Archive for category: Executive Coaching

Building and Improving Global Virtual Teams Part 3: Coaching Virtual Teams

Categories: Characteristics of Top Teams, Collective Intelligence, Executive Coaching, Leadership Teams, Top Teaming Book - Tags: , , , , , , , ,

In the previous two blogs, we discussed the promises and challenges in working virtually across geography, time, and culture. Virtual Teams, especially those that operate globally, are essential at both Leadership and Functional levels, and provide significant value in both their ability to think strategically and drive execution excellence across the company. These “lateral” teams are where work gets done, and as such are critical to the success of the enterprise.

Yet for all the promise and possibilities of GVT’s, the barriers to real success are daunting. Our work over the past several years has focused on how to best assess the key issues within virtual teams and significantly coach these groups of skilled, smart, and committed people to improve how they work together to drive value.

In almost every case we see, Virtual Teams have regular and well-agendized meetings. They are effective at identifying and coordinating the transactional aspects of business together. But are they as effective in thinking through strategic possibilities, identifying and resolving issues, and really utilizing this group of smart and diverse people in bringing their “collective intelligence” to the table? Our experience would tell us no. And the available research would bear this out. Rarely does a group of people who work together, but who are not together push back from the table and ask “How are we doing as a team?” and “What can we do to raise the bar of our work together?”

There are 3 key areas that every Virtual Team must address:

1. Awareness of the key issues: How and how often do we think about how we operate and where we must improve?

We utilize our Global Top Teaming Assessment (GT2A) to surface team issues and articulate the gaps between “where we are now and where we need to be as a team?” This comprehensive on-line assessment provides clear and actionable data that drives candid dialogue about team performance on a number of dimensions. And it is feedback that allows the team to ask one of the key questions: “How does this good team get even better?” This assessment also provides a baseline against which future improvement is measured.

Rather than list all the dimensions of this assessment within this blog, please contact us for a deeper look at how the assessment is built and its relevance for you.

2. Where must we improve and how do we do this?

As we deepen our shared awareness of what kind of team we need to be against the current and evolving demands of our business, the next big question is around defining the key leverage points for change and our approach to doing so. As in good executive coaching, we focus on 3-4 areas that have the greatest leverage and value. Time is the most important commodity for leaders and for teams, so we focus and clarify the approach. In our experience, almost every team we work with improves against their agreed-upon development plan.

3. What are the issues we must address and resolve?

While working closely with people who are not physically together is difficult enough, Global Teams offer even more complexity than other Virtual Teams. Time differences are usually greater, and diversity of culture can be more significant. For example, the concept of being “candid and open” is often different as you work across culture. I am a great believer in having “Trust over Peace” in teams, yet this is often difficult to achieve in teams that have not built strong informal relationships with one another.

Thus open discussions about cultural differences of assertion, candor, hierarchy, and surfacing differences are challenging, yet essential in building strong teams. The default setting for most teams is structure and sticking to the agenda. But the question we raise is about when, how often, and how honest are you in identifying and addressing the issues that restrain you from becoming an even better team – a Top Team?

This is wonderful and very fulfilling work. We are honored that most every team we are asked to work with is highly committed and very engaged in improvement. This is not a team-building exercise. Rather, it is pragmatic work in getting even better and bringing greater value to the enterprise.

For a deeper look at the Global Top Teaming Assessment and our process of Team Coaching, please contact us at [email protected] or look at our website on

Lawrence Levin PhD
Founder & President
The Levin Group LLC
+1 404 377 9408
[email protected]

“It is the in the constant journey of leaaders and the learning that occurs through dialogue and correction that great teams get it mostly right”

Author: Top Teaming: A Roadmap for Leadership Teams Navigating the Now, the New, and the Next
Contributing Author: Coaching for Leadership 3rdEdition: Writings on Leadership from the World’s Greatest Coaches


Top Teaming: Building and Improving Global Virtual Teams Part 2: How Good Teams Get Even Better

