In this episode we are joined by Tommy Reed to discuss Organizational Development, designing your teams and, stepping out of your comfort zone as a leader.
Tommy Reed, MSOD
Director of Cybersecurity & Compliance
The IMA Financial Group, Inc.
0:35 Tommy Reed Intro
1:43 Technology and Organization Development path
4:08 Building a team
7:49 Elevating team members
10:16 Enabling your team to fail
12:02 Making decisions
15:05 Personality test
18:42 Hire based on skill set or culture fit?
20:54 Conflict resolution and difficult situations
22:35 How to get buy in
26:10 Assessing needs on your team
30:36 Lean Six Sigma
31:55 Getting started with OD
33:54 Adaptive challenges
40:00 New leader
45:00 Recommended books
48:51 Tommy Reed Contact info
The Corporate Culture Survival Guide, New and Revised Edition: Edgar H. Schein, Charlie Glaize
Leadership on the Line, With a New Preface: Staying Alive Through the Dangers of Change: Ronald A. Heifetz, Marty Linsky
Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?: Seth Godin
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Brian Comerford 0:06
Thanks for joining us for another episode of lead.exe. I'm Brian coming forward. And I'm Nick Lozano today we're joined by our guests Tommy Reed, who's gonna be speaking with us a little bit on the topic, organizational development, a topic that I know is near and dear to his heart, Tommy, maybe you can kick us off with a little bit of a background on yourself and what led you to the path of being an OD practitioner as well as a technologist?
Tommy Reed 0:35
Yeah, absolutely. First, I want to thank you both for the opportunity, I'm glad to be a part of this with you. So, my background is, you know, I've been in it most of my adult life, actually, probably all, total life, in various capacities have been in my current organization for about 16 years, and pretty much been in all capacities of technology except probably develop. So that's, that's everything from just, just being on the ground, helping folks with their day to day, all the way through leadership of the mighty organization. infrastructure, I'm now in cyber security, and which is really where my passion is, I'm very happy to be there of late. My educational background is my bachelor's in in management from Baker University here in Kansas, and my master's is in organization development, which is, aside from technology, probably, you know, one of my true passions in, in, at least in the leadership realm of things.
Brian Comerford 1:43
Well, and that's part of what intrigues me about you, as a technology leader, most technologists don't rattle off that kind of an active academic backgrounds. So, I'm kind of curious, how did those two paths end up running concurrently for you and your professional life?
Tommy Reed 2:02
Yeah, it's great, quite, you know, it really started with my desire to just sort of round things out. You know, I've always loved technology. I've always been, you know, even a troubleshooter at heart, very analytical problem solving, that sort of thing. But one of the things that I noticed in my career, even early on was just how sort of black and white we tend to be as technologists, you know, in terms of, maybe we, and not to knock the practice, because I can't knock the, the field that I that that's near and dear to my heart. But, you know, we may tend to throw technical solutions to a challenge. For example, if only we had this tool, we have the software, because that's what technology does for us, right? It's, it's, you know, letting robots do the thing that frees us up as humans to do the thinking, while the computers do the doing. And so, so this, so that's all great, but at least in my experience, I wanted to have more of a, just a knowledge and background around how human behavior contributes to who we are, as an organization, and, you know, you apply this to anything with this technology or, or any industry, you know, OD. You know, there's a lot of definitions out there around what OD is my favorite, that I kind of lean on lately, as you know, organizations, they're made up of people, people have behaviors, and those behaviors impact the organization. And so, you know, I was, I really originally set out to apply that to how I could perform better on a team how I could lead better on a technology team. And now my interest is, is sort of grow beyond that to just, you know, the entire company culture, you know, within my own organization, as well as helping out others. So, I don't know human behavior. It's just, it's fascinating to me, and how that, again, impacts and influences culture and organizations.
Brian Comerford 4:08
So, while you may not consider yourself a developer, it sounds like you are a bit of a designer.
A lot of what you a lot of what you just described there, I would I would, you know, qualify as characteristics of what back in the day used to be called Human Centered Design. Now, we tend to call it experience design. But very much, you know, it's those human behavior principles, how does that drive us to interact with technology, and certainly on, on the technology facing side of an interface, you know, how, how people work with the tech is a critical component from, you know, being able to scope project implementations, rollout training, all those types of things, as well as the actual system design itself. So, taking that sort of mindset and apply flying at two, how do you actually structure the development of a department, particularly one that you may have inherited? I'd be curious to get some of your insight on that. Kind of starting with, you know, how do you how do you find the key skill set that's already intrinsic to your team? And then how do you take something and kind of shake out the box and start from the beginning? With an OD practitioner’s mindset?
