Archive for the ‘Organizational Development’ Category

Grow Within First

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

Personal growth has always been a key topic when it comes to realizing personal potential. The truth is that if you don’t grow, you will go. Personal growth is a necessity in today’s world.  The secret to any person’s future is hidden in their level of commitment to personal growth and development. This is particularly true for leaders. It’s your “inner” growth which sets the pace for your “outer” leadership. Here are some principles which can generate a life of continued growth:

1. Have a personal growth plan

Growth is not automatic. You have to make a conscious effort to commit to a daily growth plan. This could include reading books that enhance your understanding of your chosen field, listening to tapes and audio-books that elevate your understanding and subscribing to websites or newsletters that enhance your insight. This has to be a personal commitment. There’s a proverb that goes, “You’ve got to do your own growing no matter how tall your grandfather is”. Make that commitment. Develop a personal growth plan.

2. Stay out of your comfort zone

There’s a quote I learnt in college that I really like. Ron Osbourne said, “Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow”. Many people get stuck in the rut of “same old, same old”. You’ve got to stretch and expand yourself. Do something new. Do it in a different way. Some wag oce said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Stay out of that comfort zone. Comfort creates ease and ease is the greatest enemy of growth.

3. Grow for who you will be, not what you will get

You need a proper focus if your growth is to go the distance. You can’t just have the goal of acquiring stuff because once you acquire your motivation will wane. Growth should be geared towards becoming a better person, living a better life. Grow to become, not to have. Growth brings good things; good things don’t bring growth. It is more important to be a better person than to have better things. We win in life by being better people, not by having the biggest and the best of stuff. True success is really an intangible thing – it’s the quality of person that you are.   

The Art of Influencing Others Positively

Wednesday, January 13th, 2010

Making a mark with people means being able to influence people positively. Everything we accomplish with people happens because of our efforts to influence them positively. The key to doing this is to master the art of positive influence. The art of positive influence centers very much on your ability to meet with people where they are and inspire them to a higher level. This happens through our perfection of the skill of encouraging people to go to the next level.

To make a mark, we all need the support and encouragement of others. When we positively inspire them through our interaction with them, a desire is birthed within them to want to work with us. This is a key competence for anyone in a leadership position; but it is also an essential competence for anyone, regardless of leadership position or title. Influencing people means appreciating them. It means listening to people. It means sharing ideas with them and equipping them to be better people. If you master the art of influencing others posititvely, you will make a mark worth remembering.

Defining Reality – The Present Situation

Tuesday, December 15th, 2009

It’s understandable that many organizations have vision statements that attempt to define and crystalize what the future will look like for them. However, many of these organizations fail to develop a clear idea of where they currently are. The present situation is the key to a future desired vision of where and what the organization will accomplish. Great leaders take the time to define the present as well as they define the future.

Someone once said that leadership is taking a group of people from where they are to where they should be. Based on this definition, it is clear to see that an understanding of where your people currently are is critical to the journey of taking them where they should be. Defining where they currently are means looking at their present successes and failures, clarifying the obstacles in their path, reviewing their resources, assessing their capabilities in light of past accomplishments and outlining what is being done that is bringing in desired results. Every journey has a starting point and an end. By starting with where you currently are, you are able to set in motion a process of advancement to where you want to be. 

Vibrationary Leadership

Saturday, October 17th, 2009

We live in a critical day that calls for more vibrationary leadership than visionary leadership. If you’ve seen the movie Click you may be able to discern how we need to go BEYOND vision and into a vibration mode of life. So much has been said and written about visionary leadership but few people understand vibrationary leadership. I’m calling for a new kind of leadership. I am calling for vibrationary leadership!
The difference between visionary and vibrationary leadership is that whereas visionary leadership guides and directs by the power of a compelling desire propelled by a glimpse of the future, vibrationary leadership discerns trends, senses opportunities and taps into potentialities. Understanding the heartbeat of the future is more powerful than any vision we could ever have. We learn this easily from the human body. Before thoughts are deposited in the mind, they are birthed in the heart. The heart is therefore the center of life. Out of it flows the issues of life. The seed of vision is always in the heart. That’s why a visionary has passion and fire in his soul. His heart is ablaze. Vibrationary leaders develop the ability to hear the silent beating of coming changes in society and thus strategically position themselves to make the very best of the moment.