Categories: Characteristics of Top Teams, Collective Intelligence, Executive Coaching, Leadership Teams, Top Teaming Book - Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

In our previous Blog, we referenced the difficulty for teams in working virtually across geography, culture, and time. These Global Virtual Teams (GVT’s) are essential in getting work done whether they are at the top of the house or are project/functional teams across the organization. And these teams should bring great promise to the company in their ability to:

  • Surface diverse perspectives – of culture, experience, and viewpoints leading to better and more agile business decisions.
  • Build a more Gobal and “Glocal” mindset across geographies and regions
  • Operate with more Collective Intelligence – the promise being that smart people, operating as TopTeams, should drive results far better than a collection of dispersed individuals.
  • Make team members even marter and the business even better.

But do they? Has the promise of GVT’s been realized or are the difficulties in working across distance too significant?

Let’s look at some of the initial leverage points to improve and sustain real teamwork. These are essential beginnings:

1.  Know and normalize the issues: Everyone who works virtually understands the difficulties, but rarely do we begin our work together by defining and “normalizing” the issues. In our ongoing work and research with virtual teams, there are some beginnings that must occur:

  • Defining the kind of team we need to be. Is this an ongoing team, or a project team that will work together on an issue, then disperse? 
  • What is this team FOR? What must we accomplish and how interdependent must we be? This speaks to issues of candor and participation. How do we define success?
  • How do we define leadership of the team? And what do we require from each other about our participation?
  • How do we make decisions? Remember – silence is never true assent.
  • What are our agreements about how to play together?

2.  How do we work together? This sounds like an obvious question, but time zones of 3/6/12 hours ensure that some populations in the call will lose sleep.

  • What is the cadence and rhythm of our calls? How do we balance the discomfort?
  • What is the best way to have these calls? Is it a balance of technologies – phone, webinar, skype, telepresence, or an over-reliance on conference calls? How do avoid the “invisible man” syndrome of people who are on the call, but not engaged in dialogue?
  • Do we speak the same language well enough to really understand nuance and examples?
  • How do we address our cultural differences of assertion, hierarchy, surfacing differences, and candor?
  • How often do we meet in person? This varies as to the purpose and permanence of the team. My strong belief is that since trust largely depends on building strong informal relationships, in-person meetings with time to socialize and play together are critical for those teams that must truly think and work interdependently together.

3.  How and how often do we assess how we are doing as a Global Virtual Team?

  • Do we create a conscious and deliberate process of improvement? Do we assess and ask how we are doing and what will allow us to work even better together? Do we ask for feedback and practice feedforward?
  • Do we continually review and re-calibrate this team and actively work to move from divergence to convergence? Do we review our “operating agreements” and practice “after-action reviews” to improve our level of play?

Remember – this is not a team-building event. It is a constant, continuing and intelligent process. As such, it requires thought and maintenance.

In the next Blog, we’ll get into some of the more difficult aspects of working Globally and Virtually including understanding cultural norms and assumptions, defining requisite candor and productive disagreement, and defining true agreement.

Please feel free to add to our conversation.


Lawrence Levin PhD
Founder & President

The Levin Group LLC


[email protected]

“Top Teams have a looseness about them –
a deep and abiding trust that they are in this together”

Author: Top Teaming: A Roadmap for Leadership Teams Navigating the Now, the New, and the Next




Top Teaming: Building and Improving Global Virtual Teams

Categories: Characteristics of Top Teams, Collective Intelligence, Executive Coaching, Leadership Teams, Top Teaming Book - Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

While the phrase “globalization” is commonplace in business vernacular, the ability to actually work well across geography, culture and time remains a huge challenge for teams who must operate virtually.

Global Virtual Teams are a necessity in today’s business environment and have great promise. The reality is that this is a promise that is rarely met. In recent studies, it has been suggested that far fewer than 50% of Global Virtual Teams (GVT’s) actually meet their business objectives. Conversations with my experienced Alexcel colleagues suggest that the performance of Global Virtual Teams may be even worse than previously thought.

