Category: Culture and the Integrated Workplace

Evidence of the end of globalisation is building up.
According to Satyajit Das, growth in trade and cross border investment, which has underpinned prosperity and development, is being reversed in a major historical shift.


Customer trust may be the single most important asset any business can have, and two conditions must be met before a customer will trust you:

  1. Intent. The customer has to perceive that you have the right motive – that is, that you intend to act in the customer’s own interest, and that you won’t sell the customer’s interest short when that advances your own business goals.
  2. Competence. You must be capable of carrying out that good intent in a reasonably competent manner.

Both these conditions must be met for a customer to trust a business. Either one, by itself, will not be sufficient. It does a customer no good to deal with the best-meaning company in the world if that company doesn’t have enough competence to deliver on their good intentions. The problem is that customer trust is too often overlooked by busy executives, under pressure to show immediate financial results in their operations. It’s easy to overlook the central role of customer trust in the success of a business, because trustability is not something we normally measure and report to shareholders on any regular basis. If you want to begin to understand your own company’s attitude toward customer trust, these are the kinds of questions you should ask yourself:

  • Do you ever find the need to have one story for the company
    but another for the client?
  • Do you remind customers when their warranties or service
    agreements are almost up?
  • Would you rather sell to knowledgeable and informed customers,
    or to uninformed customers?
  • Do your salespeople make more money by selling products?
    Or by building relationships?

from Strategy Speaks: a Peppers and Rogers Blog

Jim Champy, coauthor, with Harry Greenspun, of Reengineering Health Care: A Manifesto for Radically Rethinking Health Care Delivery, introduces a lesson on the pitfalls of measurement from Faster, Cheaper, Better: The 9 Levers for Transforming How Work Gets Done, by Michael Hammer and Lisa W. Hershman.

The late Mike Hammer always delivered the unexpected in a strong voice with an intelligent edge that woke you up. When we coauthored Reengineering the Corporation, I discovered that no partner could have been more insightful, more probing into the behaviors of companies and their managers. Mike also had a great talent for metaphor. He said that inefficiencies were like fat marbled into a piece of meat, and that to get costs out you had to grind up the company and fry out the fat. That metaphor never made it into our first book. I told Mike that executives wouldn’t respond well to the notion of treating their companies so brutally.
But that didn’t stop Mike from being a radical thinker, always challenging the way things are done. He disdained the notion “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” In this excerpt, from the book that Mike was working on before his untimely death at age 60 in 2008 (a work completed by his colleague Lisa W. Hershman), you will see that even things that look right can be wrong. Read it several times to grasp everything that’s here on how managers misuse metrics and measurement processes — sometimes unwittingly, sometimes purposely to deceive. It’s quintessential Hammer.

— Jim Champy

Excerpted from Chapter 2 of Faster, Cheaper, Better:
The 9 Levers for Transforming How Work Gets Done

In the sixth century Pope Gregory the Great formulated his famous list of the seven deadly sins — gluttony, greed, wrath, lust, sloth, envy, and pride. There are also seven sins of corporate measurement. Gregory’s list was meant to help an individual’s quest for salvation. Ours is more mundane: saving companies from fatal flaws in performance measurement…

Vanity. One of the most widespread failings in performance measurement is to use measures whose sole purpose is to make the organization, its people, and especially its managers look good. As one executive said, “Nobody wants a metric that they don’t score 95 on.” This is especially true because bonuses and other rewards are usually tied to performance measures. For instance, in distribution logistics, it is common for companies to measure themselves against the promise date — that is, whether they ship by the date that they promised the customer. A moment’s impartial reflection shows that this sets the bar absurdly low — a company need only promise delivery dates that it can easily make in order to look good on this metric. Even worse, companies often measure against what is called last promise date — the final date promised the customer, after changes may have been made to the delivery schedule. It takes real effort not to hit the last promise date. Moreover, achieving good results on the last promise date has no larger significance for company performance; it does not lead to customer satisfaction or any other desirable outcome. All you have to do is keep promising a later date. Even if you manage to hit that target 100 percent of the time, it’s likely that your customer wanted the product days, weeks, or even months ago, so don’t go patting yourself on the back.
A far better metric would be performance against customer request date. But achieving that goal would be far more difficult and might lead to managers not getting their bonuses. When executives at a semiconductor manufacturer proposed shifting from last promise date to customer request date, they encountered widespread resistance.
A metals refiner had been using yield — the percentage of raw material that was turned into saleable product — as a key performance metric, and everyone was very pleased that this figure was consistently over 95 percent. An executive new to the company made the observation that this figure glossed over the difference between high-grade and low-grade product. The refinery was supposed to produce only high-grade product, but poor processing sometimes led to low-grade product. The company then started to measure the yield of high-grade product and discovered that figure was closer to 70 percent. That was a much more meaningful representation of the refinery’s real performance. Unsurprisingly, that insight did not generate a lot of enthusiasm.
Provincialism. This sin permits organizational boundaries and concerns to dictate performance metrics. On the surface, it would seem natural and appropriate for a functional department to be measured on its own performance. That is, after all, what its managers can control. In reality, however, measuring so narrowly inevitably leads to suboptimization and conflict. One insurance company CEO has complained that he spends half his time adjudicating disputes between sales and underwriting. The sales department is measured on sales volume. Not surprisingly, the sales force tries to sell any willing customer. Underwriting, on the other hand, is measured on quality of risk. Naturally, the underwriters want to reject all but the best prospects. The two departments clash constantly. If the salespeople win, the company will be paying out more in claims. If the underwriters win, revenue will be less than it would otherwise have been. Higher costs or lower revenue? The top brass has to choose between two evils.
Narcissism. This is the unpardonable offense of measuring from one’s own point of view, rather than from the customer’s perspective. One retailer measured its distribution organization on how well the goods in the stores matched the stock-on-hand levels specified in the merchandising plan. They had a satisfying 98 percent availability when measured in this way. But when they thought to measure to what extent the goods in the stores matched what customers actually wanted to buy, rather than what the merchandising plan called for, they found the figure was only 86 percent. Another retailer measured goods in stock by whether the goods had arrived in the store; eventually the company realized that simply being in the store did the customer no good if the product wasn’t on the shelf — and on-shelf availability was considerably lower than in-store availability. These companies measured things that interested them, not their customers.
A consumer goods maker managed its distribution operations by focusing on the percentage of orders from retailers that it filled on time. Sounds sensible. By tracking, reporting, and relentlessly seeking to improve this number, the company got it up to 99.5 percent consistently. That’s the good news. The bad news is that when the company happened to take a look at the reality of retailers’ shelves — which is what consumers see — it found that many of its products were nonetheless out of stock as much as 14 percent of the time. Many companies measure the performance of order fulfillment in terms of whether the shipment left the dock on the date scheduled. This is of interest only to the company itself. Customers care about when they receive the shipment, not when it leaves the dock. Perhaps the most egregious instance of narcissism that we have encountered was at a major computer systems manufacturer. This company measured on-time shipping in terms of individual components; if it shipped, say, nine of ten components of a system on time, the company claimed a 90 percent score. The customer, of course, would give the company a 0 percent rating, since without all ten components the system is useless.
Laziness. This is a trap into which even those who avoid narcissism often fall: assuming you know what is important to measure without giving it adequate thought or effort. A semiconductor maker measured many aspects of its order processing operation, but not the critical (to customers) issue of how long it took from the time the customer gave the order to the time the company confirmed it and provided a delivery date — simply because the company never thought to ask customers what was really important to them.
An electric power utility assumed that customers cared about speed of installation and so measured and tried to improve it, only to discover later that customers cared more about the reliability of the installation date they were given than speed of installation. Companies often jump to conclusions, measure what is easy to measure, or measure what they have always measured, rather than go through the effort of ascertaining what is truly important to measure.
Pettiness. Too many companies measure only a small component of what matters. Executives at a telecommunications systems vendor rejected a proposal to have customers perform their own repairs because that would require putting spare parts at customer premises, which would drive up spare parts inventory levels, a key metric for the company. It lost sight of the fact that the broader and more meaningful metric was total cost of maintenance, which is the sum of labor costs and inventory costs. The increase in parts inventory would be more than offset by a reduction in labor costs produced by the new approach.
Inanity. Metrics drive behavior, but too many companies implement metrics without giving any thought to the consequences of these metrics for human behavior and consequently for enterprise performance. People in an organization will seek to improve a metric they are told is important, especially if they are compensated on it and even if doing so is counterproductive. For instance, a regional fast-food chain specializing in chicken decided to improve financial performance by reducing waste, which was defined as chicken that had been cooked but unsold at the end of the day and then discarded. Restaurant managers throughout the chain obediently responded by driving out waste. They told their staff not to cook any chicken until it had been ordered. Thus did a fast-food chain become a slow-food chain. Yes, waste declined, but sales declined even more. Managers might keep in mind this variant of an old adage: “Be careful what you measure — you may get more of it than you want.”
Frivolity. Not taking measurement seriously is perhaps the most grievous sin of them all. The symptoms are easy to see: arguing about metrics instead of taking them to heart, finding excuses for poor performance instead of tracking root causes, and looking for ways to blame others rather than shouldering the responsibility for improving performance. If the other errors are sins of the intellect, this is a sin of character and corporate culture. An oft-heard phrase at one financial services company is “The decision has been made; let the debates begin.” When self-interest, hierarchical position, and voice volume carry more weight than objective data, even the most carefully designed and implemented metrics are of little value.
As with the seven deadly sins, the sins of measurement often overlap and are related; a single metric may be evidence of several sins. A company that commits these sins will find itself unable to use its metrics to drive improvements in operating performance, which is the key to improved enterprise performance. Bad measurement systems are at best useless and at worst positively harmful. And don’t be fooled by the old adage “That which is measured improves.” If you are measuring the wrong thing, making it better will do little or no good. Remarkably, these seven deadly sins are not committed only by poorly managed or unsuccessful organizations; they are rampant even in well-managed companies in the forefront of their industries. Such companies manage to succeed despite their measurement systems, rather than because of them.

