Divergence of Character for Organizational Success

             Organizational reform is the central framework for the improvement and sustainability of organizations. When operating in a world of constant change – a form of change becomes almost necessary  for survival or sustainability.  If we consider organizations to be similar to organisms operating in a world that is constantly changing  than organizations must do the same – change to improve and thus survive.  An examination of Darwin’s diversification can help to elucidate the value of organizations embracing change.  Author James T. Costa discusses the meaning behind Darwin’s Diversification in The Darwinian Revelation.  He states: 

“Divergence of character is a process, Darwin envisioned, by which natural selection acts on varieties of a species to enhance their competitiveness, an important outcome of which is the differential survival and reproduction of the most divergent varieties on average (insofar as the most divergent varieties compete least). This leads to a de facto ecological division of labor—niche partitioning, in modern terms—yielding an ever-ramifying divergence pattern when iterated over time: the tree of life.” (Costa, 2009). 

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How is your organization adapting to a new environment and what changes are you adopting for increased survival and work efficiency?

         This ability of organizations to embrace change in accordance with their environment and experience a divergence of character can also be understood as organizational adaptation. Those organizations who survive branch out within the tree of life and either through a change of character or innovation extend the ability to operate within a new environment.  This process is important both for external growth and internal growth.  Leading authors have suggested that organizational adaptation is necessary to correct imbalances and improve inefficient processes within an organization. This ability to change is also fundamental to how that organization works and sustains itself in the world at large. The adaptation can be reactive and come after a change in the external environment, or it can be preempted (Purna, 2017).  If we understand change followed by improvement to be a necessity for the sustainability of organizations than the central question is:

“How do we change organizations to improve?” 

           More specifically with this recognition, how do leaders and managers initiate, implement, and sustain a change process that leads to successful outcomes? The answer to the question of success in the face of change is multidimensional and dependent on the complexity of the organization undergoing change, but also the intricacies central to change in the working environment.  A simple equation can help to provide the factors necessary for change and improvement.   

(Change + Improvement/Organization = Success /Organization) / Changing World

           We must first understand that there is a relationship between organization to change, as well as a connection between organization to success and a relationship to organizational improvement.  This equation may appear to give the impression that organization’s success due to change and improvement is a simple endeavor. On the contrary, we recognize organizational  change to be a complex and a precarious undertaking with many challenges as well as unknowns. However, it is our responsibility as leaders to take this complex task and produce or derive a simple answer. 

It is as Steve Jobs once said: 

“Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”

        By this token, the next step In “moving the mountain” of implementing change for organizational success is to explain  your organization change  in simple terms.  A simple analogy for Creating Organizational Change for success can be reflected through the  process of creating a car.  Building a car requires  – A driver or a system of navigation, an engine, a body, equipment, fuel and a designer. A look at each of these positions can help us construct an organization and understand how change can provide or continue success.

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Can your organization be reflected in simply? Such as the parts of a car?

        A car cannot run without a system of interrelated parts functioning together.  These interrelated parts performing synergistically can be understood as an operating system which is manipulated by a driver or manager.  This system is a state of constant specified action and expected response.  Consider this system as an entity composed of parts that operates in a circular fashion with clear, uniform goals leading to a targeted and finite set of results. 

Circular Thinking Systems

A good system assesses, functions towards its objective and responds to change accordingly.  A system is the natural state of an organization. This is sometimes dictated by management and is an important component when discussing success.  A system is not just a plan. Plans can fail. “No plan survived contact with the enemy”. Michael Fullan states this as evidence that one must pay attention to the reality of action than to theoretical strategy.  It’s not just important to have a plan or a strategy for change, but you must also have a well run functioning system that can appropriately deal with the reality of a situation.  Michael Fullan also quotes von Moltke to suggest that strategy by itself is insufficient for dealing with life.  A well functioning system in many ways is synonymous to attentiveness or clarity.  Systems cannot exist without clear direction. Fullan again, demonstrates the importance of clarity within a system when he talks of the advice given by Russian General Mikhail Kutuzov in preparation for war.  “Immediate attentiveness to unfolding possibilities was going to be more valuable than forward planning”.

   Thus, we are beginning to understand that a plan is not enough, instead a system that denotes clarity is an important component of an organization wishing to change for success.  This system also requires discussion.  Discussion and evaluation is a necessary part of an operational  system and an organization looking to sustain success. Discussion and evaluation represent point in a system directly after assessment but can also occur at any point of intervention within a functioning system. It is a necessary part in refining a system. Leaders, managers and various intrinsic parts of an organization have discussions with each other to review and reestablish successful procedures. 

“Throughout that change is a process of coming to grips with multiple realities of the people who are the main participants of implementing change.”  Fullan understands that discussion amongst the constituents of a system is essential to it’s success.  An operational system not only has direction, leadership and assessment but it also has discussion. This  pattern  can be observed in the “Research Based Change Model” reflected in Marsha Specks “Best Practices in Professional Development for sustained  Educational Change”.  She presents an image of a systems that can start with  planning progress  to professional development activities followed by implementation of interventions or programs. This diagram represents a system and is a reflection of theoretical function of educational change for programming.

Organizational Change, Improvement and Success require more than a system. It also requires quality parts built to form  a resilient body. In other words,  Organization requires integrity, strength and malleability to the demands of Change for sustainability.  Understanding organizations and their relationship to change requires you to  understand the parts parts of an organization or the structural components of the car.  Knowledge of the body is insight that the limitations that can be placed on the axle of a vehicle before it snaps. It’s understanding that a car must have four wheels for appropriate function. It’s the knowledge of the manner in which the wheels of a car will respond to an environment from sand, to a paved road to grass. In understanding the body, we must also understand the environment.

