Monday, July 29, 2013

Prepare for the New Permanent Temp
by Michael Schrage  |  12:00 PM July 15, 2013

Growth is about growing value in a business. This article touches on how companies try to optimize their value creation via dramatically different human resource approaches. This has a huge impact on our current state and the future. This is extremely important and probably very personal
either for us or our kids. This is truly a major leadership issue going forward!!

The fastest-growing segments of America's job market — by far — are temporary and part-time employment. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of US part-time employees hit a record high of 28 million. Temporary employment has jumped 50% since the depths of the financial crisis…
...More companies want far greater flexibility with far fewer people. Their greatest human capital concerns have shifted. They seem increasingly focused on productively cultivating that core 20% to 25% of people who reliably generate the 70% to 80% of enterprise value. They're rethinking their economic relationships with the rest… 
..Have people been commoditized? Of course not. But the ways people's knowledge, skills and expertise get plugged into the workplace has been. For roughly half of America's workforce, the role, rules and requirements of "the job" are dramatically different than they were even a decade ago… 
..It's not that troubled economies and disruptive innovations inherently shed more jobs than they create; it's that ongoing global restructuring of markets makes temporary and/or part-time employment more attractive for more organizations. Outside of the enterprise core group, bringing full-time employees onboard is increasingly seen as a riskier and less rewarding business bet….. 
…Most people looking for a job today aren't competing against each other. They're competing against alternative ways to getting that job done. For most organizations, people are a means and medium to an end. They're not hiring employees, they're hiring value creation. If they can get that value — or most of it — from contingency workers, outsourcing, automation, innovative processes or capital investment, why wouldn't they?

Monday, July 22, 2013

Six Ways to Sink a Growth Initiative
by Donald L. Laurie and J. Bruce Harreld

HBR reprint: R1307G

This is an excellent article that I would definitely read. The content mirrors very closely to our Org. Growth Ex. Ed class where we discuss the barriers to growth within medium to large companies. BTW, the class is scheduled for September 15, 2013.  Also, those who have taken our class will recognize that one of the authors—Bruce Harreld—played a critical role in turning around IBM in the case we discuss in class.

All too often CEOs and their senior teams see managing today’s earnings as their main job and don’t spend enough time on the pursuit of growth and building the kind of learning organization and culture that growth requires. They fail to identify specific policies and actions that only they can take to create the conditions for success and signal to the organization the seriousness of their commitment to growth. In this article we explore six common mistakes that executives make in this arena and offer guidelines for leading growth initiatives:
1. Failing to Provide the Right Kind of Oversight (they ask the wrong questions and don’t dedicate the time): at a time when a team should be trying to listen to customers in order to define a new market and determine what the most powerful business model might be, they asked questions such as How fast is the market growing? What revenue can we anticipate in 18 months? What does the pro forma P&L look like?
2. Not Putting the Best, Most Experienced Talent in Charge…a company’s best, most experienced general managers should lead these initiatives. A start-up will almost certainly have to tap capabilities residing in the established operations, and these individuals have the internal networks and the understanding of the organization’s culture needed to obtain them.
3. Assembling the Wrong Team and Staffing Up Prematurely: Senior executives charged with assembling a team often grab the personnel who happen to be available….More often than not, these people are not company stars. Furthermore, the team is created before anyone has determined exactly what needs to be done and what skills will be required.
4. Taking the Wrong Approach to Performance Assessment (we call this being ambidextrous) : Big companies often apply the same metrics and milestones to running their early-stage businesses that they use in managing their mature businesses. These are worse than useless to start-ups—they are harmful
5. Not Knowing How to Fund and Govern a Start-Up: An amazing number of big companies force their early-stage growth initiatives to follow the annual budgeting cycle of their established businesses, even though start-ups’ needs are not predictable. It’s also common for operating executives to reallocate funding earmarked for those ventures to finance the needs of their mature operations. Both mistakes kill start-ups.
6. Failing to Leverage the Organization’s Core Capabilities: For the past two or three decades the conventional wisdom has been that new ventures within large, mature organizations must be isolated to prevent the established businesses from stifling them. We believe this is wrong.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Innovation Sighting – Apple’s Use of Attribute Dependency in iPhones
 Drew Boyd

This is an interesting approach to thinking about innovation in that it  focuses on the context of the situation  Just thought I would share it as a thought provoker.

