Category Archives: Strategic Planning

Research Refining the Vision of the Future of HR

CEO Perspectives Screen ShotA couple of weeks ago, I published a blog here discussing the revolutionary opportunities Human Resource professionals now have in reshaping their role in the organization.  As a follow up to that blog, I’d like to share a study that was recently published  by The Economist Intelligence Unit entitled, “CEO Perspectives ~ How HR Can Take On A Bigger Role In Driving Growth”.  The study, co-sponsored by Oracle and IBM, surveyed 235 “C” level executives, of which 57% were CEOs.

The study points out two driving trends that are intersecting to fundamentally change the opportunities HR professionals have to elevate their strategic input in organizational success.  First is the rise of knowledge workers, something I’ve been discussing since 2008 when I began writing my book, “The Transformational Entrepreneur”.  This reflects the fundamental shift regarding the inputs of value creation in companies.  Human beings, and their creativity, are now the raw material for the creation of commercially viable intellectual property and processes.  This changes everything.

The second relates to the outsourcing of the transactional, historical, administrative functions of HR.  Areas such as payroll, pensions and compliance have been and can be outsourced to third parties and two thirds of companies now outsource some portion of these administrative functions.  This frees up HR to truly reinvent itself to focus on driving the strategic value of talent and ascend to a new level of critical functionality within the organization.

To quote directly from the study, “Unburdened by some of their former responsibilities, HR specialists have a chance to transform their role, exploiting their image as experts in people to place themselves at the heart of the debate on a company’s strategic direction.”  This also has implications that cut both ways.  If HR doesn’t take the necessary steps to impact both the strategic and financial trajectory of the organization they may find themselves marginalized to the point of irrelevance.

CEOs are pulling for HR executives to step up and contribute at a higher level.  The study revealed 55% of CEOs report that HR is a key player in the strategic planning of the organization, yet 70% expressed their desire to see HR take a stronger leadership role in this process.  The door is open.

The study goes on to identify two factors that are holding HR back in capturing this opportunity.  The study states, “Perhaps heads of HR are not being included in strategic planning because doubts linger about whether they have the requisite breadth of business knowledge to participate productively”.  Of the CEOs surveyed, 41% believe their HR executives are “too focused on process and rules” and 37% say they don’t “understand the business well enough”.  This is a perception that I addressed in my previous blog regarding the opportunities to develop one’s own business acumen.

The second constraining factor relates to performance outside the traditional confines of the HR function.  While two thirds of CEOs believe HR performs well in their traditional role, approximately half or fewer think HR is making the grade in talent development, succession planning, or creating a high performance culture.  Another recent survey identified the fact that Board of Directors believe talent management is totally failing to make a positive impact on company performance.  Why is this?  There’s a misalignment in what many HR executives perceive to be the CEOs’ areas of primary concern.  I’ve seen this firsthand in discussion groups of senior HR executives at various conferences…they don’t always understand and appreciate what’s keeping the CEO awake at night.  They would be well served to understand this primary customer’s areas of concern.

What are these concerns?  According to the study, CEOs are worried about (in order of significance):

  1. Insufficient talent within the organization as a whole (56%).
  2. Insufficient leadership talent (43%).
  3. Lack of alignment of individual and business objectives (41%).
  4. Low employee satisfaction (38%).

CEOs have also expressed a need to capture a 20% increase in productivity from existing resources in order to meet current financial and performance obligations (Corporate Executive Board, 2013).  In fact, McKinsey & Co.® recently released a major study that indicates companies will need to achieve a 30% improvement in current productivity in order to maintain the same levels of growth and the standard of living we all enjoyed in the 1960s.

The study makes some suggestions as to how HR leaders can ascend to a more strategic role within the organization.  It comes down to cultivating stronger relationships with the CEO and functional heads by demonstrating insight and competency, ensuring cohesion amongst the leadership team, and taking the initiative and being accountable in this new level of authority and impact on the organization.  These recommendations are less specific than the recommendations I offered in my previous blog, but are very much in alignment.

© 2013, Terry Murray.

