Project 10X

Unleashing the ‘10X Shift’ in Individuals and Organizations

Never has the business environment been so challenging and performance bar so high for organizations. Businesses must learn to innovate, perform and adapt better, faster and more economically than ever before – while still continuing to deliver their short- and medium-term results. That’s a steep hill to climb even with the best people. Yet the odds are that close to two-thirds of your workforce is disengaged.

In solving this conundrum, business leaders are faced with three critical challenges:

  • How do we unlock the highest potential in our people? How do we engage their deepest passions and gifts and direct them toward the most urgent needs of the organization?
  • How do we grow new organizational capabilities quickly in response to rapidly changing conditions? For example, how do we innovate more, change faster, communicate/collaborate better, deliver quicker, make better decisions, etc.?
  • How do we develop distributed adaptive leadership capable of successfully addressing increasingly complex, whole-system challenges like the two above?

Project 10X is a strategic capacity-building framework that helps your organization address these three challenges while growing your company’s overall capacity for adaptive learning and change.

While many organizations invest their training and development dollars in one or more of the three areas, those efforts tend to be isolated and piecemeal, thus rarely achieving the desired lasting shift in culture and organizational capacity.

Project 10X ‘works the sweet spot’ where the three capabilities ‘dance in dynamic concert’ and multiply each other, growing the organization’s adaptive capacity at every level of system.

Project 10X is distinct from more traditional, packaged, classroom-based, push-style training programs in several ways:

  • Begins with a high-priority capacity-building challenge identified and fully supported by top leadership
  • Engages a diagonal-slice cohort of high-functioning, well-respected volunteers committed to serve as ‘changemakers’ in addressing this challenge in a way that helps shape your organization’s future
  • Focuses on order-of-magnitude shifts (10X) in the lasting contributions of the participants to the organization and to its immediate and extended stakeholder families
  • Integrates personal development and organizational commitments naturally and organically
  • Decisively action-learning centric – learning primarily in the context of real systemic challenges; ‘pull’ learning rather than ‘push’ learning
  • Naturally grows agile, silo-transcending, collaborative action-learning networks capable of responding to changing requirements quickly
  • Self-propagating, self-improving and self-evolving – both ‘horizontally’ and ‘vertically’
  • Low cost – can start small and spread/grow organically; this allows for rapid prototyping and course correction early at low risk

If you would like to explore Project 10X for your organization, please contact Max Shkud or Bill Veltrop


Project 10X FAQs:

  1. Why ‘10X’?
  2. What is the design for a Project 10X initiative?
  3. What organizations should consider Project 10X?
  4. Why is Project 10X a potent leadership development strategy for an organization?
  5. How does Project 10X build organizational capacities? What capacities are you referring to?
  6. Who would be engaged in a typical Project 10X initiative?
  7. How can my organization justify the time investment from the participants?
  8. Why do you emphasize ‘quality of relationships’ so strongly?
  9. You emphasize the organic, open-ended, self-managing, self-evolving nature of Project 10X initiatives. Why is this important?
  10. What is the difference between leadership skills and systemic capacities?
  11. What outcomes can be expected from a Project 10X initiative?
  12. What are the costs and potential risks of a Project 10X initiative?
  13. Why is GlobalGEA offering to do Project 10X on a ‘pay-for-performance’ basis?
  14. Assuming there is Project 10X – Phase 2, how might it be different?

Why ‘10X?’

“In the industrial age, an exemplary worker might produce 25% more than average; now, a great engineer may create two-hundred times the value of an ordinary engineer” – Jay Cross

We agree with Jay Cross. This is why Project 10X is designed to grow an organizational culture and environment where everyone is inspired, supported, and has opportunities to create 10X shifts in the lasting value of their contribution — a culture where such growth is organic, fulfilling and fun — where it is a norm and basic expectation.

“If you were to create a 10X shift in the lasting contribution you are making to the organization and its stakeholders, what would it look like?”

At the core of Project 10X is a powerful concept and process we call ‘10X Commitments’. It is a personal commitment to a radical shift in the lasting contribution one is making to the organization and the world. “10X” refers to an order-of-magnitude shift, one that feels impossible – a shift that demands exploration outside the box of one’s current thinking – a shift that requires creative collaboration. The following features help provide a better sense of the 10X Commitments process:

  • Designed to escape the gravitational pull of ‘business as usual’
  • An on-going ever-evolving process; more a state of mind than a specific goal; a privilege – not a grudging duty
  • Personal and ‘organizational’ 10X Commitments work in synergy
    • “What ‘inner work’ would best support my organizational 10X Commitment?”
    • Calls upon participants to discover, develop and mobilize their deepest gifts, talents and strengths
    • Grows high quality relationships – a trusting and supportive ‘10X Action-Learning Community’
    • Has been evolved and thoroughly tested with over 20 years experience in different settings

Back to top

What is the design for a Project 10X initiative?