If we are going to be precise in the 21st century, we must transition from visionary leadership to vibrationary leadership. Otherwise we shall have visions that will stall in the face of rapid societal changes. A New millenium requires a New strategy. Our organizations should be able to vibrate with the beating of society’s heart. Transitioning from vision to vibration is in essence shifting our focus from seeing to hearing. While it is essential that we be able to see what is happening in our environment, it is much more important that our ears be well tuned in order to hear the silent rumblings of change. This means that our ears should be close to society’s heart and needs. Sound is a series of vibrations moving as waves through air. Ringing a bell for example, sets off vibrations in the air. Detection of these vibrations or sound waves is called hearing. It is essential to understand how the ear works. Humans hear by bone conduction or primarily by detecting airborne sound waves, which are collected by the auricles. The auricles help locate the direction of sound. Then one turns to focus on the direction. Therefore hearing comes before seeing. This is very important.

This transition will require a change from structure to rhythm. We should be able to learn the unforced rhythm of guiding our organizations through transitionary moments. This will require a greater degree of sensitivity. Making the transition from visionary leadership to vibrationary leadership will require that we change from critical thinking to modulating. What we hear should be properly deciphered and transmitted to the masses. What are you hearing? Make the big transition – be a vibrationary leader!

Your Potential and Capacity is Unlimited!

Friday, March 20th, 2009

We have a saying in Kenya that “A granary cannot be pushed into a hut”. This saying has been upper-most in my thoughts this week as I looked at the idea of personal potential in the light of current capacity and the limitations that surround it. We all face moments when our ability to perform is limited by current structures that pose immense threat to the vision within us. What is one to do in those situations?

A granary is a storehouse for grain. It symbolizes the fruit of one’s labor, or the yield of one’s hard work. A hut on the other hand is a dwelling of simple construction that is the common living area for many in African rural areas. Most huts are usually made of mud and have grass thatched roofs. Granaries on the other hand are made of wood and have tin/aluminium roofs.

Let us think of organizations. Robert Schuller once said that “You can’t fire a missile from a canoe”. A leader’s vision for his organization may sometimes be limited by current structures in the organization. There are also times when vision may be limited by structures that are not present within the organization. The organization’s objectives too play a great role in determining the results that will be yielded. There must be a solid foundation that ensures that any goals pursued will be achieved satisfactorily. A granary cannot be pushed into a hut.

How then do we ensure that our output will be measurable to our input without having to demolishing our present structures? How do we develop a system that allows us to fire missiles from canoes without toppling over into the water?

Every vision needs to be strengthened by the underlying philosophies and values that guide the organization. You can’t expect to achieve a big vision when the guiding philosophies do not match up to the vision. You cannot expect to accomplish great things when your strategy is flawed. Here are some ideas that can enable you to secure an output that is worthy of your input:

1. Have a Mission that matches your Vision

A company’s daily undertakings need to fit into the bigger picture of it’s ultimate objectives. Many organizations have dropped the ball by engaging in activities that are outside the range of the company vision. Vision is guarded by staying on the key path that is aligned with the company mission. Do this and you will be able to fire missiles from your canoe. I guarantee it!

2. Develop Goals that align with your Philosophy

Company philosophy is crucial to the outcomes and output of an organization. Your goals should align with the values that the company holds dearest. Every organization needs to clarify what it is that it holds as fundamental to it’s existence. Enron failed because the leader’s activities veered off the course of the company’s core values. Your have to hold onto your core values. Do this and your granary may be able to fit into your hut.

