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Big Ideas: “How to create a culture that believes it can do anything” with Author Vlatka Hlupic

As a part of my series about “Ideas That Can Change the World in The Next Few Years” I had the pleasure of interviewing Vlatka Hlupic. Vlatka is a CEO of The Management Shift Consulting Ltd, University Professor, recipient of many international awards for her work, voted as one of the Most Influential HR Thinkers […]

As a part of my series about “Ideas That Can Change the World in The Next Few Years” I had the pleasure of interviewing Vlatka Hlupic. Vlatka is a CEO of The Management Shift Consulting Ltd, University Professor, recipient of many international awards for her work, voted as one of the Most Influential HR Thinkers in the world by HR Magazine in the last four years.


What principles have guided your life?

I have had a very interesting and eventful life, with various ups and downs, and my key principles have helped me survive and thrive. Whilst I have been building my global career, I have been a mother and father to my two children for the last 10 years which brought various challenges as well as rewards. Some of the principles that guide my life include:

1. Persistence– just keep pushing, keep working hard on things that you feel in your heart matter. Once I had realized what my mission is, what my purpose is, I have relentlessly pursued this no matter what obstacle came my way.

2. Courage– have courage to continue your path, to focus and pursue your mission. And whatever happens in life, you will have good days, and you will have bad days. When you have challenging days, accept it in a graceful and composed way, and move forward.

3. Values– have strong values, and infuse integrity into everything we do. Be guided by a strong inner knowing, so that you feel and know what the right way is. Whatever we do, I firmly believe we have to do it with integrity. We have a duty, to ourselves and others around us. So, be organized, be dutiful, keep going, and stay your course no matter what may come your way.

4. Gratitude– be grateful for what you have and have hope and faith that long term everything will work out well. Research studies are showing the importance of gratitude. Gratitude decreases cortisol, which is a stress hormone.

5. Compassion — have compassion for yourself and others. Have compassion and empathy, and put ourselves in other people’s shoes.

6. Nothing is forever-look at the big picture, and think from a timeline perspective. When something adverse happens, think “okay, this is happening today. Will it matter in a week or a month or a year or five years?”

7. Mindfulness– focus on the present moment, let go of the past, it does not matter now. Do not worry about the future. Worrying about what might happen is like walking around with open umbrella on a sunny day in case it might start raining.

What is your big idea?

I have conducted extensive research in a variety of disciplines. I am a computer scientist who became a behavioral scientist, and my life’s contribution is described in my book The Management Shift .The Management Shift is the HOW of shifting from old ways of working (based on hierarchical command and control) to new, high performing ways of working (based on people, purpose and collaboration). This approach (supported by online tools I developed) has been used by dozens of organizations worldwide to well by doing good.

The key framework of The Management Shift is a 5-Level Model showing that there are five levels that our mindsets goes through, and there is the same corresponding organizational culture in each of those five levels. Every level is characterized by specific thinking patterns, emotions, language use, leadership style, behavior and organizational outcomes. We cannot skip the levels, we move up one level at the time.

Level One: the mindset is Lifeless, the culture is Apathetic, and not much gets done. This is where people are too depressed to do anything, and there is a lot of fear and sadness and low morale.

Level Two: the mindset is Reluctant, the culture is Stagnating. This is where people do the minimum they can get away with. Employees will bring their bodies to work, but their heart and mind stay at home.

Level Three:the mindset is Controlled, the culture is Orderly. The people are micromanaged, they do as they are told, and they are in a hierarchical, command and control based environment.

A majority of organizations and the traditional management leadership are within these first three levels. I would say 85–90% are, but we can shift that. We can have high levels of engagement, high levels of passion for work, and increase performance and profit. So, the Big Shift, or what I like to call the Management Shift as described in my book, is when we shift to level four.

Level Four: the mindset is Enthusiastic, the culture is Collaborative, and keywords are trust, transparency, purpose, collaboration, and having fun working. This is where we have genuinely humanized organizations and inspirational leaders. At this level, we have a substantial shift in value creation, performance engagement, and profit. Occasionally, we can reach level five, stay there temporarily when we are highly focused and creative and then go back to level four.

Level Five:the mindset is Limitless, and the culture is Unbounded. This is where highly innovative teams have created amazing innovations, such as Google X inventing driverless cars.

