/Steve Plante

About Steve Plante

Chief Strategist and Education Officer PeopleProductive, LLC

Embracing the Human Age

On December 31, 2016 I wrote a post entitled Emergence of the Human Age, and that it is only beginning to emerge. It was a brief post about what I saw as a new age where people will thrive enabled by the 2nd Machine Age. That humans will be liberated to be human again, freed from the shackles of the Industrial Age, tapping into uniquely human creative potential atop the digital platform. That digital technologies are eliminating work and routinized decisions heretofore the domain of humans, it is inevitable. And this is good. It is freeing humans to be human again. The Execution Engines of value creation systems are being digitally integrated and automated augmented with embedded artificial intelligence, diminishing the need for humans to do this work. And this is good, it is freeing humans to do what we uniquely can do that machines cannot, and that is to create, to innovate. This means that competitive advantage lies not in the Execution Engine, but in the Innovation Engine, fueled by the human mind. The digital platform is enabling exponential growth in human productivity. This is a complete shift from Industrial Age thinking where the status quo was dominant, the Execution Engine was king, where innovation threatened smooth running of the machine. Innovation was highly controlled, compliance with process and procedure ruled the day. Recently I had another epiphany, that we are evolving into an age of continuous transformation, where flexibility in the Execution system across the value creation system is king, fully automated, [...]

By | 2019-02-21T17:35:53+00:00 March 15th, 2019|

Injecting Humanity into the Workplace

In December, 2018 the Drucker Forum centered its theme on the Human Dimension. Why? Why is the contemporary world so interested now in Humanity in the Workplace? We’re in the Digital Age, right? The world is waking up to the fact that People matter most as we are transforming from Industrial Age thinking fueled by Everything Digital. Why? Machines cannot innovate. Machines cannot create. Only People can. So how do you create a work environment that unleashes this potential? Inject Humanity into the Workplace, that’s How. Injecting Humanity into the Workplace is the secret sauce to unleash exponential levels of Human Productivity at Work. Individually. And Collectively. Easier said than done as we have to let go of management practices in the past that proved successful. We have to let go of fear-based practices that demean and threaten People at work. This is where injecting Humanity into the Workplace needs to start – creating an environment where People feel safe to offer up ideas and solutions without experiencing any form of retribution. And when you do that People feel a sense of achievement, a sense of importance that fuels their engagement and loyalty. This manifests in higher levels of People Productivity at work. Think about your work environment. Does it do that? I mean, really do that? Does your work environment have an open-door policy that no one walks through? Do you feel a sense of fear approaching others with your ideas? Creating a safe environment is the foundation. Next it’s all about [...]

By | 2019-02-21T17:30:51+00:00 February 21st, 2019|

Unleashing the Power of People at Work

I've been fortunate to focus my attention on helping organizations shape intentional thriving culture at this point in my life and career. It boils down to the emotional experience People have at work that promotes (human) #Engagement, engenders #Trust, fosters frictionless #Collaboration, makes “space” for #Innovation (many organizations are 2BZ2 Think), and speeds time to #Value. This is true for any organizational endeavor be it operations or change programs, the latter of which has suffered greatly with failure rates still pegged in the 70-75% range, a sad state-of-affairs that organizations simply cannot afford anymore. More and more, organizations are realizing that People matter most in the digital age as the true source of organizational agility and prosperity. It's a paradox isn't it? In the digital age People (Humans) matter most. Machines cannot replicate human creativity and collaboration bringing new ideas and capabilities to life and speeding them to market. Shaping a culture where People thrive unleashing their productive capacity individually and collectively (as a Community) is the key. Do you want to increase your organization's speed, agility, productivity, innovation, and resilience? Look to your People and unlock their potential by getting and staying culturally fit. The great tension - Investors | Customers | Employees. Where does Leadership place the accent? In the past, Investor interest ruled and People were mere resources, treated as necessary cogs in the Machine. This was true since all that was needed were hands, not minds. Engineer the Machine that produces the financial return. People executed finely defined tasks [...]