3. Create a Strategy that builds on your Accomplishments

Strategy is the key to building value in an organization. Value is measured by an organization’s accomplishments. The more a company accomplishes, the more it acquires a competitive advantage over other companies within that industry. Strategy therefore is key to the long-term existence of a company.

These three keys, applied in an orderly manner, will not only ensure that you fire missiles from your canoe but also that your granary fits into your hut.

The Critical Importance of Goal Setting

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2008

In my previous post, I wrote on the topic of planning and explained how it trumps making resolutions. I want to continue with this angle of thought. Great organizations know that in order for them to stay on the cutting-edge of their pursuits they need to follow a certain specific schedule for managing their projects. They therefore utilize what has commonly become known as the Critical Path Method. This is a technique whereby all the activities to be undertaken are listed, the time duration is clearly outlined and the elements of the project are taken into consideration. Through CPM, critical activities are determined and float times are developed for less critical activities.

If we are going to be successful in pursuing our personal objectives and goals in 2008, I would like to suggest going through a similar process. Any resolutions that we make must be clearly outlined in terms of goals. Once the goals are set they must be clearly prioritized and the various elements specifically outlined. Each goal and its elements must have a specific deadline for it’s accomplishment. Once this process is complete, we must develop a laser-like focus that will keep us on target with the pursuit of those goals.

Engaging in a process like this will enable us and our organizations to have a fruitful 2008. Our quest this year should be effectiveness and excellence. Modern organizations have developed crucial software that is used for this process but you can be as effective or even better with the use of only a pencil and paper. During the course of the year our task will be to analyze our critical paths and determine what elements need to be accelerated and which need to be decelerated. I encourage you to bookmark this page as we will be sharing ideas that will be essential to keeping you and your organization on the critical path throughout 2008.

Maintaining “Flux” During Shifting Times

Thursday, November 27th, 2008

A few years ago (actually seven years ago) I made a commitment to certain personal objectives. I came up with fifty dimensions of intent which I penned in a book that I wrote for myself and titled, “My Life Vision”. One of my intentions (please review the article on Serendipity and Synchronicity from December 23) is to embrace a state of constant shift and flux in my life as I pursue my destiny.

The word shift means to change; for example to shift gears in an automobile from one ratio to another. It can also mean to move; for example to transfer from one place, position, direction, etc. Flux, on the other hand, means continuous change, passage or movement. It may also mean a constant flow. Life is in constant flow and we must learn to change in order to attain the better life. Embracing change and being open to movement is a sign of great maturity and understanding of the processes of life. In order to attain true significance, our attitude should be: “shift happens … flux is fun“. As we enter into 2008, my primary objective is to embrace great changes and allow the flow of life to lead me towards a higher dimension of my destiny.   

Organizations thrive or flounder in seasons of flux. Leaders must therefore be masters at navigating shifting winds. Organizations themselves also need to shift leaders and people around every so often (… insanity is doing the same thing – or having the same people doing the same things – all the time yet expecting different results). Flux is fun! Shift happens!

The Power of Mental Vision

Friday, April 4th, 2008

After many years of research being done and business books being written, the jury is out on the idea of organizational vision: companies must have a vision. Over the past two or three decades many companies have done a lot in terms of developing their vision/mission statements along with core values that guide them towards that vision. Go to any company website and nine out of ten times you will find some form of a mission statement, vision statement, guiding philosophy or core values.

While it is commendable that many organizations have a vision to justify their existence, it is worth noting that most of these visions are short-range in nature. The vision enables them to get on track with their plans but it is not sufficient enough to take them into the future. Let me use the analogy of a train going through a tunnel. Physical vision (along with the train’s lights) enables the train operator or engine driver to see as he goes through the tunnel. An experienced driver, however, has the mental vision that enables him to see beyond the tunnel. I would also venture to use an example from the nation of South Africa. Nelson Mandela had the vision to take the people out of apartheid. Thabo Mbeki had the vision to take the country into reconciliation and a future of mutual existence. Actually, Mandela did initiate the reconciliation but it took Mbeki’s leadership to sustain it beyond the euphoria of excitement.