Tommy Reed 5:30
Yeah, I love that question. So I think, I think it is base, you know, a common mistake that we could tend to make when we design a team is, you know, finding the right resource to perform a technical task that's based on, you know, the skill set that you see on the resume. And those are important things, I think, you know, when I, when I look at all of that, through the, the mindset of organization development, you know, one of the axioms of od is that, and this is this is not a new concept, we've all heard the leadership is an activity, not a position. And so, you know, because of that leadership is, you know, something that you, you want to see at all levels of the organization, not just at the top, you know, part of the hierarchy triangle there. And so, you know, keeping that in mind, if leadership,
if you want to see that at all levels of the organization.
At least in my mind, I want to see, you know, when I'm deciding a team, some of those competencies in a, in a in a teammate, it's not just, you know, do you know, how to code on this platform? Or do you know, how to break fix this particular technology or application? And that, you know, that's not easy. That doesn't always come out in. You know,
a lot of times, you may not completely, you may not completely understand how a particular contributor may fit into your organization culture until they've been there a year or two, because, again, you know, culture is, you know, it's not as measurable as, as what the, you know, what we traditionally can measure, or, you know, people that aren't a finance, we like numbers were like spreadsheets, we can measure up, there's the number, culture, how do you measure that? It's not that you can't, but it's a little more, it's a little more squishy? I guess. So that's, I guess the first thing that comes to mind, when it comes to designing a team is just thinking, you know, I want folks who are not just, you know,
know this widget or notice technology, but they're on board and can help transform the organization, to where we desire culture to be if we're in the middle of a culture change, I guess. That's great.
Brian Comerford 7:49
So, tell me a little bit. You know, I love that you brought up the axiom that leadership is an activity, not a not a title, not a role.
Talk a little bit about some methods that you've applied, to help elevate some of the team members that you've had, really to take them from that place of contributor mindset into more of a strategic leadership type of thinking,
Tommy Reed 8:17
yeah, the Hilda, you know,
sort of the most basic and it's not, you know, really, I don't think terribly eye opening or, or transformative, it's just be a little fearless. I have always coached anyone who has, has come to me and said, Well, this, you know, it's not really my place, and I didn't feel like I should speak up in that meeting, or did want to step on anybody's toes. I mean, we've all heard this, right. You know, I, I've always just coached, you know, step on toes. Be, be fearless, be, you know,
not aggressive, don’t be a jerk or anything, but
I don't know, if folks just have a natural fear that their position or authority will be challenged as a leader, if any of their contributors sort of speak up, but I know, you know, when I when I've had a, you know, large amount of direct reports, I craved that as a leader. And so, I always, I always, you know, tried to encourage folks to really step outside of their comfort zone.
That's sort of what my background and experience was, is just, I didn't fear just sort of respectfully speaking up and either, either challenging assumptions, or, or just really, you know, taking ownership of things that that may have been outside of outside of my skill set that I could just then grow, grow into.
I think it's, it's easy to sort of, you know, fall back on the I can do these things, because this is within my skill set. It's just don't be afraid to step out of things, even if you have no idea how to do it.
I've heard that consistently from most leaders that anytime that they grew, in their experience was because they just challenged themselves to grow into something, I've heard CEOs told me this and
it just, you know, lean into it.
Nick Lozano 10:16
Now, Tommy, it seems, seems like to me, when you're speaking, there's almost like a dichotomy to it, right? You don't want to, you know, surround yourself with Yes, men, you're kind of looking for people who have ideas and will kind of challenge you. Not that they want confrontation. But, you know, to bring out maybe that there's a mistake that some of these making down the road to kind of, you know, have enough confidence to do that. And that seems like you also enable your team to fail at something, which is what I feel like a lot of people are kind of afraid to do.
Tommy Reed 10:51
Yeah, I'm glad you brought that up, having permission to fail, at all levels. At the, I keep saying leadership level, but that's it.
At the top of the hierarchy, I'll put it that way, you know, all the way to, you know, any, any member of the cross section of the organization having permission to fail, and I think sometimes, you know, for lower on the food chain, you know, giving folks that we report to permission to fail and, and some of that forgiveness. And if we if we can have that sort of back and forth where we ended, it's not the goal is how we're going for, right, but if you're taking risks, and if you're putting yourself out there and going, you know, outside of what your quote unquote skill set is, then you're gonna, you're going to fail. But that's also where you're going to learn. And so, I think if you, if you're so restrictive to wear, and so perfectionist, where you don't have the freedom to fail, I would want to probably find something else to do.
