Program Objectives

Appleton Greene
The following list represents the Key Program Objectives (KPO) for the Appleton Greene Virtual Transformation corporate training program.

Virtual Transformation – Part 1- Year 1

  1. Part 1 Month 1 Virtual Workplace – During this course, we will examine what it takes for leaders to be successful in a virtual environment, identify the capabilities and practices required for success, and support participants in their transformation journey. We are living in spectacular times; business and leadership are at a significant turning point. The great reset- working from home, social equity and relations, and the economy’s uncertainty- converge as a perfect storm. The silver lining is the quickened pace of digitization and the new models that characterize the future of work. Virtual workers are here to stay. In the future, teams will consist of members working from different locations at different times. The traditional hub and spoke team led by one manager in one physical place will be a rarity. Undoubtedly, some of the fundamentals of excellent management and leadership will persist, but future success will require a shift in mindset and capabilities. Success in a virtual world requires building an effective virtual workplace, leading constituents through complex transformation, developing new offers, and optimizing operations with technology enabled by the fourth industrial revolution. Although there are benefits to virtual working arrangements, the inherent distance creates specific challenges for leaders. When leaders and employees rely on electronic communication to connect and complete their work, there are more possibilities for misunderstandings, significant barriers to fostering trust, and greater difficulty in coordinating. Virtual leaders must BRIDGE THE DISTANCE for themselves, their own team, and connections to other groups and organizations.
  2. Part 1 Month 2 Disrupting Leadership – Leaders must disrupt themselves before leading change with their teams. As Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” Successful transformation requires a sense of self-awareness, openness to new ways of working, and a commitment to developing new competencies. Leaders must also adopt modern tools and practices and tools to ensure efficient and effective collaboration in virtual environments. Industry 4.0 is characterized by exponential change, artificial intelligence, a virtual world, and the continuous need to adopt new ways of working to remain competitive. With self-directed, tech-enabled, globally connected teams, the work of managers and leaders will shift. Culture will need to be driven by leaders devoted to serving their team’s needs and helping them navigate through uncertainty to a radically different future driven by machine-man collaboration. Leaders and managers will be called on to ensure that virtual team members are coordinated and accountable to each other. The more traditional roles of recorder, gatekeeper, and process owner will fade away. The increased distance between team members creates several issues. The trust that great teams require is harder to come by in virtual teams that don’t benefit from face to face synergy and social interaction. For this reason, leaders must pick up the slack. Their ability to develop relationships with each of their employees and provide a safe space for the team to develop strong relationships with each other becomes paramount. The adoption of modern communication and collaboration practices are essential for virtual teams. Leaders must “go first” by embracing new technology and architecting a savvy, efficient and effective team operating system. Gone are the days when it is ok for leaders to be the holdouts for using new technology. By experiencing change firsthand, leaders will be more equipped to lead their employees through the changes they need to make. They will develop empathy for employees as they move through their change journey and lead the way by modeling best practices.
  3. Part 1 Month 3 Personal Productivity – Today’s most significant challenge for leaders, given the virtual workplace and the ever-quickening pace of work, is personal productivity, the ability to manage personal energy, commitments, and time to be as effective and productive as possible. The virtual workplace exacerbates the situation with new demands for operating in a virtual world, yet also offers valuable productivity tools for those willing to adopt technology and build new habits. Leaders’ roles are changing; it is essential to reevaluate key accountabilities continuously, with an eye towards making more space for higher value add activities. That means ruthlessly editing out mundane tasks by delegating, automating, or eliminating work to make room for strategy, relationship building, and leading transformation. Successful leaders are intentional about their use of time, consistently balancing the urgent with essential activities that get ignored until too late. There are several categories of technology leaders can leverage for productivity. Calendaring and virtual administrator apps take the waste out of coordinating with a simple interface, making calendar preferences public and allowing people to “sign up” for available time. AI tools for communications and research such as Grammarly and AI writer use real-time nudges as you are writing to suggest improvements, point out issues with tone and offer “autofill” to complete sentences. CRM software offers the ability to easily access content that you use over again in communications, like a process description. One of the most insidious time wasters for executives is email. Smart leaders dedicate the time upfront to set up systems for separating the wheat from the chaff. It starts with the use of rules to keep your email box clean. Gmail and outlook use AI technology to learn your preferences and sort mail for you. Developing a team communications system and dashboard as a single source for ongoing works and updates is also key. Related tools in this category help leaders get information out of their heads and onto a task list. The key is letting the tool do the organizing using tagging. One of the curses/blessings of the pandemic has been the integration we have seen between work and life. The watch out is that the two become so blurred that leaders and their employees get burned-out. Boundaries need to be established to ensure that the mere opportunity to work 24/7 does not, in fact, become a reality of working 24/7. The silver lining is the flexibility that remote work gives us all. Time back from the elimination of commutes. Ability to plan breaks when our bodies need it and coordinate more fluidly with family time. Careful attention to this is imperative for leaders to take care of their own health and to ensure they are modeling healthy practices for their team.
