Tag: blog

The Hidden Costs of Change

One of the biggest reasons that big initiatives fail is because people have failed to assess the hidden costs of change. The benefits of pursuing a given course – launching a new product, or expanding into new territory – may be outweighed by hidden costs that motivate certain people to cling to the status quo. Unmasking …

The Danger of Workarounds

Decisions can be very difficult to manage in settings where people aren’t used to accepting responsibility – or where the structure works against it. Position accountability (what the position is accountable for) and responsibility (what the person actually can do) can get wildly out of synch. This often is due to what we call “nichifying.” …

The Genius of Learning Organizations

The genius of the reciprocating engine lies in the cyclical action of the piston and cylinder. Each downward stroke exerts force on the piston rod while the upward motion draws fuel into the cylinder for the next cycle. The genius of learning organizations is in creating an engine of accelerating change. The downward stroke, if …

Battling Bureaucratic Creep

Bureaucracy is the force in direct opposition to emergent intelligence. Fostering creative flow means constantly battling bureaucratic “creep.” Bureaucracy begins because a manager feels he or she has to exert control over something. So a “checkpoint” is installed to monitor the quality of a particular decision – say a customer service decision that has minor …

Managing the Work-Life Balance

Good leaders maintain a healthy work-life balance. They communicate that this is something they value in others, too. They establish a pattern for their personal life – whether it’s being home for dinner four nights a week, attending choir practice, or being a part of their kids’ school activities. They provide opportunities, whether through flexible …

4 Keys to Highly Effective Meetings

The key to highly effective meetings is not what you do during the meeting, but what you do before and after the meeting. Here are four of the practices that we teach: 1. Take ownership of the agenda. Before the meeting, decide what outcomes you want, what decisions need to be made, the time required, …

Hidden Learning Loops

Every organization has what we call “hidden learning loops.” These networks of information send powerful signals to employees. Who has access to the boss? Who gets the newest computers? Whose budget is protected? Whose ego is prickly? Patterns like these send powerful messages – and create hidden learning loops in the organization. Consider the question …

Celebrate Failure

Leaders should not only celebrate successes, but failures as well. Failures are inevitable on the path of innovation, and smart leaders know there’s much to be learned from failure. We worked with a company that made software applications for medium-sized companies. Tom, the company’s CEO, was a big, affable guy in his mid-40s and a …

5 Unexpected Qualities of Great Leaders

“I don’t know anyone who planned to be here,” a CEO of a software company remarked during a forum for CEOs. “I think I got here because of a combination of luck, character, and divine design.” It’s true that you can’t plot your course exactly. But here are five unexpected qualities of virtually every great …

Defining Roles in Your Organization

From the board of directors, CEO, and the executive team on down, it is essential for every person within an organization to have clearly defined roles. That sounds like a basic concept, doesn’t it? So why do so many businesses or organizations get bogged down in bureaucracy when it comes to decision making? It’s because …