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Breakthrough Process 3 – Traning and Positioning the OE Team

Step three of the Breakthrough Process introduces the central concept of an Organization Effectiveness (OE) team, a cross-functional group of ordinary people from various levels within the organization. This team becomes the secret sauce in the change process. These team members are trained to perform extraordinary tasks and are carefully selected to ensure representativeness. The OE team’s role is diverse, including facilitating workshops, conflict resolution, conducting transition meetings, and supporting managers during change initiatives. Their ability to engage in honest and open communication with trust plays a pivotal role in supporting change efforts. The team undergoes extensive training to prepare them for their responsibilities. This phase is a cornerstone of the breakthrough process, contributing to the successful execution of transformative changes.


Step three of the breakthrough process is training and positioning an OEM team. And this we consider the secret sauce in our process for. For many years I would do this occasionally, but after linking up with Amy Barnes in our partnership and the way we do this work, this has been her because of Amy, this is now the secret sauce. It’s our intention to do this in every single intervention that we do is to create an internal organizational effectiveness team. And you’ll see in a minute why this is so important. Thank you, Amy Barnes, for making this so central. Now remember, it’s a part of phase one which is preparing the organization. Step one was to make sure that your project is linked in people’s minds with the strategic objectives of the organization. Secondly, you want to prepare the decision makers and the stakeholders for the change process. And the third is to identify and train and position an organization effectiveness team to carry out and facilitate a lot of this project. I’m not going to rush through this. I’m going to take my time because this one is very, very important. Now, what is an OE team? An OE team is a cross-functional, multi-level group of people that turns into a high performing team because of you and your work that you do with them. It’s made up of ordinary people.


It’s sometimes the members who come from the training department if they have a training department or from HR, but most of the people come from like sales or you know it, or some other group that maybe have not ever had any of this training before. Real people, you want to have this group be sort of a diagonal group so that someone in the organization, when they look at that, at that OE team, they think there’s somebody on there that kind of understands my world. All right. That’s the concept. Now there are regular people. This is Aiga. She worked in the call center before she became a member of the O team. And now she’s an extremely talented facilitator now, she was an IT guy when we invited him to be on the team. He said, you know, I’ve never talked to more than three people at one time in my life. I talked to my computer screen all day long, he said. I’ve never held a magic marker in my hand before. What are you, what are you guys doing with me? And a few months later, he and I led, and he facilitated most of it because it was in Polish. A two day workshop, a very important workshop with an outsourcing company associated with a client we were working with. Amazing, amazing thing OE people work with data. Here’s a couple of people working with data.


This is Agnieszka facilitating a workshop with a department with probably 75 or 80 people in IT managers. When she came on to the OE team, she would say this herself. She was really anxious and scared, like, oh my gosh, I’m not sure I can do this. And now she’s an absolute superstar. So you take ordinary people and you equip and you train them to do extraordinary things. Now what is an OE team? It is. It has a representative feel. As I said before, you want everybody to be able to look at that group and feel like somebody there knows a little bit about my world. You want to include a trusted senior manager, trusted from above and from below. You don’t want the person at the very top because then it does. You know, people are afraid to talk. So you want someone that’s maybe 1 or 2 levels below the CEO, who is trusted by the CEO, but also trusted by frontline people. Very important to have them on this OE team. This group needs to be charged, meaning they need to be told what to do. They need to be given a mandate, an invitation, a challenge from the CEO. In every organization, every client contact we have, we sometimes will have a dinner after, usually the first module at the end of the first module training the OE team.


We’ll invite the CEO to come and sit in, maybe on some of the modules and then stay for dinner. And after dinner they stand up and they say, you have no idea how important you are. Of course, we’ve coached the CEO to say certain things, but coming from the CEO, that’s where these people really get it. They get this is not just some training program. This is really going to make a significant difference in the organization, and I am going to make a difference on this team. The team is supported by the internal HR group. Cannot emphasize this enough. You want to have the HR team on board and totally supportive of this. The most successful projects that we’ve had have been where the HR director or the HR VP or HR manager was 110% behind this and was actually a full fledged member of this group. And then finally, you want. This group will be equipped by you, the outside group, and we’ll talk later about how we do that. Now who does what in an intervention changes intervention. Usually Amy and I work at the top with the senior leadership team in the middle. Our consultants work with Somos primarily to do whatever work needs to be done there. In the middle, the OWS take the lead, supported by our consultants and at the bottom, the frontline people.


