Friday, May 25, 2007

Myths About External Feedback Part 3

Myths about Feedback Parts 1 and 2 covered how external feedback often created the opposite result of what was desired. In this post, we begin with a quick review of what interactive feedback is, why it is used, and what the result is, and then discuss how DuPont and Colgate-Palmolive have focused on an alternative.


Members of a team or organization listening to feedback from peers, superiors, and/or subordinates concerning how to become better workers, (i.e. Giving advice and making judgments.)

Interactive feedback processes are practiced to increase understanding of our impact on others & to improve the effectiveness of our working together.

Feedback processes have been found to systematically undermine these qualities and produce non-productive side effects.

DuPont and Colgate-Palmolive have found that the practice of interactive feedback is based on three myths:

* Feedback improves team effectiveness,

* A shared set of leadership behaviors can improve organizational performance, and

* Feedback causes people to see themselves more accurately.

They have instead concentrated on creating initiatives that help people build their capability for self-reflection and self-assessment.

Therefore, Dupont and Colgate-Palmolive

• Engage in a business development process that builds capacity for self-reflection and self-assessment,
• One that draws on an innate but undeveloped ability to observe ourselves and our impact on our environment,
• As well as our ability to act in accordance with aims we have set for ourselves, and
• The focus is on increasing each persons capacity to be self-reflective:

- Gauging their own behavior in the context of business needs and personal essence,
- Removing work systems and process that foster dependency on external sources of correction and judgment, and
- Proposing development plans that specifies a unique contribution each member will make to the organization.

The citations for this three part post are:

• "The Myths of Organizational Effectiveness by Carol Sanford" for the Journal AT WORK, Sept/Oct 1995, page 10-12.

• More detailed treatment of "Feedback Process in Organization" is available for $ 5.00 (US) from SpringHill Publications, P.O. Box 2283, Battle Ground, WA 98604-7514.

Another book that you might like to review is:

• "Performance Management: Improving Quality and Productivity Through Positive Reinforcement" by Aubrey Daniels & Theodore Rosen, published by Performance Management Publication Inc. 1982.

When you consider how hard it is to change yourself, then you will understand how difficult it is to change someone else.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

What You Need to Know About Purple Cows

Check out my article published in the Charity Channel's Grants and Foundation Review! Cassandra

Monday, May 14, 2007

The Three Myths about External Feedback - Part 2

What helps people learn from experience? If you guessed reflection, you are on the right track. (You may have noticed that we gave you a clue in the post on reflection as a necessary ingredient of learning.) Here is what research showed with student learners.

Research Exploring Children's (9 - 10 year olds) Capacity for Self-Assessment
Demonstrates the Impact of Feedback

At the beginning of the study, the average child could not report accurately on his/her own behavior and instead would vehemently defend the rightness of his self-observation, even in the face of non-arguable evidence such as film and recordings.

The study formed two groups:

Group 1: Worked with instructors who used video and recordings to improve the students' accuracy of observation. They quickly came to depend on the recorded material before making their own declaration.

Group 2: Instructors never gave any feedback, but continually asked for each member's own reflections on how well his or her behavior matched the stated procedure. In time, the students increased their capacity for self-assessment. In the beginning their accuracy was very low. The instructors did not correct or provide outside evidence. After a few weeks, the students reflections became increasingly accurate.


Check back for future posts which show how a business is using this finding to benefit their employees by building capacity for self-reflection and self-assessment.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

The Three Myths about External Feedback - Part 1

Myth 1: Feedback provides high quality in-formation & improves team effectiveness. (Not necessarily so:)

• Much of what we see in others comes from what we cannot see or deal with in ourselves, therefore we tend to project our own needs on to others.

• Groups providing feedback for other groups may tend to collude, unknowingly, in offering group projections.

• Feedback techniques frequently remove the qualities most needed in teams.

"What is required to be comfortable as friends is not what is required to be a successful organization……..We need to feel camaraderie but we also need to ask tough questions in order to gain new ideas and solutions."

Myth 2: A shared set of high performance leadership behaviors can improve organizational performance

• On the contrary, it may kill individual uniqueness

• It tends to move everyone towards a common standard behavior

• It results in common performance appraisal procedures which results in standardized behavior

Myth 3: Feedback causes people to see themselves more accurately and allows them to be accountable to the team or organization

• In fact, it reduces the capabilities of self-reflection and self-assessment - just the opposite of the self-directed, self-disciplined, and self-accountable behavior organizations need.

