Archive for the ‘ organization transformation ’ Category

business value alignment … keeping it simple

i cant but help think about what the world might have looked like about 50 to 100 years ago.  before we had alphabet soups and tons of buzzwords.  when the world was a much simpler place.  yet a place that saw tremendous transformation. 

first commercial flight.  first radio broadcast.  why…. even first cup of instant coffee.  we went through so much change as a human race, yet were not bombarded with noise about the change.

organizations typically go through change all the time.  whether they acknowledge it or not, there is always an undercurrent of organization change and transformation.  some of course, are more pronounced or planned than others.

so, why do we generally approach this topic with a mix of trepidation and trite proclamations?  why do we start with the typical notion of “here is the change cycle… you go through denial, acceptance, … etc etc.”?

shouldnt the conversation really be about business value alignment?

in lieu of the 3 obviousideas, check out my interview on pmopodcast – the Business Value Alignment™ firm, linking Strategy | Organization | Execution


golf gone wild … the john daly experiment

what an interesting collision of color.  to put it mildly. 

check out:,159883

you will note that i put the complete URL in there sans editorial commentary on the choice of words therein.  notice the ‘h’ word?

i could not but help imagine a parallel with organization transformation + communication.  often when leading change, we struggle to find new ways to connect and communicate with our target audience.  we look for ways to make a difference, stand out amongst the crowd … and be remembered.

what better way than to put on a pair of golf pants that look different?  seriously.

3 obviousideas

1. creative compulsion: if no color can be too loud on the golf course … no message can be too creative for the workforce.  look for a particularly distinct way for your message to stand out.  break the habit and do something different … so people notice. 

2. comfortable confidence: notice the cool confident smile that daly carries with him.  in fact when you make a creative impact, it is imperative to look more confident than you normally appear.  you cannot fake creativity, you might as well live it up!

3. make your message meaningful: of course, all flash and no stash is useless.  make sure that creativity + confidence are catalysts to deliver a deeper message.  make it synchronize with the enablers.  however, do have a message.  do have a message.  have a message.   a message.  message.

organization change … lessons from the talladega speedway

what a nascar weekend!  carl edwards went flying in the air, on the very last lap of the nascar sprint series race … literally in sight of the finish line.  after flipping over 15 feet in the air, edwards survived!  7 fans were hurt, luckily no one died. 

organization transformation can be like this final lap.  given the numerous moving parts and pieces of an organization and the permutational possibilities amongst them … it is not uncommon for the outcome of two or more changes to collide at high speeds and cause a wreckage.  unlike this race however, some of these collisions can go completely unnoticed … hence not offering an opportunity to literally course-correct and move towards the finish line.   also, watch how the other drivers course correct at high speed with split-second reaction time!

3 obviousideas

a. when you have at least 2 moving parts in a system such as a changing organization, expect some collisions to occur … the laws of physics and statistics might decide to meet and leave a memorable impression.  in fact, if you do not see some creative tension in the system, ask yourself if change is really occuring.  of course, i do not condone destructive conflict under the guise of change.

b. do not jump to conclusions to blame one driver or the other … the unexpected and uintended might decide to meet.  have faith in your change leaders and change agents … and support their right intentions with the right actions.  watch carl edwards jump out of a flaming car and trot towards the finish line.  empower and enable your change agents to leave the wreckage and recover for the next race.

c. reinforce the culture and spirit of change using every crash as a learning opportunity. the nascar system has constantly become better by incorporating lessons learned from such horrible crashes.  the crash barriers worked.  they will only get better.

remember, if it can happen on lap 499 of 500, it can happen anytime!  so, let us fasten our seatbelts and keep our eyes on the road ahead … leading and sustaining change in the world around us.

innovation @ the speed of … oh, waIT! has an interesting piece by mark johnson from innosight where he suggests that IT must play a role if a company is reinventing itself.

his charge to the world @ large is that ceo’s must think about the role of the cio in business model reinvention.  also, cio’s need to think about the business model taking a business perspective and work with the heads of marketing or biz dev to address opportunities early on…

very timely insights and counsel … more so during this time in our economy when cio’s are facing economic pressures they must make sure that they dont cut back on support for ideation and innovation … even if payoffs dont appear to sit on the quarterly horizon.