“The fundamental flaw in most innovators strategies is that they focus on their innovations, on what they are trying to do – rather than on understanding how the larger culture, structures, and norms will react to their efforts”

Perhaps the most obvious requirement of a car is the engine. An engine is a system which helps to propel an organization. Knowledge of the engine provides insight to what drives the organization. How this engine is constructed can be instrumental in how well a car or organization functions in its objective. The same can be said about the fuel, or its parts. These elements are synonymous to the people of an organization.  In other words, understanding what drives the people of an organization is similar to understanding the engine and fuel of a system.

An engine however is designed. This fact helps to shape the most functional part of creating a car – the architect. An architect envisions, designs and instructs the construction of a car. Similarly, an architect envisions, plans, strategizes and creates an organization, change and its success. Authors and experience teaches us that those results cannot exist without a plan that is both principled, flexible and up for discussion.  In other words a principled strategy with a degree of flexibility is the architect and designer of organizations, change and success.  This principled approach along with a principle of limited flexibility allows for guidance, objectives and the opportunity to change. 

Fullan states that strategy formation is judgment designing, intuitive reasoning and emergent learning; It is about transformation as well as perpetuation; it must involve individual cognition and social interaction, cooperation as well as conflict. “It has to include analyzing before and programming after as well as negotiating during; and all of this must be in response to what can be a demanding environment.”   Strategy formation encompasses many of the elements necessary in producing and effective plan for successful change, and successful outcomes. It requires: Experience, material, equipment, people, financial support, discussion and engagement. 

 “To put it simply and Powerfully, people doing the work have information that policymakers don’t have. If Leaders don’t engage them through partnerships and collaborative, cultures, they don’t access that information. Under this scenario, planning fails every time.” 

References:

Fullan, M. (2016). The NEW meaning of educational change. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.

Purna, A. (2017, September 26). Organizational Adaptation Theory. Retrieved from https://bizfluent.com/facts-7533511-organizational-adaptation-theory.html

Speck, Marsha. (1996). Best Practice in Professional Development for Sustained Educational Change. ERS Spectrum. 14.  

 

James T. Costa; The Darwinian Revelation: Tracing the Origin and Evolution of an Idea, BioScience, Volume 59, Issue 10, 1 November 2009, Pages 886–894, https://doi.org/10.1525/bio.2009.59.10.10

 

Take away:

  • The world is in Constant Change
    • Operating/functioning/surviving in the world may require us to embrace change.
      • Darwin’s Divergence of character is a testament to this notion
        • It may help improve growth within and growth without.
  • How do we change for improvement?
    • Define your Organization Simply
    • Create a Simple Equation
    • Determine a Simple Change

Establish Structure – Gain Perspective – Create Change.

       Almost every organization has an organizational chart that reflects formal roles and responsibilities. Experts in the field of leadership note that If the structure is overlooked, an organization often misdirects energy and resources.  It should go then that a highly functioning sport performance organization or system requires structure so that appropriate energy is efficiently centered toward the development, safety and performance of the athlete.

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What is the Structure of your Organization? How is this structure demonstrated or reflected ?

 

There are a multitude of ways we can denote structure in performance system. Structure can be reflected in the presentation of the individuals who function within a given system. For instance, in the professional sports sector, we often have a hierarchal map which features a General Manager (generally presented at the top of tree) who oversees the various undertakings of a sports system such as the: 

          1. Parts or entities who oversee skill development and competition of  athletes ( generally presented below the general manager along side with other branches of a system).
          1. Parts or entities who oversee preparation and performance ( generally presented below the general manager along side with other branches of a system).

         The structure and presentation of a highly functioning sports system is an important undertaking and necessary factor in facilitating  successful sports performance. The presentation of structure within a sports performance system reflects its values. Members can rely on this presentation as a resource for insight to the overall function of a system. This factor is important to organizational success as well as other factors. As author Harold Ramos once said: 

“My only conclusion about structure is that nothing works if you don’t have interesting characters and a good story to tell.” – Harold Ramos

The key to interesting characters and good stories is that they-re often layered and multi-dimensional. People listening to such stories or characters can appreciate it from a multitude of vantage points. What Harold is teaching us is that structure which leverages perspective is much better than just the construct of structure alone.  In other words, we must not only build a highly organized entity which supports the ability of stakeholders to function, but also to provide those stakeholders a multitude of perspectives. This strategy can create efficiency and improve their chances to make clear and effective decisions which can translate to a higher rate of successful outcomes. Lee Bolman and Terrence Deal, authors of “How Great Leaders Think, The Art of Reframing” preface their book with a simple message: “Leaders who can reframe – look at the same thing from multiple perspectives – think better.  Thinking better is the key to any successful venture.

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Leveraging Perspective is a Key factor to gaining comprehensive information or components for effective decision making

        Ultimately, success in sport performance systems (or organizations) requires the ability to gain, learn and intervene with perspective.  This is a fundamental principle that can be observed in various factions and functions of successful sports bodies today.

This ability is recognize when  we develop cohesion between various departments such as Skill Competition specialist with those who focus on Preparation and performance. Perspective is the essence of transformative Leadership which is understood as an effective Communication practice between leaders and performers on the field of play. This fundamental principle of leveraging perspective can also be understood as reframing. Reframing describes a strategy in which Leaders adopt more than one frames to allow for seamless communication, discussion, intervention and integration.

