I am currently attending the Australian Chambers Business Congress in Melbourne. My attendance at this event was provided by the NSW Business Chamber, as our reward for winning ‘Business of the Year’ at the Western Sydney Business Awards 2011. Here are the best bits from the speakers from the first day (Thursday 17th August):

– Rosabeth Moss Kanter –

Rosabeth was quite focussed on organisation culture, which is emerging as a strong theme at this conference. She noted that the experience of success, and the good moods related to this, are contagious and have the affect of making people more engaged, enthusiastic and productive. Successes don’t have to be massive, even just rewarding small successes on an individual level, improve morale. Personally, this reinforces to me the need to reflect back on each day and see the successes we’ve had, not the problems or sources of stress. If I am optimistic then this attitude will rub off on my staff. It is also essential for us to take the time as a team to enjoy our successes and I need to make a positive example of recognising staff achievements during weekly team meetings.

Rosabeth addressed the current economic conditions by advising that businesses find tasks that are going to be useful to their future and keep going, doing these, when there’s a lack of clients or profitability. She emphasised the need to find ways to survive and to use extra capacity to innovate, research and go the extra mile for the clients you do have. Rosabeth stated ‘Everything can look like a failure in the middle’.  If you can find the way to keep making ends meet then you should work on continuing to be perceived as being able to reliably deliver.

Culture again came to the fore when Rosabeth spoke about the need to set business values as a team and that they should not just be a set of words but that their meaning needs to be woven into every part of the business. There needs to be total consistency between the values of the business, and its behaviours. This means that every person in the business must understand the values, believe in them and embody them.

Similarly, you want the same sort of buy in when it comes to idea generation. Businesses should be open to ideas being put forward from every level of the organisation. Rosabeth advised making idea generation a KPI and having staff allocate a set amount of time each day or week for idea generation. Great ideas, that really improve the organisation, should be rewarded.

Another means of organisational development is to identify specific individual talents and capabilities and then to have your staff teach each other the one thing that they’re good at that the other person may lack. This is skills and capability development via cross pollenisation and has the benefits of filling knowledge gaps and creating backup resources.

View Part 2 to read more…

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