1 Comment

Filed under Health Care, Leadership Development, Organizational Culture, Strategic Planning, Talent Management

Experts Discuss the Importance of Emotional Intelligence in Business and Education on The Gail Shane Show

I recently had the privilege of co-hosting The Gail Shane Show on WSRQ – Sarasota with, of course, Gail Shane.  The subject of the program explored the critical role Emotional Intelligence competencies (Self-Awareness, Self-Regulation, Social Awareness, Relationship Management skills and Empathy) have on creating and sustaining competitive advantage in business, education, and in our own personal lives.  We were fortunate to have on our panel neurosurgeon Dr. Ravi Rao, the author of “Emotional Business: Inspiring Human Connectedness To Grow Earnings And The Economy, Becky Canesse, CEO of Just For Girls, and Dr. Jennifer Rosenboom, the Principal of the Just For Girls Academy.

I’ve edited the podcast replay into three segments, which you can listen to by clicking the audio players below:

Segment One ~ Dr. Ravi Rao and Terry Murray discuss the neurology of human emotions, leveraging neuroscience to develop engaging and inspirational leaders, and how organizational  mastery of our emotional landscape contributes to competitive advantage, engagement, productivity and business performance (13 minutes).

Segment Two ~ Becky Cannesse and Dr. Jennifer Rosenboom discuss how they’re educating the whole child by cultivating empathy, compassion, resiliency, and Emotional Intelligence skills in young girls and how Equine Facilitated Experiential Learning, conducted by Performance Transformation, LLC™, has contributed to the girls’ development (8 minutes).

Segment Three ~ Ravi, Terry, Gail, Becky and Jennifer discuss methods for teaching emotional awareness skills, how Equine Facilitated Experiential Learning accelerates and supports the emergence of Emotional Intelligence competencies, and strategies for cultivating a positive, emotional landscape in organizations, businesses, and families (13 minutes).

Thanks again to Gail Shane, WSRQ – Sarasota, Sarasota Manatee Association for Riding Therapy (SMART), our collaborator and host for Equine programs, and Neal Communities, the sponsor, for having us on the air!

© 2013, Terry Murray, The Gail Shane Show.

Leave a comment

Filed under Experiential Learning, Health Care, Leadership Development, Organizational Culture, Sales Training, Strategic Planning, Talent Management, Team Building

Performance Transformation, LLC™ Launches Services For Private Equity And Angel Investor Markets

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Professional and strategic development firm integrates machine learning technology and neuroscience research to quantify and address leadership risk, employee engagement, productivity, innovation and accelerate earnings performance.

VENICE, Fla. — Performance Transformation, LLC™ (Venice, FL) announced today the launch of their newest service offering specifically tailored for Private Equity firms and Angel Investors. The Performance Equity portfolio offers an array of custom services and technologies designed to fully address the greatest risk factor in equity financing; the human element of leadership teams.

The evolutionary approach integrates insights, assessments and development tools garnered from recent discoveries from the neurosciences with a machine learning platform that employs advanced algorithms to generate predictive analytics.

“This is truly innovative, bringing a level of analytical sophistication to private markets that was previously only available to major firms operating in public markets,” said Terry Murray, founder and Managing Partner of Performance Transformation. “Being able to quantify and mitigate human risk factors within leadership teams is a powerful first step, but it’s just the beginning. Going forward, our clients will be positioned to leverage Big Data into business intelligence of unprecedented value.”

Founded in 2008, Performance Transformation, LLC is a leading innovator in driving organizational performance. The firm takes a comprehensive approach of optimizing and aligning leadership, strategy and organizational culture to drive breakthrough productivity, engagement, and innovation. Mr. Murray is also the author of “The Transformational Entrepreneur”, which was cited by the academic Journal of Economic Literature for its thought leadership in March, 2012.

“For Angel Investors, the human elements and dynamics of the leadership team have always represented the greatest risk factor in their investment portfolio,” added Mr. Murray, who has been working within the investor-driven startup community since 2001. “Until now, there has not been a way to standardize, quantify, and proactively address these factors scientifically. This is a game changer. Angels are continuously collecting reams of due diligence information that, once the investment decision is made, turns fallow. Our approach will enable them to leverage that information into remarkably valuable business intelligence to optimize the IRR on their portfolios.”

Performance Transformation has identified an antecedent, causal correlation between assessable, neurological styles and the top leadership competencies shared by today’s high performers. Their proprietary Accretive Coaching Process℠ employs an educationally-based approach to cultivate new neural pathways in the prefrontal cortex and frontal lobe, breaking constrained thinking patterns that take root in the Basal Ganglia. The resulting neural networks enable adaptive thinking to emerge, the type of thinking entrepreneurs and executives require in today’s volatile, rapidly changing environment. The developmental approach is grounded in tangible, stretch business objectives to drive immediate performance improvements. The firm has partnered with Root 5 Systemics™ (Toronto, ON) and Talent Sprocket™ (St. Petersburg, FL) to enable the integration of advanced, team dynamic assessments and the predictive analtyics engine.