— Michael Hammer and Lisa W. Hershman

Excerpted from Faster, Cheaper, Better by Michael Hammer and Lisa W. Hershman © 2010 Hammer and Company. Reprinted by permission of Crown Business, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group.

In his book Strategic Innovation, professor Allan Afuah provides us with a comprehensive strategic framework for assessing the profitability potential of a strategy or product.- the value of “new game” strategies –  in the face of rapid technological change and increasing globalization.
It’s not enough to create value in new and different ways, he says. Nor is it sufficient to merely capture value today. To compete and win, firms may need to rewrite the rules of the game altogether, overturning existing ways of both creating and appropriating value.
The most important thing, he stresses, is that a firm pursue the right new game strategy… (more…)

Do you want to increase your productivity in such a way that you get more done in less time and get more done with less work?

So often, when we think about productivity, we think about time management tricks, ways to work faster, and how to get motivated. It’s all about more, more, and more. Which works in the short run. Those temporal things help us work faster and get more done in the short run.

But in the long run, we can burn out. We do too much, too fast, and our bodies can’t keep up. Or our minds get overworked and that can take 6 months to 2 years or more to reverse.

So what if we were to use another route to get the same – or better – productivity, rather than using these tricks and faster, faster, faster techniques?

I believe the answer lies in our underlying core motivation, our internal desire and drive, and the real-world implementation of the most important things. And one way to achieve these internal states of mind that lead to real productivity without the drawbacks of working faster is to influence our own psychological state.

So today I’ll share with you 12 psychological tricks that can help you influence your own psychological state in such a way that you reframe your mindset to create a mental environment that safely results in increased productivity.
1. Recognize that most of what you do doesn’t matter.

If you take a look at what you have done in the last 40 hours of work, you’ll likely see that about 30 of those hours were spent on things that were either unplanned, unnecessary, or even downright unproductive. And it’s not just the last 40 hours of your work-life, it’s a week-in week-out problem.

If you don’t believe that that is the case with you personally, take the time to do a 15-minute interval diary for the next 40 hours of work. Write down what you work on for each 15 minute period. Tally up all the periods at the end of the 40 hours. You will likely be amazed at the unproductive tasks in which you are engaging, even if you believe you are 80%+ productive right now.

You will likely see that becoming more productive might not be so much a matter of adding something to your day, but instead first eliminating everything that doesn’t belong in your day. Once that happens, and you have pared a 40 hour week down to 10 hours, then it makes it easy to add a little more in. For example, adding 10 hours of truly productive work to your schedule after paring your 40 hour week down to 10 hours, means you get two times as much done in half the time, with half the stress, and with a reduced risk of burnout and other negative effects of trying to do more and more and more.
2. Do what you know you need to do as soon as possible

We tend to spend much of our mental energy putting things off. But if instead you were to prioritize things that need to be done, and do them as quickly as possible, you may be amazed at what happens to your productivity. You see, when you are using negative energy on worrying about doing something you don’t want to do, that energy can’t be used on being creative or productive.

Now there is one caveat to this: these “need to do” things should be done AFTER your MIT – your most important task of the day. You see, your most important task, when done first, tends to definitely get done each day. The first thing you do tends to get done!

So your productivity schedule for the day is this:

1) Most important task (MIT)

2) Most needed to be done task

3) Everything else, bounded by a limited time frame (for example, 2 hours per day on these “everything else” tasks)
3. Postpone your rewards

Give yourself a reward for doing something great, and give it immediately after the something great occurs. This programs your brain to believe that you will reward it for tasks well done, on time, and on priority. When you do this consistently, you’ll likely find that you are more motivated to do your MIT each day, and to do the most needed tasks. You may even find it’s easier to just not do the less important tasks – and they may just disappear!
4. Make sure that you have a clear conscience

If your mind is dragging with negative thoughts, worry about what you need to do, or even shame or guilt over things you are doing wrong, you simply can’t be as productive. So get rid of those negative thoughts, fix the things that lead to a negative conscience, and get your mind clear!
5. Congratulate yourself for what you accomplish.

