubled down on their forecasts for the business value of connectivity. See my post, McKinsey Projects Business Value of Social Business at a Trillion Annually, for a look at the bright side potential of the connected enterprise.

If you want to unlock this value for your organization, Dan's Flat Army should be on your reading list.
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