Paul Millerd takes a look at business growth data from the 1970’s onward to build a vision of future organizations and explain how the changing business landscape will impact the work environment.
I have studied organizations, people and motivation and am fascinated by the changes that have unfolded in my relatively short career. I’ll defer to Neils Bohr to qualify this entire piece:
‘Prediction is very difficult, especially if it’s about the future’ — Neils Bohr
Since I can’t predict the future, I promise this will contain ideas that are not fully baked. I hope you can help me improve them.
Most people agree that that change is happening and that the pace of change is accelerating. However, if you look around, our modern organizations are not much different than they were 20 years ago. When I talk to people and HR leaders about their organizations they share with me the feeling that something is not right and that organizations need to evolve.
I’ll get to my vision of that future, but first wanted to call out three trends that I believe are driving this uncertainty.
Points discussed in this article include:
- Process excellence
- Purpose-driven cultures
- Adaptive technology
- Agile teams
Read the full article, The Future of Work: What Winning Organizations Will Look Like in 2025, on the Boundless website.
Surbhee Grover discusses diversity and inclusion and explains why solidarity is the key to forging a new paradigm of equality.
The fashion industry saw one debacle after another in 2018-19 that demonstrated just how wide the gap is between how businesses should behave and how they do. In the recent past, Burberry, Gucci and Dolce & Gabbana have been hurt by adverse publicity highlighting their cultural insensitivity.
Dolce & Gabbana’s “Eating with Chopsticks” commercials showed an Asian model trying to eat spaghetti with chopsticks. People called the ads disrespectful and racist, and the commercials were pulled within 24 hours. It was estimated that Dolce & Gabbana put ~$500 million (a third of its revenue) at risk as a result of the backlash. There have been many diagnoses offered (how did something so obviously offensive slip through the cracks of a diverse, global management team/ workforce?) and the general consensus has been that making strides in hiring for diversity doesn’t mean much if that diversity is not used effectively.
The last couple of years have seen diversity conversations expand to “Diversity and Inclusion”. But even as we fight for respect, religious sensitivities, representation on the Board, and the right to equal pay (for equal work), we might want to re-evaluate if this expansion is sufficient.
Read the full article, Making a Difference to Diversity Might Require us to Deviate from Existing Definitions, on the Thrive Global website.
In a recent interview on The Transformative Leader Podcast, Susan Meier discusses the importance of integrating creativity at work even, and especially, in jobs not traditionally considered creative.
I always had these two very strong, for a long time, parallel and separate tracks of things that I was interested in. I was always interested in the arts, both in making art and studying the history of art, and then I was also really captivated by the problem solving analytical thinking piece that drew me into consulting. And that was my first job as an undergrad at the Boston Consulting group. So I loved the nature of my work, but that job by itself didn’t activate that visual piece for me, so for many years I had these two parallel worlds where I would go to my art studio, I would paint, I would exhibit my work, inhabit a space with a completely different set of people from this other world where I was in management consulting and working with Fortune 500 companies, making spreadsheets, thinking about operations and logistics. And then I discovered branding.
Key points include:
- Merging the creative with the analytical
- Why activating both sides of the brain is key to unlocking creativity
- How integrating creative and artistic practices into standard business processes can prime the brain for innovative thinking and solutions
- How creativity and fulfillment are related, at home and at work.
Listen to the podcast, “Embracing Creativity in the Workplace” on the Ghannad Group website.
Jeremy Greenberg’s company has published a report that shares insight and statistics into workplace diversity.
The research is clear that diversity in the workplace is good for both employers and employees.
Many prominent studies have found proven benefits of a more diverse work environment. These benefits include an increase in innovation, reduction in turnover, a higher level of creativity, and a more effective understanding of the needs of different market segments.
The corporate bottom line is affected as well. McKinsey reports that public companies with more diverse boards have higher levels of earnings.
Many large companies have diversity programs, which include the recruitment and development of women, racial minorities, and LGBTQ individuals. Homogeneous employment settings are now considered not merely a superficial public relations problem but a business effectiveness problem.
Areas covered in this article include:
- The importance of role models
- Underrepresentation in diversity baseline
- The diversity divide by category
- Diversity in digital media
Read the full article, Study Reveals Weak Diversity Among Key Role Models, on the Avenue Group website.
Diane Mulcahy explains why the current model of the office worker is difficult to change despite the evidence of increased productivity from the remote worker.
No one expected (or wanted) remote work to scale because of a virus and subsequent global pandemic. But, here we are.
The battle for remote work has been ongoing. Employees want the choice and flexibility to work outside the office at least some of the time, but many companies and even more managers resist it. Will this short-term (at minimum) and large-scale experiment in remote work change that?