Here are some thoughts on how long-range vision can transform your business:

1. Provides a focus beyond “tomorrow”

Vision is great because it provides you with a general strategy for handling tomorrow. Beyond tomorrow though, you need to be able to handle “the future”. Tomorrow belongs to those organizations that have a vision of what is coming ahead. The future belongs to those organizations that can shape what is coming. We see what’s ahead through vision; but we shape what’s coming through long-range perspective.  

2. Ensures the continuity of the group or organization

Vision gives power to an organization’s mission. Long-range vision, on the other hand, breathes life into the organization’s mission. Any organization can make it a couple of years but it takes long-range thinking to survive a future that threatens the very life of organizations. Vision can sometimes guide an organization to it’s level of incompetence. The Swiss watch making companies for example, were overtaken by Japanese digital watch companies because they did not have long-range vision. They had vision, yes, but that alone could not take them into the future.  

3. Envisions potential pitfalls and their solutions 

Henry Ford is noted for saying that the masses could have any car they wanted so long as it was black in color. Ford had great vision for the automobile industry but he could not see beyond the tunnel. He could clearly see the light at the end of the tunnel but little did he know that it was the headlight of an on-coming train. Now, he had experience and should have been able to see beyond the tunnel. However, he didn’t. If organizations are going to make it into the future, they must have long-range vision, rather than just “a vision of tomorrow”. They must be on the cutting-edge of shaping the direction in which society is going rather than putting themselves in a place where they will have to play catch-up.

Two Kinds of Conflict

Sunday, March 23rd, 2008

Many years ago, a mentor told me that “motion causes friction.” Over the past couple of days, we have all been held spell-bound by the friction taking place between the Obama camp and the Clinton camp in the race for President of the United States. The truth is that friction takes place everwhere – it occurs inside our organizations, it occurs between different organizations, it occurs on sports teams, it occurs in the family, it occurs in Churches, it occurs between countries and many other areas of life. At one point or another, we will all encounter friction in life. Friction between human systems is defined as conflict. Understanding how to manage conflict is therefore essential.

There are two kinds of conflict: functional conflict and dysfunctional conflict.

Functional conflict is a confrontation between groups that benefits all groups that are involved equally. Functional conflict brings about greater awareness and solutions which allow for change. Functional conflict actually leads to a mutual understanding between groups. For example, the research team at Better Life Company that it’s time to release a new product onto the market. The marketing team on the other hand feels like the company has too many products that are yet to be well-positioned in the market. This conflict brings in the strategy team and after lengthy discussions, they reach a consensus. That is functional conflict. 

Dysfunctional conflict is any conflict between groups that creates an environment that is not conducive to progress. This kind of conlict leads to stress and results in terrible losses for any groups that are involved in it. Those of you who are avid football fans may remember the surprise firing of Chargers head coach Marty Schottenheimer. Schottenheimer was fired because of dysfunctional conflict between him and the team manager, AJ Smith. For almost 3 years, the two of them had been at logger-heads over personnel decisions.  The conflict between the two of them led to the chargers losing many good coordinators.

Tomorrow we will look at key aspects of managing conflict.

Equipping People With the Skills for Leading Change

Tuesday, February 12th, 2008

When I was in college I was elected chairman of a club on campus that was composed of students who were eager to develop and grow their leadership. One of my very first tasks was to change certain initiatives and processes that the group had operated by. As I did this, I discovered that there were five key things that worked so well.

1. Communicating Clear Vision

Success in handling change boils down to how well the vision for change has been communicated. The vision needs to be rational and understandable to constituents. This brings about a sense of shared purpose and makes it easier to initiate actions to achieve that purpose.

2. Giving People Authority to Move in the New Direction

Once people have bought into the new vision, they need to be given the authority to implement it. Vision brings responsibility. Responsibility without authority causes frustration. People need to know that they have the authority to implement the new direction within clearly stated guidelines.