“The Quiet Time™  Universal System turns cell phones off automatically in designated areas such as theaters, hospitals, doctor’s offices, and business meeting rooms. Our patented technology converts your incoming calls to text messages and alerts the cell phone owner.”….
….“Imagine a mobile phone that automatically turns off its display and sounds when it senses that it’s in a movie theater. For example, the phone could disable its own noise and display if it knows it’s in a theatre. It could be prevented from communicating with other devices if it detects that it’s in a classroom. Or it could automatically go into sleep mode if entering a sensitive area where noises are taboo….
….This is a classic example of the Attribute Dependency Technique …
…Attribute Dependency differs in that it uses attributes (variables) of the situation rather than components. Start with an attribute list, then construct a matrix of these, pairing each against the others. Each cell represents a potential dependency (or potential break in an existing dependency) that forms a Virtual Product. Using Function Follows Form, we work backwards and envision a potential benefit or problem that this hypothetical solution solves - 

Friday, July 12, 2013

How Ready Are You for Growth?
A Booz & Company study reveals that only 17 percent of companies are poised for a profitable future.

by Ashok Divakaran and Vinay Couto

Very logical and powerful

Since the economic crisis, many companies have been trying to figure out the best way to re-position themselves for greater performance and success in the future. Clearly the answer involves some combination of growth strategy and cost management. Over the past several years, working in a variety of industries, we have seen firsthand that companies that do three things together seem to be better positioned for a sustainable return to high performance. First, they create clarity and coherence in their strategy, articulating the differentiating capabilities that they will need to win in the marketplace. Second, they put in place an optimized cost structure and approach to capital allocation, with continual investment in the capabilities critical to success, while proactively cutting costs in less-critical areas to fund these investments. Third, they build supportive organizations. They redesign their structures, incentives, decision rights, skill sets, and other organizational and cultural elements to more closely align their behavior to their strategy, and to harness the collective actions of their people

Monday, July 08, 2013

Straight Talk about Change
Ed Whitacre,

Very clear and powerful message!!!!

How do you optimize the possibility of successfully implementing change? By defining exactly what you wish to create and by doing so using as much behavioral specificity as possible—and as little jargon as possible, too. Phrases such as “increased inter-unit communication” or “enhanced field and staff collaboration” have a comforting blandness to them, but they almost always serve to blur, not sharpen, the picture.
..... No matter the cause or the reason, organizational change entails changing human behavior. It entails making certain key behaviors a reliable and regular part of organizational operation—that is, of “how the place works.” The question for the change leader comes down to this: What behaviors must occur, how must people act, in order to make the change succeed? What’s the story you want told about the way you and your people will operate in the future? What’s different? And what in the work environment still stands in the way? 
Changing organizations comes down to changing human behavior. Design of the work environment or system design, in turn, drives human behavior in complex entities such as organizations. One might well argue that human organizations are systems of systems. To change them requires less magical imagery and Herculean effort and more careful consideration of just what a leader seeks to create with change and how to align the corporate or business unit or department work environment to produce that desired, even longed-for change. To increase the odds of successful change, increase the discipline of thought, planning, and execution, beginning with clarity of what behavior the leader wants and the system changes necessary to produce it. 
Therefore, to create successful change, always remember these two tenets:
1. Focus on the behaviors you want from people.
2. Design the work environment to foster those behaviors.
Focusing on behaviors and the work environments that support them does not mean that ideals, values, principles, motivations, and other more high-minded issues do not count. Of course they do, but a leader who focuses on behaviors is recognizing and taking advantage of the fact that behavior constitutes the most important currency of exchange within human systems: You do something or you do not do something. I forward sales leads or I do not. I look for customer input or I do not. I actively collaborate with my peers on product redesign or I do not. My behavior and that of other organizational members determines whether a given change initiative lives or dies. Behavior is the connective tissue between strategy and action, between intent and implementation. Behavior comprises culture.
Hence, successful change comes down to identifying the key behaviors that, if they occur reliably and regularly, indicate that a desired change has taken hold.