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4D Leadership

4D Leadership – Competitive Advantage Through Vertical Leadership Development

Twenty years ago the accumulation of skills, knowledge and experience (‘horizontal development’) was sufficient for business success. Today, it’s not. 4D Leadership – Competitive Advantage Through Vertical Leadership Development, offers a new approach of ‘vertical development’.

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The importance of culture when planning a project


I’ve been heavily involved in the production of Alan Watkins’ new book – Coherence: The Secret Science of Brilliant Leadership. My revelation from this project has been that even a project that appears to be a solo project is actually a huge team effort. It has certainly made me more appreciative of books in general. Instead of picking up a book and thinking ‘oh, this is written by so and so’ , I now think about how many people have been involved and I also think about the process they used for the production of the book.

There have been a multitude of people involved in our project – obviously Alan as the author, but also an editor, a marketing professional, the publisher, the copy editor, proof reader, production editor, graphics designer, the team at Complete Coherence, etc. Look at the book and you’d be forgiven for thinking this was purely the author’s work with perhaps a nod to the publisher – this couldn’t be further from the truth.

If I had recognised at the very inception of this project just how many people would be involved, I would have approached things a little differently. We would have created a much more inclusive environment from the start so that everyone involved had a sense of the vision and the progress being made. I would have allowed more time for decisions that required the input of a number of different people. A decision made by one person can be taken much quicker than a collaborative decision. So in an organisation like ours that works very collaboratively the management of the time line of any project is paramount.

Our collaborative style of decision-making means that virtually all projects, even one like writing a book, are team projects. This style of working also reflects the culture of our organisation that is incredibly inclusive. A deep understanding of your culture and values as well as your decision making style can remove many of the frustrations that arise in your organisation.

For example, if the publisher sent me a sample graphic and wanted a response within two hours, I knew that both our team approach and our collaborative culture would make that deadline hard to meet. Much better to warn the publisher in advance that we would need an appropriate amount of time to respond with comments to something like a nuanced graphic.

It’s not always easy to allow that extra time. We all work in incredibly fast-paced environments. There is an urgency to make quick decision, but if you don’t allow that space for collaboration and for emotions to be expressed, you can create frustrations, and ultimately that can lead to a less than perfect decision. Fast made but sub-optimal decisions will ultimately slow the organisation down as those decision may get unpicked at a later date.

The good news for us is that the end result of this ‘team effort’ has been an amazing book. You can find out more here.

However, next time Alan writes a book, I’ll make sure that I factor in an allowance for the culture of our organisation into schedules and deadlines so we can leverage the collaborative wisdom without creating tension with the time frames we set ourselves.

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Carol Evans

Carol has held senior board level positions since 1988 and as a result has a sound understanding of the demands of all aspects of business development.

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