Your mind will subconsciously work harder when it believes that it will be appreciated. But the only way to train your mind to believe it will be appreciated is to appreciate it. Do this once a day for 30 days and you may be amazed at how much clearer your thinking is, and if your thinking is clearer, your productivity should increase!
6. Focus on what you can do

This is a huge key to productivity. Simply focus on what you are good at, and do the things you are good at. Prioritize them. You may find that the things you aren’t good at simply resolve themselves, or you may find that when you have done everything that you are good at, there is only a small part of the project left, and the motivation of being “nearly finished” will drive you to finish faster. When you focus instead on what you are not good at, if may be a small part of the project, but the act of focusing on it makes you feel like it’s a huge part of the task, and demotivates you to get the task done.

When you get the bulk of the task done before focusing on your weaknesses, it simply becomes easier and faster to complete it.
7. Concentrate on how to help those who will use your product or service

When you focus on how you are able to help others through what you are doing, it gives your mind a much-needed reason for finishing quickly. Our minds don’t like to work on things that have no purpose, and if what you are doing is helping someone else, then it gives your project purpose, which leads your mind to get the job done.

(Note how so much of what I am discussing is this idea of giving your mind the ideal environment to be productive, instead of focusing on productivity. When you give your mind the ideal environment to be productive, it will do it for you, instead of you having to focus so much on productivity itself to be productive.)
8. Strive for balance

This goes back to the idea of doing too much of the wrong things, and this limits your productivity. When you, instead, strive for balance in your day, doing more of the right things, and getting rid of the 30 hours a week of non-productive work, you become more productive with less effort.
9. Stay connected with people

Sometimes when you work totally alone, your productivity goes down, your creativity goes down, and your effectiveness goes down. As humans, we are social, and if we take that away, you may find you can’t focus as well. So you may need to increase your social time during work, and find that the rest of your time is more productive.

The flip side of this is that if you are spending too much time with other people, your productivity may go down. So use good judgement. Look around and see what needs to change.
10. Change your environment

When you change your environment, you release your mind to be more creative, which often leads to increased productivity. Here’s why: when you change your environment, you release your brain to be more curious (looking around at things that are not the same as before) and when you release your mind to be creative about your surroundings, you release your mind to be more creative about what you are working on. And when you are more creative about what you are working on, you tend to get better results with less work – hence increased productivity!
11. Avoid perfection

Ever been 90% done with a project that has taken 10 hours already, and then it takes 20 more hours to do the last 10%? Is that last 10 % really worth it? Or could you sand the edges of the project, do some last minute dusting, and have a finished project in just one more hour instead of 20 more hours?

You have to use judgement. If you are a heart surgeon or you rebuild engines, you probably have to go 100%. But if you are writing an article, writing a book, teaching a class, or doing many, many other things, you may be 99% at 90% completed. So just do the last 1%, make 91% your very best, and leave perfection alone and you may find your productivity soars!
12. Keep track of your time

When you keep track of your time, you become intimately aware of the time you are losing through doing unnecessary things. One of the most effective ways to get more productive is to simply track your time. Know what you are doing each 15 minutes, and over time, that awareness will yield additional results.
Tie all this together

What is the #1 tip on this list that resonates with you? What could get you the most increase in results, the fastest? Do that tip first. Next week do the next one down in line. Incorporate 6 of these tips over the next 6 weeks, and you may see your productivity – meaning what you get done each day – double, without any increase in effort, and possibly even a reduction in effort!

by Sean Mize

Kaspars Parfenovics of Latvia, who reads the weekly magazine Lietiska Diena, sent in the questions that follow about business, motivation and project management. Enjoy, and please keep those e-mails coming!

There are just too many messages for me to respond to all of them personally, but I will answer a few questions in this space every month.

Q: I have read that you believe in trusting people to perform their duties at a high level and giving them a great degree of autonomy, and that those beliefs have been key to both Virgin’s creation of new businesses and its tremendous overall success. I know from my own experience that the average employee works less efficiently for someone else’s company than when in business for himself. How do you manage to achieve the opposite?
A: One of the key skills I learned as a young businessman was the power of delegation. That was prompted me to bring in strong managers to build the Virgin companies, which allowed me to focus on our latest ideas and projects, and on finding the next businesses to start up. Along with my ability to listen to other people and to realize when their suggestions are better than my own, this has helped me to attract and retain the excellent people on our team.
Our people are creative and innovative and, above all, they have a great sense of fun. If I set them challenges, keep encouraging them and create a dynamic environment, I find that people will always work hard.
Q: Do you lay out a detailed strategy for accomplishing every one of your aims, or do you mainly follow your intuition and react according to the situation?
A: I research new ideas very thoroughly, asking a lot of people about their experiences and for their thoughts. But on many occasions I have followed my intuition – you can’t make decisions based on numbers and reports alone.
It’s important to have the courage to follow through on a project if you truly believe it’s worth pursuing. We all have an intuitive sense of what’s best – follow it! This approach has made a great difference in my life and has never let me down.
Q: Virgin operates in various sectors. How do you manage to focus your attention solely on the project you’re working on? Do you start a new project only when the previous one is launched or you develop several ideas simultaneously?
A: At Virgin, we are always working on several different projects simultaneously, all in various stages of development, and with employees based in many different countries. This is what keeps the brand fresh and exciting. We have teams in each sector that focus on the ventures in their area; this allows us to work on a number of new projects at the same time. In the last few months we have invested in a U.K. health business, launched Virgin Mobile in Qatar and Virgin Bank in the U.K.
My senior management team, led by CEO Stephen Murphy, keeps everything moving along. My role allows me to dive in and out of situations, ensuring we keep challenging the orthodoxy in every sector we’re competing in.
Q: Do you ever lose faith in a particular project? Do you ever have doubts?
A: No, not at all. I like to remain positive. A huge part of building a business is about taking risks that may or may not work out. You need to be resilient and confident – but not overconfident.
I learned two things about new ventures early on. First, limit the downside and control the risks. For example, when I started our airline, I made sure I could give our plane back to the manufacturer if things did not work out. Second, it’s important to change tack quickly if things do not work out. Never be too proud to say you got it wrong and move on to the next idea.
Q: Do you believe that every person has a task to fulfill in life? If yes, have you already fulfilled your own?
A: I am not sure about everyone’s having a mission in life, but I do feel you will do better if you follow your passion and work at something you really enjoy.
Over the last 40 years, I have been able to focus on building Virgin. It has been a great journey and I have made some wonderful friends. I definitely don’t feel I have accomplished everything I want to. I’m spending a lot of time on issues such as climate change, peace and health through my foundation, Virgin Unite. This has given me a great sense of purpose.

This is the result of an extensive set of discussions among a group of organization development consultants and internal HR staff under the auspices of the Change Affinity Group of the New Jersey Human Resource Planning Society.

Key Questions for Discussion:

    1. What is culture change?
    2. What are the major models?
    3. What is the role of executive management in culture change?
    4. What is the role of HR in culture change?
    5. What works and doesn’t work in culture change?