“For several years, we were way ahead of the curve,” commented Terry. “Being the lone voice in the wilderness takes intestinal fortitude, but that’s where innovators reside. It’s all paid off, as our approach and vision is being validated nearly every day now. The U.S. Army just published a study that aligns with and validates our insights and one of the largest corporations in the United States has adopted the core premise of our methodologies.” Mr. Murray’s work was also formally commended by General David Petraeus in 2010.

Addressing the value this represents for the Private Equity sector, Terry points to the annual State of American Business report from Gallup®.

“For the twelth year running, Gallup reports employee engagement levels are endemically stuck at 3 out of 10 employees. Seventy percent of employees are asleep at the switch or even worse, working at cross-purpose with their employers. This represents a talent arbitrage opportunity within many, many firms. We’re talking about the raw material of value creation in the 21st Century; human talent. For many firms, approximately 50% of their payroll is delivering little or no return on investment. If Henry Ford had a scrap rate of 50% on his raw materials, I doubt it would have become an endemic productivity and earnings drain for more than a decade. He would have done something about it!”

Mr. Murray adds, “Our integrative approach can scientifically identify these opportunities and, more importantly, fuel rapid turnarounds in employee engagement, productivity and the resulting innovation that will flow from intelligent, organizational and leadership rehabilitation. We can cut development costs while achieving breakthrough improvements in productivity and earnings. This approach will revolutionize management practices going forward.”

© 2013, Performance Transformation, LLC™.  All Rights Reserved.

Leave a comment

July 9, 2013 · 10:26 am

Five Steps for Solving the Endemic Employee Disengagement Crisis

The Gallup Company® just released their annual report, The State of the American Workforce ~ 2013, and once again, employee engagement levels are woefully low.  Sadly, this isn’t news.  This has been consistently reported upon for at least ten years.  Addressing employee engagement represents the most cost effective way a company can improve productivity and profitability.  Here’s a few strategies that can make a difference in a few short months.

It’s an issue we’ve been discussing for years.  In fact, one of my earliest blogs on this site explored this very topic.  While we speak with business leaders and HR executives every day, we hear them expressing their desire to improve on collaboration, innovation, productivity and performance.  None of these objectives can emerge without first engaging the workforce, both cognitively and emotionally.  Yet, for some reason, the disconnect remains.  The recent Gallup study identifies only 30% of employees are engaged, 20% are actively disengaged (meaning their spreading discontent and working at cross purpose with their employers…actually destroying value), and 50% are disengaged, meaning they’re sleepwalking through their day.  Our additional research identifies the fact that upwards of 50% of many firms’ payrolls, their single largest expense line, is delivering little to no return on investment.

When we consider that in today’s New Economy, value creation in business emerges through the efficient commercialization of intellectual property, we must understand that human beings are the new raw material of production.  Now, if Henry Ford had been experiencing a scrap rate of 50% on steel, his raw material of the day, I think he would have found his way down to the factory floor and addressed it in relatively short order.  Yet, the Gallup study reveals this endemic situation has been steady since 2001.  Eleven years of leaving value lying fallow on industries’ floor.

How important is this issue for businesses, hospitals and our economy overall?  Let’s take a look…

The Business Case for Employee Engagement ~

Actively disengaged employees cost the U.S. economy an estimated $450 billion to $550 billion in lost productivity every year.

For a small to medium size company, with 100 employees averaging (on the low end) $45,000 in salary and benefits, actively disengaged employees are costing the business owner $1,350,000 in wasted compensation and, conservatively, another $500,000 in destroyed productivity of fellow associates.  Giving the sleepwalkers the benefit of the doubt, that they’re contributing something at least half of the time, are also costing the business owner $1,125,000 in wasted compensation.  As a business owner, can you afford to keep tossing approximately $3 million a year out the window?