And to just really assess, you know,
what are my values? How am I being I going to learn if I don't have that don't have that liberty.
Brian Comerford 12:02
You know, there's a, a technique in neuro linguistic programming. And I think this might even be something that I've heard Tony Robbins use before, where if you run into a situation where you don't know what to do, which invariably all of us will write, part of how you can adapt that mindset very quickly, is to say, Okay, I don't know how to do this. But if I did know how to do it, what would I do? And then all of a sudden, you know, there's that shift in your thinking, that enables you to step forward and actually see the, the challenge from, from more of a solution-oriented mindset versus being locked up with the uncertainty, you know, of what kind of decision to make. I know that that's something that has been a technique that I've shared with some of my direct reports over the years, particularly as they run into, you know, some of those key challenges. Are there some other techniques that you can think of that are similar, that you think have been beneficial to those that you've helped a coach? Or who reported up to you?
Tommy Reed 13:09
Yeah, I think so. I mean, I guess another area where I'm a little passionate about is just sort of knowledge of self. So again, that's going back to the behavioral component of od, where, you know, we're, or organizations or whatever, culture or, or, or whatever, you know, we're part of, were made up of people, people have behaviors and those that then impact that, that particular environment. So, knowledge of self is, I guess, important to me. Because some of those, you know, as you were mentioning, you know, if we tend to sort of doubt ourselves, the reason we doubt ourselves as probably somewhere in that will probably discover when we know ourselves, and that could be part of any, whether it's a personality profile, or any of the, you know, dozens of models out there
to learn more about ourselves, it's going to, you know, show up there, I think, so is it is it because I'm afraid of, I've had a bad experience in the past, or maybe I had my hand slapped for trying and failing, or is it just because I'm just more comfortable doing exactly what I know how to do. And that's fine, too. I mean, we, we need technical experts that, you know, that they're great at what they do, and, and don't necessarily want to,
I guess branch out, and, you know, they're focuses more on a, you know, being really competent about certain things, you put the book learning in the class learning in front of that, that's fine. Some of us may be a little more fearless and put ourselves out there. And I think, when you know, yourself, you
I know can really decide how you want to approach leadership, approach your role on the team?
Nick Lozano 15:05
That's one question for you, you know, we kind of brought up behavioral science. So, are we taking? Or would you think that, you know, leaders should take their team and kind of have them do like disk profiles? or whatever, from like, Big Five? Or one of those other type of personality test? Or? Or is there something else, you know, leaders should be thinking about?
Tommy Reed 15:25
I do, I think those are great, I think those are great, DISC and BTI process communication model there, they all overlap, at least everyone that I've encountered or had any experience with, I think I think there's a great they can help one as, as, as a leader of a team, understand what your own constraints are, and what your own opportunities are. They, you know, the one thing that I find consistent with all of them, is they almost immediately expose to yourself into your team members post. So that's why we rub each other the wrong way, or that why we had conflict last Thursday. And then, you know, go beyond that, it's, it's how I can either change, you know, my assumptions that I'm bringing to a conversation or situation, and then hopefully, you know, when, when everyone's engaged in doing that together, you know, a team can move out of, you know, throwing a storming phase, they can move more into a norming and performing type phase, that sort of thing. But I, you know, the one thing that I, that I would ask leaders to sort of put more onus on themselves, is that, you know, and you'll see this in the, in the in PCM, is, you know, take a little more responsibility to modifying your, your language to fit the person that you're speaking with. So, if they're more of a dreamer, and sort of out there, and, and, you know, sort of bouncing from concept to concept and not, not just, you know, the workaholic, that's just drill down on, on technical work, sort of, sort of speak their language and, and, you know, to the workaholic, you know, you may value more like, you know, when is this getting done? When is the deadline, that sort of thing, you know, that engage your audience, I guess, and, and that looks different, depending on what model you're working from. But, you know, short answer, yes, I think those are very valuable to inform the leader on, on, on, on, his or her team.
Brian Comerford 17:30
So, some of them hearing you say is that it's critical, not only that you go through that type of assessment, but then that the results of that assessment are openly shared with all members of the team.
Tommy Reed 17:42
Brian Comerford 17:43
Is that accurate?