      Summary of Key Thinkers’ Ideas
    1. John Kotter’s perspective.
      1. Definitions
        1. “Culture” refers to norms of behavior and shared values among a group of people.
        2. “Norms of behavior” are ways of acting that persist because they are rewarded and the group teaches these behaviors to new people, sanctioning those who do not conform.
        3. “Shared values” are important concerns and goals held by most people in the group: they shape group behavior.
      2. In Kotter’s model, changing the culture is the last of eight steps, not the first.
        1. “Even when there is no personality incompatibility with a new vision, if shared values are the product of many years of experience in a firm, years of a different kind of experience are often needed to create any change. That is why culture change comes at the end of a transformation, not the beginning.”
        2. Culture is not something you can directly manipulate, as if by decree. Culture change occurs after you have successfully altered people’s actions and their new behavior has produced success, which can be traced back to the new actions and behaviors.
        3. This is not to say that culture issues don’t arise in the early stages of a transformation. But to try to change the culture as a first step is a bad idea what proof do you have to offer that it’s the right way to go?
        4. Remember, you are always trying to engender an adaptive culture, one that benefits the four main constituents: shareholders, employees, customers and management. This type of culture values good leadership and management. It also encourages teamwork at the top, while minimizing layers of management and bureaucracy, as well as counterproductive interdependencies.
      3. Anchoring change in a culture.
        1. Culture change comes last, not first.
        2. Lasting change depends on results. You must show new approaches work and that it’s worthwhile to change.
        3. Requires a lot of dialog.
        4. May involve turnover of key people who block change.
        5. Promotion practices need to be changed to be compatible with the new practices. New leaders should be compatible with the new culture and champions of it.
      4. Shallow roots require constant watering.
        1. Kotter uses an example of a technology-oriented company to illustrate the point. As long as the new general manager was around to focus the organization constantly on speed to market and the customer, progress was made substantial progress. When the GM retired, because the underlying cultural belief that “good technology will solve all our problems” had not changed, the company quickly regressed over two years.
      5. In an organization, the less visible shared values and group norms are, the harder they are to change.
      6. Culture is powerful for three reasons.
        1. Individuals are selected and indoctrinated to support the existing culture.
        2. Culture propagation occurs through the actions of hundreds or thousands of people in the organization.
        3. This reinforcement happens without much conscious intent and is therefore difficult to challenge or even discuss.
      7. There are different culture-change scenarios, some much harder to accomplish. For example:
        1. The core of the old culture is not incompatible with the new vision. The challenge is to graft new practices onto old roots, while eliminating inconsistent practices. This is least difficult to do.
        2. The core of the old culture is incompatible with the new vision. This is a much more difficult situation to cope with.
    2. Kotter and Heskett in Corporate Culture and Performance.
      1. Alan Wilkins’ study reflects the beliefs of many academics that culture is very hard to change. In 22 cases Wilkins studied, even the managers admitted failure in 16 instances.
      2. Kotter and Heskett studied 10 cases of major culture change that seemed to be successful. The companies were Bankers Trust, British Airways, ConAgra, First Chicago, General Electric, ICI, Nissan, SAS, American Express TRS, and Xerox. They found:
        1. “The single most important factor that distinguishes major culture changes that succeed from those that fail is competent leadership at the top.”
          1. All ten cases of major change occurred after an individual with a track record for leadership was appointed head of the organization. Each had a track record of producing change.
          2. In their new jobs they created change on a grander scale.
          3. These leaders demonstrated the close interrelationship of competition, leadership, change, strategy and culture.
          4. All of these leaders either:
            1. Came from the outside.
            2. Came to their firms after an early career somewhere else.
            3. “Grew up” outside the core of the company.
          5. While a limited sample, one can theorize that an outsider’s perspective is important to change.
            1. In all four very large companies in our study, the change leader had spent considerable time in the company before taking over, thereby developing a good sense of the resources in the company.
            2. Complete outsiders tended to be successful at smaller companies.
        2. Why you can’t change culture from the bottom up.
          1. The sheer resistance to change in an organization requires great power to overcome, and that power resides at the top.
          2. Interdependence in organizations makes it very difficult to change anything important, without changing everything. Only people at the top can do that.
    3. Delta Consulting’s (David Nadler) perspective: Discontinuous Change.
      1. Definitions:
        1. “Organizational culture” is a set of commonly shared values and beliefs. It influences the behavior of people and is reflected in work practices, i.e., how we do things here.
        2. “Values” are the fundamental axioms or established feelings about the desirability of some quality, like innovation or individualism.
        3. “Beliefs” are perceptions about the connections of things such as events and outcomes, for example: “Hard work will be rewarded,” or “challenging the boss will get you shot.”
      2. Culture is reflexive: Beliefs shape behavior, but behavior also shapes beliefs. Values affect beliefs and behavior, but beliefs and behavior also affect values.
      3. Often espoused beliefs and values are not consistent with the beliefs and values that can be inferred from observed behavior. This lack of alignment can cause great dysfunction.
      4. Most organizations are a mixture of many cultures: one in R&D, another in Sales, etc.
      5. External forces, historical forces and internal forces all shape behavior. Managers can most affect internal forces giving them a lever to change culture.
      6. In changing culture, there are three critical areas to address.
        1. Content of the change (vision of the new culture).
          1. Do a culture audit: What is the culture like, what needs to be changed?
          2. Leadership is essential for successful culture change.
          3. Key champions at all levels are required.
        2. Leverage points for change (what and how to change).
          1. Full-blown culture change requires change in all the key elements of organizational context: structure, business processes, measurement, appraisal and rewards. If, in fact, you do all these things, Nadler argues that culture change will be the ultimate outcome.
          2. Values must be articulated in terms of expected behavior. Establishing one value as more important than others is important to give people a set of priorities.
            1. Good technique used at AT&T, where Senior Executives interviewed people lower in the organization about the new values and how they saw them being implemented. This is a good check on implementation, and helps senior executives understand the issues involved in the effective transformation of a culture.
            2. A key test of culture change is who is getting promoted, the good guys or the bad guys
            3. What happens to someone delivering good results but not living the new values? This is a critical dilemma for leadership. Support and coaching for change must be offered; if a person refuses or does not change, then they must be removed. GE under Jack Welch was very strongly committed to having executives both get results and live the values. If they did not live the values, and did not improve, they were out.
        3. Tactical choices (when and where to change).
          1. Culture and values are the very foundation upon which the overall change agenda rests.
          2. Interventions into culture should be sequenced separately from the hardware changes. One effective sequence is to have culture initiatives occur sometime after the announcements of structural and work-process changes.
          3. Use bottom-up interventions also, e.g., education and training, meetings, forums, etc.
          4. Migrate change laterally from one organization to another. Use beta sites and skunk works to try out changes and work out the kinks. Transfer that learning to the next site. Customer visits can be a very powerful tool in this change. Customer needs get the attention of almost any level in the organization.
    4. Built to Last. By Collins and Porras.
      1. They do not talk about changing culture, but about what great companies do to maintain their cultures, which they describe as cult-like. This is useful to consider once you decide what you want to change the culture to.
      2. The cultures in visionary companies are not soft or undisciplined:

“Because visionary companies have such clarity about who they are, what they’re all about, and what they are trying to achieve, they tend not to have much room for people unwilling or unsuited to their demanding standards.”

