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Monday, August 25, 2008

Introducing Change Into Your Organization

In a new article published in IndustryWeek, lean manufacturing expert Jamie Flinchbaugh
offers suggestions on how to introduce lean into your manufacturing operations. Flichbaugh's suggestions have broader implications for all organizations.

The assumptions:

  • Employees are naturally resistant to change. That's why when companies first introduce lean into their operations, it's often necessary to gain buy-in from the staff to facilitate real change.
The suggestions:

  • Plan a common 90-second to three-minute standard communication message that will leave a lasting impression with workers
  • Use the informal time to explain what will change and why it's necessary rather than as a teaching session.
  • Make these messages consistent to build understanding and support from employees.
  • Ensure the staff understands that lean is being implemented because the process is flawed; not the employees doing the work.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Leadership Development Crisis?

Consulting firm DDI set out to examine why confidence in leaders is declining despite a heightened focus on developing leadership talent.

After surveying almost 1,500 HR professionals and more than 12,000 leaders from 76 countries, DDI's survey (as featured in Management Issues) reveals what it described as "major shortfalls in leadership development initiatives around the world".

Key findings:

  • Although 75% of the executives surveyed said that improving leadership talent was a top business priority, just 40% were satisfied with what their organizations were actually doing to help them.
  • Amost 60% of executives said that they and their manager had not agreed on a formal written plan for their development.
  • Just 25% of organizations monitor their leadership development programs or formally measure their results.
  • Another problem area seems to be succession planning, with only 50% of organizations globally have succession plans for their leadership team -- and US organizations even lower than the global sample.

Reason for the dissatisfaction? While executives want more opportunities to learn on the job, such as special projects or moving to a new assignment, their senior management seldom takes responsibility for making this happen.

BOTTOMLINE: According to DDI's president: "When times get tough, leadership skills are really put to the test and organizations with the right quality and quantity of leaders will weather the storm better than those less well- prepared. In the face of pressure to reduce costs, organizations must remain firm in their commitment to invest in leader assessment and development."

Monday, August 18, 2008

Small Business Advantages for Talent Management

What is the most productive way to invest in your workforce, and what are the chances you will see a tangible return?

A new study conducted jointly by IBM's Institute for Business Value and Washington-based think tank Human Capital Institute (HCI) has yielded promising answers to those questions.

Respondents scored their companies in 30 specific competencies, which fell into six key practices of talent management: strategy development, attracting and retaining, motivating and developing, deploying and managing, connecting and enabling, and transforming and sustaining.

Some of the key findings:

  • Companies with high scores across the board were more likely to have strong financial performance.
  • Organizational size was a main difference-maker between companies that did well on the survey and those that did poorly.
  • Organizations with fewer than 1,000 employees were 4% better than the total sample at collaboration and sharing knowledge, 6% better at promoting virtual working, and 4% better at identifying relevant skills.
  • Surprisingly, medium-size companies—between 1,000 and 10,000 employees—were less likely to have implemented five out of the six talent management practices in the study.
  • Knowledge-intensive businesses tended to focus on development and collaboration, while service-intensive ones emphasized employee attraction and retention.

BOTTOMLINE: According to their research, "The best way to invest in talent management depends greatly on the size and industry of a company. And there's no easy fix for the human resources woes that are becoming more common in all business.

But for those looking to link talent to profits, there were two competencies that a majority of the best-performing companies had in common: understanding and addressing workforce attitudes and engagement levels; and aligning employee incentives with appropriate business goals."

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Execution - And Building A Learning Organization

Many executives believe that relentless execution—efficient, timely, consistent production and delivery of goods or services—is the surefire path to customer satisfaction and positive financial results.

Yet, according to Harvard professor Amy Edmonson, placing value only on "getting things right the first time", organizations are unable to take the risks necessary to improve and evolve.

However, firms that put a premium on what Edmondson calls execution-as-learning focus not so much on how a process should be carried out as on how it should evolve.