Looking at the comparisons between companies in the top quartile of reported engagement, versus those in the bottom quartile of engagement, higher engaged firms:

~ Score 10% higher in customer ratings

~ Are 22% more profitable

~ Have 65% lower turnover rates

~ Enjoy 37% lower absenteeism

~ Incur 48% fewer safety-related accidents

~ Experience 28% lower shrinkage

~ Create 41% fewer quality defects

~ Hospitals incur 41% fewer patient safety incidents

After twenty five years of leadership experience, in both corporate and entrepreneurial settings, and five years of research, application and validation of our philosophy and approach at Performance Transformation, LLC™, we know how to solve employee disengagement in five, relatively easy, and very cost affordable steps (you’ll actually lower your training and development expenses by following our suggestions while unleashing remarkable breakthroughs in productivity, creativity and innovation):

mckinsey-quarterly-right-leaders-image-0031.) Address the broken, traditional leadership development approach.  Over the past 20 years, corporations and institutions have invested upwards of $1 trillion in leadership development programs.  The results?  Thanks to Gallup’s study, we’re staring them right in the face…and McKinsey & Company reported in July, 2011 only 1% of “C” level and “one-step down” executives scored excellent in eight key leadership competencies.  Nearly 90% scored below average.  Leadership development based in the theories of behavioral psychology simply don’t work.  If you disagree, please show me the proof.  We must migrate to an approach based in neuroscience to address the underlying causation of behaviors in the workplace.  We must conduct leadership development around tangible business outcomes.  Experiential learning and immediate application, framed by an educationally-based coaching process is essential.  Demand a clear ROI to be reported on every developmental investment from your vendors.

2.) Help HR bring their focus and practices into the landscape of the 21st Century.  While line management is playing to win, based upon their historical charter of responsibilities, HR has little choice but to play not to lose.  Due to this, many HR practices have naturally evolved to be highly risk-averse at a time when boldness and leadership is most needed.  As an example, traditional Diversity & Inclusion training (another $8 billion per year expense with no discernible ROI) is archaic and typically a vacuous exercise lacking context, strategic communication, or business application.  D&I training needs to transform into Collaboration & Innovation learning.  We’re already diverse (companies are very multi-cultural and multi-generational, but still far too homogenous at the senior levels), but real inclusion cannot emerge without engagement.  Also, resist automating misaligned HR practices still rooted in the Industrial Age with Talent Management systems that are little more than CRM platforms turned inward.  First, process map your procedures and competency models to see if they’re actually in alignment with the rapidly changing needs of the business.  Then, and only then, migrate to systems that enable predictive analytics through the use of machine learning technology.  It is through this application that insights into the future will emerge rather than simply accelerating and duplicating the broken processes of the past.

3.) Stop spending money on foolish Team Building workshops.  Get down off the ropes courses, stop building toy boats in resort swimming pools, put the paint gun pistols down, and leave the trust falls to adolescent summer camps where they belong.  Many of these so-called team building activities are exclusionary to older workers, workers that may have physical limitations, or workers that have differing cultural concerns.  Want to cultivate collaborative behaviors?  Focus on cultivating relationship-based skills (i.e. Emotional Intelligence) and only conduct Team Building within the direct and immediate context of the business.  Invest in employee development using meaningful and science-based learning modalities.  The recent discoveries from the neurosciences provides us with rich insights into what truly matters and provides us with a roadmap for sparking lasting, meaningful neurological change in perspectives and orientations of one’s self, of others, and how we can engage in positive communication and open collaboration.

4.) Create an organizational culture that embraces and celebrates intrinsic values (authentic relationships, purposefulness, personal and professional development, being a part of something larger than one’s self, service to others) over extrinsic values (money, power, prestige).  Intrinsic values are core to human happiness while extrinsic values are anchored in culture and conditioning.  We were all born to care for one another; it’s part of our primary survival mechanism.  No other mammal on the planet is born more vulnerable or develops more slowly than human beings.  Without empathy and compassion, our natural, inborn attributes that enabled us to evolve over the past 80,000 years, we never would have survived as a species.  Leveraging intrinsic values engages the entire human continuum, transcending the superficial differences of cultural perspectives and generational orientations.

5.) Align and optimize transformational leadership, enlightened strategy and a highly engaging and inclusive organizational culture.  This is the primary theme of my book, The Transformational Entrepreneur ~ Engaging The Mind, Heart & Spirit For Breakthrough Business Success, published in February, 2011.  Companies that thrive follow this path.  This isn’t conjecture, the book provides historical facts and was cited by the academic Journal of Economic Literature in March, 2012.