    1. Visionary companies are not great places to work, at least not for everyone. If you can’t embrace their ideology, they expel you like a virus. If you do not fit their practices, they will weed you out in the hiring process or shortly thereafter.
    2. Cult-like cultures are key to preserving the core ideology of a company.
    3. Visionary companies have these characteristics about their culture that are cult-like:
      1. Fervently held ideology
      2. Indoctrination
      3. Tightness of fit
      4. Elitism
    4. Visionary companies create these cultures through practical, concrete things:
      1. Orientation and training programs
      2. Internal universities
      3. On-the-job socialization with peers and immediate supervisors
      4. Rigorous up-through-the-ranks policies such as promoting from within, and hiring young people and shaping their minds from the start.
      5. Exposure to pervasive myths of heroic deeds
      6. Corporate songs, cheers, etc.
      7. Tight screening practices; hiring and removal in first few years
      8. Incentives and advancement are closely linked to core ideology
      9. Awards, contests and public recognition are closely linked to core ideology
      10. Tolerance for honest mistakes, but severe penalties or termination for breaching core ideology
    5. These cult-like cultures succeed because they are balanced by mechanisms to stimulate progress, e.g., taking on challenging tasks (Big Hairy Audacious Goals or BHAGs).
    6. Adhering to a small set of core beliefs allows these companies to grant a good deal of operational autonomy.
    7. The authors conclude: “It means that companies seeking an ’empowered’ or decentralized work environment should first and foremost impose a tight ideology screen and indoctrinate people into that ideology, eject the viruses, and give those that remain the tremendous sense of responsibility that comes with being a member of an elite organization. It means getting the right actors on the stage, putting them in the right frame of mind, and then giving them the freedom to ad lib as they see fit.”
  1. The Last Word on Power: Executive Re-invention for Leaders Who Must Make the Impossible Happen. By Tracy Goss.
    1. The power to make the impossible happen.
      1. As a leader your source of success in the past is probably preventing you from making the impossible happen now. You must re-invent yourself, put past success at risk to make the impossible happen.
      2. “I define this advanced level of power as the ability to take something that you believe could never come to pass, declare it possible, and then move that possibility into a tangible reality.”
      3. She claims there is a set of theories and methods for learning to make the impossible happen, and that these can be taught.
      4. Reinventing yourself does not imply that something is wrong with you; it’s a process that takes you to a new place, to unfamiliar and unknown territory.
      5. Executive re-invention is primarily an ontological journey. Ontology is a branch of philosophy concerning the nature of reality and different ways of being.
      6. If you are going to re-invent your organization, then in order to succeed, you must first re-invent yourself. (Note: This is an alternate strategy to Kotter, where re-invention occurs when a different type leader takes over. None of Kotter’s success stories seems to have re-invented themselves.)
      7. Goss uses the analogy of a Navy SEAL and corporate leaders. The green recruit, despite being among the top 1% of officers in Navy, needs considerable training to take on the impossible missions assigned the SEALs. Similarly, the top 1% of leaders in organizations when they get to the top are not prepared to take on the impossible; they need training.
      8. Transformational change is an oxymoron. “Transformation” is a function of altering the way your being, to create something that is currently not possible in your reality. “Change” is a function of altering what you are doing, to improve something that is already possible in your reality.
        1. To transform yourself, you must transform your context, that is, the way you think, talk and act.
        2. “Language is the only leverage for changing the context of the world around you. This is because people apprehend and construct reality through the way they speak and listen.”
        3. “By learning to uncover the concealed aspects of your current conversations and learning to engage in different types of conversations, you can alter the way you are being, which, in turn, alters what’s possible.”
    2. The seven stages of leadership re-invention. First four have to do with freeing yourself from the past; last three, with building your capacity to make the impossible happen.
      1. Uncovering your winning strategy: learning to understand what has really created your current level of success.
      2. Experiencing the limits of the universal human paradigm at work in your actions. The universal human paradigm colors all choices, decisions and actions. Simply stated, it says: “There is a way that things should be, and when they are that way, things are right. When they’re not that way, there is something wrong with me, with them, or with it.” This paradigm is inherited simply by being brought into a group or culture.
      3. Learning to put everything at risk: becoming willing to operate with no guarantee you will succeed, with your eyes wide open to the high odds of failure and the accompanying consequences.
      4. Inventing a new master paradigm that provides you with a new source of power: making a series of declarations that constitute a new master paradigm (Similar to personal vision).
      5. Inventing an impossible game to play: making bold promises in a game you have chosen to play
      6. Breaking the addiction to interpretation: every problem and dilemma is seen through the way it contributes to your invented future, rather than through filters from the past.
      7. Operating beyond the limits of your winning strategy: building the capacity to bring about your “impossible future.”
  2. “The Reinvention Roller Coaster: Risking the Present for a Powerful Future.”  By Tracy Goss, Richard Pascale and Anthony Athos.
    1. Incremental change is not enough for many companies today. These companies need to re-invent themselves. Re-invention is not changing what is, but creating what isn’t. A butterfly is not more or a better caterpillar, it is a completely different animal.
    2. “When a company reinvents itself, it must alter the underlying assumptions and invisible premises on which its decisions and actions are based.” In other words, it must change its context.
      1. The first step is for a company to uncover its hidden context. A company is only going to do this when it is threatened, losing momentum or eager to break new ground.
      2. “The journey to reinvent yourself and your company is not as scary as they say it is; it’s worse,” says Mort Meyerson, chairman of Perot Systems. You do it only out of the conviction that the only way to compete in the future is to be a totally different company.
      3. Shifts in context can only occur when there is a shift in being. Nordstrom’s is used as an example. Their way of being is summarized as “Respond to Unreasonable Customer Requests.” Those that have tried to copy Nordstrom’s have not understood their fundamental way of being and have failed.
      4. A declaration from a leader, like Sir Colin Marshall’s pronouncement that British Airways would be “the world’s favorite airline” (when, at the time, it was one of the worst), does a couple of things:
          1. Creates possibility
          2. Stimulates interest and commitment
      5. A declaration is different from a vision statement, which provides a more elaborate description of the desired state and the criteria against which success will be measured.
      6. Key to re-invention is the re-invention of the leader (see Goss notes).
    3. Managing the present from the future
      1. Assemble a critical mass of key stakeholders.
        1. Many more than just the top 8 to 10 leaders.
        2. Should include key technologists and leading process engineers.
        3. Group should be sufficiently diverse to ensure conflict, which will get issues on the table so they can be resolved.
        4. Have to decide how it’s going to happen.
      2. Do an organizational audit to generate a complete picture of how the organization really works.
        1. Understand the competitive situation.
        2. Reveal barriers to moving from “as is” to the future.
        3. Core values.
        4. Key systems.
        5. Strategic assumptions.
        6. Core competencies, etc.
      3. Create urgency. Discuss the undiscussable.
        1. A threat that everyone perceives, but no one is willing to talk about, is most debilitating to an organization
        2. Book of Five Rings Japanese guide for samurai warriors. Written four centuries ago, directs the samurai to visualize his own death in the most graphic detail before going into battle. Idea being, once you have experienced death, there is not a lot left to fear: one can then fight with abandon.
        3. This helps explain the value of discussion about not changing and the dire consequences to a company in a difficult business situation.
      4. Harnessing contention.
        1. Conflict jump-starts the creative process.
        2. Most companies suppress contention.
        3. Control kills invention, learning and commitment.
        4. Emotions often accompany creative tension, and they are often unpleasant.
        5. Intel plays rugby; your ability at Intel to take direct, hard-hitting disagreement is a sign of fitness.
        6. Many excellent companies build conflict into their designs.
      5. Engineering organizational breakdowns.
        1. Breakdowns should happen by design, not accident.
        2. In trying to manage back from the future, concrete tasks will have to be undertaken; continuing on the current path will not get you there. Often you don’t know how to make these tasks occur. This will generate breakdowns, which can generate out-of-the-box thinking and solutions, if the situation is managed/lead correctly. Continuous open dialogue is key to working through breakdowns.
        3. Setting impossible deadlines is another way to encourage breakdowns and out-of-the-box thinking.
  3. Organizational Culture. By Edgar Schein, MIT (He, Kotter and Heskett are in similar places.)