Tommy Reed 17:43
Yeah, share it, and keep it current. You know, I've heard anecdotes of, you know, like BTI for a minute I N TJ, for example. So, I might put I N TJ next to my nameplate, on my, on the wall outside my office, or, or, you know, I've heard companies that do that they'll post these things outside of their offices. And so that when you, you know, when you step into a conversation with someone, you know,
me being the introvert, I don't want to, you know, I don't I don't want to talk about as, as,
as most anyone else, but or my energy comes from a from it from a different,
different place than the extrovert might. So, I don't know, it's, it's, I think when you do those sort of things, you, you can have a little fun with it. You can learn from each other, you can crack jokes about it, but be out, definitely make it public and,
and make it a shared learning experience.
Brian Comerford 18:42
I've got a question for you around, you know, how to hire and
really, you know, my question is,
as a leader Do you hire first based on skill set, or first based on culture fit? Who,
Tommy Reed 19:00
that's a good one, um, you know,
I value both, of course.
But skill set is really easy to get to the bottom of it comes out the resume, and it comes out in usually in the first part of any conversation, right. So, you know, if you say that you're, you know, speaking to the sort of the technology field, if you say that you're a Microsoft Certified systems engineer, I, you know, through a handful of conversations, I'm going to learn pretty quickly, whether that's an embellishment on the resume, or if you're if you truly are an MCSE
culture fit; I think I probably spend a little more time on some of those things.
It's challenging as it may be, because, you know, I don't want to bring someone on board that's going to disrupt the team. negatively. I mean, disruption in itself isn't necessarily negative but, but have a negative long term at verse effect. You know,
certainly, there may be a storming phase is there has there is typically when any team goes through any kind of change, and that can be, you know, you know, just changing one position within that team, you go all the way back through, forming, storming and all that. But it's important enough to me to where, you know, I'm going to ask questions, you know, some of some of the, it may be an SBR, give me the situation, your behavior and the result of that, that's more in an adaptive challenge situation, than necessarily how you fixed a certain server or, you know, put out a piece of software. What were some of the more adaptive components of that particular project? That you were you added value?
Brian Comerford 20:54
That's great. I'm curious to about, do you have a similar line of questioning around conflict resolution, how someone might approach being challenged with difficult situations?
Tommy Reed 21:06
Yeah, as matter of fact that, you know, pretty much take, take them back through the SBR model of, you know, give me examples of what that situation behavior and result was.
Most, I don't think I've ever interviewed anyone for technology position that didn't have some sort of conflict example. And in technology that ranges, you know, every everyone there everywhere, from, you know, frustrated with my PC, and it's a help desk technician, that would they were interviewing for, you know, how they handle sort of the frustrated person, nobody calls, nobody calls, the Help Desk calls 911 when things are going great, right. So
they, you know, I want to hear how they, you know, sort of keep the heat at the appropriate level, or at least manage their own
their own emotions when the person on the other than the phone isn't the reasonable, and that's, that's certainly the case to all the way through, you know, some of your more complex scenarios where, you know,
it's a large-scale project where there's competing values and conflicting, you know,
desires within an organization. You know, you may have, you know, some heavyweights in the organization that don't even agree with the, with a particular project or the initiative, and that's
certainly, a challenge and not for, not for the timid.
Nick Lozano 22:35
And I do have a question for you. Now, it seems like this organizational development is kind of a top down initiative, let's say you want to deploy it, and within your department or your silo, and you don't have top management of from Is there a way you can kind of do this from bottom up, instead of just doing top down, that you can get by and more to show upper management that maybe it's should be something taken seriously, and maybe take an organizational wide kind of a way to pilot, you know, organizational development?
Tommy Reed 23:07
Yeah, I mean, that's great question, because I think to have an official sort of od intervention, or, or project, it's absolutely likely going to be a top down and we're whether we've either hired a an onsite od practitioner, or we've, we've challenged a team to, you know, put together an OD practice or intervention, or we've gone outside, which is probably more often the case, going outside to a consultant who's competent know, D.
