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Why it Matters: Using A Revolutionary Frame for Leadership Development in an Age of Ambiguity

Where ever you turn to read about our economic contexts, you are confronted--literally beaten over the head--with the reality that much of the world is in dynamic flux due to globalization, technology, social-political shifts, and much more. Ambiguity and paradox are the essential “foods” of a leader’s daily diet. And because we live at a time when we know more than at any previous time about how the human brain and biology work, we know that experiencing ambiguity is a toxic poison to how the human system operates.

In a very literal sense, our complex world is killing us if we don’t have the tools to lead ourselves and others which build capability and resilience.

One cannot reasonably argue that “I’m just a manager in a small bank,” or “I just run a local business,” or “I keep my head down and make sure my department makes its numbers” and seriously think you can operate by ignoring the larger economic and political context in which we all work. All of us work in a system that grows in complexity every day, which means we must constantly learn and adapt-—but how many have the tools and have taken the time to develop their learning capability?

Using a revolutionary frame for leadership development in an age of ambiguity matters for these reasons: leaders build resilience, increase capability and learn to become agile. Matrix Insights (MI) achieves this by:

(1) providing a development experience available when the learner is 24/7,

(2) engaging with ‘just in time’ action tips to foster integrating new behaviors into one’s leadership efforts,

(3) being global,

(4) using development tips based on the science of behavior and effectiveness,

(5) allowing teams to collaborate in learning together, and

(6) facilitators can engage learners to insure that the personalized micro-learning is taking hold.

Leadership development is essential, but not in its current frame

Leadership development has evolved over the last forty years and is in a real sense “mature.” The processes and products that have been used for a number of years are well in place and new products and processes have to “break through” the resistance created by habit, hubris, and mindset about the things that matter. Much of what is used today relies on old technology and processes, and is out of step with the digitized reality of today’s emerging leaders. Paradoxically, at the very moment we need for the focus of leadership development to be agile, the framework that is in use around the world is not.

The notion that if we make it quicker, easier, and accessible within the bubble of an old, mature framework is illustrated by the perception that a service like the popular book summary company, getAbstract+ make the life of the manager more effective. getAbstract+ is essentially selling the idea that a quick review of key concepts that are embedded in a program will elevate understanding and hopefully action. In a sense, such shortcut services suggest an efficient, cost effective way to put complex ideas in front of already organized audiences. There is no expectation that this kind of addition to a program is going to change behavior but it may set the stage for a person to identify something worth developing.

At the recent conferences with professionals focused on leadership development, all the booths were using monikers about leadership development being facilitated by a given product or process. What was interesting is that there wasn’t really anything that differentiated one booth from the other, other than logo, color, and features the product might have that could be useful. In other words, there was nothing that said innovation, game changer approach, or tectonic movement in the field. No real differentiator except for personal preferences.

At the highest levels, organizations decide on priorities and hope that they can get alignment at all levels. We know this rarely works efficiently (getting alignment) and fostering commitment and execution are totally reliant on the talents (as uneven as these are) of those in the organization. Point is, everybody wants an efficient, cost effective, quality learning experience that gets the organization moving in the preferred direction. So do we want to be a “me too” product? Meaning, other than being new, are we like everyone else? Or do we want to be the prime mover of personalized micro learning that meets the needs of a digital native audience who are doing to inherit the roles and responsibilities of all organizations and systems in the economically developed world?

The Matrix Insights (MI) platform/product solves the following issues which have been consistently identified throughout the industry and for which no one has had a compelling answer—until now. And let’s go so far as to suggest that in a world with the need for on-going development and agile use of information when leading others, a continuous, rapidly available, personalized learning approach will make the difference.

Pervasive leadership development issues that need resolution

Issue: A failure to identify the specific needs of learners and for learners to own their own development needs. This issue is pervasive and no one really has attempted until MI to provide an integrated product that drills down into specific learner needs and seamlessly tie those to a specific set of learning lessons.

Issue: Objectives set by trainers, rather than learners. This is a pernicious problem that every Director of Training or Leadership Development knows is true, and it exists because the primary driver of training is the trainer rather than the learner. MI allows for the learner, aided by evidence based processes, to pursue the path of excellence, the path from success to significance.

Issue: Little acceptance by learners of the need to take responsibility for their own development. The 'know-do' gap is the single most remarkable example of the general human resistance to change. Just about everyone who has ever attended a management seminar, a leadership workshop, or read a leadership book knows which behaviors make the difference. Coaches can tell you of literally thousands of managers who will say, “I know I need to….but don’t have the time to learn what to change.” Part of this problem is related to the mind frames discussed by key researchers like Robert Kegan (instrumental/socialized/self-authoring/transforming) and the sheer energy it takes to learn something new. We are wired to go to pleasure, avoid pain, and find an efficient path to achieve both. This wiring is so profoundly in our nature that it provides a built in resistance to doing just about anything that seems uncomfortable.

Our Matrix Insights platform/product builds a bridge between the “know” and the “do” and with the use of recursive feedforward reminders and tips give the learner the absolute best opportunity to cross the bridge and take personal responsibly—-albeit, personal leadership for their futures.

Issue: Constraints of time for preparation and participation in learning events. More than ever before, learners need to be able to learn at their own pace, within their own frame, and in the ways that work for them given their highly constrained, overly demanding, remarkably complex jobs and roles. The MI platform/product allows for an individual’s pursuit of learning at one’s own pace in a 24/7 digital space, and in micro segments that are manageable.

Issue: A failure to follow through learning beyond an event or course. Has there been a more powerful plan than MI to encourage the learner to take the next step? While we can’t make the learner follow-through, if he or she doesn’t, it isn’t because they didn’t have cues and props. Ask people what they did with the leadership development class/workshop notebook? If they kept it, it is on the bookcase. Our material is a click away and with the weekly reminders, always in front of the learner.

Issue: Failing to achieve high value via transfer of the learning. This is a failure of the old system of training and development methods. Psychologist Kurt Lewin established 50 years ago that a learner must have a clear “next step” that he or she can do if the learning is to take root and the learning must be clearly an advantage for the learner. In the words, there really isn’t any learning for its own sake; it is learning with a purpose in mind and for an outcome that improves performance and life quality.

The MI platform/product provides specific action tips that provide the “next step” and gives meaning to the notion of transparency in terms of how the learning improves the condition of the learner. We will do more with this, providing aggregate feedback and benchmarks.

In conclusion…

A revolution in any field means there is a marked, complete, radically innovative approach to solving old problems. Matrix Insights is certainly a pioneer in providing a new leader developmental strategy that leverages the wisdom of the past and rides the forces of the future.

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