3. Aligning ‘Structures’ to the Vision

All the information that people recieve, the personnel that work with them and the systems that are used to drive the mission must be aligned to the vision. This ensures that any actions taken in implementing and executing the vision are not blocked. Vision is delicate and without a proper alignment of all structures, it can result in disaster. 

4. Providing the Right Skills and Attitudes

Nothing empowers people more than proper and relevant training. Without the right skills and attitudes people feel disempowered. Training should be built upon the current skills and attributes of your people. The focus should be on expanding them so that they can handle the change and lead it effectively. 

5. Confronting those who Undercut the Change

Nothing disempowers people the way a bad boss or manager can. Change causes friction but it can result in disaster when key people undercut it. When confronting such people start on a positive note. Clearly outline the problem and encourage a response. Show that you understand their position and explain why their actions are wrong. Indicate the desired action and reiterate the positive aspects of the person. 

Thoughts on an Individual’s Role Withing a Team

Monday, February 4th, 2008

Being part of a team is the highest calling of leadership. Any leader within a team has the obligation to model mental maturity to his or her teammates. In order for the organization’s dream to be realized, there must be great teamwork amongst the members. Here are three thoughts to enhance your role within the team:

Think at a higher level – Your quality of thinking sets the tone for the rest of the team. In team meetings, it is important to think at a higher level by bringing something to the table. Be resourceful. Team dynamics improve when you contribute effectively. Share insights and ideas that will better the team. Be a team player and demonstrate mental maturity.

Admit it when you are wrong – Everyone falters every once in a while. It is a sign of great maturity when you can admit that you were wrong. Such an admission sends a great message to the team and enhances cohesiveness. This goes hand-in-hand with taking responsibility for your failures. Be a team player and demonstrate mental maturity.

Put others before your ’self’ – Teamwork is about togetherness – Together Everyone Accomplishes More. This calls upon every member to lay aside their personal desires and root for the team. Every single effort must be targeted towards making the team look great. Egos must be put aside. Being part of a team means being an uplifter. Be a team player and demonstrate mental maturity.

Change: The 3 D’s That Can Lead to Disaster

Friday, January 11th, 2008

Change is a constant. You can’t step into the same river twice. People need to understand that change is part of life. Most people struggle with handling change because it causes the 3 D’s – discomfort, disruption and dislocation. A crucial part of the process of handling change will involve helping people handle the dis’s and get pluses out them. Let us explore how we can do that:

Discomfort – Change requires difficult adjustments by people. Adjustments can cause stress and bring tension to groups. In some cases change has been known to lead to depression in some people and a mutiny from others. Uncertainty about the results of the change can bring fatigue and frustration. The key to avoiding all this is to ensure that people know in advance what to expect and how to deal with it. The discomfort of change can be prevented by preparing people adequately for the coming changes.

Disruption – When significant changes are made, some people experience personal pain at the loss of familiar things to which they had become very attached. This can be a source of great trauma. Leaders can help people by allowing them to verbalize their sense of loss and grief, and then gently pointing them to the benefits of the change and the bright new future ahead of them.

Dislocation – Any change, whether it involves new strategies, new programs, new equipment, new work procedures, new facilities, new management practices or new leaders, disrupts an existing order and leads to discontinuity. In a time of change, leaders should frequently explain what is happening and keep their people informed. People will be more optimistic if they know the change is progressing successfully. Leaders should frequently communicate what steps have been initiated, what changes have been completed and what resulting improvements have occurred.

Handling these three dis’s appropriately will be the key to avoiding the dreaded dis of change – disaster! People must be helped through change seasons, otherwise they will see a lack of help as a sign of impending disaster within the group.