By | 2018-10-31T12:39:09+00:00 October 31st, 2018|

Emotional Safety At Work

Emotional safety is a prerequisite for unlocking and optimizing human contribution, connection, and collaboration in the workplace. Without it you get individual compliance, nothing more, and it comes at a high price. People will give as much as they need to, to survive, while looking for other opportunities, you guessed it, to survive. Emotional safety, also known as psychological safety, is a precondition for highly productive relationships. In fact, it is the initial building block. It is the belief that one will not be punished or humiliated for speaking up with ideas, questions, concerns, or mistakes. A lack of it silences People's voice, robbing an organization of its collective benefit as a consequence. Mistakes are hidden, opportunities to improve are withheld. A sense of fear permeates the environment. Have you experienced this? How did it make you feel? Perhaps you are in such an environment now. Being bullied, ostracized, marginalized, excluded, maligned, and so on (feel free to add to the list!). These are toxic, corrosive behaviors, yet all too often they are allowed in the workplace. A lack of emotional safety creates an environment of fear which severely constrains, or even shuts down, cognitive systems as humans go into survival mode. Perhaps we have just resigned ourselves to its presence and have grown to accept it as a condition in the workplace. Obviously, it doesn't have to be so. We can ban and route out these corrosive behaviors. Who allows fear to permeate the workplace? Leadership does, whether knowingly or not. Leadership [...]

By | 2018-10-26T01:39:03+00:00 August 16th, 2018|

Do People Really Resist Change?

It's likely you've heard the phrase 'people resist change'. Have you ever delved into why that is? The answer to the question is: Yes. We are biologically wired to resist change. We crave certainty. Uncertainty is an existential threat. Resisting uncertainty is wired into our evolutionary DNA to survive. Here's an interesting video on the topic: The Neuroscience of Creativity, Perception, and Confirmation Bias by Beau Lotto, author of Deviate: The Science of Seeing Differently. Beau points out: 'to ensure your survival, your brain evolved to avoid one thing: uncertainty if your ancestors wondered for too long whether that noise was a predator or not, you wouldn't be here right now. Every behavior that we do, we do to reduce uncertainty. We do it to increase certainty. Our brains are geared to make fast decisions based on assumptions (confirmation bias), questioning them in many cases quite literally equates to death. No wonder we're so hardwired for confirmation bias. No wonder we'd rather stick to the status quo'. Paradoxically, we are in a period of accelerating, exponential change. How do we respond? Is it possible to create an environment where people embrace change, and thrive on it? Yes, and the secret lies in addressing the twin pillars of safety and meaning. If we crave certainty, as its opposite, uncertainty, is an existential threat, the countermeasure is to remove or mitigate the threat, ergo, create an environment where a state of uncertainty is safe to dwell in, that there is a state of Trust that [...]

By | 2018-10-26T01:44:20+00:00 July 14th, 2018|

What Matters Most: Trust

I came across an article on recently that I thought insightful. The title of the article is Google Spent Years Studying Effective Teams. This Single Quality Contributed Most to Their Success. Their finding? What mattered most was Trust, a major underpinning being psychological safety. These are emotional outcomes. They don't magically appear. They result from behaviors we exhibit when we interact with one another. And I dare say that psychological safety is a prerequisite for vibrant, frictionless, collaboration. The article highlights these behaviors promoting Trust: mutual respect, empathy, authenticity, integrity, helpfulness, candor, commitment, humbleness (or vulnerability), transparency, acknowledgement, recognition, and appreciativeness. Wow, that's quite a list! How do I keep all of these in mind? I say just be aware that they matter. I think IT Leaders and Managers need to be example for others to follow and adopt these behaviors. To be helpful and spread the word that they matter. It's interesting that when one exhibits these behaviors to another, the other person reciprocates. We are biologically wired to socially connect, To some extent it is 'tit for tat' behavior. It can start with you. This calls to mind the principle of reciprocity, or reciprocal behavior. The principle of reciprocity has been subject to extensive research. Robert Axelrod's research used game theory in which game theorists played computerized iterations of the Prisoner's Dilemma. Axlerod learned that the best cooperative strategy is 'tit-for-tat'. Tit-for tat is best described as a strategy of one party mirroring the response of the other party. As long [...]