    1. “Let me begin bluntly there is no such thing as the “right” culture and culture can not be fostered or installed.”
    2. Success of the company creates organizational culture. If the founders had a wrong set of assumptions about how things are, they would have failed. The right set of assumptions is relative to the business environment. The longer the company is successful, the more stable the culture becomes.
    3. Pronouncements that we must change our culture either will be denied or cause levels of anxiety that trigger intense resistance to change. Therefore, you will fail if you take culture head on.
    4. If the present culture is dysfunctional, or out of line with current environmental realities, then take these steps:
      1. Start with what the business problem is. The issue is not about culture, but about the mission of the organization and whether it is being fulfilled.
      2. Figure out what needs to be done strategically and tactically to solve the business problem. What does the organization need to do concretely to solve its survival or growth problems?
      3. When there is clear consensus on what needs to be done, examine the existing culture to find out how present tacit assumptions would aid or hinder that. Some parts of the culture may be fine, or certain subcultures within the organization maybe fine.
      4. Focus on those cultural elements that will help you get to where you need to go. It is easier to build up the strengths of a culture than to change dysfunctional elements. The diversity of a culture and its subcultures almost always have strengths to leverage.
      5. Identify the culture carriers who see the new direction and feel comfortable moving in that direction. This helps create role models, these people are often found in subcultures or in marginal roles in the organization.
      6. Build change teams around the new culture carriers. Different parts of the organization, because of environmental needs, may have to go in a different directions to produce the desired changes in thinking and acting.
      7. Top management must adjust the reward, incentive and control systems to be aligned with the new strategy.
      8. Ultimately the structures and routine processes of the organization must also be brought into alignment with the desired new directions.
    5. All of this takes a great deal of time and energy across many layers of management and many task forces and change teams. It is fueled by the need for a solution to a clear business problem. Culture change occurs as a by-product of fixing fundamental problems.
    6. If the culture prevents correcting the business strategy, that culture will be broken by destroying the group that carries the culture. That means firing a lot of people, or the organization will die.
    7. Culture is not a suit of clothes to be changed at will. The residue of past success, it is the most stable element in an organization.
  4. “Organizational Change.” Consortium Benchmarking Study conducted by the American Productivity and Quality Center.
    1. Overview of findings.
      1. Successful organizations believe the organization’s culture must be changed.
      2. Organization change requires vision, tenacity and a long-term horizon.
      3. Organization change requires commitment from top management.
      4. Organization change requires extensive communication with all stakeholders. Employees must be empowered and educated so they can exploit their new power.
      5. It is necessary to systematically measure progress and results.
    2. Key elements of success.
      1. Leadership
      2. Culture change
      3. Work force involvement
      4. Communication and measurement
      5. Education
      6. Supportive Human Resource systems
      7. A shared sense of urgency for change
    3. Triggers for change.
      1. Organizations on the brink of disaster that had engaged in change efforts consistently rated triggers higher than organizations not currently in dire circumstances.
      2. Highest ranking triggers
        1. Changing regulatory or legal environment
        2. Competition
        3. Customer dissatisfaction
        4. Declining or increasing profits
      3. Second ranked triggers
        1. Declining or increasing market share
        2. Declining or increasing revenue
        3. Rising costs
        4. Technology change
      4. Third ranked triggers
        1. Employee morale
        2. Merger or acquisition
        3. Public Image
        4. Quality
      1. Organizational Development and Change. By Thomas Cummings and Christopher Worley.
        1. Definition: Examination of different definitions suggests that organizational culture is the pattern of basic assumptions, values, norms and artifacts shared by organizational members. These shared meanings help members to make sense out of the organization. The meanings signal how work is to be done and evaluated, and how employees are to relate to each other and to constituencies such as customers, suppliers and government agencies.
        2. Corporate culture is the product of long-term social learning and reflects what has worked in the past.
        3. Diagnosing organizational culture culture change efforts begin with diagnoses.
          1. Behavioral approach
            1. Assesses key work behaviors that can be observed.
            2. Describes how specific relationships are managed and tasks performed (see example, pg. 483).
          2. Competing values approach
            1. Culture can be understood by how an organization handles dilemmas around four contradictory values. (see model, pg. 484).
            2. Four sets of competing values: Participation vs. goal achievement; internal focus vs. external focus; stability vs. creativity and innovation; organic processes vs. mechanistic processes.
          3. Deep assumptions approach
            1. Very difficult and time consuming to do.
            2. See pg. 485 for details.
        4. Culture change.
          1. There is considerable debate over whether it can be done or not.
          2. Given the problems with cultural change, most practitioners in this area suggest that changes in corporate culture should be considered only after other, less difficult and less costly solutions have either been applied or ruled out.
          3. Knowledge about culture change is in its formative stages; however, here is some practical advice if you embark on the journey:
            1. Start with a clear vision of the firm’s strategy and the shared values and behaviors needed to make it work.
            2. Have top management commitment, because culture change must be managed from the top.
            3. Symbolic leadership is critical: leaders must walk the talk. In successful cases of culture change, leaders almost always demonstrate a missionary zeal for new values and behaviors.
            4. Support organizational changes in structure, reward systems, HR systems, information systems and leadership style.
            5. Pay careful attention to the selection and socialization of new-comers, as well as the termination of deviants. This is particularly important for key leadership roles. Jan Carlzon of SAS replaced 13 of 15 top executives.
            6. Manage ethical and legal issues effectively. Don’t promise values for culture change that the organization can not deliver on.
      2. Corporate Culture: Removing the Hidden Barriers to Team Success. By Jacalyn Sherriton and James Stern.
        1. They believe that corporate culture change is needed for successful implementation of formal teams.
          1. Senior managers trying to implement teams continue to act individually: they are concerned about control over the teams and concerned that consensus decision making is too time consuming. They often set a very bad example, for example, by protecting their turf.
          2. Team members are typically not used to working in teams. They often are uncomfortable and lack the communication skills to make the teams work effectively.
          3. Introduction of teams while downsizing or facing threats of downsizing creates forces that are antithetical to teams.
        2. Corporate culture is defined by four elements.
          1. Ritualized patterns of beliefs, values and behaviors.
          2. Management environment created by management styles, philosophies, what is said, done and rewarded.
          3. Management environment created by systems and procedures.
          4. Written and unwritten norms and procedures.
        3. They believe that you can make a direct assault on culture change differing with Kotter, Heskett and Schein.
        4. Their book describes successful change in subcultures when top-level support was either absent or sporadic.
          1. They feel that each major functional organization such as marketing or R&D has its own subculture, as do divisions and other large units of the organization.
          2. Subcultures are influenced by the overall corporate culture, but subcultures are never the same as the overall culture.
          3. There is much more freedom to change a subculture than is commonly realized or acted upon
        5. “There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things.” Niccolo Machiavelli
        6. How pervasive is the issue of culture and change? They did a survey of 100 companies and found that recently:
          1. 15% had been involved with a merger.
          2. 22% had been acquired.
          3. 41% had formed alliances.
          4. 78% were increasing the utilization of teams.
          5. 95% were involved in at least one of these initiatives that culture impacts significantly.
          6. Only 51% of respondents felt that their organization understood the need to address culture issues in making these changes.
          7. Only 31% of respondents felt their organization had the skills and knowledge to address organizational culture issues.
          8. Only 36% had assessed the culture and identified changes needed.
          9. But 56% (highest) had plans for training to address culture change.
        7. Gives a good detailed approach to what needs to be done to change culture. They also describe in some detail the culture needed to support teams. A lot of how-to’s. Very practical, particularly, if you need to work around some organizational constraints.
        8. Model does not put as much emphasis on the external environment, vision and strategy as other models.