As Sports competition improves more attention must be centered to gaining perspective  both outside and within an organization. Sports performance organizations reaching for success cannot afford to oversimplify and overlook the multi frame complexity embedded in sports performance.

In a 2016 study, researcher Jan Ekstrand and her team reported four common risk factors related to Injury risk in football. Authors of this study determined that  the workload imposed on players, the players’ well-being, the quality of internal communication and the head coach’s leadership style (Ekstrand, 2016) played important roles in injury risk. Each of these elements requires the action of gaining perspective in order to effectively reach a good conclusion.

Workload imposed on the players can be determined through external factors such as GPS monitoring as well as Player assessments. The combination of both strategies however provides a more accurate picture of player workload. Player’s well being or readiness can be assessed through external testing such as jump profiles and internal testing procedures which center on central nervous system function.  The combination of both tools however can reflect a comprehensive picture of a player’s well-being. Forms of communication that are multifactorial as opposed to singular allow for a efficiency in the the transfer of information. And a leadership style which leverages the voice of various constituents can potentially provide a wide range of views resulting in comprehensive decision making.  This style of leadership can be understood as Transformational leadership.  It involves motivating and inspiring followers to go beyond their self-interest for the benefit of collective interests by providing vision, meaning, challenges and stimulation ( Ekstrand et al. 2017). Authors of this study, suggested the transformational leadership, or the style that leverages perspective to a greater level than other forms of leadership is associated with the greatest level of performance in sport. 

“Research in the area of sports psychology indicates that transformational leadership on the part of coaches is associated with higher levels of motivation and performance,9improved development and skill gains, increased well-being, increased satisfaction,reduced aggression,increased task/team cohesion10 18–20 and increased willingness to make personal sacrifices for the good of the team.1 (Ekstrand et al., 2017)

Transformational Leadership fits a democratic form of leadership that allows individuals with different beliefs and values to voice their opinions. It allows stakeholders the opportunity to look at issues through different lenses to determine what action to take.  Moreover, it increases the probability of seeing and solving “real” problems.  This form of leadership is effective at both expanding thinking, decision making and innovating. 

This form of leadership is what some authors recognize as “reframing”. These authors believe that the ability for individuals to use more than one frame increases and individuals ability to  make clear decisions and judgements and to act effectively.  In the process of reframing we have to consider not only how a sports system is organized but the interaction between individuals such as players and organizational needs such player management. Reframing also suggest that we must examine the political environment that exists within a system. We can use these systems to help create coalitions, and power bases that can support the objective of a system.  The usefulness of political reframing can be appreciated in team settings where there is resistance to change.  Those leaders adept at gaining political capital are better able to overcome resistance for effective policy changes.  Authors Bolman and Deal demonstrate how gaining a symbolic frame can be useful in the structure of sports performance. Many performance coaches will argue today that an inability to recognize organizational ritual, ceremony, stories or culture will result in ineffective practice no matter how brilliant or effective they may be. This lesson is a reminder that organizations no matter what they do are more than structures. They each tell a story. And to be better at promoting that organization to success you must understand that story on many levels. furthermore, you must be willing to intervene in a multitude of ways to implement success.

The more  comprehensive, intelligent and valuable information we can gain the more armed we are at making a comprehensive, intelligent and valuable decision. Comprehensive is built on multiple perspective. The more perspectives we have the more comprehensive a piece of information is.  “In A  world of increasing ambiguity and complexity, we believe that the ability to use more than one frame increases and individuals ability to make clear judgements and to act effectively.” – (Bolman & Deal, 1992) . 

 

 

References: 

Bolman, L., Deal, T. (1992) Leading and Managing: Effects of Context, Culture and Gender: Educational Administration Quarterly. (28)3., 314 – 329

Ekstrand J. (2016). Preventing injuries in professional football: thinking bigger and working together. British Journal of Sports Medicine. 50:709–710.

Ekstrand, J., Lundqvist, D., Lagerbäck, L., Vouillamoz, M., Papadimitiou, N., & Karlsson, J. (2017). Is there a correlation between coaches’ leadership styles and injuries in elite football teams? A study of 36 elite teams in 17 countries. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 52(8), 527-531

Good Leadership requires Generational Consciousness

In my most recent dinner outing with a group of work members, I could not help but feel tension amongst the culturally diverse group ranging from early twenties to late fifties. It appeared for a brief moment that the idea of placing individuals from various backgrounds within the stress-laden confines of a team tasked to push the edge of competition may prove to be innovative in theory but poorly functioning practically – but then the drinks came in… Soon enough, i saw the great potential for competitive behavior when quality individuals are able to find purpose in their voice, opportunities to genuinely communicate their ideas and appraised constantly for doing so.  Author Natasha Nicholson provides insight to the dynamics of organizations today.  She states that today “we have four generations in the U.S. workforce – All of them in motion.  These generations include the traditional generations or those individuals born between 1946  and 1964, Generation X those individuals born between 1964 – 1981, and millennials those individuals born between 1982 and 2000.  Each of these generations can differ in manners such as communication styles, beliefs and values.  Yet their presence in organizations are a necessary force for adapting to an ever changing environment as well as sustaining stability and ultimately success.  A perspective in to the beliefs and values of millennials for instance can provide insight to the impact belief and generational characteristics impact organizational value and potential for success.   