  4. Part 1 Month 4 Relationships & Trust – We are Social and emotional beings by design. To thrive, we must embrace this and build the capability to manage ourselves and build strong relationships. In virtual workplaces, where distance separates us physically, structurally, or operationally, leaders need to be even more intentional and effective at relationship building and trust. They must do so with their employees, their colleagues, and their networks. Daniel Goleman researched the brain and behavioral science for decades. Through his work on emotional intelligence, leaders have a pathway to develop their capability relationship and trust-building. Emotionally intelligent leaders recognize and manage their own emotions, empathize with others, build strong relationships, and manage complex social situations. Emotional intelligence (EI) is essential as we spend more time in zoom meetings, not privy to body language or social cues. The good news is EI is like a muscle – with awareness, practice, and a willingness to learn from experiences, leaders can improve their emotional intelligence. Teams with high collective emotional intelligence are characterized by respectful conversations, openness, positive attitudes, and camaraderie. A key topic for leaders related to relationships is developing strong networks. Virtual business and Industry 4.0 create many possibilities for networking and collaborating across traditional boundaries. The most effective leaders of the future will reach beyond their teams to customers, colleagues, and even competitors to create value. From a personal leadership perspective, it begins with cultivating a personal online presence and network using LinkedIn and other social media. As the course progresses, we will move into building business identity and offers in a virtual world.
  5. Part 1 Month 5 Future Shaping – Future shaping means understanding trends and possible trajectories and taking meaningful action to move your team or business forward. Future shapers must anticipate what’s next and colonize the future. It starts with “reading the world,” learning critical trends, and honing your ability to anticipate and “skate to where the puck is going to be,” as Wayne Gretzky was famous for saying. Honeywell uses the term Future Shaper to refer to employees who make the future a reality; it is a vital component of the company’s broader digital transformation strategy. Likewise, virtual business transformation requires future shapers; Leaders with the capability to build differentiated customer experience, increase operational efficiency, and improve data-driven decision making. Two frameworks, Industry 4.0 and VUCA, are fundamental for futuristic thinking. We have introduced Industry 4.0, also known as the fourth industrial revolution, and will continue to delve into it throughout this course. VUCA is an acronym developed by the Army War College to describe our post 9.11 world. It stands for Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous. Future shaping leaders use this lens to understand what is happening today and prepare for a future unlike the past. Bob Johansen of the Institute of the Future offers up a leadership response for the VUCA world using the same Acronym. To lead successfully in a VUCA world, leaders must act with: Vision, Understanding, Clarity, and Agility. When it comes to blazing a trail for the future, leaders must adopt new mindsets and practices. In the past, leaders could establish a strategy with a clear vision, a solid understanding of business fundamentals, and a disciplined, but reasonably linear path. Not so anymore. Strategy today is much more like a sailboat’s tacts. Having a plan for the VUCA environment requires identifying agents that impact your business and journey, exploring scenarios, creating guardrails for decision making, and developing alert systems to signal when the plan is off course.