It’s hard to argue any other outcome. Once companies have the processes and tools in place, and the results of weeks, or even months, of remote working, it will be difficult to put the genie back in the bottle.
That’s a good thing. The notion of mandatory daily employee attendance in the office is already obsolete. Not one – not one! – study suggests that working in an office eight hours a day, five days a week maximizes employee productivity, satisfaction, or performance. In fact, any data that exists on work in an office reveals that most employees aren’t engaged, waste a lot of time in the office not working, and that employee underperformance is a persistent problem, despite the omnipresence of management. Even worse, the direct costs of maintaining the traditional office-based workplace are high. CBRE estimates that the typical company in the U.S. spends upward of $12,000 per employee per year for office space. It’s hard to find a return-on-investment case for office space, and much harder still to find any company that makes a compelling one.
Included in this article:
- Links to studies on remote workers
- Key drivers of daily office attendance
- Quality of work
Read the full article, Remote Work Is The New Norm. Will It Last?, on the Forbes website.
Jason George shares an origin story of management consulting and lessons from the barnyard to highlight the benefits of putting people and practice before personal profit.
Marvin Bower faced a critical choice. He had led McKinsey & Company from its earliest years, in the process helping to define the fledgling field of management consulting. Now nearing retirement age, it was time to hand the reins to the next generation of leaders. As the principal shareholder in the partnership, Bower’s ownership stake was a gold mine, appreciating to many multiples of its value since his joining roughly thirty years prior.
To cash out he could sell to a third-party buyer interested in taking over operations. Alternatively, he could require the current partners of the firm to buy out his stake at market value. This would involve significant indebtedness that could constrain future agility.
Bower chose a radical, nearly unprecedented path. When the time came for him to step down as managing director, he elected to sell his shares back to the partnership at their nominal book value instead of their true market price. In the process he would forego a massive windfall, while also setting an example that would reverberate throughout the organization for decades to come. For Bower, a one-time gain was not worth more than investing in the culture and health of the institution he had laboriously built up.
Points of interest in this article include:
- Bain & Company’s downturn
- The twist in modern capitalism
- Establishing the ownership structure for investing
Read the full article, How giving away value can create more, on Jason’s website.
Sarah Ralston Miller and Zaheera Soomar co-authored this article on how to support and strengthen company culture during the current crisis.
Through the Covid-19 pandemic, our world of work has changed almost overnight. In the past few weeks, we’ve spoken with senior leaders at organizations with whom we have been working to strengthen their ethical culture. These leaders understand that their culture is an essential resource to navigate through the current crisis, and are finding new ways to cultivate ethical culture under these radically-changed circumstances. Drawing on our conversations with leaders across business and civil society, here are a few reflections on ways to guide your own culture during this period.
Be deliberate about your remote-based culture. It is important that we understand how the shift to remote work environments impacts our organizational culture, no matter how temporary we hope it will be. Being intentional about what we put in place can enable benefits and mitigate risks. Transitioning to remote work without building a corresponding culture creates multiple risks, including loss of employee engagement and inclusion, impact to productivity, lack of connectedness between individual and overall organization goals, increased fragmentation and risks of misconduct related to changing accountabilities.
Areas covered in this article include:
- Remote-based culture
- Agility and adaptability
Read the full article, Cultivating Culture in a Crisis, on the Principia website.
Geoff Wilson asks you to take a moment to look to the future and determine the impact of the legacy you want to leave.
We all leave a legacy of some sort. Ryan Newman’s survival of NASCAR’s worst wreck ever highlights the contrasts of passive and active legacies.
Do you know the legacy you are leaving with your business, team, or organization?
It’s surprising how little this topic actually gets highlighted when managers and executive teams focus on their strategic aims. Sure there are legacies that are left via who you are–for example the ethical legacies like that of Marvin Bower at McKinsey or innovation legacies like that of Gordon Moore of Intel and Moore’s Law fame. Those were probably not forged in a boardroom strategy session but rather through strength of personality.
But, there are also legacies left in a couple of other ways. There are passive legacies that result accidentally, and there are active legacies that result from thoughtful focus and intervention. This weekend offered a stark contrast of the two.
Monday’s Daytona 500 ended with a vicious wreck where driver Ryan Newman–leading the race at the time–was bumped from behind and spun violently into the wall of the final turn in the race. His car, pictured above, went airborne, was struck broadside by another car at 190 miles per hour, landed on its roof, and then slid for a quarter mile or more in a conflagration of sparks and flames.
Read the full article, Legacy Lessons from NASCAR’s Worst Wreck Ever, on the Wilson Growth Partners website.
Dan Markovitz explains why some methods of measuring performance and quality seriously lack the data to make an impact.