Content Sponsor

There are many theories on how to correctly “onboard” someone to an organization or a team. Most focus on how to provide the new hire with the information and skills she needs to succeed. But that can only take her so far. She will need connections and an understanding of the inner workings and culture of your company to be truly successful. Whether she is transitioning from another part of the organization or is brand new, you can get her up to speed more quickly by going beyond the basics and explaining how things actually get done.
What the Experts Say

According to Michael Watkins, the Chairman of Genesis Advisers and author of The First 90 Days and Your Next Move, there are four domains that new hires need to master: business orientation, expectations alignment, political connection, and cultural adaptation. The last two are often the hardest for managers to convey, and yet the most critical for the new person to understand. Watkins’ research shows that lack of cultural adaptation is the most common reason newly-hired managers fail. “It’s also the hardest area for managers to provide good advice, in part because they are embedded in the culture and not necessarily reflective about it,” he says. Jon Katzenbach, Senior Partner of Booz & Company, author of The Wisdom of Teams, and co-author of the forthcoming Leading Outside the Lines, notes that “a lot of onboarding focuses on the formal side of the organization and is programmatic.” But helping new hires understand the informal side of the organization will accelerate their acclimation. Follow these three steps to get your new employee productive faster.
1. Start early
Onboarding really begins with hiring. Start as early as possible in the process to expose your new hire to the organization’s or unit’s culture and to explain how work gets done. While selling your organization in the interview process is key to recruiting the right person, don’t risk his eventual success by not being upfront about how things truly work. “The starting point is to recognize that the best onboarding process can’t compensate for the sins of recruiting,” Watkins says. Be honest and don’t allow your vision of how you wish your company operated to confuse your communication of the reality of the situation.
Always recruit for cultural fit as well as skills and experience and identify transition risks, such as capability gaps or tenuous relationships, before the new hire starts. If he is transitioning from another part of the organization, don’t assume that he knows the culture. Companies, even small ones, often have different ways of doing things across units or functions.
2. Get them the right network
“The first thing a manager can do is ensure that the new hire understands how important the informal or ‘shadow’ organization is in getting things done,” Watkins says. It is your responsibility to explain this, but she will only truly experience it by meeting her colleagues. As soon as she starts — or even before — introduce her to the right people. “If the informal organization is really important, then the manager can accelerate the new hire’s political learning process by identifying key stakeholders and helping to establish connections,” Watkins says. Katzenbach suggests creating an “indoctrination inventory that includes meeting the people recognized as valuable resources for understanding how to make the organization work for you.”
You also need to be sure early in her new job she meets with “nodes” or “culture carriers” — people who others go to for different kinds of information and insight. These won’t necessarily be the people who have the highest rank or best title; instead they may be may be particularly connected middle managers or administrative assistants who decide when key meetings are held and who gets invited. “One simple way to do this is to identify ten people that the new hire really needs to know, explain to the new hire why they are important, and send messages to these stakeholders asking them to meet with the new hire,” Watkins says. If you don’t know who these people are, ask around or create a network map that helps you identify the “go to” people in your organization.
3. Get them working
This may seem like a no-brainer for bringing new people on board. Yet many companies start off new hires with a stack of reading and a series of trainings. Giving them real work immerses them in the way things function at the organization. This doesn’t mean you should let them “sink or swim”; definitely provide the support they need. Katzenbach recommends putting them on a real team where they can work on a real business problem. “Get them in working mode rather than a training or student mode,” he says. Doing this instead of busy work exposes them to the company culture, introduces them to the ways things get done, and helps them to begin making the critical connections they need to productively contribute.

Principles to Remember

  • Hire for cultural fit as much as for capabilities and skill
  • Introduce your new hire to “culture carriers” and “nodes”
  • Explain how work actually gets done at your organization


  • Let a new hire stay in “learning” mode for too long
  • Assume your new hire can’t be productive from the start
  • Rely on the org chart to help explain lines of communication

Case Study #1: Working within the first five minutes on the job
Michelle Pomorksi, started her job as a contract programmer at the software design and development company Menlo Innovations after an intensive hiring process. Within five minutes of walking into the office in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Michelle was working on a project. This wasn’t an “onboarding project” but a real one for clients. She was “tripled” (that’s company lingo for teamed with two other people) and sent off to a client site to do interviews. Rather than observing, Michelle actively participated and was expected to contribute by asking questions.
Rich Sheridan, founder and CEO of Menlo, thinks he has created a unique process to get new people productive faster than at other software companies. Every new hire is immediately paired with a current employee to do design and development work, in what the company calls “paired programming.” Pairs are switched every week so by the end of the first three weeks, a new person has three mentors to rely on for advice and help. Even better, after the initial three weeks, she is ready to mentor someone new. “The real power is in the pairing,” Michelle says. “There isn’t one day I’ve gone to work that I haven’t learned and taught at least one thing.”
The process is facilitated by an open work space: Menlo doesn’t have offices, cubes or doors. Rich thinks his hiring and onboarding strategy gives him an advantage over competitors because he can seamlessly expand and contract his work force according to client demand. It also makes employees enjoy a task they might otherwise dread. He acknowledges that onboarding this way requires careful attention to how pairs are put together and a good deal of orchestration. But he does not see it as a loss to productivity. “I probably get four times as much work done with two people pairs than most people get with two individuals,” he says.
Case Study #2: Start early and see the whole picture
Pat Lee, a top Marketing Director at Johnson & Johnson Asia, happily received a promotion to Vice President of Marketing. But, she was not fully prepared for the suddenness of the promotion and all that it entailed, including relocating to a different country. She immediately began planning the logistics of the move: deciding which town to live in, exploring job prospects for her spouse, investigating schools for her children. She expected to have all these details worked out in advance so that she could “hit the ground running” on her first day in the new job.
However, Joe, her HR business partner, urged her to begin the transition to the actual job before she made the move. He suggested she take a “transition risk assessment” to help her better understand the challenges she faced in the new role. This helped Pat to fully see the situation she was getting into and better understand herself. It uncovered several issues: she had never worked in another country before; she had never taken on a regional role; she had minimal understanding of how her company did business in other countries; and she had little knowledge of the people on her new staff, the office politics, and how things got done. She also didn’t know what her new boss expected of her and what phase of operation her businesses were in — start-up, turnaround, downsizing, optimizing on-going, etc. She realized she needed to address these problems and so with Joe, developed a Transition Acceleration Plan and started working with a coach, who helped her by interviewing her boss, direct reports, and colleagues to get honest feedback about their expectations. seo data . Doug Soo Hoo, former Director of Learning and Development at J&J, explains that this intense process is “a good way to get out of ‘sink or swim mode’ and an investment in the company that also shows a caring for the success of the individual.”
After three months on the job, Pat’s boss and her peers gave her rave reviews on how quickly she had mastered the “ins and outs” of the new situation and taken actions to address them. One of her new reports said it was almost as if she had been in the division for years.