It truly is this straight forward.  But if you want to thrive, and going forward, simply survive in business, the first step is up to you.  You have to want to make the change, awaken and take a few steps forward, and stop simply talking about it.

© 2013, Terry Murray.

1 Comment

Filed under Health Care, Leadership Development, Organizational Culture, Strategic Planning, Talent Management

The Sun Coast Renaissance ~ How Leadership, Entrepreneurship and Innovation are Reshaping SW Florida

RiverwalkFlyerSmFor those of you that may have missed it, there was a remarkable event conducted this past weekend in Bradenton, Florida (a city experiencing its own economic renaissance).  Riverwalk 2013 was a four day event, the middle two days of which were highlighted by the gathering of some of Florida’s best and brightest entrepreneurs and innovators.  On Friday, the Spark Growth Economic Development Conference brought together leaders from several of Florida’s higher educational institutions’ technology transfer organizations, young entrepreneurs that are reshaping our region’s start-up incubators and business accelerators, representatives from every echelon of the private equity and funding continuum, and successful CEOs that are moving their enterprises into our region.  The keynote speaker for the day was Jim Stikeleather, the Chief Innovation Officer of Dell, who brought his thought leadership to the forum through his insightful presentation entitled, “Disruptive Technologies and Disruptive Business Models: In a perfect economy where is growth and return?”

For those of us that have plied our professions in such high tech hotspots as Cambridge, Mass., the San Francisco Bay Area, Boulder, Colorado, Research Triangle Park, or other areas, Florida’s thin, sandy soil once felt a bit loose for our entrepreneurial aspirations.  This is no longer the case.  A new economic ecology is rapidly emerging, enriching the startup and innovative soil that lies between the beaches and the amusement parks.  The elements that came together to spark the fore-mentioned innovation hubs are rapidly emerging in the Sunshine State.  What was most impressive about the Economic Development Conference was the authentic intention displayed by all those that spoke and attended the meetings.  We were all there at our own expense, seeking to share our knowledge openly.

On Saturday, I attended my second (and their seventh) BarCamp Sarasota Un-convention, along with more than 340 other difference-makers from the area.  This is a self-organizing conference, bringing together entrepreneurs, technologists, and local business thought leaders to once again, share their knowledge openly.  This spirit of open collaboration is at the heart of what is undoubtedly a unique and profound example of authentic community.  Welcome to Leadership 2.0; leadership that emerges from all corners of our community and our organizations.  Michael O’Donnell, founder of iCopyright, Inc. and Leaves.com, who spoke the day prior, commented, “Corporations lead from the top down.  Entrepreneurs lead from the bottom up.”

BarCamp Sarasota is a refreshing forum in which anyone can sign up to speak (there were more than three dozen presentations offered) and the attending community is the only managing filter.  They vote with their feet.  There’s no controlling committee acting as a gatekeeper, screening submissions from their call for speakers submissions.  This openness breaks the control of the status quo, unleashing the kind of exchange we see in social media environments.  Creative, innovative, open.

What’s so striking for me is to contrast this past weekend’s events with a major HR conference, populated by senior executives from Fortune 500 companies, I recently spoke at in February.  It is a contrast of motion versus inertia.  Hungry, grass-roots entrepreneurs gathering to put forth answers to the challenges businesses and society faces today; listening, sharing, learning and acting.  This is the seedbed of innovation and new value creation, where agility and open networks trump market share and capital reserves.  It is from this soil that the next generation of purposeful, mindful leaders will emerge.

I wish to thank the community sponsors and countless volunteers that worked so diligently to make this past weekend a reality.  Special thanks to the Spark Growth/BarCamp Sarasota leadership team;  Sara Hand, Stan Schultes, Tracy Ingram, and Evie Totty.

If you missed this event, I highly recommend following the BarCamp Sarasota initiative for their next event!

© 2013, Terry Murray.

6 Comments

May 6, 2013 · 1:37 pm

How One Simple Step Can Solve Your Engagement, Inclusion and Collaboration Challenges

Many organizations seem to be mired in employee disengagement, seemingly at a loss as to how to reignite passion amongst their workers. At the same time, CEOs know they must spark cross-functional, and even cross-organizational collaboration, capturing and leveraging diverse cultural and generational experiences and perspectives in order to maintain their competitive edge and improve productivity. So why is it companies seem to be handcuffed in stasis, unable to break out and innovate in the manner they seek?