In the next three BlogPosts, we’ll examine the potential of GVT’s against the problems inherent in working together without actually being together. We’ll suggest ways to assess the issues and significantly improve how these groups of skilled, smart, and committed people can and should work together. And we’ll discuss both the obvious and subtle leverage points to improve and sustain real teamwork.

The Promise:

  • Bringing divergent perspectives to the table – global teams bring the real promise of diversity – of culture, experience, and viewpoint to the table. Ideally, this should lead to better, richer, more agile business decisions.
  • Building and expanding a Global Mindset – being able to understand and operate “Glocally” – both across geographies and more intelligently within regions is clearly a promise offered by Global Teams.
  • Operating with Collective Intelligence – the whole here could and should be greater than the sum of its parts. The promise is that smart people, operating well as a real team – a Top Team — should do far better than a collection of dispersed leaders.
  • Making team members smarter and the business better – as we look at increased VUCA (volatility/uncertainty/complexity/ambiguity) and rate of change, we need to learn from one another to gain and sustain competitive advantage.

The Issues:

  • Primary culture versus…. everything else – the old line that when culture and change collide – culture wins continues to be true. There is a difference between true global companies, and companies that operate globally. For example, American dominated companies drive and prize US cultural attributes. By the same token, Chinese companies tend to prize and rely on their own unique values and views.
  • Different cultural norms and assumptions – this is very difficult to bridge, as the awareness of and communication about these assumptions are largely unspoken.
  • Obvious problems of communication and time – how do we work together across 6/8/12 different time zones? How do we avoid “the invisible man” syndrome of having a participant on a speakerphone that is only borderline engaged? Do we speak the same language well enough to really understand nuance and meaning?
  • Building relationships which foster trust – if we believe as I do, that most relationships are formed informally (over dinner, in the hallway, over time), and that trust is based on understanding and knowing the intent and wiring of a teammate, real Global and Virtual Teams are difficult to form.

The Solution Set: We’ll discuss this in greater depth in future blogs but below are some of the keys to addressing and improving Global Virtual Teams:

  • Know and normalize issues – understand what is in front of you. Address all elephants in the room. Utilize our Global Team Assessment to assess the issues.
  • Create a conscious and deliberate process of improvement – work at this intelligently, constantly, and tenaciously.
  • Move divergence to convergence – continually focus on what you are FOR.
  • Be clear and clearer – define the type of team you need to be and what behaviors you will drive.
  • Constant review and recalibration – this work is not a team-building event. It is a constant, continuing and intelligent process.

In subsequent Blogs, we’ll address each of these areas in more detail. Feel free to join the discussion.


Lawrence Levin PhD
Founder & President
The Levin Group LLC
+1 404 377 9408
[email protected]

“Top Teams have a looseness about them —
a deep and abiding trust that they are in this together”

Author: Top Teaming: A Roadmap for Leadership Teams Navigating the Now, the New, and the Next

Global Top Team Assessment: What We’ve Learned So Far

Categories: Characteristics of Top Teams, Collective Intelligence, Executive Coaching, Leadership Teams, Top Teaming Book - Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

We developed the Global Team Assessment (GT2A) in response to the demand for a way to measure a global and/or virtual Team’s effectiveness, and to drive dialogue around the key leverage points for improvement. The GT2A was based on our Top Teaming Assessment, which we have used with leadership and management for the past 4 years. It has been highly acclaimed, but not widely known, as we wanted to learn more about the results and sustainable impact it had as part of a leadership’s team development and the role of team coaching in that evolution.

We currently have utilized the GT2A with over 50 global/virtual teams across multiple industries as part of a facilitated dialogue within the team about how they get even better in response to the rapidly evolving business world in which they live. The reviews have been great. Teams see this diagnostic as actionable, relevant and impactful, and very tied into their leadership development and executive coaching work.