The design of Project 10X is customized to the unique culture and challenges of the client organization. Here is one picture of how Phase 1 of Project 10X might unfold:

  • Exploratory conversations with the organizational ‘gatekeeper’ and/or sponsoring executive
  • Interview organization’s top team and developmental leaders to ensure good fit between this organization’s culture and a proposed P10X strategy
  • Develop criteria and strategy for inviting, engaging and enrolling the ‘Changemaker Cohort’:
    • Ideally 12, 15,18, or 21 participants collectively representing a diagonal slice of the organization
    • Eager to play a pioneering role in this action-learning expedition — and capacity to take it on
    • Each participant seen as a credible leader and changemaker — horizontally and vertically — an innovator and early adopter
    • Open and curious about inner work and ‘development’ in general — a committed and self-actualizing learner
    • Conscious, caring and courageous in service of organization and its stakeholders
  • Organization’s leadership team agrees to support Phase 1: They identify a project leader and also a sponsoring executive who would be a full participant in Phase 1 activities; also agree on the high priority challenge(s) to the cohort
  • ‘Advertise’ for and select cohort volunteers
  • Begin ca 3-month Phase 1 action-learning experience – with 6-9 ‘cohort days’:
    • 2-day kick-off workshop
    • Weekly co-creative coaching trio sessions (primary support for evolving individual 10X Commitments)
    • Monthly 1-day workshops to debrief, reflect and course correct
    • Monthly interim lunch + working session
    • Phase 1 completion workshops to harvest learnings, present recommendations to the organization’s leadership team, agree on the journey ahead

Back to top

What organizations should consider Project 10X?

Project 10X could be relevant for complex organizations in any sector (private, public or NGO). Some of the criteria for a good fit might include:

  • Innovative, dynamic, fast paced culture; operating in a rapidly changing, highly competitive environment/industry
  • Committed to developing ‘leaders fit for the future’ – growing leaders who are highly creative, systems-minded, relationship-centric, deeply committed stewards of the organization, its stakeholders and the larger world
  • Ready to invest in growing a truly generative culture of creativity, contribution, resilience and aliveness
  • Recognizes the strategic importance of building systemic capacities (e.g. innovation, responsiveness, learning, adaptiveness) – not just individual skills
  • Sees ‘capacity-building capacity’ as a crucial collaborative advantage in the fast-changing world
  • Committed to purposefully developing its people – unleashing their 10X potential; sees it as key to success
  • Disenchanted with traditional, packaged, classroom-based developmental offerings and approaches, and is willing and ready to pioneer a more organic, open-ended, deeply engaging, action-learning centric approach

Back to top

Why is Project 10X a potent leadership development strategy for an organization?

Traditionally, leadership development has focused on developing the leadership abilities and attitudes of individuals. In recent years there has been more attention to ‘systemic leadership development.

Project 10X goes beyond both definitions by focusing on developing leadership ‘capable of transforming today’s complex, non-linear, whole-system challenges into rich opportunities’ to grow the many organizational capacities to survive and thrive in a world of uncertainty and turbulence.

Project 10X is pioneering new leadership development territory. Cohort participants will be discovering and inventing pragmatic, highly valued ways of addressing highly urgent systemic challenges facing the organization – all the while consciously growing the organization’s ‘capacity-building capacity.’

Project 10X is based on the assumption that the development of leadership for today’s world is a ‘pull’ rather than a ‘push’ challenge.

Organization Machine-like, hierarchy, rigid, static Living organism, network, flexible, dynamic
Strategic stance Assumes demand is predictable; anticipates Assumes the world is unpredictable; poised to respond in opportunistic ways
Challenges Predictable, linear, isolated Complex, non-linear, interconnected
Change Top down, centralized, staged Organic, distributed, driven by feedback loops, always evolving
Innovation Planned, directed, controlled, linear Everywhere, all the time, exponential
Learning Formal, training programs Informal, learning environments
Motivation Extrinsic, carrot-and-stick Intrinsic, purpose-driven, fulfillment
Optimized for… Control, predictability, efficiency, conformity, compliance Innovation, responsiveness, engagement, learning, collaboration, resilience

Project 10X initiatives will be designed as generative initiatives. These 10 Design Principles for Generative Initiatives will help illustrate the potency of this approach.

Back to top

How does Project 10X build organizational capacities? What capacities are you referring to?

Phase 1 of an organization’s Project 10X initiative would focus on the organizational capacity that the leadership team agrees is its highest priority — the capacity most important to now and future sustainability and thrivability of the organization.

