capability

We’re Better Together with Big Data

We’re Better Together with Big Data

December 11, 2015

How they do that, you may ask. Now when I get on Facebook, I have ads from my favorite sporting goods store talking about promotions or sales going on. All of us know that databases are here to say, and they have become very smart about who we are and what we might buy, how we might vote, when our birthday is, and much more. Welcome to the world of “Big Data”. At its core, it involves a lot of information about people and things, and mathematical equations that can make all kinds of correlations, predictions, and observations about buying patterns. The unique thing about using data for patterns is not the practice itself. The new thing is the ability for software, sensors, and data to see things no person would see at all, with more data than any single group of people could possibly digest. It has been one of the advantages of big companies, but is finally becoming […]

We Solve Problems Better Together

We Solve Problems Better Together

December 4, 2015

I brought up the subject “we solve problems better together” with a few Vice Presidents and other members of various executive teams, and it felt like a rocket shot out the roof. It clearly was a very important topic to these very successful group of business leaders. They had lived both sides of this issue a few times. One member spoke of how the CEO and other top leaders had a great track record of including feedback and engagement of the others in the company for many years, and this was part of what helped make this organization successful. Then, about a year ago, the CEO decided to install a new software program that worked in other parallel companies, without any input from the organization – a departure from usual protocol. You can guess what happened next. Although there was training of people on this new software, nobody knew why this product was chosen, and the vendor of this software […]

Performance and the Body Metaphor

Performance and the Body Metaphor

December 2, 2015

I have had a chance to work with nonprofit organizations, especially churches. Recently, I was interviewing a lay couple who were deeply invested in the volunteering and other engagements at this particular church. They were passionate about their faith, but were extremely frustrated with the way the staff of the church were handling volunteers. As they opened up about all the struggle, being blocked or controlled by staff, and not allowed to vary from the directions from these well-meaning leaders, I could not help thinking how many times I have been here before. Performance in volunteer roles was not only made extremely difficult, but the potential of these highly talented people was wasted on frustration, apathy, or even worse, simply withdrawing of any support for their church all together. What is the problem? As we look at the history of organizations in the 20th century, they have gone through many transitions, each interestingly enough, resourcing different capabilities of the human […]

Six factors toward innovation

Six factors toward innovation

November 20, 2015

Innovation isn’t just a buzzword…it’s an imperative of survival in our rapidly changing world. In fact, our friend Peter Drucker had this to say on the importance of innovation: “Business has only two functions — marketing and innovation.” Because we see the body as the most appropriate metaphor for leadership and management, it’s led us to create a list of six important factors that bring organizations toward (or away) a culture of innovation. Purpose. Organizations that involve change and innovation in their “why” are naturally set up to pursue innovation. Values and cultural norms. If your organization values diversity of opinion as well as taking risk, you’re more likely to innovate. Flow of information. Is your business’s knowledge easily collected and shared to others? To the degree it is, it’ll be easier for you to innovate. Diversity of thought and experience.Tough problems call for unique solutions and unique solutions come from diverse backgrounds. Financial model. This is rarely discussed, but […]

Innovation: it’s better when it’s done together

November 20, 2015

Every month that we are preparing for blog posts and podcasts, Justin and I meet with a group of executives and leaders who are currently in organizations of various sizes. We bring a topic to the table, and open up a discussion about whatever we are working on that month. This month we brought up the topic of “we are better when we innovate together”. One of the members of our group immediately chimed in: “You seem to have the uncanny ability of bringing up whatever our company is working on right now.” Another female executive agreed, and they began to talk about how their companies each have different innovation systems to bring new products and services online, and she, too, spent many hours virtually and face to face working with cross-functional teams innovating together through various phases of the process. These two women are representative of the pressure on companies in the “innovate or be disrupted” environment. It reminds […]

Change: It’s Crazy Out There

Change: It’s Crazy Out There

October 10, 2015

One of the largest forces that influences all business people today is change. In my lifetime, change started as something that was to be avoided if possible. Then, change initiatives came along but they had to be signed off by many people in the organization. Next came the urgency for vision and leadership to change through strategy and operational processes. About the time when the internet was introduced, change had become a constant, and some large existing organizations became “dinosaurs” and were being out-competed by nimble startup’s or more adaptable organizations. Today, however, the ever-present rapid change is accelerating all the time, and business must find ways to respond. Even the “expert” on change said in an interview that changing organizations is changing. John Kotter who wrote about change in large organizations, and is one of the world’s leaders in change management: “In the macro sense, the biggest thing happening today is that the rate of change continues to increase, […]

Five Dimensions to Collective Intelligence

Five Dimensions to Collective Intelligence

October 2, 2015

We talk a lot about the “collective” here. In fact, we named ourselves after it. And it’s because we firmly believe that all of us are better than one of us. That being said, I think many of us have had experiences where we witnessed the opposite happening – more of us was actually worse than one of us. Why does that happen? That question has led me to understand the importance of five primary dimensions that allow collective intelligence to successfully emerge. Technology. These are the tools we use to store and share knowledge. Wikis, social nets, task management systems, are good examples. When people discuss collective intelligence, they are often talking about tools at this level. But tools alone won’t get it done. Rituals. These are the interactions between team members that allow knowledge to flow and transfer. Things like after-action reviews (“post-mortems”) and Knowledge Cafes are examples. Said another way, this is the “people working with people” […]

Great leaders also know where their organizations are not capable

June 5, 2014

One of the most exciting times in a company’s history is when it begins to grow, grow, grow. One of the most stressful times is when you begin stabilize, slowdown, or stop growing. I have worked with a number of organizations in the area of moving into growth again, after being stalled. One of them was a successful manufacturer in the Twin Cities area that had a long, very successful run in growth because they were excellent at what clients needed. It was the envious position as a business that could raise their prices when revenue seemed to be lagging to make up the loss in sales. However, there came a change in the management of the organization, and I was asked to help analyze the vital signs of the company. It turned out, although successful, they had become over 75% dependent on one organization as their customer, and this customer had begun to use reverse auctions to lower prices […]