It has been said that today’s new generation of workers may appear to value work more than past generations. Such a belief would appear to differentiate them from previous generations and shed light to their potential impact for organizational success.    Today’s generational differences differ not only in beliefs inside of the workplace but outside the workplace as well. Younger generations of today also known as millennials  have been described as viewing the work place as more than an occupation but also a religious rite. The youth generation have strong beliefs toward work commitment  and they are likely to see themselves as more aligned to work than their counterparts. Authors have used terms such as “work matrys” to provide insight to the perception for which youth generations seem themselves.  In a New York times piece author Erin Griffith writes that Youth “participation in organized religion is falling, especially among American millennials. In San Francisco, where I live, I’ve noticed that the concept of productivity has taken on an almost spiritual dimension. Techies here have internalized the idea — rooted in the Protestant work ethic — that work is not something you do to get what you want; the work itself is all. Therefore any life hack or company perk that optimizes their day, allowing them to fit in  even more work, is not just desirable but inherently good.”  (Griffith, E, 2019)

Such a belief is likely to have a measurable impact on the culture of an an organization and can conflict with the norms of the past and/or generational demographics of an organization. For instance, culturally acceptable  practices such as paid time off are now being challenged by students.  In a recent report in Harvard Business review, one author denotes the prevailing attitude among workers The researchers surveyed roughly 5,000 full-time employees who receive paid time off as a benefit, and found that millennials were much more likely to agree with four statements they used to assess work martyrdom. “No one else at my company can do the work while I’m away.” “I want to show complete dedication to my company and job.” “I don’t want others to think I am replaceable.” “I feel guilty for using my paid time off.” (Carmichael, 2016)

The differences between work life balance between young generation and older members is apparent.   Millennials were also more likely to want to be seen as work martyrs than older workers; specifically, 48% of Millennials wanted their bosses to see them that way, while only 39% of Gen X did and 32% of Boomers did.   This belief  shape by today’s working youth that “productivity capability — our ability to work, rather than our humanity is  a measure of human worth and can have a significant impact on organizational culture (Carmichael, 2016).

One can argue that such a belief is a powerful vehicle for work productivity. Establishing such a belief can be a useful engine for slow companies looking for success.  Additionally, establishing such a belief is effective at attracting and retaining quality performers.  “The technology industry started this culture of work zeal sometime around the turn of the millennium, when the likes of Google started to feed, massage and even play doctor to its employees. The perks were meant to help companies attract the best talent — and keep employees at their desks longer. However, research may not support this theory. Working Harder or perceiving oneself to working harder may not increase work productivity. 

  “This makes it all the more important to underline that the study also finds that sacrificing vacation time has no net benefit on your career. In fact, work martyrs are more likely to be stressed at home and at work, and less likely to be happy with their companies and careers. And they were less likely to receive bonuses — 75% of work martyrs reported receiving a bonus in the past three years, compared with 81% of overall respondents. Previous research by P:TO showed that people who take fewer vacation days are also less likely to get a raise:” (Carmichael, 2016).

Nonetheless, the beliefs and cultures of generations such as millennials can improve the competitive edge of organizations in a constantly growing world.  Finding methods to ameliorate the differences between generations while maximizing productivity is a fundamental to organizational success. Providing clear and purpose is one of the most effective ways in which we can help to improve the ability to communicate across culture and generations. This requires leaders to delve deep and to search individuals for value, to recognize this value and promote it publicly as a key component for the future of an organization success. In other words the action of providing purpose to individuals that is publicly recognize to different members of the group is an opportunity to engage them.  In some ways this can be understood as leveraging leadership. Author Leah Reynolds writes “it should be no surprise that tech-savvy Gen Yers in your organization want to feel  connected, updated and involved.  The technology they grew up with game them real time access to information, and their boomer parents and teachers socialized them to speak up and contribute their ideas.”  (Reynolds, Campbell Bush, Geist, 2008)

Reynolds  provides us indication with why these individuals specifically want to be recognize with purpose.  Generations Yers in particular were taught to follow their purpose and to value themselves in this fashion. However we must realize that such a desire isn’t specific to any particular generation. It is human nature to seek purpose.  Perhaps the difference with generations is not whether they yearn for purpose but the frequency in which they want to be reminded or informed of their purpose.

Reynolds reminds also reminds us that frequency updates may be a powerful tool for alleviating the differences between generational groups,  She writes “ Generation Y likes to be informed and  feel plugged in If they sense that leadership is not sufficiently updating them..”  (Reynolds, Campbell Bush, Geist, 2008). It should be no surprised that for a generation mired in technology which constantly provides information within a blink of an eye, millennials would also have similar demands for understanding their role in a similar capacity. This observation reminds us that we often should look at communication as a resource for improving  organizational function.  It is important to constantly ask ourselves “how effective are our communications in connecting with members of our workforce, an how are we measuring that effectiveness.  Reynolds demonstrates that communication is more than providing statements of veracity, it is also looking at effective ways to consider the interests and communications styles of different individuals.  We may find ourselves attracted to a form of communication that is ineffective. Communication can hold many forms and should be provided in a comprehensive manner.   Concepts such as  “idea campaigns” , individuals meetings and group outings represents variations in communication tactics that target  discussion. More importantly these opportunities provide manners in which  individuals can communicate more effectively. 

Ultimately, we must realize that organizations will consistently have to address  diversity in an increasing competitive market.  Diversity provides and edge toward success. The ability to master diversity lies in ones ability to understand human nature and the complexities of communication. Those can be understood as elements of  adaptability.  Adaptability can be understood as one’s ability to  better connect workforce by building a sense of community, drawing out insights. It is also an important adoption that we should always expect that  things will never be what they used to be. Just as we should be focusing on understanding the generational changes we should also be preparing for the generations to come.