I produced this model after I researched a lot of different theories related to personal development, leadership development, consciousness development, and learning theories. I analyzed the different models and frameworks, and synthesized a large body of literature. Through semantic analysis, I detected the five levels, and through experience, I was able to test them. I first developed that framework about ten years ago.

I used this framework in my consulting practices, to help C-level executives shift from level three to level four. Then one day, I had another Eureka moment. I realized that shifting one leader or one leadership team at a time was not good enough. I love big ideas, and I love even more to make them happen in practice. My work is all about transferring knowledge into action, theory into practice.

And I wanted to figure out how to help an entire organization shift to level four, and how to help many organizations to shift to level four at the same time.

So I went back to my research and looked into data from thousands of references, hundreds of interviews, and dozens of case studies. Through a thematic analysis, I created a framework with around 150 factors that drive innovation, performance and value creation, and I grouped them in six areas. I then created an online diagnostic tool which can measure hidden strengths and weaknesses in those six areas. The areas include culture, relationships, individuals, strategy, system, and resources:

• Culture: What kind of culture does the organization have?

• Relationships: How well do people work together?

• Individuals: What types of mindset, skills drive, and motivation do employees have?

• Strategy: How it gets developed and executed?

• Systems: How does the work get done?

• Resources: What resources do we have?

The tool is like an organizational MRI. So we work with companies to diagnose strengths and weaknesses in those six areas and then we work with them to design a specific one-year action plan to leverage the strengths, address the weakness, and help the whole company shift to level four, to become more humanized and high performing. After the Big Shift, some companies increased their profit in two years by 200%!

This evidence-based tool is used for different purposes, for example for culture shift, due diligence tool, risk assessment tool, for mergers and acquisitions, employee engagement, bespoke training design etc.

So this is my big idea. Other scholars have talked about the big ‘Why.’ Why companies need to go through that shift, to go from command and control to a more humanized way of working and they have talked about the big ‘What.’ What needs to be done to go through this Shift. But what has been missing is the big ‘How.’ How will an organization go through this Big Shift? And this is where my practice and work comes in.

Thank you for sharing! I notice that you have written a new book, the Humane Capital. Can you share more about this book?

For this book I interviewed 58 global CEO’s about their strategies and mindsets for the Big Shift from level three to level four, and how to thrive in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Research for this book resulted in 35 case studies and over 272000 words of interview transcripts which I read several times and analyzed manually. In addition, data was analyzed using software NVivo. This led to identification of 200 strategies for humanizing organizations, 50 per each sector (i.e., public, corporate, SME and non-profits sectors). One of the key outcomes of the book is 8 key pillars for humanizing organizations, which built on The Management Shift framework.

The pillars include having the right mindsets, a definite purpose, strong values, caring culture, among others.

To help organizations, my team and I have designed a Humane Capital strategy board game where people can collaboratively explore these pillars and strategies, and discuss issues around their organizations and select specific strategy to implement straight away.

Great! Thank you so much for such an excellent overview of your life’s work, and your books. A common theme is the future of work. What can a corporation do to future-proof their business? What can I, as an employee, do to future-proof my career?

In order to future-proof their business, most organisations need to shift to level four. Especially organisations that are knowledge based and need innovation to thrive, as we know from research knowledge workers ignore corporate hierarchy, they cannot be micromanaged and need to be treated as associates not as subordinates.

As an individual, in order to future-proof your career you need to embrace continuous learning and development, build agility and resilience, find your calling, your purpose and pursue that relentlessly.

Thank you so much! Is there anything you would like to share.

When we talk about the levels, we talk about the ripples. At lower levels, it is like a negative vortex of energy. It’s de-energizing, demotivating. And at the higher levels, its empowering, and that energy creates positive ripples. And I would like to say that everyone has the power to create those positive ripples.

I have a fantastic story in one of the 35 case studies in my book. It is about Celine Shillinger, who started a social movement by sending one short e-mail to her CEO. The essence of her email was “this place is not diverse enough while our customers are diverse” and that email spread like a ripple. That social movement attracted over 250,000 followers on Facebook six months later, and it has changed Celine’s life too.

So I would like to stay to everyone, never underestimate your power. Think and work and speak at this high level, and getting this awareness is like creating a crack in the wall where the light can come through. Even reading this article could create those cracks for hopefully many people.

How can our readers follow you on social media ?

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/vlatkahlupic/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ProfessorVlatkaHlupic/

Twitter: @VlatkaHlupic, @ManagementShift

Instagram: vlatkahlupic

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