What we’ve learned so far:

  •  100% of teams we’ve worked with state that they need to be more interdependent as a team. This is true for very good teams, those who are still developing, and surprisingly, for those teams that operate in more of a portfolio business.
  • They all get The Now, The New, and the Next as a way to think about team accountabilities and development.
  • There is always major discussion about their strategy – whether it is clear, actionable and well communicated.
  • Every team takes significant time to define or re-define “What they are FOR as a team?” and “What kind of team they need to be?”
  • There are often issues around “trust over peace” – how candid are they? What is their level of trust? How often do they really talk about things other than ops and performance? And how well do they utilize the Collective Intelligence of the Team?
  • We utilize an “Energy Audit” which compares where they actually spend their time and focus against where they ideally should spend their energy. And almost always, their data indicates they want to spend less time on operations and more time on strategy, customer focus and development. What are the implications of this? Teams understand, and re-iterate, that the ability to execute earns them a seat at the strategy table.
  •  They are always committed to being better leaders. They absolutely, always believe that “what got them here won’t get them there.” They always say that they do not spend enough time developing as a Team.

Every facilitation of this assessment has been fascinating, challenging, and value-added. Teams use the GT2A as a baseline and often come back to it in 6 to 9 months to track improvement on the 3-5 things they commit to work on together and how they operate overall as a leadership team. They know that you know them well after this. And it fully allows us to coach in deeper context, thus creating even more value for them.

In subsequent blogs, we’ll be showing more trends, and talking more directly about the keys in working with virtual and global teams. In the meanwhile, please contact us if you want to learn more about the Global Top Teaming Assessment and our upcoming certifications.


Lawrence Levin PhD
Founder & President
The Levin Group LLC
+1 404 377 9408
[email protected]

“It is the in the constant journey of leaaders and the learning that occurs through dialogue and correction that great teams get it mostly right”

Author: Top Teaming: A Roadmap for Leadership Teams Navigating the Now, the New, and the Next
Contributing Author: Coaching for Leadership 3rdEdition: Writings on Leadership from the World’s Greatest Coaches







The Invisible Man: Virtual Teams and The Speakerphone Experience

Categories: Characteristics of Top Teams, Collective Intelligence, Executive Coaching, Leadership Teams, Top Teaming Book - Tags: , , , , , ,

Global Teams almost always have a virtual presence dictated by geographic distance, time and cultural differences. One casualty to what should be a powerful and aligned team is what I think of as The Invisible Man (or Woman) syndrome. Who is this Invisible Man?

Think about the conference calls you have with your teams. This is often a weekly or bimonthly call that is difficult enough to do within a country (say inside the US or the Americas with 4 or 5 time zones), but incredibly more complicated in a fully global company where time differences of up to 12-14 hours are commonplace.

The constraints are as follows:

 Time: A US to China, India, or Japan call always happens at night for one of the parties. How clear and focused are you at that time? How often do you see people who are dragging into work the next day, having been on a call from 10pm to 1am? Or the opposite in which people are on at 4-5am? This is not easy to do over time, but it is more and more commonplace.

 Technology: As a visual person, I am not at my best on conference calls. Telepresence and Skype work well when available within countries or say, between the US and Europe. But the usual technologies are conference calls, often with several of the team in a room together and a couple of folks calling in from a remote location.

 Culture: With apologies to any stereotyping or simplicity, US and European-centric team members operate with a different (not better) intensity than many of their Asian counterparts. Language differences are often part of this, but cultural propensities around how one enters a conversation, waits to be invited to speak, handles disagreement, or deals with the internal dynamics of teams all play a part.

Thus the Casualty of the Invisible Man. Have you ever forgotten that there is someone else in the conversation, just not in the room? Do you make allowances to ensure that they are deliberately brought into the dialogue? Do you vary meeting times to ensure that it is not midnight their time most of the time? Do you ask them the kinds of questions that are critical or informative to a team decision? Oftentimes, someone who is on the call, but quiet, is perceived as not being fully engaged, and that is a casualty to the team.

Virtual Teams are difficult to manage. It is even harder to operate as a Virtual Global Team. How do you get better? How do you continually move in the direction of improvement – to be a Top Team that is desirous of getting the best of individual and collective viewpoints, and the engagement of all the smart people both in, and not in, the room.

