08 December 2005

Day 2: The 1st O1 Team Transformation Retreat

Mr. Yogi says, "Something always happens to retreat teams at 11:00 a.m. on the second day." Are all groups really that similar in their natural process? Today was the 2nd day of the retreat and I was determined to find out what was going to tick with this O1 team.

Agenda for Day 2

1. Vision of O1

The Directors introduced their vision for O1. The following definition of a Vision was applied:
The vision of an organization is a concise word picture of the organization at some future time, which sets the overall direction of the organization. It is what the organization strives to be. A vision is something to be pursued, while a mission is something to be accomplished.

Their vision was the foundation for the most enjoyable team exercise for the day. The entire team was broken into two groups and each had to have an artistic creation of their vision for the company. We read out this scenario to them:
Imagine it is 5 years from now. Bill Gates runs into you on the street and says “Oh you are from that fantastic O1 organization. Tell me about it!” What would you want to brag about O1 if it became the most efficient and successful organization ever?
The groups got into high gear and used art materials provided to them so that they could stretch their imaginations. The results of this exercise were phenomenal. The artistic visions of both groups were unique but resonated similar values and future aspirations. Standing ovations for both visions were spontaneous as group representatives presented their creative pieces to the team.

2. Creating the New Vision of O1

Taking the two creative artworks together, the team brainstormed on the new vision for O1. I was to record their words as they explained their vision for O1 and rewrite it for the team overnight, as we could not reach a final vision today. The groups just couldn't stop thinking about the new vision! The atmosphere was so positive, and it was very hard to move the group to the most important activity of the day. Applause as the team got inspired about their new future.

3. Creating Actions for Strategies

Here came the most important activity for O1 ever in its history. For the first time, their top team came together to co-create the action plans for the next quarter. Directors realized that they had missed critical ideas in the past because they had not listened to their subordinates as carefully before. The team members got the chance to express their ideas in front of their boss, and without identifying themselves if they didn't want to. That is why this Change process is so unique.

Each strategy was pasted up on the wall. Every team member had to write out their ideas, actions, and committments that would be essential for executing strategies that were finalized the day before. Mr. Yogi always prefers to have blue post-it notes so that a "sea of blue ideas" ran across the entire room. Writing out all the ideas to each strategy took the group about half the day. We witnessed solutions to problems coming out of the system itself, rather than paying a so-called expert to spew alien and impersonal programs down the system's throat.

4. Documenting Action Plans for 1st Quarter

After all the ideas, actions, and committments were posted up on the "strategic walls", the team was split up into groups and set to work on their allotted strategies. The instructions were to divide up the post-its into 'actions' on the left and 'committments' on the right. Then we had the team work the actions and committments that needed to be thrown out in case of repetitions, or rewritten in case of new ideas due to the group's synergy. Ideas from individuals were then consolidated by the group with discussions about which actions and committments should be prioritized for the 1st quarter of year 2006. After the prioritizing task, the laptops were out to enter in the action plans. The format used was a table with columns of 'Action', 'Committment', 'Person Responsible', 'Result', and 'Next Steps'.

So what happened with the team on this second day? They gave themselves ideas they never knew they could have. It was within an environment created especially conducive to the free flow of thoughts. Another major event was for each person to list three 'Change Goals' based on the developmental feedback they received. Each person handed over their ideas on what they would work on to improve themselves, which they were in total control of. Nobody forces them to change what they don't think they had to.. but they needed to have three goals for personal change out in the public. Goals made public usually result in the person getting a heightened sense of will power to achieve them, as opposed to those that are not shared with the world.

Our process not only ensures action plans for the entire organization. What emerges along the way are also individual development plans based on live 360 degree feedback. So, why send your employees to personal development training workshops when the entire team can get together in a carefully designed meeting that helps individuals personally as well? No training program will work for employee development if the people working around them are not part of their development plan.


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