• Feedback reinforces the pattern that others will and should tell us how we are doing.

•More deadly, it reduces our capacity to be self-reflective & self-accountable.

Want to find out what is effective? Check back next week for Part 2.

Reflection: A Necessary Ingredient for Learning.

Ever wonder why people continue doing things that don’t work?
Consider the lack of reflection. Reflection is a necessary ingredient for learning, yet it is absent from many workplaces. The pressure to be doing something all the time, and the constant communication possible with email and cell phones has left little time for reflection.
What is reflection?
Daudelin defined it as follows. “Reflection is the process of stepping back from an experience to ponder, carefully and persistently, its meaning to the self through the development of inferences; learning is the creation of meaning from past or current events that serves as a guide for future behavior.” (Daudelin, 1996)
Did something you do with a group recently go well?
Try getting the group together to have a reflecting conversation about what you all did to make it go so well. Valuable learning will be revealed that will inform your future work.

Monday, May 7, 2007

SOAR Don't SWOT: Asset Based Strategic Planning

Research and experience show us that focusing on the strengths of individuals and organizations is much more powerful and effective than dwelling on deficiencies. An asset based approach to strategic planning is the SOAR which stands for Strengths, Opportunities, Aspirations, and Results. The SOAR is based in Appreciative Inquiry – an approach which creates tremendous energy and great results through focused inquiry on strengths and successes.

The conventional wisdom about strategic planning embraces use of the SWOT analysis - Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. Frequently, there are negative consequences of using this method which include: a lack of focus on the most important and highest impact goals, no shared vision, no plans to support goals, and no review or evaluation of the plan after it has been developed. There is also commonly a lack of involvement in development of the plan by people who are responsible for the implementation of it, and planning is experienced as an event and not a process.

Ever notice when discussing this topic and someone asks everyone in the room to raise their hand who has found a strategic planning process valuable, virtually no one raises their hand? The failure of traditional strategic planning in the non profit sector is discussed in the Daring to Lead 2006 report. Their focus group findings include that Executive Directors are re-thinking strategic planning and want to move beyond categorical management – a fundraising plan, a strategic plan, a budget – to an integrated model for sustainability and deeper impact. A quote from a participant “ I don’t want to say strategic planning because I hate what our world does around strategic planning. It’s strategic business sense. I need to be able to look farther than anybody else and lengthen my horizon.”

The Appreciative Inquiry approach to strategic planning allows for a planning process that is dynamic, ongoing, and involves the entire system. The SOAR approach to strategic planning starts with a strategic inquiry phase. This includes discovery and exploration of the organizations strengths and opportunities. Then participants share and generate their aspirations and co-create a shared vision for the future. This is followed by the development of recognition and reward programs that are designed to inspire employees to achieve measurable results.

The key to innovation is the continuous generation of little ideas – which when recognized and appreciated grow into major results. The SOAR approach develops a culture that supports the generation and development of these important little ideas. A New Framework for Strategic Planning by Stavros, Cooperrider, and Kelley discuss the lack of success with traditional methods and this powerful alternative. The article includes case studies and other resources. Click on the Appreciative Inquiry link to the right and search on SOAR.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Evolutionary Sustainability Training Opportunity: Are you interested in learning how to create sustainable change in organizations and communities?

By attending our training on Evolutionary SustainabilityTM, you will learn how to:

  • Build sustainable elements into all programs and organizational change efforts,
  • Successfully retain the changes/improvements you have created,
  • Examine the use of current resources and determine how to best align your resources with your goals and intended outcomes,
  • Expand your support base and available resources through the development of strategic collaborations,
  • Utilize collaborations to anticipate emerging trends and identify the next generation of innovations that you will adopt,
  • Employ tools for transformational engagement that create conditions for people to succeed and build the momentum necessary to generate lasting impact, and
  • Move away from a scarcity and deficit paradigm to one of sufficiency and interdependence.

See our website homepage for more information on Evolutionary SustainabilityTM and a registration form for our training in New Jersey on June 26,27.