3 obviousideas:

a. directionally: think industry first, inside next.  it is alluringly easy to get caught in the trap of internal policies, processes and practices … and end up losing sight of where we are going  … and where others are headed.

b. organizationally: cio’s must have a dedicated internal consulting and advisory practice which is not linked to ‘billable hour’ targets.  take away their time-sheets and chargeback mechanics … give them a healthy business development budget (read: lunch / dinner / golf) and let them interface and interact with your internal customers.

b. practically: dont let IT governance models like project portfolio management process / systems / tools  come in the way of true innovation.  remember, your competition could be innovating and executing at a much faster speed with the benefit of light-weight governance.  you dont want to get killed by your seatbelt, do you?  yes, a rough analogy …

social media in corporate walls … how bounded can unbounded be?

to be or not to be, that is the question.  or, simply put, can the tiger really be tamed?

social media promises to bring back the “human” in “human resources”… and in turn enable these “resources” to be more “resourceful” to their respective organizations.  with an interesting confluence in generations and world views in the modern workplace, introduction of new channels is bound to cause ripples, if not waves.  how do we build boats that are strong enough to stay afloat yet nimble enougth to turn on a dime?

we cannot ignore social media.  it is here to stay.  “to be or not to be” is not even the question.  with thousands of micro-channels for employees to share their news and views, would we rather not have them crowd together in known environs, bound by self-protecting norms?  i.e., yam on yammer than yap on an anonymous site?  “ugh” i say to those that attempt to go nameless and faceless … where is the “social” part?

turns out that the debate is “not quite elementary”.  there are obvious legal and organizational bounds to keep in mind.  social media cannot become the excuse of a soapbox for one and all to proclaim their deepest passions.

how is this for a narrative guideline?  “dont post anything that would not want quoted on the wall street journal, cited by your competition, or read by your grandmother causing her to turn beet red” … fair enough for starters?

what do you think? remember… we are in lowercase land!

sai at obviousideas dot com

employment to assignment … are the sands shifting?

i had the pleasure of catching up with ed evarts, from evarts coaching.  ed posited that the workplace landscape is shifting from employment-based work affiliation and growth to assignment-based affiliation.  he suggested that the notion of ‘letting the work speak for itself’ is passe and that professional growth is a function of the network you have and how you are able to generate network diversity through a mix of different engagements that bring you visibility and attention.

this semester, prof. brian uzzi  is teaching a class on leadership & organizations where he illustrates through powerful imagery and narratives, the transformative potential of a good network.  prof. uzzi who is the richard l. thomas distinguished chair in leadership, continues to convince the cohort of 72 that the network you build and help build for others is the key to the ‘new science of leadership’.  in an era of rapid knowledge generation and change, one cannot possibly know everything about everything that you need to know.  here’s where the power of the network comes in, where successful executives and entrepreneurs turn out to be those that know how to leverage their network without being blatently transactional.

so if we came back to the question of employment vis-a-vis assignments.  do you see the world moving away from tenured employment and more towards assignments?  the latter holds the promise of enabling organizations to reach into their networks and pull together the right people, for the right job at the right time … instead of being limited to whomever happened to be at the rights seats at the right time.  so, how are organizations building their networks?  what have you seen work?  or, not work?

wouldn’t it seem reasonable to expect that organizations would more actively cultivate their own networks amongst professionals so that they are able to tap into an optimal mix of resources?  what do you think?

i believe that employment will continue to be a strong economic activity, albeit with its nature shifting from title-based and job-description-based human resource management to a role-based one … where an individual would stand to be deployed in the manner most optimal to the organization.  along the way, we would each play many different roles… wearing many different hats… adding value along the way!