You have established new ways of working, but how can you measure their effectiveness? At Skarbek, we are often asked to provide independent benchmarks on how organisations are managing the implementation of their strategic priorities. In the current COVID-19 crisis, many organisations have realised that there is no better time to take stock of what has been working, not working, and what needs to change to emerge from this period strong enough to compete and grow.
Here, we share our experience of tailoring an effective method of measurement, building on some military, medical and psychology-based techniques that elicit valuable and actionable insights.
Getting an independent perspective on your organisation’s capabilities has the benefit of encouraging your people to share candid input confidentially, giving your results the authority of independent findings, and helping overcome the ‘internal blindness’ we all develop as our tenures lengthen.
However, we often find there is nervousness about how this ‘looking under the hood’ will be received by individual teams. As with any change programme, how the idea is positioned is key and we have found it is best to cultivate a range of measurement techniques to match a given organisational climate. Here we have listed these techniques in descending order of intrusiveness:
- After Action Reviews (AARs) – This process of analysing recently completed activities is viewed as a crucial technique in settings such as medicine and the military, but is avoided to a surprising degree in the business world. There is an art to framing it in a way that looks to future improvements rather than assigning blame, but this still requires some openness from the team to revisiting painful experiences. When well facilitated though, AARs can be surprisingly cathartic. They can offer closure and convert often-painful experiences into hard-won learnings, higher engagement, increased trust and a more positive climate.
- Project Workouts – Workouts give teams the opportunity to look at in-flight initiatives and challenge themselves on how they could be running things better. Workouts that are well designed and may use pre-mortem analysis (analysing an imagined failure and working backwards), looking at team dynamics or playing devil’s advocate (red-teaming), their assumptions may add real value and increase the certainty of delivery. This is learning by doing real work, whilst viewing through some different lenses.
- Healthcheck Surveys – These surveys can either be quantitative or qualitative. They aim to give a comprehensive ‘CAT-SCAN’ view of your executional capability that builds the evidence base for the change needed, say in strategy implementation, virtual working, and key project management, and can include some competitor benchmarks.
- Alignment Study – Less intrusive than probing directly on strategy implementation-related matters, the tool we use from our partner MirrorMirrorTM explores the differences in how teams perceive the reality of their work and how it lines up with team and organisational priorities to measure and surface gaps in alignment. The results emerge from the teams themselves, as do the paths forward.
- Miracle Questioning –The least invasive option, more akin to a coaching approach, this involves interviews using the ‘Miracle Question’; exploring that if the organisation ‘magically’ reached its nirvana state, what would be different in behaviours, actions and culture? This can be particularly effective at overcoming resistance to change.
Using these approaches can help organisations and teams understand the effectiveness of your shift to virtual working, as well as highlighting areas for further evolution.
As a consequence of COVID-19 and the shift to remote working modes, its effectiveness and sustainability is a vital topic. Research by Joseph Grenny and David Maxfield found that:
“Virtual teammates are 2.5 times more likely to perceive mistrust, incompetence, broken commitments, and bad decision making with distant colleagues than those who are co-located. Worse, they report taking 5 to 10 times longer to address their concerns”.
Here are some observations based on our own experience in how to use these tools most effectively in getting underneath these current issues:
- Workshop approaches (AARs & Project Workouts) need an appropriate online platform to engage beyond what simple video conferencing allows. Our virtual room capability has been very effective in hosting these types of collaborative workshops. Our clients have also found that having an external influence in this process maintains employee focus and engagement, ensuring that the key priorities are met for the session
- How organisations have adapted to virtual working, and what is needed to sustain performance after the initial adjustment, is going to be key to growing and competing ahead. Accordingly, we have developed a new healthcheck survey for virtual working capabilities, covering the following elements when working & collaborating remotely:
o Optimum mental states (flow)
o Encouraging self-regulation and health maintenance
o Tools and techniques for collaborative / remote working
o Coordination & Control
o Innovation & Learning
- The combination of an Alignment Study, followed by an Alignment Workshop in a virtual room, has proved particularly effective. For example, for one regional marketing team making the shift to virtual working, they made a gain of 42.9% in their clarity of how they would achieve their goals, as measured by MirrorMirrorTM.
Getting an expert view of how your organisation is doing in key areas in this crisis is quick and cost effective. This kind of intervention can be tailored to your organisation’s climate and can be invaluable when it comes to clarifying your capability to move from surviving to thriving. In uncertain times, you can start from the clarity within.
Get in touch today for a tailored virtual working ‘healthcheck’.