The small-scale, mechanical techniques known as “change management” are widely known. That’s not what Accompli does. The Accompli approach is deeper, more fundamental, and broader in scope. It’s about leadership and learning.
Start with the premise that the client is capable. You know your business better than any outsider. Accompli believes that outside advisors should listen with respect, rather than imposing their own ideas. They should ask powerful questions. They should minimize friction costs, intruding and disrupting as little as possible.
What, then, is Accompli’s role? To help create the conditions for change. To facilitate change efforts that are of, by, and for the client. To catalyze the thought and action of the client’s own people: awakening, energizing, and even guiding them, but never robbing them of ownership of their work. And at every step, to help participants leverage urgently necessary tasks to capture the side benefits of capability building, culture change, and learning along the way.
Accompli does not rely much on theoretical models or shrink-wrapped methodologies. Instead, it starts with hard-won, experience-based understanding. It integrates, as needed, any number of familiar techniques, from 360-degree feedback to action learning to continuous improvement. And then there is the guiding consciousness of the Accompli advisor; in that sense, there truly is a “black box” at the center of Accompli’s offerings. The advisor molds Accompli’s service offerings to specific client needs. No two engagements are the same. Every one expresses the same principles.
The first principle is an understanding about how purposeful change occurs: Whether in individuals or organizations, it is the sum of awareness + intention + sustained effort.
Awareness is always freely available. It becomes a lever for purposeful change when engaged with information containing relevant and convincing grounds for action. In coaching, 360-degree feedback is the method of delivering that information. Many companies rely on generic online questionnaires to gather feedback from boss, peers, and reports. Accompli, leveraging high-level journalistic experience, conducts relatively unstructured face-to-face interviews instead.
For larger-scale engagements, with a top leadership team or the top two or three levels of leaders, Accompli has developed a proprietary form of 360-degree feedback. Here, interviews focus on strategic issues to which the leaders contribute. The feedback assesses their collective effectiveness.
Intention is a decision made with strong commitment, usually in response to information. To spark intention in the client, Accompli gathers information in confidential interviews (for-quotation but not-for-attribution) optimized for directness and candor. Then Accompli delivers the information in a facilitated meeting. On any scale, from a two-hour session with a single coachee to a multi-day offsite with scores of leaders, Accompli uses the feedback as a mirror in which leaders recognize themselves and their circumstances.
Powerful conversations ensue, with Accompli facilitation that emphasizes candor and purpose. Always the overarching question is: What’s most important here, and what should we do about it? The first product of discussion is a common set of data. Next comes a shared understanding of what it means. As people shift from subjectivity to objectivity, they develop a firm base for collective decision and commitment.
Accompli is quick to invoke whatever common cause and shared goals may unite the people in the room. People who value membership in an organization will acknowledge the need to subordinate some personal priorities to the common good.
When an intrinsic case for change exists, these meetings can result in transformative decisions, and action. An individual coachee might sincerely commit to take on a very short list of issues, some publicly obvious, some private. For a leadership cohort, the result of the conversation usually is a set of decisions. These are expressed as projects or work streams, each with an intended outcome, an owner, a timeline, and milestones. Accompli usually insists that participants accept mutual accountability for the entire set of outcomes, in addition to their individual responsibilities.
By this point, Accompli’s work has begun to add significant value. It has brought previously unavailable information to light. It has enabled leaders to translate that information into understanding, decision, commitment, and action.
Too often, people in organizations receive orders without understanding their necessity, and without an honest request for commitment. Too often, the orders are uninformed by reality in the field. When such gaps occur, execution lags or fails. By contrast, when the people charged with executing a plan see their own fingerprints on it, believe in it, and voluntarily commit to it, the greatest obstacle to execution evaporates. The secret is creating situations in which individuals can make informed decisions for themselves, in the context of collective needs. This essential step too often is skipped by leaders in a hurry. Those who slow down to engage people at the start are more likely to win the race.
Sustained effort powers execution. Getting a group of people excited at an offsite means nothing unless that excitement translates into sustained effort. This is why Accompli emphasizes authentic shared commitment and mutual accountability at the start.
A program launched by a leadership group is not like a rocket with a fixed trajectory. The responsibility of leaders to guide the program to success has just begun. As the great 19th century military strategist von Moltke the Elder argued, no plan survives contact with the enemy. In a civilian context, that means strategy should focus on essential objectives and ultimate ends. Tactics should not be too precisely defined, but left free to adapt to circumstances as they arise.
Accompli urges leaders to establish a cycle of regular, reasonably frequent meetings to oversee and adjust the work. In these follow-up sessions, participants track the progress of multiple work efforts, fixing problems, removing obstacles, improving methods, and accelerating progress.
These facilitated sessions, in turn, become opportunities to consciously extract the lessons from action learning. Just as the participants in work streams may be working together in new ways, so the executives orchestrating complex work across boundaries acquire new skills of collaborative leadership. Both the project work and the leadership oversight become real-world laboratories for growth. New cultural norms are tested and take root. High-potential leaders get opportunities to exercise their abilities. Teams coalesce and discover ways of working more effectively. Over time, the organization develops new capabilities – foremost among them, skill at adaptive execution.
At every step along the way, Accompli fluidly supports the client – as advisor, thinking partner, facilitator, and coach. Accompli holds the client’s intention as its own, and flexibly, adaptively, does what’s most important to help the client reach its goal. Above all, Accompli takes responsibility for helping the client’s people notice what’s happening, raising experience to the level of conscious awareness and learning.