Lacking that. And that's not to say that od in and of itself is a top down philosophy, because its own is actually in and of itself, it's the opposite of that it's a very democratic process. But onboarding it with a company is, is often top down, and you do have to have that top down support. So, you know, it's, it's a, being a democratic philosophy, where, you know, one key concept is that, you know, the shared corporate knowledge exists at all levels of the company. So, you know, one,one,one approach is to just just begin practicing, you know, it goes a little bit back to, you know, what I mentioned earlier on, in the call of it just being a little bit, bit fearless learning, you know, maybe, maybe it's, you know, suggesting a small project around emotional intelligence source, you know, coming to your supervisor and saying, Hey, you know, I realized we kind of struggle, you know, we may have these things going great, but I kind of wonder if some of our personal conflict could be resolved, if we looked at, you know, this personality profile or doing some of that softer stuff, and just sort of nudging a little bit. And that that's actually a little bit of how I started, even before I studied, od was just looking outside of what our day to day tasks were. And just in, I guess, I guess, again, this comes from being sort of a troubleshooter at heart, with finding, you know, maybe problems that existed on our team, or opportunities to, to sort of think outside of this project, or fixing this system, or installing the software or whatever, and just learning how we as a team can develop.
So I guess, short answer is nudge.
Sort of mind, and then, you know, and hopefully, you know, if you if you if you do your homework and consult a little bit
and have a successful outcome, you know, you can kind of push that a little bit further and say, Well, you know, there's actually a little bit of method to my madness. And, you know, we might seriously consider what some PR opportunities might be, if we did go and budget for next year, some, some od practitioner knowledge or, or, or maybe develop the skill set of a certain team member, which happened to be my experience. So yeah, I think there's, there's a few opportunities there to do that without the top down support.
Brian Comerford 26:10
That's great. I've got a follow up question on that. And this is really around kind of assessing what you've got, right? So, I'm curious, talk a little bit about your approach, or your leadership style that might help inform assessing what it is that you might need on a team that you currently don't have, as well as filtering out some of those things that aren't working?
Tommy Reed 26:34
Yeah, I'm glad you brought that up. Because that that actually touches on another, just key competency and philosophy around of the and that's around assessment research. It's very much a practice where we do a lot more listening than we do telling, and directing and, and, and prodding and that sort of thing. So you know, for example, you know, putting it in the context of culture, for example, say you say you have a, an OD initiative, or a corporate initiative around our corporate, corporate culture, you know, one of the first things you want to do is just assess where you're at. And you know, how much gap is there between where you're at, and where you're going and sky's the limit? I know, we don't have time to get into all of the particular possibilities there. Because, you know, there is no one culture. That's right. So, you know, for example, you know, Apple wants to change the world and attend other technology company want to make just huge margin on software that solves a particular problem. Well, the latter is, is easy to disrupt, because you just make better software make a better widget, but neither one of those cultures are necessarily wrong. So you start with, in this example of culture is just assessing, and, you know, there's a variety of methods to assess, I particularly like just sort of breaking things down to where you are today, and where you desire to be, you know, where you currently are, what are your aspirations, and seeing what those gaps are, and, you know, there's just a variety of reasons why you may be off the mark. And that could, you know, it could vary by the age of the company, you know, the further you get from the founding of an organization where a culture is strong, and, you know, well known and probably even very public, you know, think of some of the Silicon Valley companies where, you know, they're, they're young, new and fresh. And so, the culture is very much well known. Well, once you start getting multiple decades and generations between that startup phase, into a mature phase, that that can evolve radically, sometimes for the negative and sometimes for the better. So, you know, long answer longer.
Lot of research, a lot of assessing lot of diagnosis.
For one thing that I've experienced in od field with those who have done a lot of practice running outside of their own organization is, a lot of times, you know, when an organization comes to a practitioner to, you know, say Help, help us out here,
through that, through that process of inquiry and diagnosis, you may find that what they're asking for may be completely unrelated to what they really need. And so, and that's why diagnosis is so important, you know, help us roll out this project to install this piece of software, because we're getting a lot of resistance, and we need to overcome that resistance. Okay, well, you know, that resistance contains information, right. And so, you know, through that diagnostic phase, you may learn that, you know, maybe the person raising their hand and reaching out to the OD practitioner, they're either wrong, or they're misinformed, or, you know, they're, they're looking at it through a particular lens, that that either doesn't benefit the organization or, or doesn't benefit benefited as well as it could. And so. So again, it's in diagnostics that these kinds, this type of information presents itself. And ultimately, the, you know, the OD practitioner is, is not there to sort of tell you what to do. But more to give you the competency as an organization to solve this for yourself.
Nick Lozano 30:36
Very good stuff. You know, we were kind of talking earlier offline before we started this show. And I kind of see lots of resemblance between Lean Six, sigma, and od. And I feel like that's kind of a good jumping point, for some, some leaders to kind of get into this, because it a lot of this seems very familiar to me, there's a way you can kind of take some of those concepts and apply to od, to kind of get your feet wet to dip into the content.