Barriers of Hierarchy.001Much of the inertia comes from the very structure of the organization itself; its hierarchy.  Several years ago I wrote in my book, “How we structure the organization is a reflection of how we perceive function, and once established, how we function is highly influenced by our structure.”   Hierarchical structure is ideal for creating economies of scale and wringing out variability of processes (think Six Sigma) in pursuit of quality through standardization.  But it comes at a price.  Hierarchies also introduce layer upon layer of barriers to communication and cooperation resulting in silos of thought and the defense of symbolic, if only imaginary, turf.  Years of downsizing and cost cutting has exacerbated these barriers as associates keep their heads down and dig in their heels with their peers and direct reports.

Source: Library of Congress

Source: Library of Congress

Hierarchies have been the dominant structure for so long it may seem this form of organization structure is the de facto, natural form of large organizations.  This hasn’t always been the case.  In fact, a recent discovery of what is quite likely one of the first corporate Org Charts, created by an executive for the New York and Erie Railroad, circa 1855, shows an entirely different perspective.  Instead of the top-down pyramid of hierarchical structure, we see a bottom up organization that resembles a tree.  The board of directors are represented at the roots and executive management moves up into the trunk while line managers branch out along the various front lines of the railroad.  This places leadership at the base and reflects a perspective of senior leadership’s role in nurturing and providing strength for the growth of the corporation, empowering front line management with the authority to make immediate decisions in real-time.  This was no small issue when trains ran in two directions on the same tracks.  Any miscommunication, in the age of the telegraph, would result in horrific, head-on collisions.  Not good for the paying customers or the shareholders, to say the least.

John Kotter's Strategy Accelerator

John Kotter’s Strategy Accelerator

This network empowered the rapid information flow and immediate decision making necessary to safely and efficiently move freight and passengers up and down the line; the very source of the railroad’s value creation.  In many ways, it foreshadowed client/server information systems and the internet.  It is also very similar to the Strategy Accelerator John Kotter wrote about in the October, 2012 edition of the Harvard Business Review.

Professor Kotter is a pragmatist, with a deep understanding of change management and the seemingly endemic resistance to change most organizations demonstrate (historically, 70% of change management initiatives fail).  Realizing one cannot toss out the baby with the bath water, Professor Kotter recommends creating a concurrent, open network to reside alongside the hierarchy.  One comprised of Affective vs Traditonal Leadership Graphic.001volunteers and guided by a coalition of cross-functional leaders.  Strategic initiatives are spun out into the network to be acted upon and associates are asked to participate.  This not only sidesteps hierarchical barriers, it provides fertile soil for Next Gen leaders to emerge.  Leaders that influence and inspire through their ideas and actions.  Leaders that can arise from any corner of the organization.

Collaborize Open Network SlideWhile this initiative is promising (and Kotter has implemented it successfully in several organizations) we saw the need to add infrastructure to the architecture.  Our open network partner, Democrasoft®, brings innovative, content collaboration and knowledge sharing technology to this organizational design.  It opens up the network for transparent communication, eliminating the dependency on emails for content sharing (knowledge workers spend an average of 81 days per year reading, writing, and searching for information on endless email threads), and capturing tacit knowledge for the support of Big Data and the application of predictive analytics.  In effect, it represents both the telegraph wires and railroad tracks of the New Economy.  It also enables senior executives to see collaboration in real-time.  The structure enables open discussions that tag Great Ideas™ to their initiators, enabling entirely new incentives to be adopted and leveraged to drive desirable, collaborative behaviors.  The platform can also reach outside of the brick and mortar to engage customers and ideas from beyond the walls of the organization.  All while maintaining the day-to-day efficiencies of the established hierarchy.

Organizations that adopt this innovative, cost effective approach and supporting technology can quickly sidestep the organizational barriers to communication and collaboration while sparking engagement (especially with Gen-X and Gen-Y), authentic inclusion of diverse ideas, and the significant productivity gains necessary to stay competitive in the New Economy.  You’re welcome to download a PDF white paper fully exploring this approach: An Integrative Approach to Igniting Sustainable, Competitive Advantage in Our World of Accelerating Change eVersion.

Great Ideas is a trademark of Democrasoft, Inc.

© 2013, Terry Murray.