One suggestion is to periodically survey the team to ask what is working and what is not. This pulls a point of view from everyone who is asked to work in an aligned team. We use the Global Top Team Assessment (GT2A) to see just how well a Global and Virtual Team is working, and where to leverage improvement. For more information, please contact us.

Four Key Questions for Global Leadership Teams

Categories: Characteristics of Top Teams, Collective Intelligence, Executive Coaching, Leadership Teams, Top Teaming Book - Tags: , , , , , ,

As we continue to work with Global and Virtual Teams, we are impressed by how critical these leadership and functional teams are to their company’s performance, yet alarmed by how difficult it is for them to really capture what is possible as an aligned team.

Time and geography, culture and communication, the demand to both hit their numbers yet really think together (the Now and the New) are challenges for almost every virtual and global team we work with.

So we pose 4 key questions for those who sit on or who support these teams:

1. What kind of team do you need to be? This seems like an elementary question on the surface. Yet it is a key, usually unexamined question that defines how interdependent and collaborative your team needs to be and what kind of conversations you need to have. There is no one “right” kind of team. One size does not fit all. Ask this question and really pull for responses.

2. How clear is your strategic focus? We assume that there is almost always a strategic plan in place. The question is, how clear is the team about their strategic focus and critical priorities? How well has this been communicated down and across the organization? Do people understand it? And when was the last time you had the 20,000 foot view of strategy together as a virtual team?

3. How open, honest, and inclusive is this team with one another? Geography takes a toll on establishing trust. Is your team open and candid with one another? Do you deliberately work to include all opinions, even those on the speakerphone, into your dialogue? Do you meet together often enough? You cannot utilize the collective intelligence of smart individuals if trust and candor are not fully present.

4. How good is your team now and what would it take to be even better – to be a “Top Team?” Ask people to rate the team on a 1-10 scale now and ask two questions: What makes it as good as it is, and what would it take to be a 10? You might also ask what value would you see from a higher number?

These are seemingly easy questions to ask — yet they set the stage for compelling and critical dialogue. In today’s world, being a Top Team is essential, especially if you operate globally and/or virtually.

What do you think about this? What are the best practices you see in global and virtual teams?

For additional information about our newest Global Team Assessment, please contact us at or 404. 377-9408.

Top Teaming: HR as the “Consigliere” of the Organization

Categories: Characteristics of Top Teams, Collective Intelligence, Executive Coaching, Leadership Teams, Top Teaming Book, Uncategorized - Tags: , , , , , , , ,

One of the things we hear in our work with management and operations teams across the globe, are their views of the Human Resources function and how HR could be even most valuable to them. What is surprising is that on many occasions, their experience of HR is not congruent with what they want from HR nor in line with how HR wants to be perceived.

Let’s look at some of the recent comments we heard and propose an idea:

On the negative side:
– HR is often seen as the “policy police” whose processes are often experienced as slow, inflexible, and cumbersome.
– They are viewed as a necessary, but not always valued function.
– They are seen as harbingers of the negative. (“When they show up, something bad is going to happen”)

Human Resources has a “Branding Problem.” Frequently our HR friends talk about having a “seat at the table” and being “trusted business partners.” But all too often, they don’t do the requisite work in the right way to earn the very thing both they, and their business partners both want.

So let me propose an HR Brand, and a set of actions to allow HR to be viewed as even more effective and welcomed.

“HR as Consigliere of the Organization.”

If we move the Godfather references aside, the word “consigliere” means being a trusted advisor or counselor — someone who understands the needs, the business challenges, and the people issues of management and of “the business.” This takes work and a particular approach that requires:

1.  First seeking to understand what the business is trying to accomplish – its priorities, challenges, and resource needs.
2.  Being seen as a business leader first, and an HR functional leader second.
3.  Really showing up to play – asking lots of questions and being a Business Partner who can “help me talk, understand, and make decisions in favor of the business.”
4.  Demonstrating a “Proactive Hunger” about finding out what people need.

