Our Complicated Relationship with Technology: CM is a virtual company (in case you didn’t know) 

The following was written by and from the perspective of Change Matrix (CM) Partner Elizabeth Waetzig:

When CM started, the partners, Suganya, Rachele, and I were living in three different states.  Since that time two of us have moved to different states. I have moved four times. If we were not a virtual company, our ability to continue to work and grow probably would not have happened.  It has been a gift to have access to technology and digital platforms to support us. As we have taken on new team members, we realize that we cannot take for granted our communication, work processes, and relationship development.  We must remain intentional about creating a building our virtual culture.  In the midst of national conversations about virtual, digital, and social media, we thought we might offer some thinking about how we choose to use or not use these platforms in service of our work and ourselves as human beings, what we like, what challenges us, and what we have learned.

What we like:

  1. You only have to dress from the waist up:  having the opportunity to schedule my yoga class right before calls start for the day is a benefit to a virtual office.  I will admit that I occasionally push it so that I am running to my computer minutes before we start. Luckily as I stand at my desk, having just brushed my hair and thrown on a scarf, my colleagues cannot see that I am still in my leggings.  
  2. The flexibility: All of us at CM have full lives.  We take time to engage in our communities, pursue a variety of interests, and care for children, pets, spouses, parents, and other beings.  Working in a virtual, home office means we don’t have to rent space and it also means that there is a lot of flexibility to create work life balance for those of us who are so inclined.  It also means that children and pets and sometimes spouses or parents can be seen on our video screen. We are inclusive!
  3. Diversity: Having a virtual office has allowed us to cast our recruitment net wide when we are seeking new team members.  CM currently has team members in 4 time zones, in 5 decades of life, with very diverse experiences, backgrounds, and environments.  While it can be tricky to schedule meetings sometimes, we feel good about our national reach and the varied perspectives that come together and make us who we are.

What challenges us:

  1. We are always accessible:  Many (all) of the platforms we use are available on all of our devices.  Even my watch lets me know that someone is connecting with me. While it can be distracting, I like knowing what is happening. I have had to discipline myself to choose whether or not to respond and feel good about my choice.  It is a work in progress. Ask my 15-year-old who has challenged me to complete my sentences when I am talking with her.
  2. We miss face-to-face time:  In recognition that there is something wonderful about being physically present, CM gathers once a year in a retreat-like location (ok – we did not quite achieve the “retreat” part this year) to connect, build relationships, learn and grow together.  We acknowledge that there are some things for which virtual platforms are a poor substitute. Virtual connection and communication are tools to complement in-person connection. We do our best to be thoughtful about what the work requires.
  3. Technology (ironic, right?): Have you tried to log on at 1 minute before the hour only to be told that you have to run the installer program?  I hate that. And sometimes my audio is not clear or the power has gone out. Any one of those things can make me panic. Luckily, we work in teams and can support one another with grace.  

What we have learned:

  1. You have to schedule intentionally:  I am not good at this. There are days when I have scheduled back-to-back video calls.  And while I firmly believe that video enhances the interaction with others, there are days when my legs are crossed by the end of the third call.  And I am not sitting down.
  2. Choose your platforms wisely and know when to use them:  Many on our team are good at, and like platforms that make us more streamlined and efficient.  Others on our team get overwhelmed by all of the choices and communication can get tricky. Our suggestion is to have a way to communicate with individuals and teams for short, in-the-moment messages, a project management platform that can organize teams to complete tasks within projects, a way to co-create documents so you are not storing multiple versions (we always say we will go through and discard old versions…) and able to work on them at the same time, and a shared file storage system with a process to archive.  We have also created opportunities to communicate and connect internally about things other than work. Having platforms and knowing how to use them is a start. Supporting people to know when to use them is also important.
  3. Not everyone feels the same way about technology, virtual communication and organizational platforms.  While we expect and hope that our team members will connect and use the platforms to work as a team, we also recognize that it takes time to adapt to a virtual office.
What technology platforms have effectively supported your work?

Share with us on Facebook!

Posted on Categories Blog Post

Sharing Our 2020 Guiding Words

Each year, we at Change Matrix (CM) share our word for the year that represents an intention, focus, or approach. Want to join our tradition?  We recommend this article, which provides some guidance on setting a “one-word theme that allows you to compare all your thoughts, actions, and decisions against a single, universal standard.”

Here are our words for the year:

Elizabeth – Grace: This is my first daughter’s name so it already has special meaning for me.  I have a feeling that this is going to be a turbulent year. I anticipate being in places where I need to give grace and also to receive grace.

London – Be: This word holds so much – being present, being active, being a good listener.  I’m hoping to do all of these things in my work and in my personal life in the next year, and to just Be.

Annie – Balance: I am trying to achieve the work-life balance with two little ones now, and am still trying to make sure all my ducks are in a row before being too much into work.