Planning Ahead Trumps Making Resolutions

Friday, December 28th, 2007

It’s that time of the year again when people make new resolutions. I would like to suggest a different focus that I believe should also deliver tremendous results in 2007. How about learning to PLAN AHEAD. I have never made any new year resolutions since 1999 when I learnt about the need to PLAN AHEAD from the works of John Maxwell. Here are some thoughts on what has kepy me on track with my personal goals:

Pre-determine a course of action

This essentially means having a vision for your life. Visualizing that which you intend to attain is the first step towards being successful in pursuing it. You need to have a concise end for which you can measure your progress against. Develop a vision which will be your pre-determined course of action.

Layout your goals

Once you have pre-determined a course of action, the next step is to break it down into specific goals that can be realized. To empower your vision you need to write it down and define it clearly. Laying out your goals enables you to harness the power of visualization.

Adjust your priorities

You will need to make some changes in the new year if you hope to make it a different year from the past. This will mean being open to adjusting your priorities. Priorities are the pathway to success. Making adjustments is the key to reaching your goals.

Notify key people

We all have circles of support around us. In order to accomplish your goals you need to find those people who affirm your positive goals and share your goals with them. These people will encourage you, motivate you and keep you on the path towards success.

Allow time for your plans

Many times when we set goals we expect them to be realized within a certain time frame. While it is essential to set deadlines, we should never get married to the deadlines. Timelines should motivate us to work smartly towards our goals. If your goals are not attained within the timelines you set, don’t quit. Set new timelines and stay motivated.  

Head into action

Action is the first step towards achievement. A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. Head into action. Inch by inch it’s a cinch. Action must start now! The greatest enemy of success is procrastination. In order to achieve your dreams you must be action-oriented.

Expect problems

Every endeavor that has ever been worth pursuing has always had it’s problems and challenges. Problems are a sign that you are on the right track. The absence of problems is very likely a sign that something is wrong. Problems should never cause you to lose sight of your ultimate goals. They should be a call towards being more creative.

Always point to your successes

It is easy to lose motivation when failure sets in. The key to staying focused is in pointing to your already realized successes. Your track record of past successes is the springboard for your future achievements. When failure threatens your progress, embrace the confidence that comes from your record of past achievements.

Daily review your planning

Planning is a dynamic process. Plans should be reviewed on a daily basis to ensure that you are on the right track. You must be open to changing your plans daily. Flexibility is the key to success. You must be able to revisit your plans every day. Nothing ever dominates life unless it happens daily. It is the daily habit of reviewing your plans that will determine whether you realize them or not.

For 2008, make a quality decision that you will not make any resolutions, but you will PLAN AHEAD. I’m rooting for you!

Friday, December 14th, 2007

I’m inspired by the stories of innovators like Andrew Carnegie. Andy surrounded himself with big thinking resourceful people. How he got them is a secret that is open to all of us. Mr. Carnegie went on to become the greatest philanthropist of his generation because he knew how to get the right people and empower them for broad-based action. In other words, he had eagles around him. Eagles in this sense represent leaders of the highest calibre. The tricky thing about eagles is that they don’t flock; you have to find them one at a time. Most organizations end up with turkeys instead of eagles because they are position conscious and take whoever shows up. Eagles don’t show up. You have to go and look for them. Here are six marks of an eagle:

1. Eagles are catalysts of experiences – Eagles make things happen based on their skills and abilities. They walk the road less traveled, defying models in order to blaze new trails.

2. Eagles possess great vision and execution – Eagles don’t perch on a tree and wait for manna to fall from heaven. They go out and look for opportunities. They are not risk averse.

3. Eagles are change agents – Eagles influences others in positive ways. They are 360° influencers. Their influence is not restricted by attributes like age or profession.

4. Eagles are multipliers of value – Growing organizations have people who bring added value to the company but great organizations have people who multiply value. The average organization has people who subtract value while the mediocre organization has people who divide value.

5. Eagles empower eagles to lead – Birds of a feather flock together because only they have an uncanny ability to bring out the best in each other. Eagles don’t hang out with hawks.

