This Guest paper was submitted for publication April 25, 2022.
It is copyright to Richard S. Hawkes.
Published here July 2022

Introduction | High Performing Teams 
Break Free of the Swirl | Essential Conversations | Summary

Break Free of the Swirl

According to Richard Hawkes: "Too many people live with a gnawing feeling that their team and indeed, their organization as a whole, could and should run more smoothly, more purposefully, and more effectively…But they are unable to actualize it amidst the daily swirl. So they need to break free of the swirl impeding their company's growth."

With his new book, Navigate the Swirl, business and strategy expert Richard Hawkes provides a playbook for transformative organizational change. In it, he offers 7 Crucial Conversations For Business Transformation based on what he has learned guiding hundreds of organizations, large and small, on their growth journeys. He also Hawkes shares and lays out a playbook for leading transformative change, applicable at any stage of a company's development.

At the heart of Richard Hawkes approach is the underlying concept that teams and organizations are not machines in which leaders can swap people like parts; they will resist. Growth cannot be achieved by replacing dysfunctional parts. "People are anything but predictable, and a mechanistic outlook on business gives rise to leadership approaches that are limited at best." He carries this concept through the three interconnected sections of the book, which — taken together — provide both context and a hands-on leadership toolkit.

In Part One, Framing the Conversation, Richard Hawkes introduces new ways for teams to address three critical domains that must ultimately align for people to fully embrace and sustain change. That is, leadership and culture, roles and capabilities, and strategies and customer experience.

In Part Two, The Evolution of the Enterprise, he introduces the four stages of organizational growth that he has identified as common across all companies and industries, illustrating how each stage — from Independent Contributors to Directive Leadership to Distributed Leadership to Leaders Leading Leaders. This represents a greater capacity to manage complexity, enact transformation, and respond to changing conditions with agility.

Finally, in Part Three, The Seven Crucial Conversations, Hawkes lays out how organizations can successfully navigate from each stage to the next. This requires a series of ongoing, intentional conversations that have the power to align, reimagine, and consciously upgrade the "social system" in which teams work. Ultimately, the Seven Conversations are a template for creating and sustaining High Performing Teams, which Hawkes describes as the "secret agents" of transformation.

High Performing Teams  High Performing Teams

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