Organizations that foster execution-as-learning provide employees with psychological safety. No one is penalized for asking for help or making a mistake. These companies also employ four distinct approaches to day-to-day work:

  1. They use the best available knowledge (which is understood to be a moving target) to inform the design of specific process guidelines.
  2. They encourage employee collaboration by making information available when and where it’s needed.
  3. They routinely capture data on processes to discover how work really happens.
  4. Finally, they study these data in an effort to find ways to improve execution.

Taken together, these practices form the basis of a learning infrastructure that makes continual learning part of business as usual.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Inspiration from the Olympics

One day last March, at the University of Michigan, where Michael Phelps and several of his Club Wolverine teammates were training, the whiteboard poolside bore this message.

"In business, words are words, explanations are explanations, promises are promises, but only performance is reality."

The quote originated from Harold S. Geneen, former president and CEO of ITT, but, in sports, it's the same.

Enjoy the Olympics - truly the ultimate inspiration in performance excellence!

Innovation and Execution - Part II

There's a perception that large companies are the primary drivers of innovation. Reality, however, tells us that it's the small and midsized businesses that provide most of the innovation that propels economic growth.

In the July/August issue of The American, CEO Carl Schramm and researcher Robert Litan from the Kauffman Foundation offer their take in "The Growth Solution."

In the article, they lay out a seven step plan for achieving a high-growth, entrepreneurial economy through “radical innovation.”

Here's a quick summary:

  1. Create a skilled work force.
  2. Embrace high-skilled immigrants.
  3. Rethink the intellectual property system.
  4. Embrace global trade.
  5. Reform health insurance.
  6. Reduce poverty.
  7. Address climate change.
BOTTOMLINE: While these are all worthy steps in the march toward an entrepreneurial economy, it seems that the brush is broader than any one organization can paint. In order to participate in the next wave of innovation, organizations must understand that to innovate, all members of the organization need to fully understand its strategy and how their daily activities support that strategy. Aligning every person every day with the goals of the organization, and measuring progress continually, is the first step toward innovating purposefully.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

The Challenges for Tomorrow's CEOs

From Harvard Business Publishing, comes a new article "Four Challenges for Tomorrow's CEOs" in which author Umair Hague argues that the following are four of the most critical challenges:

  1. A crippled global financial system.
  2. Endemic underinvestment in innovation.
  3. Accelerating disequilibrium.
  4. Shallow strategy.

His assessment?

"Business hasn't changed much, but today's array of tectonic global shocks demands a different, radically better kind of business. Yesterday's corporations visibly cannot meet today's economic challenges."

BOTTOMLINE: I'd argue that there are many challenges for today's and tomorrow's CEOs, but NONE is more vital or critical than the ability to execute strategy. It's what the Execution Revolution is all about!

Monday, August 04, 2008

Six Disciplines Execution Revolution on New York Times Bestseller List

The new book by CEO Gary Harpst, "Six Disciplines Execution Revolution" has been named to the New York Times Bestseller list for Hardcover Business Best Sellers.

Six Disciplines CEO Gary Harpst Appears on FoxBusiness

On July 31, Six Disciplines founder, CEO and bestselling author, Gary Harpst, appeared on the "Money for Breakfast" show on FoxBusiness TV, discussing the timely topic: "Recession: Yes or No?"

View the entire video clip of the interview here.

Exquisite Writing Reviews Six Disciplines Execution Revolution

The folks at Exquisite Writing have published their review of Six Disciplines Execution Revolution.

The review begins:

"The latest book by Gary Harpst, "Six Disciplines® Execution Revolution: Solving the One Business Problem That Makes Solving All Other Problems Easier" is a follow-up for his successful previous book, "Six Disciplines for Excellence". In a high-tech world, executing stategy is not only mind-boggling but seems to be set only for high level businesses. Harpst's book sets the course for small and mid-sized businesses instead, detailing the entire strategy program and how important it is for a business as a mainstream requirement."

Read the entire review here.