6. Eagles are sources of creativity – Eagles hunt for ideas that result in quantum growth for the organization. Because of this, an organization with eagles will always be a leader of the pack.

You have to Out-Imagine your Competition

Tuesday, July 31st, 2007

We are at the half-way mark of the year and I think it would be appropriate to end the month with this post. I came across this quote today by a Mr. Tom Kelley. (I came to learn later on that he is the general manager of IDEO). Tom says that “If you can outlearn the competition, that gives you a way to stay ahead”. I disagree with that statement. I think that this was true in the Peter Drucker world of the Knowledge worker but we are now in the world of the creative worker. Imagination is more important today than knowledge.

I would say that “In the 21st Century, If you can out-imagine the competition, that gives you a way to stay ahead”. You can outlearn the competition and have all the knowledge you want in the world but unless you have talented workers who can imagine new ways of applying that knowledge, you will forever remaining a learning organization and fail to transition into an innovative organization. Innovation is a function of imagination.

Imagination is more important than learning today. The learner may go to school all he wants but it’s imagineers like Bill Gates, Michael Dell, etc who will stay on the innovative edge. By advocating for ‘outlearning your competition’, Tom is calling for benchmarking! Benchmarking is so outdated! It directs all your focus onto your competition in your effort to outlearn them. My thinking is that if you will become remarkable you must break out of the vicious cycle of competing against other companies or people. You must focus on pursuing your true personal or your ultimate organizational potential.

As you focus on yourself and your organization, your imagination will kick in and you, or your organization, will establish itself on the frontier of innovative thinking. It’s only through imagination and innovation that we can find a way to stay ahead. (Even the idea of ‘staying ahead’ is outdated. In the creative revolution of today’s society, you are only competing against yourself with the goal of reaching yours and your organization’s potential – but that’s another story altogether).

The Greatest Secret in Organizational Development

Thursday, July 12th, 2007

We live in a day and time that has seen the founding and creation of many organizations. People are forming organizations almost every day. While this is great, few of these organizations will become great because of a focus on financial and productivity metrics rather than human factor metrics. The great organization must keep it’s focus on it’s people and how best to nurture their diverse talents. Peter Drucker talks about the knowledge worker and how it is important for companies to attract and keep knowledge workers. Business success in this time of tremendous upheavals will hinge largely on the quality of an organization’s people. That’s the greatest secret in organizational development. 

People are an organization’s greatest asset. The organization must watch for clues to each employee’s natural talents and then position and develop each employee so that his or her talents are transformed into strengths. An organization’s strengths is not in its financial assets, not in its physical assets, not in its supplier lists or any other factor. An organization’s strength is in its people. High quality people, working on the basis of their strengths, are more valuable to an organization than any of its other resources.

By changing the way it selects, measures, develops, and channels the careers of its people, a great organization must builds itself around the strengths of each person. Such an organization becomes a lasting emblem of success in the community.

Corporate Problems that Stem from Poor Professional Lives

Sunday, May 6th, 2007

Yesterday I pointed out that soft leadership skills are more important than hard leadership skills in today’s world. Hard leadership skills result in a variety of problems for organizations which limit their true potential from being realized. Here are a few that should get us thinking serously about our quality of leadership:

1. Dependent Employees – Hard leadership skills tend to produce employees who depend too much on their leaders. This dependency puts a lid on the employee’s personal development because it limits them from thinking for themselves.

2. Paternal Management – This is where the leader always feels the urge to ‘always be there’. It’s Management by Hovering Around. Such a style of leadership prevents employees from feeling free enough to exercise their own judgement.

3. Unresolved Emotional Demands – The above two problems really stem from unresolved emotional demands in people’s personal lives. This becomes a key factor in their professional lives and can easily derail their careers.

Leaders need to develop themselves and eradicate these problems. An organization that has leaders who have successfully dealt with these problems will maximize it’s potential.