Leave a comment

March 12, 2013 · 12:49 pm

From Knowledge Management to Content Collaboration – Unleashing Value Creation in the 21st Century

I’d like to share some exciting research and insights from several business thought leaders that have come to light over the past seven months that point to the remarkable business opportunities that are right before us!

In the November, 2012 edition of the McKinsey Quarterly®, research published in the article, “Capturing Business Value With Social Technologies” provides us with a glimpse into the breathtaking potential of creating real business value through the targeted application of social connectivity platforms.  Obviously, we’re not talking about Facebook here, but emerging media designed specifically for business.  What the authors of the article have discovered is too important to paraphrase, so I’ll quote them directly:

“An in-­depth  analysis  of  four  industry  sectors  that  represent  almost 20  percent  of  global  industry  sales  suggests  that  social  platforms can  unlock  $900  billion  to  $1.3  trillion  in  value  in  those  sectors   alone.  Two-­thirds  of  this  value  creation  opportunity  lies  in  improving  communication  and  collaboration  within  and  across  enterprises.”

As promising as this sounds, technology, in and of itself, is not the entirety of the answer.  Capturing this promise will require a shift in leadership perspective.  One that ferries organizations, and most importantly, organizational culture from an orientation forged during the Industrial Age to one that truly fits what author and thought leader Don Tapscott calls The Age of Networked Intelligence.

In an interview (also from the McKinsey Quarterly) that was published last month entitled, “Making Internal Collaboration Work”, Don Tapscott shared his views on the subject.  First, he states that Knowledge Management has failed.  According to Mr. Tapscott, attempting to containerize knowledge in repositories is futile.  Why?  Because knowledge is not a static entity, nor a finite asset.  Tapscott also points to the false assumption that a company’s knowledge assets exists within the walls of the company.  In the interview, he states that the most important knowledge exists outside of the boundaries of the organization and the way to tap into it is through open collaboration.

Tapscott goes on to identify the problem with email, humorously pointing out that, like Mark Twain once said about the weather, “Everybody’s complaining about it, but no ones doing anything about it!”  (In actuality, we are…and I’ll share more below.) Email sequesters valuable information and knowledge resources.  Not only does email make access to knowledge difficult, it’s a time and productivity sink.  Referring again to research from the November McKinsey article, the researchers discovered that the typical interaction worker (i.e. knowledge worker) spends 28% of each day reading, writing and responding to emails.  This figure represents 13 hours a week or the equivalent of more than 80 days a year working on emails!  All to further lock away valuable, company knowledge into an unsearchable, uncatorgorized tomb.  The authors go on to identify that the productivity of interaction workers could be improved by 20% to 25% by migrating away from email and onto collaborative, open media platforms.  This is the exact productivity improvement CEOs have identified as necessary to maintain competitive advantage in today’s economic climate (as reported in the Corporate Executive Board 2013 Executive Guidance report).

Knowledge sharing on email, once initially exchanged, falls into a virtual safe deposit box that requires two keys to open; knowing exactly what it is that you’re looking to retrieve and remembering who that email was sent or received from.  The first iteration of Knowledge Management attempted to pull the knowledge out of the safe deposit boxes, but still left it in the vault.

Let’s take a look at this opportunity through another lens, one that will help us focus on how we get from where we are to where we need to be.  In order to incorporate and successfully orchestrate emerging social technologies for value creation we will need to prime the knowledge pump.  Here’s where traditional corporate training, another artifact from the Industrial Age, falls short.  In a white paper written by thought leader Jay Cross for Citrix® entitled, “Why Corporate Training is Broken and How to Fix It”, the author points to the challenges traditional training represent in a collaborative, networked world.  In his paper, Mr. Cross identifies the fact that 3 out of 4 Chief Learning Officers are dissatisfied with their corporate training programs and lack of results.  He points out as Industrial Age hierarchies begin the slow migration to collaborative networks, corporate training must follow suit.