Pity the employees at a Starbucks in midtown NYC. In a misguided attempt to improve quality, the management posts monthly scores on a variety of metrics. . . without understanding anything about effective use of metrics. Measurement is a good idea, but only if it’s done well. These measurements? Not so much.
If you read Mark Graban’s blog or book, you’ll immediately see problems with this chart. For one thing, three data points don’t make a trend. With no upper and lower control limits, the movement in scores is nothing more than management by emoji — we have no way of knowing whether the movement is just random noise in a stable system, or a real signal indicating something significant happened. And why are they looking at the scores monthly? By the time they see a decline, it’s far too late to figure out what the root cause was and how to address it.
Read the full article, When Leaders Torture Their Employees, on the Markovitz Consulting website.
Paul Millerd tackles the origins and meaning of culture and provides a framework and lens for thinking about organizational culture in ways that can shape your corporate culture.
Culture is a messy term. In 1952, two Academics, Kroeber and Kluckhohn, completed a comprehensive review of the term and found that by then there were over 134 definitions.
As Kroeber and Kluckhohn explored the history of the word, they found all roads pointing to Germany, where the word was emerging as “cultur”:
Kant, for instance, like most of his contemporaries, still spells the word Cultur, but uses it repeatedly, always with the meaning of cultivating or being cultured
It wasn’t until the late 1800’s that the word started to form into the modern form of the word, adopted by Anthropologists and other academics who were studying foreign cultures.
Sir Edward Tyler’s book Primitive Culture from 1870 is often marked as a shift toward the modern definition:
‘that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society.’
By the 1950’s there were over 100 definitions of the word and that was before organizations started using the term.
In the 1980’s, Edgar Schein’s research expanded the scope of the world to modern organizations and the way we talk about companies has never been the same.
Areas discussed in this essay include:
- How culture arises
- Why the idea of a unified, single culture is wrong
- A framework for thinking about culture (hint: it’s not actually a pyramid)
- The two factors that shape how a culture solidified
- The role of anxiety in learning and culture
- The stages of culture development
- Identifying a “strong” culture
- How to assess culture in your own company
Read the full essay, Edgar Schein’s Anxiety & Assumptions: Powerful Ideas On Culture, on the Boundless website.
Jesse Jacoby identifies a few of the core issues that can arise when bringing a new manager into the workplace.
Good things are possible when new managerial blood is brought into an organization. For one thing, there are often fresh ideas. You know yourself how easy it is to get so close to something that you can’t see the forest for the trees. You can’t see a solution that’s obvious to someone from the outside. And, of course, if you don’t grow, then the status quo will feel normal. It will be the thing that you sub-consciously pursue. If you were asked point blank if this was your goal, then you’d deny it outright; nevertheless, it wouldn’t change the fact that you were in a rut and loving it.
This article covers:
-Changes to an organization’s culture, or that of a department or unit
-The dangers of bringing in new blood
-Recognising and dealing with repercussions
Read the full article, A Managerial Transfusion: The Danger of New Blood, on the Emergent Consultant’s website.
Geoff Wilson explains what Andrew Luck’s recent retirement from football should teach executives about protecting top talent.
If you are an organizational leader who is leaning on a few star talents surrounded by a supporting cast of also-rans to ‘gut it out’ on a daily basis, you are playing a very dangerous game. Because when your top talent has had enough–when you have extracted enough of their soul by asking them to jump on yet another grenade dropped by a poor performing organization–it will be fully justified to go elsewhere.
And, if you aren’t doing this explicitly, it might be good to take a moment and reflect on whether you are doing this implicitly. Take a look at the team you lead and ask whether you are leaning a bit too heavily on a talented few. Take a look at the organization you lead and ask whether you are counting too much on a few talented teams to carry the rest of the organization.
Do this not because you have the time to do it. Nobody does. Do it because you can’t afford to grind your top talent down to a joyless nub.
Read the full article, What Andrew Luck just taught us about protecting top talent, on Wilson Growth Partners’ website.
Christy Johnson shares highlights from the 2019 Project Ascendance Summit and reflects on commonalities among the Gen Zers workforce, including what they expect from companies.
Giving back has been at our core from the beginning. The Artemis Connection 4.5% Promise supports our vision of creating a positive impact so everyone can reach their full potential. It is our commitment to helping change lives, communities, and organizations. Each year, we dedicate 4.5% of our time through pro bono work, volunteering, and board involvement in communities across the country.
Points included in this article:
-Commonalities among Gen Zers
-Strategies used to respond to the changing workforce
Read the full article, We Believe in Giving Back – 4.5% Annual Report 2018-2019, on the Artemis Connection website.