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 […]

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” […]

The Power of Networks in Business

The Power of Networks in Business

September 14, 2015

Not long ago, the only way that the word network was used pertained the four major television networks. Today, it undergirds so much that we do on a daily basis. The power of networks is growing exponentially, and is now considered critical to the operating of a business. One story will illustrate this reality. A well known law firm hired a number of rookie students straight out of law school, and gave them cubicles right next to each other. They were given the typical work that brand new lawyers were given, as they began earning their way into more prominent positions in the firm. They were expected to bill a target number of hours for the firm, and therefore were given that level of tasks and assignments to accomplish. They did this with excellence, but the CFO noticed that the billable hours were significantly lower than what the last set of rookie lawyers had billed, yet they were accomplishing all […]

Why are they not buying our stuff anymore?

Why are they not buying our stuff anymore?

August 15, 2014

A client I knew well began to see a pattern in sales that she had never seen before. Her brand was one of the top winners in her field because of the superior performance of her products over the competition for several years. Her sales team would use this advantage when approaching retail outlets about stocking their superior product lines. Then something began to fundamentally change, as her sales numbers went through a steep drop in orders coming from retail outlets. As she probed deeper with her sales force, a new insight became obvious. Although her brand still had superior performance in her field, other brands began to differentiate themselves by their image of being socially responsive in the market place. They had started using non-toxic substances in their products, and their commitment to reducing their footprint by recycling used product in productive ways had increased dramatically their market share. This is becoming a more familiar story in many circles […]

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 […]