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Harnessing the Power of "Think, Feel, Act": A Model for Leaders in the Digital Age

Updated: May 5


Inspiration from CIO Summit UK 2023

Recently, I had the privilege of attending the CIO Summit UK 2023, where performance coach Jamil Qureshi offered profound insights on the "Think, Feel, Act" model. This stimulated my thoughts about its relevance to leadership, particularly in Agile practices and digital transformation. This blog post aims to shed light on the strategic benefits of the model, its compatibility with Agile values, and its application to transformative leadership.


Introduction

Modern digital leadership demands more than technical expertise; it calls for a sound psychological framework to instigate real change. The "Think, Feel, Act" model offers such a structure, emphasising the interplay of thoughts, emotions, and actions in shaping team dynamics and broader business strategies. This post breaks down the model's strategic importance, particularly when aligned with Agile methodologies and digital transformation.


Exploring 'Think, Feel, Act'

The core of the "Think, Feel, Act" model is simple yet profound: actions stem from thoughts, which in turn spark emotions. These internal factors form the basis of strategic decision-making, teamwork, and innovation. So, where does this fit in an organisation committed to Agile and digital transformation?


Agile Synergy

Agile leadership thrives on continuous improvement and a relentless quest for quality. The 'Think, Feel, Act' model becomes a cyclical process within Agile frameworks, beginning with strategic thinking to identify goals or issues. This leads to an emotional buy-in, culminating in action, which includes Agile sprints, reviews, and iterations. By understanding this emotional journey, Agile leaders can manage projects more efficiently, ensuring technical rigour and emotional engagement.


Digital Transformation Relevance

When undergoing digital transformation, the focus often leans too heavily towards technology, overlooking human behaviour. Adopting new platforms requires both capital investment and behavioural shifts. The 'Think, Feel, Act' model outlines this dual need. Visionary leadership must build a compelling case (Think), secure emotional commitment (Feel), and then proceed with the action plan (Act). This synergy between technology and human behaviour ensures digital success.


Team Empowerment and Mentorship

Acknowledging the emotional aspects of decision-making enhances leadership and mentorship capabilities. Leaders can stimulate team discussions about actions and accompanying feelings. This emotional investment paves the way for a highly cohesive and motivated team. In this setting, sharing knowledge is a tactical step and a catalyst for team empowerment.


Customer-Centric Approach

Grasping the 'Think, Feel, Act' model extends its utility to customer relationships. Like internal teams, customers often act based on their thoughts and feelings. Organisations can fine-tune their services by deciphering these mental processes, increasing customer satisfaction and enduring loyalty.


Strategic Transformation

The 'Think, Feel, Act' model provides a robust mechanism for effective change. Leaders must craft visions aligning with organisational objectives and stakeholder emotions. This multifaceted focus reshapes how success is defined, accounting for both financial metrics and emotional outcomes. Such a holistic view promotes dynamic, adaptable strategic planning.


Exploring 'Think, Feel, Act' with an Example

Let's consider a real-world scenario from my experience with digital transformation projects to offer a clearer insight into the model's practical applications.


Scenario: Implementing a new software tool across multiple departments


  • Think: As a leader, my initial step is to engage in comprehensive research and analysis to identify the need for a new tool to automate certain functions, improving operational efficiency significantly. This strategic thought is the starting point.


  • Feel: After considering the advantages and potential pitfalls, I would convene a meeting with the department heads to build emotional buy-in. The objective is to get all of us on the same page emotionally about the necessity and benefits of the new tool. This stage is crucial because, without emotional commitment, any transformation efforts would likely meet resistance.


  • Act: Once there is emotional engagement, we move to the action phase, setting the procurement process and the Agile implementation plan in motion. This involves setting up sprints to configure, test, and deploy the software while constantly re-evaluating its effectiveness and readiness through Agile review cycles.


Conclusion

The "Think, Feel, Act" model is not merely a psychological concept; it’s a strategic tool for modern leaders. Incorporating this model into Agile ways of working and digital transformation efforts yields a richer understanding of success that embraces technological advances and human growth. As in any Agile or digital strategy, revisiting and refining this model should be ongoing. Understanding the intricate interplay of thought, emotion, and action is essential for achieving long-term, sustainable success.


About the Author

Giles Lindsay is a technology executive, business agility coach, and CEO of Agile Delta Consulting Limited. Giles has a track record in driving digital transformation and technological leadership. He has adeptly scaled high-performing delivery teams across various industries, from nimble startups to leading enterprises. His roles, from CTO or CIO to visionary change agent, have always centred on defining overarching technology strategies and aligning them with organisational objectives.


Giles is a Fellow of the Chartered Management Institute (FCMI), the BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT (FBCS), and The Institution of Analysts & Programmers (FIAP). His leadership across the UK and global technology companies has consistently fostered innovation, growth, and adept stakeholder management. With a unique ability to demystify intricate technical concepts, he’s enabled better ways of working across organisations.


Giles’ commitment extends to the literary realm with his book: “Clearly Agile: A Leadership Guide to Business Agility”. This comprehensive guide focuses on embracing Agile principles to effect transformative change in organisations. An ardent advocate for continuous improvement and innovation, Giles is unwaveringly dedicated to creating a business world that prioritises value, inclusivity, and societal advancement.


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