  6. Part 1 Month 6 Leading Change – The first six months of Virtual Business Transformation focuses on the personal elements of leadership required for success: paradigm shifts, openness and ability to change, personal productivity, emotional intelligence, and future-shaping capability. At this point in our journey, we dive into what it takes to make change real. We will introduce the fundamentals and best practices for leading change, returning to the conversation three more times over the two-year course to go deeper into specific practices for leading change and transformation. Changing ourselves and leading change are both extremely difficult. Change boils down to switching behavior, and our brains are hard-wired to hold on to the way we’ve always done things, the status quo. Research shows that more than 70% of change initiatives fail because of people resistance, not because they weren’t good business ideas, driven by sound analysis, systems, and facts. However, as we learn more about the brain, we learn more about the science of adopting new habits and successfully leading systemic transformation for organizations. Regardless of your industry, work gets done through people. Leaders need effective practices to help employees adapt to new ways of work. Understanding the difference between change and transition is essential. Change is an external event, an action or decision, whether planned or unplanned, that impacts us as individuals. Transition is the psychological reorientation that we go through to come to terms with change. Successfully navigating your organization through transition is realizing how the three phases impact individuals. William Bridges describes these phases in his book Managing Transitions. Phase one marks an ending, often fraught with confusion, resistance, and the emotion of loss. Opportunity exists in phase two, the neutral zone, as people open up to a new way of thinking, stretch themselves, and innovate. The third phase, the new beginning, requires support, reminders, measurements, and rewards to sustain new habits. Leaders must first shift themselves for the new realities of work and then become expert in leading others through change to move their constituents towards the future.
  7. Part 1 Month 7 Managing Virtually – As traditional workplaces fade into the past, virtual teams enabled by the Industry 4.0 technology will need great managers more than ever. However, the role and capabilities required will shift dramatically and quickly. In the not-so-distant past, managers had a heavy hand in directing work. They told employees precisely what to do, how to do it, and when to do it. Most of the time, managers supervised work as it happened and where it happened. Traditional managers led small groups of employees who were all in one place, doing similar work to each other and from day-to-day. Industry 4.0 will bring exponential change, artificial intelligence, distributed teams, and the need to adopt new ways of working to remain competitive. It might make you wonder how relevant managers will be in the future of work. With self-directed, tech-enabled, globally connected teams, how will the role of the manager evolve? Here are four shifts: Robots and artificial intelligence apps will get better at administrative tasks than managers. Managers will add value by showing care and concern for employees, fostering relationships with their employees and other groups throughout the organization, and helping their teams navigate the organization to create connections across departments, levels, and time zones. Managers can’t just tell people what to do anymore; work moves too quickly. Command and control management is out. Instead, great managers empower employees to do what they think makes sense, and coach employees regularly to hone their instincts. Great managers make sure employees are aligned with the business, moving in the right direction, and provide clear guardrails to know when things go off track. Organizations are not bound by 9-to-5 hours in virtual workplaces. As more employees move to flexible work schedules. Managers need to bring teams together in non-traditional work settings and provide visibility to team member contributions. As critical jobs evolve and automation irreversibly changes old routines, the ability to disrupt work is essential. Managers lead this by encouraging a culture of innovation and adaptation to new situations, providing creative thinkers the opportunity to thrive as shifts happen. Boosting a healthy level of risk and cultivating a culture where it’s okay to fail is essential. Managers will also be critical for helping their employees upskill and drive man-machine collaboration. Performance monitoring, scheduling, and reporting will be automated, along with learning and development tools to help individuals grow. Managers’ most significant contribution to performance will be as a catalyst for building high-impact teams. In that role, they must develop a psychologically safe environment, align the team around a shared vision, connect team members, build interdependence, and modern systems for communicating and collaborating.