According to a fascinating article in the current issue of Scientific American Mind, new research suggests that simply letting employees decorate their own office space yields quite significant benefits in productivity and employee well-being.

In the authors’ experiments, workers who could customize their office decor showed about a 30% improvement in productivity and well-being over those placed in undecorated office space. Not a bad return on office mementos! Meanwhile, people who worked in an environment that had been set up to include art and plants were 15% more productive than those in the undecorated space.
Bosses, however, should resist the urge to tinker unnecessarily with an employee’s decor if they’ve let the employee choose it. In the experiments, Scientific American Mind reports, productivity gains disappeared for “disempowered” workers who had their decoration choices overridden and their office rearranged — even though the rearranged office still contained art and plants. The Scientific American Mind article’s authors, S. Alexander Haslam and Craig Knight, conclude:

Employees perform best when they are encouraged to decorate their offices as they see fit, with plants and ornaments, comic calendars, photographs of their children or their cats — whatever makes them feel most comfortable and in their element.

seo data ip info .

Extract from the MIT Sloan Management Review article Flat World, Hard Boundaries – How To Lead Across Them

…Technological innovations have revolutionized the workplace, bringing the competitive power of emerging economies’ fast-growth organizations into closer alignment with their developed-world counterparts. Paradoxically, at the same time that these developments have made doing business across borders easier, relational barriers — obstacles to productive human interactions — not only remain largely unchanged but in some cases have deepened. 

Consider the hurdles faced by those who lead functionally diverse teams across levels of management — often involving a variety of organizational partners who may be based in different countries. These leaders’ jobs are made easier by the technological advances that help to close gaps involving distance and knowledge. But the leaders also are confronted with entrenched boundaries such as residual bitterness between historical enemies, culture clashes, turf battles and generation gaps. Such boundaries invite conflict, impose limitations on performance and stifle innovation…

Technology has changed the way knowledge work gets done.
But have you changed your work habits enough to get the most from information technology?

MIT Sloan Professor Erik Brynjolfsson

MIT Sloan Professor

Erik Brynjolfsson

Researchers Sinan Aral, Erik Brynjolfsson and Marshall Van Alstyne have been studying information worker productivity for a number of years. (See, for example, “What Makes Information Workers Productive,”
In a new working paper, the three researchers highlight selected findings from their own work and that of others in order to offer practical tips to help information workers — and top managers — improve their own productivity and that of their organizations.
Here’s a quick summary of Aral, Brynolfsson and Van Alstyne’s four recommendations for improving individual productivity in information work:
1. Be an “information hub” in your network and maintain a diverse network of contacts.
Getting or sending a lot of e-mail is not, by itself, the best predictor of high productivity. But workers who are more central to information networks – who are well-connected and broker information between others – tend to be more productive, the researchers report.
2. Keep your e-mail messages brief and focused.
Research, the three authors observe, suggests that people who send short e-mails are likely to get responses more quickly than those who send longer, less focused ones. And getting faster responses to e-mail questions translates into better productivity.
3. Use technology such as e-mail to multitask more — within reason.
In one of their studies, Aral, Brynolfsson and Van Alstyne found that more productive employees used technology to enable them to multitask more and complete more projects. But that tip comes with an important caveat: The researchers also found that, if taken to extremes, excessive multiasking can actually decrease productivity.
4. Delegate routine information work to subordinates and use information-support systems.
The scholars found that the most productive information workers were more likely to allow lower-value information work to be handled by subordinates or IT-based tools. Those high-productivity information workers also were most likely to have knowledge of specialized information sources that gave them an advantage.

The Productivity Paradox

There’s a strange paradox when it comes to productivity. Rather than an exponential curve, our productivity will eventually reach a plateau, even with advances in technology. So what does that mean for our personal levels of productivity? And what does this mean for our economy as a whole? Here’s what you should know about the productivity paradox, its causes, and what possible solutions we may have to combat it.

What is the Productivity Paradox?

There is a discrepancy between the investment in IT growth and the national level of productivity and productive output. The term “productivity paradox” became popularized after being used in the title of a 1993 paper by MIT’s Erik Brynjolfsson, a Professor of Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management, and the Director of the MIT Center for Digital Business.

In his paper, Brynjolfsson argued that while there doesn’t seem to be a direct, measurable correlation between improvements in IT and improvements in output, this might be more of a reflection on how productive output is measured and tracked.

“Intangibles such as better responsiveness to customers and increased coordination with suppliers do not always increase the amount or even intrinsic quality of output, but they do help make sure it arrives at the right time, at the right place, with the right attributes for each customer.

Just as managers look beyond “productivity” for some of the benefits of IT, so must researchers be prepared to look beyond conventional productivity measurement techniques,” he wrote in his conclusion.

How Do We Measure Productivity, Anyway?

And this brings up a good point. How is exactly is productivity measured?

In the case of the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, productivity gain is measured as the percentage change in gross domestic product per hour of labor.

But other publications, such as US Today, argue that this is not the best way to track productivity, and instead use something called Total Factor Productivity (TFP). According to US Today, TFP “examines revenue per employee after subtracting productivity improvements that result from increases in capital assets, under the assumption that an investment in modern plants, equipment and technology automatically improves productivity.”

In other words, this method weights productivity changes by how much improvement there is since the last time productivity stats were gathered.

But if we can’t even agree on the best way to track productivity, then how can we know for certain if we’ve entered the productivity paradox?

Possible Causes of the Productivity Paradox

Brynjolfsson argued that there are four probable causes for the paradox.

▪ Mismeasurement: the gains are real, but our current measures miss them;
▪ Redistribution: there are private gains, but they come at the expense of other firms and individuals, leaving little net gain;
▪ Time lags: the gains take a long time to show up; and
▪ Mismanagement: there are no gains because of the unusual difficulties in managing IT or information itself.