Tommy Reed 31:05
Yeah, that's it, oh, that's a little bit in the, you know, the quality management, you know, in process side, and there's certainly a lot of intersection there. It's one area where I'm not an expert, or have a lot of practice in
you know, it again, od is it's got, you know, multiple facets, including consulting and leadership coaching, diagnosing and assessing culture, large group facilitation and, and the quality management change management piece. So, six, Lean Six Sigma, for example, like I can't speak a whole lot to that whatsoever, but it's definitely a facet and a component that may present itself as a solution for an organization if they're struggling in that area. So, on that note, are there
Brian Comerford 31:55
other designations that one can pursue beyond going for a full-blown master's program and od what it what are some sort of bite sized variations of
you know, as Nick said, getting your feet wet and, and having an understanding?
Tommy Reed 32:12
Yeah, absolutely. So, there's some
credentials around coaching is very much a either a can be an end result after say, you know, going for a full-blown masters or a stair step up into
their they're probably be the one that mostly comes, comes to mind, just various consulting accreditations. You know,
what others, you know, project management is, you know, might be a cousin, but not necessarily a
core competency within, within od, but one of the reasons why I bring it up is because I feel like sometimes project managers are often saddled with some of these adaptive challenges in, you know,
rolling out a particular initiative, we, you know, we all look to the project manager will, how do we resolve this conflict? Well, it's not his or her responsibility.
I bring that up more to say project managers might be interested in looking at some of the concepts to help sort of herd the cats that come about, and some of these, especially technology projects is, as I know, to put here for familiar with it, there's just so it seems more often than not, there's, there's more adaptive challenges the present themselves than, than just the technical, quick fixes.
Brian Comerford 33:37
Well, as a certified Scrum Master, I resemble that remark.
I definitely feel like I've been put into the o. d, like practitioner role on more than one occasion, for sure.
Tommy Reed 33:50
I've seen it.
Brian Comerford 33:54
But on that note, you know, I'd like to talk a little bit about leadership styles I've heard, heard you reference multiple times. Now the term adaptive, I, you know, knowing you, I know that that's something that's already, you know, a an area of passion for you, how does that, you know, factor into having sort of that review and assess mindset, you know, more that agile approach or situation situational, sort of leadership style? Can you speak a little bit to that?
Tommy Reed 34:23
Yeah, um, so I think,
on the, on the positive front, there's no shortage, I guess it's positive. There's no shortage of adaptive challenges in any organization. And so, you know, we, I've seen time and time again, and I know the two of you have as well, where a technical problem is treated as it is, or excuse me an adaptive challenge treated as a technical problem, right. And so, it just to, you know, sort of defined for the listeners, you know, your technical problems are those things that they're easy to identify, they're often solved by a technical expert, you can outsource it, you can just, you know, we just need somebody to come in here, write this code, do this thing, install the software. And the solution is very easy to identify. The reason I bring it up and I encounter it, just about constantly anymore is that, you know, adaptive challenges are often miss identified as technical problems, the adaptive being, you know, they're, they're, they're, they're not as easy to define. And to solve them, it may require more than one individual, it may require us to change our thinking, it may challenge our, our culture, as a sort of more difficult skill. And the, you know, the people that are responsible for solving, it could likely be the people that are responsible for causing it. And so.
So that's that not, I mean, that's not, you don't get that in the Microsoft book or a Cisco book on how to do technology, right. And so again, you know, it's, you've kind of touched on something that was an area of passion for me, and part of why I sort of, you know, set out to study, organization development, and sort of this, this sort of subset of technical and adaptive is that
I felt personally just ill equipped to
deal with adaptive challenges, especially if I was using an old
and an old framework of a, you know, I'm not the leader, I'm not the boss, I'm not, you know, at this particular slot or box on the hierarchy, you know, who am I to,
to say that this director, and this C level person, you know, need to get, get in the room and Duke this out before, you know, they start buying technology. So, it is, it is one area where I would recommend any technologist who's struggling with sort of, you know, I can't fix this with a widget, or I can't fix this with, you know,
this particular initiative to really look into adaptive and technical. And I just, it's just very eye opening, I think,
Brian Comerford 37:22
certainly, an area where I've encountered it probably the most is when they're suddenly a rally cry to change some particular system, because there's a perceived stigma against an existing system. And yes, from a diagnostic perspective, you know, I tend to come to that kind of thing, I asked a lot of questions. And of course, having more of a requirements gathering background, from a software development, side of technology, it's, you know, you have to have fundamental understanding of where those challenges occurring. And once you've got a list put together, you suddenly realize, okay, out of these 12 things, two of them seem to be related to the technology, the rest of them are either lack of rules of engagement, no accountability, no.