References:

Carmichael, S. G. (2016, August 22). Millennials Are Actually Workaholics, According to Research. Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2016/08/millennials-are-actually-workaholics-according-to-research

Durkin, Dianne (2008), “Youth Movement”, Communication World, Vol. 25, pp. 23-26.

Griffith, E. (2019, January 26). Why Are Young People Pretending to Love Work? Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/26/business/against-hustle-culture-rise-and-grind-tgim.html

Lovely, S. (2005). Creating synergy in the schoolhouse: Changing dynamics among peer cohorts will drive the work of school systems. School Administrator, 62(8), 30-34.

Reynolds, L., Campbell Bush, E., and Geist, R. (2008), “The gen y imperative”, Communication World, Vol. 25 No. 2, pp. 19-22.

Organizational Change in 3 Steps

When individuals are hired by members of a struggling organization to a leadership role, we often hear the value of culture change as a necessary step for a return to organizational success. If an organization is nothing more than the collective capacity of its people to create value, than a change in potential is a necessary element to adapt to a highly competitive and growing environment.  It is difficult to know for sure what must of been going through the mind of early stakeholders or  leaders tasked with transforming struggling organizations.  However, through the work of research and the observations of  various organizations we are beginning to understand the anatomy of organizational change and the various factors necessary for its successful initiation, implementation and institutionalization.   

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Michael Fullan, an expert in leadership and change, along with the work of various researchers help  to provide insight to the anatomy of organizational transformation and provide us a glimpse of how teams mired in failure can find success. 

If it was possible to relegate the complex elements of change to three words the most likely culprits would be goals, collaboration and leadership.

The essence of an organization or  a system composed of value adding processes is built on the foundation of:

  1. “Closing the gap” to an overarching goal
  2.  Recognizing strategies that focus on effective communication and action
  3. Improving the ability to leverage leadership within its system. 

Understanding these three guidelines helps to summarize the multi-dimensional nature of change. 

Step 1: Closing the gap as the or to an overarching Goal

In attempting to understand what took place in the early phases of change we must first recognize that change is unique, non-linear and does not follow clear, rigid rules. However, we can be certain of a few fundamental elements such as establishing meaning. Meaningful change is preceded by determining meaning. Acquiring meaning is an important individual and organizational pursuit if it is to be successful. Fullan states that “acquiring meaning is achieved across a group of people working in concert. This is perhaps one of the most important lessons to be drawn from Fullan’s  explanation of change. In this explanation he demonstrates the importance of establishing a plan and communicating said plan to parts of the organization. Acquiring meaning is the first step in creating a plan. A plan inherently has a starting point and an objective. Acquiring meaning drives us to close the gap or reach the objective of a plan. If the theory of change emerging at this point leads us to conclude that we need better plans and planners, we are embarking on the infinite regress that characterizes the pursuit of a theory of “changing”.  Closing the gap requires self – reflection or the ability to ask difficult questions, challenge norms and understand methods aimed at its construction. Understanding the anatomy for change is perhaps the most important and valuable lesson before undertaking change.  As Fullan states “we need to explain not only what causes it but also how to influence those causes”. Just like physics is a foundation for engineering, knowledge of change has been a foundation for innovation and the ability to create change.  In creating change we recognize that questions that begin with 

  1. Why
  2. What
  3. How 
  4.  What if

are important to know. 

These questions, give us the ability to determine meaning, objective and the abilities to close the gap of an established objective.

Step 2: Recognize the value of strategies that are socially based and action oriented

They also recognize that change is a cyclical process, that requires constant genuine discussion based on data driven assessments.  Authors have argued that Change leadership (or the interplay between artful leadership and organization management) is necessary for developing an organizations culture and is an essential component for developing new core capabilities needed to compete in a global, high tech world (Mcguire, 2006). Fullan demonstrates that trust and cohesion between parts of an organization is important for its success and operation especially when undertaking the complexities of change.  Communication across boundaries allow for greater potential in understanding one another as well as acquire meaning in oneself or the group.  Social discussions allow various elements to share and increase value in one another. In order to display this value, action is needed. A good strategy toward this goal is to begin and end a day with a meeting. There is a firm understanding that discussion built on trust and cohesion allows us to make appropriate decisions as well as actions to reach our planned goals when provided with good information. 

Step 3: Stay the course  of good direction through continually leveraging leadership. 

Experience shows that change occurs from or with the support of a position of leadership. Fullan states that individuals in leadership positions within an organization such as chief administrators or central distract staff are critical sources of advocacy, support and imitation of new programs. This observation is no different from the occurrences of sports organizations which are often run by senior officials such as a general manager or chief executive officer.  They may not be the catalyst for change, but they are certainly important resources for advocacy and support in change. The messaging of advocacy, communicated from the general manager is a constant reminder for those individuals new to change within the organization. They also help to recognize the importance of establishing key stakeholders in facilitating change or leveraging leadership. Leveraging leadership provides individuals with purpose and meaning in their roles but also empowers their positions and perspectives.

In establishing change we recognize that that each instance of change is unique. In other words, when discussing change, we must be mindful that it exists as an individual quality from other episodes of change.  This can be the result of its multifactorial nature.  As authors have suggested there are no hard-and-fast rules to change but rather a set of suggestions for how change can occur.  Generally speaking, we know that change requires us to establish meaning, collaborate and leverage leadership.

References

Fullan, M. (2016). The new meaning of educational change. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.