  8. Part 1 Month 8 Distanced Accountability – Many people wonder how to manage work effectively with little interaction and visibility between employees and their managers when it comes to working virtually. When forced into working remotely because of situations like the pandemic, there was a surge of technology that surveilled employees’ activity by counting strokes on the keyboard or similar tasks. While there may be some value to these tools, the real shift managers and knowledge workers must make is to assess results through mutually agreed upon expectations. The foundation for this is a proven and simple process for helping determine what employees own: key accountabilities. Key accountabilities are the essential things an employee must do to excel at their job. Unlike job descriptions, which typically list tasks, key accountabilities describe specific responsibilities that are broad in scope but are uniquely owned by one person’s role. Take a bookkeeper, for example. One task we often associate with bookkeeping is processing invoices. The relevant key accountability would be “Ensure accounts receivable are paid timely so that the business has healthy cash flow.” Invoicing is a task, while the broader key accountability clarifies that the bookkeeper is responsible for understanding procurement processes, troubleshooting, developing follow-up systems, and continually improving processes. For managers who want to be more strategic about assessing performance from a distance, delegating, or achieving better results, key accountabilities are a game-changer. In this module, we will develop it as a core capability. The heart of this practice is to identify the five essential things for which the employee is responsible. The test is that if the person completed the five items, they would not reasonably be expected to do other tasks to meet performance expectations. Once key accountabilities are clearly articulated, continue to add context by ranking importance and estimating the time needed to complete each one. The process can be taken one step further by reflecting on continuous improvement. Reflect: “Is this the most effective use of time.” “Where is the employee getting caught up in non-value work?” Consider how could that work be delegated, automated, or ceased altogether to allow more time to be spent on more valuable activities. Go through the key accountabilities exercise with your team, either during one-on-ones or as a group. Provide coaching to your team members as they assess their priorities and determine their “should be” goals. Ask open-ended questions to engage them in conversations about what key shifts are required for future success.
  9. Part 1 Month 9 Virtual Teaming – Building high impact teams is an essential responsibility for leaders – taking a group of individuals, directing and amplifying their efforts so that together they achieve great results, feel valued for their contributions, and benefit from positive relationships with their teammates. It’s a challenge in traditional settings where the team is located in the same place and works the same hours. Add in the complexity of the virtual workplace, and the complexity increases significantly. A virtual team refers to workgroups, where some or all members interact primarily through digital means, and the team members are engaged in interdependent work. Leaders who can develop, sustain, and grow high impact virtual teams are essential for future success and highly valued by their organizations. During this module, we will provide a roadmap and proven practices for building high impact teams: Connect, Align, Collaborate, and Make it happen. <bStep one is to provide team members with the space to connect and build relationships with each other. For this reason, the conventional practice was to bring virtual teams together physically to get started. That is just not practical anymore, but we can create that same or an even better sense of connection by facilitating well-designed conversations with the intent to share personal experiences, find common ground, and discuss shared aspirations. During this stage, high impact teams develop norms, a shared language for treating each other as team members. Accepting and following team norms builds early trust. Another critical element in this phase is creating a sense of shared possibility. Through open discussion focused on ‘what we could do together,” team members start to buy into what the team is doing and collectively agree on what success would look like (it’s important not to get caught up in the “HOW” too early). Communicate and CollaborateEffective collaboration is 80% relationship building and 20% modern collaboration technology and practices. Both break down with most teams’ sloppy email and meeting habits; focused intent is needed to make communication more effective and efficient for all by shifting out of automatic behaviors. Successful virtual teams create a team communications plan which addresses each available communications channel (email, IM, phone, meeting, and others) and specifies when that channel is appropriate and the “etiquette” for effective team use. Once the team has communication basics, they can begin to use modern collaboration tools to turbocharge their work. Technology solutions like Microsoft Teams, Trello, and Mural are abundant and relatively low cost, but they need to be adopted and used more. The issue boils down to breaking old habits and starting new practices. Given the complexity of our work, the VUCA world we live in, and the need to bridge distance on virtual teams, interpersonal skills are foundational. Great teams develop their emotional and social intelligence and create interdependence. Make it HappenThe goal is to create a team that keeps each other accountable and is committed to each other’s success. High impact virtual teams achieve great things, celebrate, and grow together. Instead of burn out, they finish with the energy to take on more challenges and often retain close relationships for many years.</b
  10. Part 1 Month 10 Virtual Operations – Industry 3.0 ushered in computers and catalyzed the automation of work processes. Over the last 50 years, more and more of our work has been automated or digitized, such as; submitting an expense report, monitoring and regulating inventory, or onboarding an employee Two forces are exponentially impacting the digital transformation of business operations: Industry 4.0 and the COVID-19 pandemic. Industry 4.0 focuses heavily on interconnectivity, automation, machine learning, and real-time data. The global pandemic did two things: made clear the need to build processes and operational models that would allow us to continue working remotely and showcased the possibility of new ways of operating. Business leaders must invest significant energy and resources into transforming their operating systems to meet today’s needs and be competitive for the future through the technology of Industry 4.0. According to Accenture, only 13 percent of businesses have realized their digital investments’ full impact, enabling them to achieve cost savings and create growth. The optimal mix of technologies could save large companies up to $16 billion. While every company is different, the need for connectedness and access to real-time insights across processes, partners, products, and people transcends all businesses and industries. Industry 4.0 Operations Transformation Transforming your operations is imperative for business. In this module, we will focus on business operations by examining operations for working smarter with technology: How can processes be improved to enable a more effective virtual workplace?; What are the most significant pain points, and which enabling technologies could address them?; Where can you leverage real-time data so that operators, managers, and leaders make better decisions?; In what ways can work be augmented by man-machine collaboration or artificial intelligence; How can predictive analytics, real-time data, internet-connected machinery, and automation help you address potential issues before they become big problems?; How do we develop stronger cross-functional collaboration?