Process deficiencies, you know, lack of standardized processes, a lot of those things. So, I really resonate with what you're talking about related to the adaptive technical challenges, it's easier for folks who are not well attuned to this way of thinking to immediately cite the technology as being at the center of the problem, when really, there are a lot of these other things that that factor into it. So, I think that that's a very valuable mindset and trade for any leader, to be able to acknowledge and embrace whether or not they're directly responsible for technology or not.
Tommy Reed 38:51
Yeah, I think you've nailed it, because I get it, I think that's something that I would ask your, you know, listeners who are, are in more of that
decision making, you know, higher up the higher up the organizational chart, you know, having that responsibility for some of these things, because a lot of times they just hear the feedback that will, you know, software x stinks, and you know, we're just not using it. And so, you know, they may come to technologists and say, Well, you know, we got to get rid of stuff for x and good to software y, because I'm hearing it stinks. And so I guess where I would challenge leaders to do is to just like, just as you do, and, and we've all done historically, is, is maybe up front sort of asked some of those questions, do a little bit of that diagnosis up front to find out, okay, it's really just the software. And, you know, using the sample that, that you gave, you know, there's, there's, there's a lot of, you know,
a lot of things may potentially present themselves to where they can either push back, or while they're engaging technology to sort of fix the prob, problem be a little more informed as to the non-technical aspects of it.
Brian Comerford 40:00
Tommy, I'd like to ask you another question. related to, you know, let's just do a little scenario role playing here. So say you're a new leader, you're either being promoted into a leadership role, you've been moved into an organization from another organization, and you're trying to get your feet on the ground, you're ultimately trying to go through that assessment process of, you know, what is the existing department design that you've inherited. And by the way, you've also just been handed directive from the top-level manager, that whatever it is that you accomplish, we're going to have by God, technology strategy. So, when, when you have those types of things that seem, you know, like pretty insurmountable challenges to deal with in a new leadership role? Where do you start, do you put the strategy first do start going through more of a department design analysis is walk us through a little bit of how you solve that.
Tommy Reed 41:02
it's gonna say yes to all of it.
Nick Lozano 41:07
The easy fix just say yes
Tommy Reed 41:09
You know, you do kind of have to walk and chew gum at the same time, because, especially in technology, or, you know, when you're, when you're, you know, leading a technology practice within, within your company, nobody's going to wait or be patient. You know, in my experience, I've gone from, from, you know, peer to manager, which has many challenges, just at the outset, on test, so on top of the expectations of your
peers, who, by the way, I you know, tend to continue to think of everyone as peers, no matter where I am, in the, in the, in the, in the box of the organizational chart, you know, we're all in this together, sort of reminds me of,
Nick, what you shared in your, in your opening podcast about the Navy Seals, you know, that leader, that's, you know, in that, in that boat, is, is very much an active participant in getting past the breakers in the ocean, but also, also leading so. So that never changes. But one of the new complexities that I guess is added to that that scenario, Brian, that you, that you mentioned, is the now the expectations of top management, because maybe you've been put here because there's new expectations, or, you know, we need new blood in here, we want this certain change to take place, you know, whatever that may be, and, and, you know, then if you were, if you were blessed to be put in that position, that you now have that responsibility to either, you know, build on an existing strategy, throw it all out, start a new one all together, and do a simultaneously with some of those design
needs that you may have on your team. So, I guess against short answer is, is, it, it, it needs to happen simultaneously. If you're new to the organization, or have have, have sort of risen through the ranks, I still think some of the competencies are the same thing starts with listening, a lot of listening. And that's, you know, listening to the various business partners within the organizational network that, you know, whether they're
sort of all things, all things are good, you know, just keep doing what you're doing. That's great, all the way down to okay. You know, we've, we've sort of been neglected for years, and this is what I need from you, you know, pulling all of that information together, and making sure that it's part of your overall strategy. And some of those are more internal focus things. And, you know,
so again, simultaneously, you're looking at what, what's the external focus with your organization? Are we looking to transform? Are we looking to disrupt? Are we looking to just keep going, but just increase our growth and profitability, keep doing what, you know, sort of our hedgehog, you've got to know all that? And you've got to know all of it at the same time, I don't think you want to spend a lot of time gathering that information. And then designing your team, you know, a year or two later. Even though some of that may take that long, it just, it just, it really depends on sort of the state of what you've inherited. So glad you can make it sound so easy. It ain't.