 

Measuring Up

Saturday, May 5th, 2007

In his book, The Heart Aroused, David Whyte provides an ancient English poem titled Beowulf, as a solution to some of the corporate problems of today. He defines it as a masculine story of descent into the waters of the unconscious, but where the restoration of a profound inner feminine power is essential to his survival. Recently, Tom Peters blogged about the topic, Girls Rule! We live today in a society where corporations and leaders are recognizing that soft leadership skills are more important than hard leadership skills. Compassion is more important than vision. People are more important than money. Tomorrow I will look at a few corporate problems.

Random thoughts on big organizations

Saturday, April 7th, 2007

I have been pondering the idea of orgnizational growth and whether bigger is always better. Most, if not all, organizations want to expand and grow. But is bigger always better? Are services and/or products better when the company is bigger? I really don’t think so. There may be some economies of scale that come with size but a lot of disadvantages come too. I believe that most large organizations fail to reach their true potential. Smaller organizations realize their potential much easier and faster than big organizations. Big organizations have to fight through a lot of bureacracy and red tape before new initiatives are implemented.

Overcoming Organizational Myopia:
Long-Range Vision Can Change Your Business

Wednesday, April 4th, 2007

After many years of research being done and business books being written, the jury is out on the idea of organizational vision: companies must have a vision. Over the past two or three decades many companies have done a lot in terms of developing their vision/mission statements along with core values that guide them towards that vision. Go to any company website and nine out of ten times you will find some form of a mission statement, vision statement, guiding philosophy or core values.

While it is commendable that many organizations have a vision to justify their existence, it is worth noting that most of these visions are short-range in nature. The vision enables them to get on track with their plans but it is not sufficient enough to take them into the future. Let me use the analogy of a train going through a tunnel. Physical vision (along with the train’s lights) enables the train operator or engine driver to see as he goes through the tunnel. An experienced driver, however, has the mental vision that enables him to see beyond the tunnel. I would also venture to use an example from the nation of South Africa. Nelson Mandela had the vision to take the people out of apartheid. Thabo Mbeki had the vision to take the country into reconciliation and a future of mutual existence. Actually, Mandela did initiate the reconciliation but it took Mbeki’s leadership to sustain it beyond the euphoria of excitement.

Here are some thoughts on how long-range vision can transform your business:

1. Provides a focus beyond “tomorrow”

Vision is great because it provides you with a general strategy for handling tomorrow. Beyond tomorrow though, you need to be able to handle “the future”. Tomorrow belongs to those organizations that have a vision of what is coming ahead. The future belongs to those organizations that can shape what is coming. We see what’s ahead through vision; but we shape what’s coming through long-range perspective.  

2. Ensures the continuity of the group or organization

Vision gives power to an organization’s mission. Long-range vision, on the other hand, breathes life into the organization’s mission. Any organization can make it a couple of years but it takes long-range thinking to survive a future that threatens the very life of organizations. Vision can sometimes guide an organization to it’s level of incompetence. The Swiss watch making companies for example, were overtaken by Japanese digital watch companies because they did not have long-range vision. They had vision, yes, but that alone could not take them into the future.  

3. Envisions potential pitfalls and their solutions 

Henry Ford is noted for saying that the masses could have any car they wanted so long as it was black in color. Ford had great vision for the automobile industry but he could not see beyond the tunnel. He could clearly see the light at the end of the tunnel but little did he know that it was the headlight of an on-coming train. Now, he had experience and should have been able to see beyond the tunnel. However, he didn’t. If organizations are going to make it into the future, they must have long-range vision, rather than just “a vision of tomorrow”. They must be on the cutting-edge of shaping the direction in which society is going rather than putting themselves in a place where they will have to play catch-up.

How’s your organization doing? Do you have a long-range vision? At the Better Life Company, we have started aiding businesses in developing training programs that empower it’s employees in working with leadership to develop long-range vision. It takes more than observing trends. It takes more than a “visionary” person climbing to the top of the mountain and declaring the vision to the team. Are you ready to maximize your organization’s future and ensure it’s continuity?