structure

Where Do Good Ideas Come From?

March 26, 2016

I’ve come to realize that as modern professionals, we’ve largely inherited a view of leadership built on an era long gone – the industrial age.  That age taught us to value incremental improvements (make the car a color other than black!) as well as efficiency (how can we crank out 10 more axles per hour?). Our “strategic planning” efforts involving giant 50-page Word documents filled with untested assumptions are testament to the way things used to work. The problem with all of this is, of course, increasing complexity and rate of change. This increased pace of change and knowledge creation puts us in an era where the old rules don’t cut it. Instead, we need creativity. We need ideas. I’ve found that many modern professionals don’t know how to inspire great ideas. Instead, the knee jerk reaction is to analyze the problem until it relents. But it never does. Richard Buchanan from Carnegie Mellon University does a good job of explaining why: “We […]

Business Strategy before Digital Strategy

March 5, 2016

Do you have a digital strategy? It’s a loaded question that gets asked frequently these days. Before we can jump into this question, we have to ask the question before the question. What does “digital strategy” mean? If you ask 10 professionals this basic and fundamental question you’ll likely get 11 different answers. What do some of those answers sound like? Here are some examples: It’s a way to find more leads using paid search advertising It’s selling products and services online It’s banner ads desperately trying to get people to click on them It’s an digital CRM system that allows my sales team to track prospects and turn them into clients It’s developing a website that naturally draws traffic through organic search and quality content It’s mobile technology that allows users to find restaurants and quickly read reviews and ratings It’s equipping a salesforce with tablets and personalized presentation content so they can better conduct face to face selling […]

Winning is Different in a Connected World

February 20, 2016

A question on the mind of all business leaders on an ongoing basis is how will we win? In turns out that winning is changing a lot in this interconnecting world. The most recent Harvard Business Review article entitled: “The biology of Corporate Survival – natural selection ecosystems hold surprising lessons for business” details that companies are losing much faster than they were forty years ago. One in three public traded companies will be de-listed in the next five years, which is six times as fast as it was forty short years ago. From a large study of many organizations, they have concluded that companies are identical to the way complex adaptive organizations in nature in how they act in an ecosystem. Secondly, system thinking matters and those companies that fail to adapt to the complexity of the changing environment cease to exist quickly. The reality of thinking of business through the lenses of living systems, specifically the human body, […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]