McGuire, J. (2003). Leadership strategies for culture change: Developing change leadership as an organization core capability. Orlando, Florida: Center for Creative Leadership.

Young, Y. (2006). Mindset. Brighton: Pen Press.

Look, Learn, Live & Do You: The Squat Stance Cable V – Bar Chop w/ Tricep Extension

6.-Do-things-in-order.pngIn the past I have found difficulty in prioritizing certain isolation exercise and core movement. Historically, exercises that center on isolating a particular muscle group often appear towards the end of the workout. Take for instance, the bicep curl, calf raise or the triceps extension.  When It comes to anything in life, if you hold a good deal of value for it, make sure you start off with it.  You might reason then that a look at my exercise order suggests that the bicep curl, tricep extension hold little relative value compared to others such as the clean from the hang, the sled push or the weighted pull up.  You might be right in this assessment, but I like to believe that the value of an exercise is meaningless if it’s inappropriate for a given athlete, workout, or period of time.  Despite this focus, the reality of life is that we are always bounded by time.  Having little respect for time and you will find that the things that are placed last  are often forgotten or dismissed. Thus, efficiency is always an important component of program design when time is a limiting factor.

In this post, I will provide you with an exercise that helps improve training efficiency and adds value to exercises that are often considered valueless.

The Squat Stance Cable V – Bar Chop w/ Tricep Extension

The Squat Stance – Rotating – V Bar – Chop fits into several classes of exercise.  It is an exercise that challenges stability through rotation. It is also an exercise that challenges the body as a whole rather than in isolation. We can also view it as an integrative exercise or a movement that is challenged by the ability to integrate various parts and/or function to produce a desired objective. Additionally, the Squat Stance rotating cable Vbar chop is an exercise that challenges our ability to apply a horizontal impulse in to the ground.

There are several objectives in applying this exercise to a training program.  We are looking to combine simple exercises together for the purpose of improving efficiency and increase value by increasing objectives.  In this particular exercise there are three particular training objectives that are combined

  1. Objective 1: Demonstrating core control through the application of a resistive load along the transverse plane to the upper extremity as it relates to the lower extremity. – This is just another fancy way of saying this is a core exercise.
  2. Objective 2: Applying a resistive load to challenge elbow extension
  3. Objective 3: Applying a resistive force to a single limb that challenges both horizontal displacement and the integrity of hip abduction and
  4. Objective 4: Allowing resistive load to produce greater range and neural control in hip internal rotation.

Mastering these objectives will allow an individual to gain range in hip internal rotation, improve their ability to displace themselves horizontally, improve the strength, control and integrity of hip extension, abduction and flexion and provide help them facilitate a higher quality of communication between the upper extremities and the lower extremities. A detailed account of the muscles worked in this particular exercise is complex and difficult to quantify due to the number of structures that are involved  combined with the fact that the various individuals express movement differently due to the variances in their structures. It may be best to view this simply as multisgemental and complex movement that challenges the following among many.

  1. Internal and External Obliques,
  2. Rectus Abdominus
  3. Hip External Rotators
  4. Hip Abductions
  5. Grip Strength
  6. Support
  7. The start of the position immediately acts on the internal rotators of the hip. In particular the tensor fascia lata (TFL) and gluteus medius. The gluteus minimus is engaged the more we get the athlete to flex at the hip.
  8. Additionally, there is quite a bit of stress placed on structures involved in stability of the knee.

efficient1.jpgThe reasons why I like this particular exercise and the class of exercises like it is due to the fact that it drives efficiency.  With this particular exercise I can focus on developing strength through the upper body and stability of the lower body. I also like it because it is a widely recognize motion.  We are likely to have seen someone chop tree or swing a bat. Thus, the movement has a great reference and is therefore easier to teach than those exercises without reference.  This allows the exercise to be relatively easier to perform and thus widely applicable to various populations. Lastly, it is integrative  and movement based and can act as a great avenue in the transfer of strength gains to movement and therefore performance.

The “Jade” Progression – An introduction to the “Upper Body/ Lower Body” Split

plan-for-success.jpgEstablishing a schedule plan is one of the most important aspects in developing a strength and conditioning system. In many ways the schedule is reflective of the program’s objectives, style and potential. In particular, the training schedule denotes a plan for when, where and why certain stressors will be applied over the course of a fixed period.  It also contains a key a factor for performance development – Consistency. Consistency.jpg

Consistency, or the application of a task for accuracy is arguably the most important component of a successful performance program outside of the obvious fundamentals such as “do no harm” and “apply a stress for adaptation also known as the GAS principle”.  The  repeated application of a given task such as performance training can be a challenging endeavor to implement when we must consider the wide variety of challenges, obstacles that come with a given setting or environment, a person or team and the various related tasks of life.

goal-plan-success-1024x340.jpgNonetheless, having a plan or approach to schedule design is one of the first steps to designing a program – Especially a resistance and performance training program.

Screen Shot 2018-07-25 at 1.36.26 PM.pngThe Jade progression represents a framework for a training schedule or program design. Specifically,  the Jade progression reflects a construct for  implementing  upper extremity and lower extremity stressors or training resources for performance improvement.  This fundamental schedule design in performance training or programing is perhaps one of the most widely used methods for implementing stress to an athlete to create appropriate adaptive responses in a comprehensive manner.  The center point of this schedule design is simple when we look at human function as an expression of upper body movements and lower body movements.

Upper-Body-Lower-Body-ImbalanceThis vision gives precedence to the idea that the application of an adaptive stress which targets upper body movements and/or lower body movements  will improve performance to those areas and ultimately to human function.  Therefore,  in order to improve human function and performance we must create a plan that targets the upper body and lower body.