  11. Part 1 Month 11 Product Reinvention – Once they have transformed their own thinking, capabilities, and organization, business leaders must focus on reinventing products, services, and customer relationships. It starts with a solid understanding of trends and industry trajectories that leaders develop by reading the world. This module focuses on innovation, design, and implementation of competitive and disruptive solutions required for success in our virtual, digital, VUCA world. The realities are that products are becoming software-driven, smart, and connected; leaders must understand the drivers of change and the business and industry implications. Disrupters like Amazon are creating consumer standards that reach across sectors. Success will require new levels of collaboration within and outside of the organization. Participants will develop a concept using our innovation and future business history processes to survey the landscape, discover, and translate chaos to act with clarity. Key steps include: Identifying market dynamics and potential impacts on business strategy and product offerings; Diligent discovery of customers, their customers’ needs, end-users, and competitive offerings; Generating a roadmap through disruption using our “Future Business History” approach; Developing an imperative for action, building commitment, and a new focus for the organization; Developing and implementing the new product/service with speed and agility; Leveraging data, artificial intelligence, and other Industry 4.0 technology to sustain and continuously evolve products and services.
  12. Part 1 Month 12 Business Transformation – And now we have to MAKE IT HAPPEN! No doubt, the business leaders participating will have a clear vision and strategy for their virtual business transformation by this point in the course. During this module, we will review and work collaboratively to create robust plans for leading transformative change. Transformative change involves complex, systematic shifts beyond incremental improvements that fundamentally change organizations from their previous state. For solid organizations, mission, values, and aspects of culture persist. However, how the organization works, relates to customers, leverages technology, and thinks about their future must fundamentally change. Business leaders must be the catalysts and drive the change. We will review and apply our proven process for Making Change Real, including the following phases: Planning and mobilization – the discipline of considering impacts before rushing into action: It is critical to clarify specific objectives, scope, and timing of the intended changes. Leaders must consider the consequences the change will have on the organization at an enterprise, program, and employee level. Tools for accomplishing this include a change blueprint, organization gap analysis, impact and exposure map, and benchmark assessments. This phase aims to develop specific strategies for successful implementation, ensuring there are real structures for sustaining the change. Embedding agility into the organization DNA for present and future success: One thing is for sure; more change will be coming. Wiring the organization for success now and in the future is essential. Transformation plans must include developing the capability to lead change throughout the organization and creating a growth mindset culture that encourages all employees to get better continually. The toolkit comprises an embracing change learning curriculum, Emotional Intelligence, developing expectations & distributed accountability, and conversations for change guides. Building new capabilities for the future: As jobs evolve, so will the skills needed to perform them. According to the World Economic Forum, forty-two percent of the core skills within roles on average are expected to change by 2022. It is imperative to reskill the workforce by creating structures to develop employees and support change. The future’s top skills include digital fluency, building relationships, self-awareness, creativity, critical thinking, problem-solving, communication, and collaboration. Tools for leaders to use for this phase include “Professional of the future” competencies & career paths, talent development process, and the adoption curve model. Engaging constituents to accelerate change: Leaders must engage all constituents affected by the change to ensure their support, commitment, and adoption of new ways of working. This module will identify strategies to help leaders increase urgency, collaboration, and creativity throughout the teams and organizations impacted. The tools and processes to make this happen are stakeholder analysis, strategic planning engagement events, surveying, creating communities, two-way communications that leverage modern technology.