One business unit leader who I recently interviewed said the following: “They should be beating down my door to say: ‘Tell me your agenda so I can think about this and prepare what to do.’”

While Human Resources professionals have a complex, often thankless, but necessary job to do, they must be in control about how they are experienced and the strength and value of the relationships they build.

Think about the HR “Brand” in your job, with your team, and with your key customers. Go interview them and ask how you can be even more effective and valuable to them. What do they most need and want?

Be a true Consigliere to your business. You’ll always have a seat at the table.



What Just Hit Us? Adaptive Strategies for Change

Categories: Characteristics of Top Teams, Collective Intelligence, Executive Coaching, Leadership Teams, Top Teaming Book, Uncategorized - Tags: , , , , ,

About 3 weeks ago we were with a team of Global HR officers. The original mission was to help them become an even higher performing team – a Top Team. But there was something missing in the room – something that was obvious, but not explainable on their Team Assessment. There was an enormous lack of energy among the people.

Then they told the story: Their parent company had decided to make some significant structural and personnel changes that would rock the company. Our client group was told that these changes would not impact them or their global responsibilities. But that was not the reality. It turned out that they were significantly impacted by a reduction in their ranks, and were also tasked to carry this “head count reduction” (a term I am not fond of) across their regions thus earning a reputation as “corporate assassins.”

As one of the leaders said, “It was as if we were enjoying a clear sunny day, then all of a sudden we were hit by a tornado.” And then our observation became clear – they were the survivors who were still numb with shock, unable to believe either in the weather report, or on their own eyes. How do they adapt to this? How do they earn trust? How do they let themselves trust?

Virtually none of us has complete control over our own destiny. Whether we work for others, or are self-employed, we are still hostage to the unpredictable. And, given the increased sense of ambiguity, volatility, and rapid change in an interconnected world, this sense of unpredictability is, in fact greater than it ever was. So what do we do? How do we adapt to change? How do we best respond to it?

We know that the two primary variables in the experience of stress are control and predictability. Thus the more we have a sense of what may happen and the more we can do something about it, then the experience will be less intense and we will likely respond and rebound faster.

For this team, recovery and resiliency required them to do several things very differently:

  • Pull together as a team. What must they do for themselves and for the organization? Do not allow a protective silo mentality to emerge. It will not work.
  • Stay in closer touch with the functional business leaders. In every case, the business leaders wanted HR to be closer to them, to better understand the business, to ask lots of questions, and thus have better eyes and ears about the forces which might impact the business and the leaders.
  • Do not, ever, believe that they (we) exist on an island and that issues and forces across the pond(s) will remain there. They won’t.
  • Ensure that open dialogue is occurring between you and your leaders, and between them and their leaders so that the likelihood of surprises will diminish, No guarantees here, but always look to lower the odds.
  • Operate with positivity and show up as a leader that people want to talk with. This gives you greater access and credibility to know the business and the key people. It is also your best personal reaction to surviving the storms. And whenever possible, predict the next tornado.

What examples do you have of unpredictable change and what are the great examples of how people best respond to and plan for it?


Top Teaming: Has the Nature of Change Somehow Changed (Part 2)

Categories: Characteristics of Top Teams, Collective Intelligence, Executive Coaching, Leadership Teams, Top Teaming Book - Tags: , , , , , , ,

In a previous blog, we suggested that given the increasing complexity, uncertainty and rate of change in the world that the very nature of change itself has, in fact, changed.

Rarely do we find anymore that change occurs and we then return to a previous state of equilibrium. That is almost old thinking. We then began to view change as more of a whitewater experience in which waves of change are punctuated by short returns to normalcy. Our adaptability and physiological wiring could handle that. But that’s no longer fully true. Now it seems as if we live in a personal, business and global world in which change is constant.

And most things, from personal technology to geo-politics seem fair game. Predictability and control, two of the major variables in controlling stress are on the endangered species list. And minimized are the classic 5 and 7 step models of how to deal with change.