Nick Lozano 44:37
Easy button, right? Just could pick it up at Staples, and hit it, done.
Brian Comerford 44:43
always takes me back to
Tommy Reed 44:45
Brian Comerford 44:46
Always takes me back to my favorite Bob Lewis books, you know, leading it still the toughest job in the world.
Tommy Reed 44:53
Yes, I recall that one no talking about it is easy. And I don't mean to make it sound easy, because it really isn't.
Nick Lozano 45:00
So, since we're on the topic of books, Tommy, is there a book that you recommend other people to read or that had a big influence on you? Or that you gift or any piece of media or anything like that?
Tommy Reed 45:12
Yeah. You know, there's, there's a few, sort of on the OD front. You know,
one of my favorites that I break out now and again, is the, the core the corporate culture Survival Guide by Edgar Sheen. It's not terribly new, I think it's early 2000s. You know, it's got just a lot of good nuggets in the area of culture, whether you're just wanting to understand, you know, the importance of culture, with the makeup of an organization or the development of your organization. Even if you're starting up, I would recommend that. My favorite tome of all time on the topic of technical and adaptive, is it it's one that your listeners have likely heard of his leadership on the line by Ronald Heifetz. And Marty Lynskey. It's, I think it's a little bit older, probably early 2000s, 2001 or so. And it's constantly updated. I think there's several additions into it. But again, it's, it's got a lot of great case studies on adaptive and technical and just a good foundation on, on that whole front. And then lastly, I think, from a personal development perspective, I'm a huge fan. And I break it open every now and again, is Seth Godin linchpin. And so
it was particularly eye opening for me, as I was going through some of my adult education, I had the had the fortunate pleasure of going through my master's program, while also having just recently been promoted into a new role. And things were off the crazy when I picked up this book, and it was, it was really helpful in terms of understanding where how you can position yourself as someone, you know, you're not just a cog in the machine that's easily replaceable. You're a linchpin, which is a, the analogy is, it's, you know, you pull the linchpin out the machine falls apart. And so,
organizations and it has a message for the individual as well as the organization. So, you know, the message to the individual is make yourself indispensable, so that, you know, you can grow within the organization, the message the organization is higher and develop and, and, and bring on linchpins because, you know, then you as an organization become indispensable. So, if you have cogs in your machine that can be replaced that you as a as a, whether you're a disruptor, or protecting yourself from disruption, are now you're replaceable, because of the quality of folks that you have. have on board.
Brian Comerford 48:02
Risky is safe, safe is risky.
Tommy Reed 48:04
Brian Comerford 48:10
It's one of my favorite Seth Godin quotes.
Nick Lozano 48:13
It's got to be right. That's, that's, that's a classic right there.
Tommy Reed 48:19
Good stuff from Seth,
Brian Comerford 48:20
Well Tommy, I want to thank you very much for taking the time to meet with us. This is a topic that, you know, we could take multiple hours, really drilling down into the importance of it. And it's, again, something that spans all leadership practices, not just leadership within technology. So, I find your insight very valuable, and really appreciate you taking the time to share that with us and with our listeners as well.
Tommy Reed 48:47
Certainly, I appreciate you having me and appreciate the chat.
Nick Lozano 48:51
Thanks, if there is ah. If listeners want to reach out to you, is there any way they can get a hold of you? Or find you on the internet? I know you said you're kind of not on social media. But.
Tommy Reed 48:59
no, I'm, I'm on the LinkedIn. So, I can just be found by searching for Tommy read
out on LinkedIn,
Nick Lozano 49:07
Awesome l just wanna thank you, Tommy, for taking the time out of your day to, you know, be a guest here on lead.exe and I feel like you've provided a lot of valuable insights for our listeners to kind of take back and soak it all in. And we'll probably have to have you back on to explore more of this organizational development as I feel like we've just kind of, you know, barely scratched the surface. We haven't even really got anywhere. I feel like,
Tommy Reed 49:33
I think we I think we really did we just kind of hit at the top level and be it'd be a pleasure to join you some time.
Brian Comerford 49:39
That's great. Thanks again, Tommy.
Nick Lozano 49:41
All right. Thank you both.
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