Here’s a great example.  I got into a debate the other day on a LinkedIn discussion group focused on team building.  Having suffered through seemingly endless, nonsensical team building programs during my corporate days, be it ropes courses, game playing, or building toy boats in a resort swimming pool, I hold some strong opinions as to the vacuous nature of such investments.  As an executive, I sought a truly meaningful, efficacious and aligned approach to building cohesion and collaboration in the organizations I led.  It was a framing perspective for the development of our own, scientifically-substantiated Adaptive Team Building programs that focus on cultivating soft skills, that are truly causal skills, that positively effect team cohesion, creative thinking and collaboration.  The ropes course advocates took great offense.  Yet, with ten minutes of research, I discovered that by the year 2000, there were more than 20,000 such courses offering team building programs to businesses in the country.  The CAGR of courses was adding an additional 250 sites per year to the landscape.  Sitting here today, with somewhere between 20,000 and 25,000 of such programs in operation, why are we still searching for tools that support collaboration, cohesion and creative thinking in teams?  This Industrial Age approach to training no longer delivers value, if in fact, it ever did in the first place.

Jay Cross makes another insightful observation in his paper regarding the limitations of applying social technology without additional support.  He states, “Simply bolting on informal and social learning as a new technique doesn’t work.  A company cannot take full advantage of networked learning without shifting its values, culture and practices.  It must move toward becoming a collaborative organization.”  This migration requires the alignment and optimization of leadership, strategy and organizational culture; the fundamental premise and philosophy we at Performance Transformation have been discussing for five years.  Mr. Cross goes on to offer a four step approach to solving this dilemma.  Here are his recommended steps and Performance Transformation’s tools and solutions for igniting the value creating, collaborative flywheel:

1.) Create a Collaborative Culture.  This requires engagement well beyond the approximately 30% of associates that are actively engaged today (Gallup and the Chartered Management Institute).  Trust must be repaired.  This begins with adopting a fresh approach from transactional leadership toward transformational leadership.  Affective Leadership development focuses on cultivating the interpersonal and emotional intelligence skills that help leaders get off the dance floor and into the balcony by gaining insights into how their leadership neurologically and biochemically affects those they lead.  This approach literally invites engagement, the prerequisite for successful, open collaboration.

2.) Impart Collaborative Motivation.  Once again, we’re back to leadership, but also organizational structure.  Command-and-control leadership is as outdated to Gen X and Gen Y workers as an Etch-A-Sketch, and hierarchies can stifle motivation, especially in younger workers.  Introducing an Open Network Strategy Accelerator (“Accelerate”, Kotter, Harvard Business Review, October, 2012) that can thrive along side the efficiencies of the hierarchy opens the door for multi-generational, multi-cultural collaboration across company silos.

3.) Introduce a Collaborative Infrastructure.  While hierarchies can deliver remarkable efficiencies ensuring companies hit next quarter’s numbers, this structure is also stable to the point of being staid.  Hierarchies weren’t meant to be nimble.  Through our partners at Democrasoft, we’ve introduced a dynamic software infrastructure that supports the Open Network Strategy Accelerator described by Professor Kotter in the HBR.  This platform invites engagement and collaboration throughout the organization, cross pollenating creative ideas and insights, delivering remarkable visibility and transparency.  It pulls knowledge sharing and content collaboration out of email threads and onto a highly accessible, open platform.  The software even enables social branding initiatives to reach out into the marketplace as well as enabling segments of the network to open and capture knowledge from outside of the organization.

4.) Enable Collaborative Learning.  Our unique approach to collaborative learning incorporates Equine Facilitated Experiential Learning (EFEL).  Our relationship-based approach has been commended by General David Petraeus and, most recently, adopted into the core curriculum of a charter school for at-risk girls.  It is not traditional training.  It is experiential learning on a truly collaborative level, both with fellow participants and the horses.  It is no more static than today’s economic landscape and engages the participants in a research-based, statistically substantiated and efficacious approach to professional development.

Touching on what Don Topscott shares in his TED video, he identifies four principles necessary for success in the new, open world.  They are collaboration, transparency, sharing of assets, and empowerment; all dramatic shifts from traditional managerial philosophy.  Again, we’re back to leadership, strategy and organizational culture as the overarching drivers of creating nimble, engaged, and innovative companies.

The point is, there’s no one, silver bullet solution to the challenges and opportunities we face today.  Success going forward will require an integrative approach to how we connect, engage, inspire and motivate human beings to collaborate and co-create in the age of Networked Intelligence; the rapidly emerging source of business value creation in the 21st century.

© 2013, Terry Murray.

Learn more about our integrative approach at Performance Transformation, LLC™.

Leave a comment

Filed under Experiential Learning, Health Care, Leadership Development, Organizational Culture, Strategic Planning, Team Building