By | 2018-10-26T01:45:26+00:00 April 8th, 2018|

Humanizing the Stakeholder Experience

I was doing some noodling recently that I'd like to share. I was thinking about the experience that people (aka, stakeholders, be they internal or external) have interacting with any given organization and what shapes their holistic experience and perceptions. I came up with a graphic to illustrate some points for consideration (I chose 'Our IT Team' illustrating the experience business partners have with an IT organization, but it could be any organizational grouping). The graphic indicates that stakeholder (labeled as business partners) perceptions are shaped based on their interaction with People to acquire capabilities that satisfy their needs - think Products with which they interact to accomplish their work. If we consider addressing this 'experience' at all, often it is done in rational terms, and not mindful of a deeper, emotional experience. The graphic digs a little deeper into that emotional experience. It recognizes that when dealing with stakeholders we are dealing with human beings, not 'things'. The purple pyramid in the graphic illustrates the emotions that shape the emotional perception and memory. My friends at Beyond Philosophy refer to this as the Hierarchy of Emotional Value and use it to address emotional customer engagement and loyalty. It's applicable to any human interaction with People or Things (Products). So, the million dollar question is how to consistently shape positive stakeholders emotions interacting to acquire new capabilities, and interacting with things (or Products) once acquired? One, you have to be aware of this dimension and the behaviors that promote a positive emotional experience, [...]

By | 2018-10-26T01:46:40+00:00 February 10th, 2018|

The Truth About Moments of Truth

Google Moments of Truth and see what you get. A number of interpretations. Many are solid, some not so much, and all that I've read are variations of the original concept. The fate of many great concepts is that they become diluted in practice. They lose their original meaning and power. What is the truth about Moments of Truth? They are central to shaping a positive customer experience. Moreover, they are central to any human to human interaction, be they internal or external to an organization. Richard Nomann was the originator of the concept of Moments of Truth and the virtuous cycle of positive customer experience. Quoting from his seminal book Service Management: Strategy and Leadership in Service Business, he states: 'an assessment of customer experience starts with the moment of truth, at the customer - provider interface, where quality as perceived by the customer is created' and the customer feels 'uplifted by the interaction in some way.' He doesn't elaborate on how this is achieved other than to say that the customer feels 'uplifted'. That their need is satisfied and it is a positive emotional experience for them. And when this interaction is person-to-person, as customers feel 'up-lifted', provider personnel do as well, forming 'a mutually reinforcing system, or virtual circle.' Although Normann focuses on human, person-to-person interaction, the same dynamic occurs with any type of customer-provider interaction and today these interactions are increasingly becoming digitally based. These virtual circles swirl around positive, uplifting emotions that energize an environment, be they customer [...]

By | 2018-10-26T01:49:50+00:00 December 3rd, 2017|

The Blossoming of Business Relationship Management

To my ITML Institute friends and brethren, this post spotlights the global blossoming of business relationship management for your situational awareness, particularly IT managers and leaders. In November 2013, I discovered a new organization focused on optimizing and realizing the value of investments in new business capability seamlessly integrating its ingredients across the cycle of innovation through acquisition and value harvesting or (continuous) value management for short. More than a process, value management is a discipline, firmly entrenched in culture, resulting in highly prized organizational efficiency, agility, resilience, and sustainability. The label that the organization chose for the capability that orchestrates and navigates this cycle is business relationship management. It most visibly manifests in an organizational role the business relationship manager (BRM), but the prize is less visible, often obscured, offering the potential of building a resilient organization that is needed more than ever before in the face of tumultuous, technology driven change. The secret lies in building, sustaining, and ever expanding collaborative relationship across the value creation system, continuously plying the value management cycle. The organization? It's the Business Relationship Management Institute, founded in February 2013. Its time has come to blossom for the benefit of the global community. And there is much synergy with the noble mission of the ITML Institute. IT managers and leaders help shape BRM effectiveness, and BRMs, in turn, return the favor. It is a TEAM, a united effort. We so often fall into the four walls of silos. We have to rise above and see systemically, [...]

By | 2018-10-26T01:52:34+00:00 October 30th, 2017|