Screen Shot 2018-07-25 at 1.54.37 PM.pngFurthermore, if we acknowledge that recovery and efficiency are necessary factors for improving performance quickly and completely within a given period of time, then the most obvious step is to schedule a program which targets the upper body on one day and the lower body day on the following day (or vice-versa). This approach to training or program design is otherwise understood as the upper lower training split or the” Jade” progression.

 

 

Carbohydrate Loading and the continued role it plays to Athletic Performance

      Athletic Performance Team.jpg    As we approach the climax of the summer months, a period marked by increased activity, sport and competition, it is important to consider the vital role nutrition plays towards these endeavors. Since scientists first began to explore the relationship between nutrition and performance, we have come to understand that the food choices we make can uniquely improve our potential to perform.  The manipulation of glycogen for exercise performance is a great example of the transformative role nutrition plays within the various components of sport performance. The history and current practice of glycogen loading reflects the pervasiveness of this sound nutritional strategy despite a continued rise in scientific developments concerning nutrition strategies aimed at improving exercise and sport performance.

carboload.jpgIn 1967, researcher Björn Ahlborg delivered a report on the effects of muscle glycogen during prolonged exercise at an annual meeting of the Swedish Medical Society (Ahlborg, Bergstrom, Edelund & Hultman, 1967). In this investigation, Björn and colleagues identified a relationship between diet and muscle glycogen stores and demonstrated that the capacity for prolonged work is directly correlated to the glycogen store in the working muscles (Ahlborg, Bergstrom, Edelund & Hultman, 1967). Their investigation proved to be notable as it demonstrated the ability to manipulate nutrition for the benefit of exercise performance. In particular, results from their study showed that when a low carbohydrate diet is followed by a high carbohydrate diet, glycogen concentrations first decrease in response to the low consumption of carbohydrates and then rebound to double baseline glycogen concentrations.  This phenomenon is known as glycogen supercompensation (Jeukendrup & Gleeson,2010).
          Bike carbload.jpegThis particular carbohydrate loading procedure developed by Björn and colleagues in the1960s is still used by athletes today through various methods to help ensure optimal intake of energy substrates, augment muscle glycogen stores, and to ultimately improve potential for high performance in exercise and sport (Zydek, Michalczyk, Zajac,& Latosik, 2014). Through the investigation of the purpose, methods and current use of glycogen loading techniques we will learn that increasing our understanding regarding the demands of sport and exercise as well as the specific physiologic responses established through strategic manipulation of nutrition is critical for improving exercise performance at a high level.  Additionally, this growth in perspective regarding glycogen loading may help us to appreciate the value it can play within a multifaceted and periodized approach to athletes year-round for the purpose of greater exercise and sports performance.
                 shutterstock_389061919.jpgIn order to understand the value of glycogen loading to exercise and performance we must first understand the importance of carbohydrates to exercise and performance.  The carbohydrate macronutrient is one of the most important sources of fuel for the body during physical activity and at rest. This highly versatile macronutrient is one of the first options for energy needs during various types of activities and intensities and is considered a key fuel for the brain and central nervous system (Williams & Rollo, 2015). Carbohydrates are stored in the form of glycogen in both skeletal muscles and in the liver. On average a person stores about 500 grams of glycogen in their muscles and 100 grams of glycogen in their liver (Jensen, Rustad, Kolnes, & Lai, 2011). Our ability to exercise at a given intensity depends on the capacity of our skeletal muscles to rapidly replace energy (in the form of ATP) used to support all of the energy-demanding processes during exercise. The two metabolic systems that generate energy, or ATP, in skeletal muscle are described as ‘anaerobic’ and ‘aerobic’.
         Athlete+Running.jpgDuring both anaerobic activity or high intensity activities and aerobic activity or relatively lower intensity activities the production of energy in the form of ATP is fueled in part by the breakdown of glycogen. For instance, during a high intensity activity or an anaerobic activity such as a 6 second sprint, muscle glycogen contributes to about 50% of energy production (Williams & Rollo, 2015).  However, as the duration of activity begins to increase and/or the intensity levels begins to decrease, the metabolic system that drives energy production within the body shifts from a mostly anaerobic to aerobic process. Moreover, during aerobic activities or relatively lower intensity and longer duration activities such as long distance running the degradation of glycogen is a slower and less reliant process as compared to its role in anaerobic activities.  Despite the diminished role in energy production, glycogen breakdown produces 12 times more ATP during aerobic activities as compared to anaerobic activities (Williams & Rollo, 2015).
Carbo-Loading.jpg         The availability of this stored form of carbohydrate has been shown to impact the performance of prolonged sub-maximal, moderate and/or intermittent high-intensity exercise activities greater than 90 minutes.  Carbohydrate availability also contributes to an important role in the performance of brief or sustained high-intensity work (Hargreaves, 1996). Through a special process of carbohydrate consumption known as carbohydrate loading, individuals can maximize muscle glycogen stores (as well as beyond normal levels) and thus improve their potential to perform optimally in endurance exercise and events lasting longer than 90 minutes (Beck, Thomson, Swift, & von Hurst, 2015).  This process of carbohydrate or glycogen loading can help to delay the onset of fatigue (by approximately 20%) and result in a performance increase of of 2%–3% (Beck, Thomson, Swift, & von Hurst, 2015).  

