The best learning experience I ever had – David Goddin

Today’s guest post is from one of our partners, David Goddin. David runs Change Continuum, you can find his blog here and follow him on Twitter here.

In his post David talks through enacting and reflecting on organisational change and could be subtitled ‘Tuckman Lives’ as it’s full of forming, norming, storming & performing (with a little organisational politics thrown in for good measure)

I don’t know about you but when I try to think of “my best learning experience ever” I struggle.  Childhood, school, work, training, development programmes, books, marriage, friends, people, places all came to mind. There have been many standout moments in time…  all of them special to me.

Then as is the way of things, thinking about all those moments, I remembered the best year that never was…

World Class Teams – World Class Learning

Whilst at ABN AMRO, I had been COO for a product sales division.  As too often happened there, strategy changed and a new structure emerged.  My boss & I were tasked with building a new division for the EMEA region.  A great opportunity and recognition of the transformational work we’d delivered in other areas.

It was one of the most internally acrimonious organisational transformations we ran together.  Lack of clarity from the board and in-fighting between organisational silos meant 9 months of negotiations on client ownership as well as budget & headcount splits.  You couldn’t make it up could you…

We played a fair game but others played dirty.  In the end we managed to implement the strategy required, get the new division running properly and those who’d played dirty had made themselves apparent to the board.

Key to our success was our top notch management team.  Carefully picked for our client focus & ability to deliver, we bonded around a shared vision as well as inspirational leadership.  With some work, everyone managed to deal with the baggage of their previous roles and fully embrace their new roles.

We got to the stage very quickly where we could challenge each other & gain resolution – no tricks, no fighting, just the good debate.

We could sacrifice budget & growth plans in our own areas of responsibility for a greater return in others areas – focus was on the greater good not our fiefdoms.

We shared our learning, observations & gave each other feedback on our management – in hindsight we were naturally building a coaching culture.

It was such a great team environment to work and learn in.

Change, Awareness & Reflection – The Learning Opportunity

Then just over a year later the structure changed again.  Fortune favoured those who delivered and again we were tasked with another transformation this time in Global Markets.  Another great opportunity for me.

Perhaps 6 months later, my boss and I were sat down talking about just how good an organisation we had started to build the year before.  We’d got through a lot of hard transformational work and had built a rock star management team.

Then the realisation hit us that if the organisational strategy hadn’t changed we would be in the middle of an amazing year of business performance in our old EMEA division.  Our best year was the year that never was…

Best learning experience ever..

So what’s the point of the story David?  Well, personally the learning gained from being given the opportunity to create or transform an organisation is huge.  Working through organisational politics and having the good (not dirty) fight has been a huge source of learning.  Being at the client facing side of business has always provided great learning.

However, the best learning experience ever was from being part of a team that was bonding, developing and working together towards a common goal.  The learning was constant & always contained challenges.  The learning was fun but purposeful.  The learning and the experience set us up for what could have been an amazing second year for the business.

Things change and that can also be good.  When change happens we need to recognise our strengths and what we’ve achieved.  That’s the best learning experience ever.  


One thought on “The best learning experience I ever had – David Goddin

  1. Pingback: Purposeful Fun « People Performance Potential

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