communication

Strategy in a Connected World

January 2, 2016

There was a day, a long time ago (and still in a few industries) where strategic planning was run by a standard process, would have accurate forecasts for 5+ years, followed by simply executing the plan. Many forces began to change the landscape of the market, not the least of which is the interconnectedness of all parts of our business lives. The speed of change has completely changed the way organizations operate. No longer can the person at the top set the vision and goals, and cascade the actions plans down the hierarchy. In fact hierarchy has given way to flatter organizations, where input is coming from many parts of the organization constantly feeding a group of people who are not only strategizing for today, but experimenting with what will satisfy future customers as well. One of our favorite thinkers in strategy, Rita Gunther McGraith, now trains executives to constantly create and update what she calls an opportunity portfolio. This […]

Kairos vs. Chronos Planning

Kairos vs. Chronos Planning

December 29, 2015

The Greek had two very different words for our word “time”. The first is the word “chronos” from which we get the English word chronology. It means times, dates, and places – regular time as we experience in western culture. The second word for time from the Greek is “kairos” where we get the phrase “kairotic moments” which means “the fullness of time”, “at the right time”, “at the appropriate time”. There are plenty of cultures around the globe which prefer this type of time. So what? What does this have to do with business? I see at least two important reasons to think about these two types of time as it relates to you and your business. First off, inside our walls, we tend to (over) value chronos time. Everything has to be planned, scheduled, calendarized, reduced to individual tasks, etc. And this isn’t bad, in fact, it’s necessary to a good degree to operate a business. But we […]

We Plan Better Together

December 23, 2015

If I had a nickel for every time people groaned when I used the words “Strategic Planning” with company leaders, I would be a rich man. To begin with, I want to separate the word “Strategy” from the word “Planning”. Strategy was defined well by Roger Martin in his article “The big lie of Strategic Planning” that appeared in the Harvard Business review earlier in 2014. He says: “Good Strategy makes leaders uncomfortable and apprehensive because it is about strategic decision making where they are placing bets and making hard choices. The objective of strategy is not to eliminate risk but to increase the odds of success. Planning, on the other hand, is also necessary, and requires hours of careful research to identify which initiatives are affordable with our existing resources. It involves cost control and maximization of investment as well as development of core competencies and strategic capabilities.” We will focus on planning in this post, and tackle strategy […]

Marketing is a Social Animal

Marketing is a Social Animal

December 18, 2015

I recently conducted a focus group for a non-profit organization and I had divided the various groups by age. This particular group was made up of people between 28- 38 years old, which is the top end of the millennial generation. I asked many questions about various impressions of this particular organization, and gained a lot of insight about how this organization could better meet the needs of the community. I then asked about marketing ideas that they would suggest for the organization, and an explosion of energy like a geyser erupted all over the group. It is like I had mentioned the bad word that no one wanted to hear. They talked about “being marketed to” everyday, all week, and they do not want to be marketed to in their off time. They spoke of the cheesy give away or free refreshments that nonprofits use to bring people to their locations. “Allergic to marketing” is not an understatement for […]

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 […]

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 […]

Sharing Together

Sharing Together

November 18, 2015

I had a big “Aha” moment early on that motivated much of what I am now doing in connecting the early church, and its model as the body of Christ, and the activity of younger generations today around me. The early church’s model of “sharing everything together” was exactly what I saw the younger generation doing as they moved into the workplace. What especially grabbed me was the fact that the young people outside the church were much more involved with this behavior than I was, or other people around my group of Christians. Let me explain. In Acts 4 we read this about the early experience of the church as it begins to grow together: “All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. 33 With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s […]

Religious kids don’t share

Religious kids don’t share

November 15, 2015

Dave and I recently did a podcast on sharing where Dave opened the topic with an observation that people outside the church seemed to be sharing more than those inside the church. Recent research seems to point in this direction as well. Here’s an excerpt from a recent study referenced by the LA Times. Children who grow up in nonreligious homes are more generous and altruistic than children from observant families. A series of experiments involving 1,170 kids from a variety of religious backgrounds found that the non-believers were more likely to share stickers with their classmates and less likely to endorse harsh punishments for people who pushed or bumped into others.The results “contradict the common-sense and popular assumption that children from religious households are more altruistic and kind toward others,” according to a study published this week in the journal Current Biology. The study essentially says that children brought up in “religious” households are less likely to share than those […]

Caring Together

Caring Together

November 7, 2015

Often times when you read the New Testament, you are drawn into many things, one of which is the miraculous work done by Jesus, and through the Holy Spirit, the Apostles in turn. When you read the accounts of the early church beyond the Bible, what stands out most is the love and care they had for each other, and the outsider, sick, rejected, broken, etc. Jesus’ command to “love one-another as I have loved you” was taken to heart. He predicted that “they will know you are my disciples by the love you have for one-another”. Care is at the center of what the church is meant to be, through the Body of Christ and others who want to care. What is not as well-known is the rapid expansion of Christianity in the first 3 centuries did not have single super stars, for the most part. That is because these small churches expanded their reach through care and proclamation […]

Serving Others: the Body as a Metaphor for Business

Serving Others: the Body as a Metaphor for Business

November 1, 2015

I remember growing up that one of the worst nightmares that could happen to you was to get a car that was called a “lemon”; meaning it is defective, broken, or useless as the life of the car goes on. Your only recourse was to try to persuade the car company to replace, or at least lower the cost of the repairs. Ultimately, you would end up paying a huge premium on the price of the car way beyond what you paid at the beginning. Times have changed all that. In that time period, we were an 85% product-driven economy in America and only 15% of organizations were in services. Today, the interconnectedness of people all over the world has created a social network where power has completely shifted to the customer, and therefore the amount of people in services is now over 80% and getting larger each year. Because unhappiness in a person’s experience is now shared widely (it […]