Alberto_Contador_1674878b.jpg4-Figure2-1    It is important to note that the process of carbohydrate loading is also termed glycogen supercompensation. This term results from findings which show that when carbohydrate loading involves a depletion phase (produced by 3 days of intense training and/or low carbohydrate intake) followed by a loading phase (3 days of reduced training and high carbohydrate intake) glycogen concentrations rebound to super-physiological levels or levels greater than normal. This method is understood as the classical supercompensation protocol.  Researchers have also demonstrated that protocols designed to increase muscle glycogen concentrations can be enhanced to a similar level without a glycogen-depletion phase (Sherman, Costill, Fink, & Miller, 1981).
In fact, over the years researchers have continued to produce various protocols which can be used for the process of glycogen loading and/or glycogen supercompensation. Listed below is an example of a glycogen loading protocol used for athletes preparing a week or more in advance for an exercise event or sport competition with a duration greater than 90 minutes.

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(Jeukendrup, A. E., & Gleeson, M. (2010)


largepreview.pngIn addition to the classical supercompensation protocol researchers have demonstrated that glycogen loading can be achieved with a 1 to 2 day modification of the diet and ingestion of carbohydrates at a rate of 10 grams per kilogram of body mass per day as well as a change in training loads (Zydek, Michalzzyk, Zajac & Latosik, 2014).  Some researchers have shown that combining physical inactivity with a high intake of carbohydrate enables trained athletes to attain maximal muscle glycogen contents within only 24 hours suggesting that glycogen loading can take place within a 24 hour period (Bussau, Fairchild, Rao, Steele, & Fournier, 2002).
Nonetheless, the practice of glycogen loading has been shown to increase levels of glycogen within muscle and can remain elevated for a number of days. Authors note that athletes following a supercompensation cycle can experience at least 3 days of elevated glycogen levels (Goforth, Arnall, Bennett, & Law, 1997). This elevated response can provide athletes enough time to rest and recover from physical activity and also allow for significantly high levels of glycogen to be maintained in preparation for a specific exercise or sport event.  Athletes interested in improving muscle glycogen stores must be aware that the process of carbohydrate loading rests on appropriate consumption of carbohydrates as well as proper amounts of vitamins, minerals and water.

 

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Elevated glycogen response from the classical supercompensation model can provide athletes enough time to rest and recover from physical activity and also allow for significantly high levels of glycogen to be maintained in preparation for a specific exercise or sport event.

       Glycogen loading is a powerful example of how nutrition is increasingly recognized as a key component of optimal exercise and sport performance. As our understanding of the demands of sport and exercise as well as the science and practice of sports nutrition develops we will continue to see notable examples of the far reaching and positive impact nutrition provides to exercise and sport.  

periodization.pngIn addition, it may be useful to view certain nutrition strategies such as glycogen loading as part of a larger systematic approach to nutrition aimed at improving certain areas related to exercise performance during specific periods. Authors call this strategic aim to obtain adaptations in support of exercise performance through the combined use of nutrition and exercise training (or nutrition only) nutrition periodization (Jeukendrup, 2017).
         With the rise of nutrition programs and diets such as the ketogenic diet, “train low, compete high” along with long established nutrition programs such as “glycogen loading” or “supercompensation” it is increasingly important for athletes, coaches, nutritionists and performance specialists to recognize the multifaceted ways in which nutrition planning can help deliver both long term and short term benefit and ultimately result in the production of greater potential and high performance for a given athlete.

 

References:

Ahlborg, G., Bergstrom, J., Edelund, G., Hultman, E. (1967). Muscle glycogen and muscle electrolytes during prolonged physical exercise. Acta Physiologica Scandinavica, 129-142.

Beck, K. L., Thomson, J. S., Swift, R. J., & von Hurst, P. R. (2015). Role of nutrition in performance enhancement and postexercise recovery. Open Access Journal of Sports Medicine6, 259–267.

Bussau, V., Fairchild, T., Rao, A., Steele, P., & Fournier, P. (2002). Carbohydrate loading in human muscle: An improved 1 day protocol. European Journal of Applied Physiology, 87(3), 290-295.

Goforth., H. W., Arnall., D. A., Bennett., B. L., & Law., P. G. (1997). Persistence of supercompensated muscle glycogen in trained subjects after carbohydrate loading. Journal of Applied Physiology, 82(1), 342-347

Hargreaves, M. (1996). Carbohydrates and Exercise Performance. Nutrition Reviews, 54(4), 136-139

Jensen, J., Rustad, P. I., Kolnes, A. J., & Lai, Y.-C. (2011). The Role of Skeletal Muscle Glycogen Breakdown for Regulation of Insulin Sensitivity by Exercise. Frontiers in Physiology, (2) 112.

Jeukendrup, A. E. (2017). Periodized Nutrition for Athletes. Sports Medicine (Auckland, N.z.), 47(Suppl 1), 51–63.

Jeukendrup, A. E., & Gleeson, M. (2010). Sport nutrition. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.

Sherman, W., Costill, D., Fink, W., & Miller, J. (1981). Effect of Exercise-Diet Manipulation on Muscle Glycogen and Its Subsequent Utilization During Performance. International Journal of Sports Medicine,02(02), 114-118.

Williams, C., & Rollo, I. (2015). Carbohydrate Nutrition and Team Sport Performance. Sports Medicine (Auckland, N.z.)45(Suppl 1), 13–22. 

Zydek, G., Michalzzyk, M., Zajac, A., Latosik, E. (2014) Low- or high-carbohydrate diet for athletes? Trends in Sport Sciences, 2(4), 207-212.