All of that work is carried out by the OWS, supported by us and by our consultants as necessary. That’s how the work gets divided. The OWS have a huge area of coverage and responsibility. At one point, the team, at least the way we do it, presents some data to the senior leadership team. We don’t present the data. We have the team present the data. So 2 or 3 people from the team will be sitting in front of the board, the management board of the senior leadership team, the senior executive. Some of them never, never met them for the first time. And there they are in the room presenting very important data, holding up a mirror so that the senior team can see what’s going on in their organization from the frontline people. It’s so powerful to have that happen. Now, where does the team come from? Well, they come from here, they come from there, they come from there, they come from there, they come from everywhere. You want this team to represent the entire organization. Very, very important. What does the team do? First of all, they quite often are the ones who take the lead in doing some kind of a workshop experience for groups of people across the organization, sometimes cross-functional, sometimes in their intact groups saying, guys, we’ve got to get ready for change.


And sometimes there’s tough conversations, training. Anytime you’re doing a change process, there are people whose jobs are going to change quite often, a large percentage of people, sometimes they’re going to be laid off in a merger, post-merger integration, reorganization, sometimes outsourcing all these things. When that happens and people have to be let go, the managers and the leaders who are going to have those conversations with the people who are going to be let go, they need some training. They’re not going to do it. They’re not going to do it naturally. The people who need the training, the people that will have the worst conversations with people when they let go, they’re the ones that absolutely must have that kind of training. So you need that sponsorship from the top. About you guys. We need this training, folks. We need to do this right. We can let people go respectfully and appreciatively, or we can let them go in ways that are really destructive, not only to the people leaving, but, boy, the drums beat the way you treat those people when you let them go. And we’re going to have a video on that too. By the way, when you have to let good people go, how do you do it? In a way, because the people who stay see what happens to those people who are let go, and that affects their commitment to the rest of the future.


The team support. Breakthrough teams are out whenever there are people working on breakthrough projects. Whenever a new manager takes over a team, it’s good to have an OE person working with them to help them. We have a whole video on this. How do you manage your transition meetings so that the new manager and the new team get on board quickly and don’t have to wonder for a long time? The O’s facilitate what we call productive interaction sessions between groups, or between departments, or between levels, or between people. And finally, they can facilitate town hall sessions when a new department comes on board and that whole group gets together, a team of two O’s will be consultants to that department head in helping them design that session and actually often facilitate it. So here is an A in a recent merger. This is the actual newsprint from the OE team’s work. What was their role going to be? Consult with clients connected above and below the waterline. Facilitate meetings. Do conflict resolution where needed. Lead workshops. Have coaching conversations in essence to help the people and the organizations prepare, survive and recover from this merger. That was about to happen. Now here’s a major contribution, and that is about communication.


What usually happens is people get together and they talk about this change process, and sometimes it’s in a meeting and sometimes it’s just in a 1 to 1 conversation. The O’s have been priceless because they’re trusted. They don’t have an axe to grind. They don’t have a point of view. They’re actually people that people want to talk to. And they listen to the O’s when they talk because the O’s typically tell the truth. Now, why is communicating different in a change process? A lot of managers think that above the waterline that people just need information. Well, we told them about that. How come they’re so upset? Well, you know, if you’re in a relationship with somebody and you have something important to say, you don’t just deliver the information and turn and walk away and say, well, I told them, no. You realize that in a relationship you give people a piece of really important, maybe upsetting information, and you stick around to talk about it below the waterline you want to have and they want to have a real two way interaction with people they trust in a safe environment above the waterline. People need information about the change below the waterline. They need interactions, a chance to talk with somebody that they trust, usually their manager about how this happens and the OE team.


Remember the porpoise model about going above and below the waterline? This is where this happens right here. Now how were they trained? We did eight two and a half days. Typically in a year-long change project we will do eight two and a half day modules. We teach them things like group dynamics, communication skills, change and transformation models, conflict resolution, designing and leading programs, presentation skills, personal development, all these things, all the basics in the change process. We just like graduate level, graduate level education and training for these people now. Here’s an example. Here’s Carol, one of our senior facilitators, facilitating the AU team at work. And here’s Misha doing the same thing. Here’s Amy who was doing a similar process. We like to work with people, real people on real issues in real time. Another secret is to use the AU team, but work with people on real issues in real time. So the AU has become a self-managed team. They require very, very, very little, little help. So here it is. Step one, step two, step three. When we come back, step four is going to be how do you lead a diagnosis led by the ease of what needs to be addressed. This team is extremely important. So glad to introduce the concept to you and say a little bit about it.


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