Examples of potentially important organizational capacities include —

  • Evolving the organization in a way that inspires all members to discover and fully give their gifts and passion at work
  • Unleashing innovation in everybody, all the time, every day
  • Improving resiliency — the ability to respond and adapt quickly to changing conditions
  • Creating a climate of high trust and appreciation
  • Developing high customer loyalty

The selection of the ‘organizational capacity’ that the leadership team sees as its top priority is a crucial step in a Project 10X initiative. Ideally the team spells out why developing this capacity is so important and is truly united around its priority. Some rationale for its importance:

  • Top leadership’s taking this stand will help ensure that we attract the ideal mix of Phase 1 participants. As Jim Collins advises: ‘Get the right people on the bus’
  • We will be looking for a systemic solution. This could involve the entire system. It is good to have all top leaders ‘owning’ the initiative and being supportive of its unfolding process
  • The real work of Phase 1 will involve countless connections with many different players. The higher the priority and level of support, the more eager everyone will be to contribute.

The 3-Span Bridge Lens distinguishes organizational capacity building from individual capability building:

  • Expertise required — GlobalGEA will be guiding/supporting the cohort throughout Phase 1. We will be helping participants identify what other expertise might be most appropriate for the chosen organizational capacity.
  • Infrastructure required — The formal infrastructure for Phase 1 is described above. The cohort is challenged to invent and evolve whatever additional infrastructure they see appropriate and needed to achieve its mission.
  • Resources required — Organizational leadership would invest in 6-9 days of formal cohort workshop time. They’d also be identifying a project coordinator, perhaps a half-time assignment. Leadership team time investment is roughly one day total for Phase 1.

Back to top

Who would be engaged in a typical Project 10X initiative?

  • Cohort participants — 12-21 ‘diagonal slice’ members selected from the pool of volunteers. The time commitment of these ‘changemakers’ (in addition to the ‘6-9 cohort days’) would be a function of the Phase 1 Challenge issued by the sponsoring leadership team.
  • Executive cohort participant — To serve as full participant, mentor, block-remover and bridge-builder
  • Organizational leadership team (i.e. sponsors) — Time and attention to participate in exploratory interviews, identify the top priority capacity-building challenge; agree on criteria and approach to cohort selection; engage with the cohort at the end of Phase 1 to agree on a path forward. (About 1 day total)
  • Other organizational involvement — Cohort changemakers will engage with a number of other organizational members in the course of Phase 1. However, time involvement for any given non-cohort member is expected to be minimal

Back to top

How can my organization justify the time investment from the participants?

A Project 10X initiative will take a significant investment of time and attention from the participating changemakers (i.e. cohort members.) Let’s look at how some of the most innovative companies in the world justify such investments.

Google, 3M and W.L. Gore allocate 10-20% of their employees’ time on self-directed innovation. And that’s only part of the investment. These companies understand that critical systemic capacities – such as “Meaningful Innovation Everywhere, All The Time” – don’t get built through slogans, famed guest speakers, classroom trainings, copied best practices and/or top-down culture change efforts. Building strategically important systemic capacities requires time, attention and ownership from the carriers of the organization’s culture — formal and informal leadership throughout the organization. This would ensure that change is (a) meaningful, (b) well supported, and therefore (c) lasting.

Whether your organization is ready and willing to tap its best and brightest talent is a good test. Just how important is the desired systemic capacity to your organization’s success?

Back to top

Why do you emphasize ‘quality of relationships’ so strongly?

Please refer to the Quality of Organizational Energy picture and Quality of Relationships and Agreements charts.

Developing high-quality co-creative relationships plays a pivotal part in evolving and bringing to life the 10X commitments of the Project 10X participants.

In addition, over the last 12+ years we have seen strong consensual validation from multiple organizations that there is an exponential relationship between quality of relationships and such organizational variables as —

  • Trust
  • Open communications
  • Collaboration
  • Innovation
  • Productivity
  • Health and wellbeing
  • Attracting and retaining talent

Quality of Relationships is not the only important variable. However, it always seems to be one of the top 1-3 factors associated with both dysfunctional/toxic and sustainable/generative cultures.

Back to top

You emphasize the open-ended, organic, self-managing, self-evolving nature of Project 10X initiatives. Why is this important?

We’re entering a new era where the Industrial Age ‘PUSH-approaches’ to leadership development are grossly inadequate. The increasingly complex, systemic, non-linear and interdependent challenges facing organizations today demand approaches to development that are more ‘PULL-style’ – organic, open-ended, purpose-filled, self-managing, self-propagating and self-evolving.

We are convinced that organizations that have mastered the art of weaving the capacity for systemic learning and change throughout the fabric of their operations will have an enormous competitive and collaborative advantage in these turbulent times.

Back to top

What is the difference between leadership skills and systemic capacities?

Systemic capacities can be seen as complex and purposeful configurations of skills, relationships, stories, visions, values, processes, structures, etc. that enable the system to survive and thrive in rapidly changing environments.