So what do we best deal with this?

From a leader-led change perspective, our responsibilities begin with providing honest and repeatable communication about:

  • What is changing/what is not
  • The “why” and context behind the change
  • That this isn’t the first and will not be the last change
  • Acknowledging the disruption and impact
  • Maximizing predictability and control
  • Defining and re-defining “What we are FOR”
  • Providing clear expectations of the workforce during and after this change

Sufficient? No – but it’s a start. Your credibility is on the line

And as those impacted by changes we must:

  • Understand the meaning and impact of the changes — what has really changed?
  • Redraw the maps — who are our teams, who are our critical stakeholders? What are the conversations we must have? (Move fast on this)
  • Dialogue about what kind of team do we need to be? (It has changed)
  • Move toward one another and be aware of our interdependencies. (Getting more siloed is natural, but not good)
  • Define and communicate what we need from management
  • Take care of us and those around us (Essential)
  • Be extraordinarily pro-active about the new and the next (High predictability and control strategy)

This is the high level approach. In the next blog, we’ll look at adaptive strategies and best practices to re-form structures and working relationships that have been impacted by changes. As we say, you have to “wrap your head around change.”

Stay tuned and weigh in.



Has the Nature of Change Somehow Changed?

Categories: Characteristics of Top Teams, Collective Intelligence, Executive Coaching, Leadership Teams, Top Teaming Book - Tags: , , , , ,

It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the most responsive to change — Charles Darwin


How often have we heard the phrase, attributed to Isaac Asimov, “The only constant is change?” Has the phrase “change” itself become another management cliché—and thus something to be “managed?” Has change really become somehow less difficult, unsettling, and disruptive? Or has it become more complex, less predictable, and more ambiguous in nature?

A very real question is: Has the nature of change somehow…..changed? Over the next three blogs we’ll examine some fundamental questions about change and the ways in which Top Teams approach this very tricky and always disruptive arena.

Most models of change are predicated on the belief that change is a disruption to an established pattern or way of doing things. Managing change then, means weathering the storm and managing the process until some degree of normalcy returns. But the return to normalcy hasn’t been our experience in some time.

Intense global political, technologic, and economic shifts continue to impact virtually every individual and business across the world. Speed of change, global inter‐connectedness and interdependence continues to accelerate. We’ve seen leaders forced to imagine change what would have never been possible or imaginable in their reign; leaders who are often challenged to fundamentally rethink the very nature of companies they have created, worked at, or led for years.

Leadership and military teams often talk about VUCA—volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity—as something they face almost daily. The current Wikipedia definition, which has great face validity, defines the elements of VUCA as:

V = Volatility: The nature and dynamics of change, and the nature and speed of change forces and change catalysts.
U = Uncertainty: The lack of predictability, the prospects for surprise, and the [difficulty in] awareness and understanding of issues and events.
C = Complexity: The multiplex of forces, the confounding of issues and the chaos and confusion that surround an organization.
A = Ambiguity: The haziness of reality, the potential for misreads, and the mixed meanings of conditions; cause‐and‐effect confusion.

Change consultants talk about “waves of change” during which companies and employees experience one disruption after another without returning to solid ground for long periods of time. Neuropsychologists tell us that the human brain is not evolutionally developed to deal with constant change. We are not wired for constant disruption or “flooding.” In today’s world, the frequent waves of change, high volatility and complexity, significant paradox and ambiguity, create a whitewater experience. And this experience creates huge paradigm shifts for executives and employees alike as the very ground underneath them feels shaky.

This brings to mind questions, such as: How do we deal with the Now and the New? What is the “New Normal?” Does the New Normal somehow represent continuous, complex, ambiguous and uncertain change, like a river that is truly never the same? Our thinking is that the very nature of change has changed both on a personal and on a business level.

Change has changed. And Top Teams do a far better job in wrapping their heads around change than do just good teams. What makes the difference? I invite you to weigh in over the next three blogs.