culture

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 […]

The Synergy of Teams

The Synergy of Teams

October 24, 2015

If there is one theme that is all over the business networks today, it is the word collaboration. Collaborative tools of all kinds are being developed by a vast majority of companies, which could be as simple as a company intranet to global interdependent supply chains and therefore worldwide cross-functional teams and divisions. The question is why now? One reason is multi-national suppliers of resources. A Starbucks cup of coffee and the cup is sourced from 13 countries. Improving customer satisfaction such that there is one unified customer contact, and not being transferred to ten different people in the same organization. Another is innovation, which requires many different internal and external  perspectives to genuinely stay cutting edge in the ever changing competitive landscape. Today, most companies are service-oriented, and offering solutions to customer’s problems requires breaking down silos and working interdependently. That said, many of us have two bad memories floating around in our head when the word collaboration is […]

Accountability in a Connected Organization

Accountability in a Connected Organization

October 15, 2015

It’s a gigantic international problem, and it has not changed over the last 10 years. The Gallup poll does research on what percent of employees are engaged at work. The bad news is the statistic is about 13%, and has not moved a lot in a decade. What makes matters worse is the reality that a high percent (over 20) are actively disengaged, which means they are involved with behaviors that sabotage the organization’s effectiveness. What can be done to address this problem? The root of this problem has to do with our approach to management, review processes, and how accountability works in organizations. I was with a talented professional last week, and she described the bi-annual review process at her place of employment. First of all, it is extremely political. Her boss is a person that is threatened by her talent, and has been working to sabotage her employee with her boss and her boss’s boss. Secondly, the executive […]

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, […]

Factors that Allow for (Effective) Collective Intelligence

Factors that Allow for (Effective) Collective Intelligence

October 5, 2015

We recently had an opportunity to visit with our friends at The Barnabas Group, who is an organization devoted to helping pair up ministry organizations with the knowledge of local leaders. These organizations come to the organization with a need and local business community members brainstorm solutions and volunteer to help on the spot. We were amazed at how the business community quickly ideated innovative solutions to very difficult problems in this kind of forum. It got us thinking… If creating collective intelligence is so important, what then are the keys to success? What are common barriers? In another post, we wrote about the five core dimensions to collective intelligence. From our POV, these are the fundamentals that allow collective intelligence to emerge. But it’s more nuanced than that and it’s worth discussing additional factors that are critical to success. In our experience (and what we witnessed largely via The Barnabas Group event), here’s a list of factors that lead […]

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” […]

Culture is not a soft issue

Culture is not a soft issue

April 5, 2014

One of the issues that comes up time and time again, as I a cultural analysis on organizations, is the question of whether this area of the organization is important to consider, and if we do consider it, how can we change it anyway? My answer to the first question is definitive yes! Change initiatives, mergers and acquisitions, implementing strategic plans, to name just a few, rise and fall based on how the leaders have understood and prepared the organization(s) culture for the new direction. One example illustrates how crucial this part of the organization is to change. I was working with a very successful non-profit a few years ago, who were considering an acquisition of another organization to help widen their impact in the vertical market they were pursuing being the market leader. Many rationales were given for the strategic fit of this organization under the umbrella of the expanded, corporate presence of the organization. To name a few; […]

100 years ago Today!

January 5, 2014

A century ago today, a businessman made a series of business decisions that were instrumental in launching the middle class in America. His name was Henry Ford, and together with his Treasurer James Couzens, they chose to double the income of the workers in their factories to 5 dollars a day (if they also complied to a code of conduct), limit the work week to 5 – eight hour days, and follow up with a lot of other positive changes for the average worker at their plants. The results were almost immediate, doubling their annual revenue in 3 years, eliminating the terrible turnover within the plants, catalyzing interest in top candidates wanting to work for Ford and eventually making a car and that was affordable for the average American, helping to set up the building of the middle class in America. That famous story demonstrates the power that business people can have by making choices that benefit all parts of […]

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