Alice – Okay: If something goes wrong, it’s still going to be okay.  Just need to reassure myself that everything will be okay. Okay is such a simple word that can bring reassurance.

Alina – Meraki: Meraki, a word with Green origins, is the soul, creativity, or love put into something you do.  I hope to bring this word into everything I do this year, in my work and my life outside.

Shannon – Good Health and Happiness: In ceremonies, one of the things the Ojibwe people say when setting intent with relationships is to pray for good health and happiness. I really like this intention and want to go deeper with this. My words for the year are thus, Good Health and Happiness.

Kristin – Trust: I want to trust myself more, trust my own intuition, and trust those around me who love me and know me.

Kazzy – (RE)claiming: This word came to me during a full-moon ceremony and feels applicable in every aspect of my life. Reflecting on what colonization has taken from people, I am intentionally  finding ways to RE-claim what belongs to me, which includes my body, culture, and ancestral magic amongst many other things.

Karla – Perseverance: You’re going to be okay, you’re going to make it through anything.

Jennifer – Open: I want to keep myself open to ideas and experiences in all aspects of my life.

Suganya – Courage: Each of the words above contribute to what it will mean for me to show up with courage in the next year.  All of these things are really important, and I’m going to hold them with me as I progress through 2020.

Sandra – Create Space:  I chose a phrase that I hear often in yoga class, in the sense of creating space for breath or expansion in a pose. This year I’m focused on creating space for some of the goals I’m trying to achieve.

Rachele – Present: My intent is to be present in my relationships and in the activities I choose to do. I also see this as being a present to myself and others when we share space.

Tennille – Acceptance: My word for this year is acceptance to avoid stressing over things that I cannot control or change.  I would like to accept those things to lead a less stressful life.

Do you have a word to guide you this year?

Share your word with us on Facebook!

Posted on Categories Blog Post

What I Learned From Ron Heifetz

The following was written by and from the perspective of Change Matrix (CM) Partner Elizabeth Waetzig:

On November 14, 2019, I got a chance to hear one of my long-time, favorite authors and thinkers on adaptive leadership. I have been studying, practicing and incorporating Heifetz’s work into my technical assistance, training, coaching and, parenting since 1997. Heifetz was a plenary speaker at the American Evaluation Association’s annual conference. The conference supports the evaluation discipline in which we, the Expanding the Bench team at CM, have begun to integrate an adaptive leadership mindset and approach.

For the evaluators, Heifetz offered three important points: 1) the nature of the work defines leadership, 2) adaptive leaders must be willing to engage others in uncertainty with compassion for the loss change brings about, and 3) communicate messages that people are not expecting (do not think they want) which requires a willingness to spend authority or trust.

The characteristics and competencies of leaders that we often think about are hard to measure as they are general to being human and not specific to leaders. Also, muddying the measurement waters, people, it turns out, are not linear systems. So, Heifetz invited us to look at the nature of the work to drive the definition of leadership. When the work includes the type of change that requires new learning, the work of leadership is adaptive. To do that work requires looking out into the frontier of new knowledge to support transformative change.

Looking to what is new to engage transformative and adaptive change asks us to move into the uncertain and distressful world of the unknown. Human beings have a difficult time with change, that is not new. We have all experienced a variety of responses to change from fear and obstruction to excitement. What Heifetz offered in his talk was a call to leaders to recognize the loss that change means. When people are asked to change what they do, how they do it and/or why they do what they do, they will likely feel some sense of loss of competence, possibly a loss of relationship or identity based on present learning and belief. Leaders must have a reverence for what they are asking people to lose.

Knowing that there will be a sense of loss by some, leaders must look for the thresholds of learning, where people are in a productive range of distress, and where the limits of tolerance for loss and engaging the unknown lie. In that space of new learning, Leaders are often called upon to deliver information, messages, and observations that are unexpected and often unwelcome. This can be personally challenging when the messages acknowledge that they are also entering a frontier of the unknown. In the process of engaging others in the work of transformative and adaptive change, leaders will have to spend their authority telling people what they don’t want to hear. This element of leadership is risky for a leader who has spent time building their competence as well as trusting relationships.

So, in the space of the unknown, without a predictable path, charting an adaptive course, leaders must be improvisational, listen for that which must be preserved along with the sacrifice that is being asked. Evaluators who choose to lead adaptively will be called on to carefully consider what is being asked of them. What is already known? What are the stated hopes? What is the appetite for change? What are the limits on tolerance for loss? In defining their work, evaluators who lead must first identify the nature of the work – are we talking about transformative and adaptive change? Then get ready to look for the threshold for learning, where things feel uncertain, the risk, the pace that can be tolerated, and the level of distress. All with compassion, vulnerability, and courage.

What is the work, who will you be, what will we build on, and how far can we get?

Posted on Categories Blog Post