So while systemic capacities certainly include leadership skills, they go much beyond them. Systemic capacities cannot be attributed to any particular individual or even a group; rather, they are a property of the whole system – they, in essence, ‘live’ in individuals, relationships, stories, visions, structures, etc. – the ‘social fabric’ of the organization. This is why growing systemic capacities is a much bigger challenge than building individual leadership skills, but also a much wiser investment in the organization’s long term success – an investment that has a much higher ‘True ROI’.

Please review ‘How does Project 10X build organizational capacities?’ to get some clues for what is involved in systemic-capacity building.

You may ask, what kind of leadership is required for the special work of building new organizational capacities? The leader capabilities we’ve found most important include —

  • Consciousness — A readiness and joy in exploring beyond the box of your current beliefs; an openness to new ways of seeing; an awareness of the myriad ripple effects of ones actions and inactions.
  • Caring — Feeling and exhibiting concern and empathy for others is essential in creating and sustaining a ‘Blue Zone’ organizational culture.
  • Commitment — Goethe says it well: “Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness… the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred.”
  • Courage — A capacity building journey is rarely a predictable straight-line path. It is more like a marathon than a sprint. Seen as an action-learning expedition, it has its ups, downs and side trips. This journey requires courage, steadiness and determination. Goethe comes to rescue again: “Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now.”

Project 10X is designed in a way that naturally helps leadership grow these individual capabilities in the service of growing crucial new organizational capacities.

Back to top

What outcomes can be expected from a Project 10X initiative?

Project 10X is designed to organically grow an organization’s capacity for learning and change critical to surviving and thriving in the rapidly changing world. In particular, Project 10X aims to:

  • Grow the organization’s capacity to develop ‘leaders fit for the future’ – highly creative, systems-minded, relationship-centric leaders deeply committed to being stewards of the organization, its stakeholders and the larger world
  • Develop the organization’s ‘capacity-building capacity’ – ability to build systemic capacities deemed critical to the organization’s long term success
  • Evolve a generative Green/Blue Zone culture – a culture of creativity, purpose and contribution; a culture that unleashes the 10X potential in individuals, groups and the entire organization

Because of the open-ended nature of Project 10X, more specific outcomes will vary depending on the challenges and focus selected by the sponsoring leadership team. At the very least, the participants will:

  • Have an extraordinary personal, professional and leadership development experience
  • Grow value-adding co-creative relationships — horizontally and vertically
  • Contribute to shaping the org’s culture of the future

Back to top

What are the costs and potential risks of a Project 10X initiative?

Out-of-pocket costs — GlobalGEA is offering to design and guide the initial phase of an organizational Project 10X initiative on a pay-for-performance basis:

  • We would agree on a minimum ‘sustainability fee’ + expenses
  • After the completion of Phase 1, the leadership team would evaluate the value added contribution of GlobalGEA and, if warranted, pay an added fee, with a predetermined upper limit

Other costs — The larger investment is the time and attention required of the cohort and management. See “Who would be engaged in a typical Project 10X Initiative?”

Potential risks

The risks are miniscule if

  • The organization’s leadership team fully understands the initiative and is committed to pioneering this new territory, e.g., to serving as learning leaders and leading learners, and
  • There is a true partnership between the organization and GlobalGEA in maximizing the contribution of this project to the now and future success and wellbeing of the organization.

Meeting those two conditions will ensure minimal risk. Why? Because the harvest in terms of leadership development (for both the cohort and the leadership) can far outweigh the total costs — independent of the immediate systemic outcomes.

Back to top

Why is GlobalGEA offering to do Project 10X on a ‘pay-for-performance’ basis?

Though the many elements of the Project 10X approach have been proven in various organizational projects and initiatives, we are pioneering new territory. GlobalGEA’s pay-for-performance offer reflects both a willingness to share the risk — and a confidence of the generative value-adding potential of this approach.

Back to top

Assuming there is Project 10X Phase 2, how might it be different?

Every organization is unique, with its own culture and character, its own history and mix of challenges and opportunities.

Phase 1 is truly a phase of exploration and learning — a vehicle for beginning to explore the highest potential of the organization and its members.

Phase 1, if engaged fully, will be full of rich learning and growth for all involved. As we move together toward the conclusion of Phase 1, we will have a solid basis for deciding if there is to be a Phase 2, and if so, how it should differ from Phase 1.

The possibilities are endless, e.g., it could be optimal —

  • To extend Phase 1 with the same cohort and appropriate adjustments
  • To advance a Phase 2 strategy that supports evolving Phase 1 findings in a way that becomes a part of the organization’s ‘modus operandi’
  • To utilize Phase 1 leaders in applying this approach in different units in the organization

Back to top

Share this post:

No Comments So Far... Leave a Comment:

To comment or reply login or register