Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Transforming the Future

My wife commented recently that most portrayals of the future are not optimistic. The Economist Magazine The World in 2015 confirms her opinion. It is full of articles based on what in business we call lagging indicators. These are the results, or output, from the system. In the case of our current world situation there seems to be negative output and chaos from the system of world order. Most of the articles take these lagging indicators (and they are many) as a semi permanent pattern and project a future based on the past. This is based on what I call incremental development of the current pattern. To transform this situation one has simply to take a new point of view(s) and seek outputs that create more peace and order. This creates a group of leading indicators that require one to take actions to create and implement the new pattern. This is I call leadership. Since this scenario does not appear anywhere in the magazine, and if the magazine reflects general world opinion or expert opinion, then it appears that we don’t have any active point of leadership. The Economist does mention the lack of leadership in the world but not the presence of some group of people that they think will change this opinion and lead the world successfully to the next level of performance. This type of leadership activity is what is needed to transform the current pattern to a new and more productive one. Our leaders today are really followers! They are blindly following the current pattern and bolstering it through their mindless acceptance of the present situation. The wisdom needed to withdraw and reflect on the current situation objectively, in order to create the new pattern, is the desired remedy. The question is will we ever get better or is this a chronic disease?…

A Structural Approach to Organizational Transformation

Not all organizations are created equal. It is their structure that decides their fates. Most follow a Newtonian view(inorganic-physics) of structure where the whole is a mathematical sum of its parts. Those organizations that emerge as exceptional follow a different approach. It is the approach used by nature in the building of organic structures where the sum of the parts is exceeded by the whole. Each level that emerges in an organic structure contains more. It is in the combination of the organic parts into new more complicated structures that creates these emergent properties. Organizations that follow this idea, or model, for organizational development have the potential of becoming more successful. New products and services along with new ways of working emerge when the design model used is organic. Further in organic structures ‘self healing’ takes place. This mechanism for fixing things that are broken is built into the whole structural matrix. The people that work in these structures are both integrated and differentiated. They integrate to make the team work while at the same time improving their skills and capabilities to differentiate. This means that they follow what Aristotle, Buddha, and Confucius call the Middle Way.  It is a way that maximizes the individual potential of each person and the whole organization. It is the way that the healthy human organism works. Organic organizations have a ‘life’ while the newtonian inorganic ones do not. The organically structured ones are growing and prospering. They are constantly transforming. You can feel it as well as see it.…

Transforming Foreign Policy

A recent book called, Give and Take by Adam Grant outlined how people interact and treat each other. Basically you follow one of three styles as your primary strategy. You are either a giver, a taker or a matcher. A giver is focused on adding more value to and for the other person. ( Selfless/ Win-Win ) A taker wants to extract more value than they get. (Zero Sum games). A matcher gives only as much as they expect to receive. (Quid Pro Quo). I believe it to be the same for countries. A country after all is just a sum of its individual inhabitants. (Some are a mathematical sum and some exceed that sum with emergent properties. This will be discussed in another blog.) Why then would not this same model apply to countries and how they interact and treat each other? Trust follows from a belief that you are sincerely interested in the ‘other’ and their success. It is not what is in it for me or us or our ‘interests’, it is rather what can we do to add as much value as possible to the rest of the world. It is leading by example. It is a way to make a ‘connection’ and open doors. Making the connection is important. You must make the connection before you can get anyone to listen to you and pay attention to your ideas. If we want to influence others in the world we first need to get them to trust us and our intentions.

There was an Ingrid Bergman movie (name escapes me) about a nun operating in a country run by a tyrant. In the movie she was a giver. It is that stance, as a giver, that provided the plot line for the movie. In the end the tyrant converted to Christianity because he was overcome with her consistency as a giver. He could do nothing to get her to give up her ‘giver’ stance. I know it is just a movie but the message is powerful.

As the leader of the free world it is time that we stand up and take a new transformational giver approach. To do it( Foreign Policy and Affairs) the same way everyone else does it (taker or matcher) is to lower our potential and that of the world to do good and thrive. To bounce around among the three stances, which we do, is to confuse and limit our credibility. The question is do we have the courage to transform?…

Transformation and Servant Leadership

A lot has been published lately in regards to servant leadership. The origin I believe was the original book on the subject by Greenleaf. It basically states that acting in service to others is the underpinning of a great leader. This is the central idea from which a great leader does their work. What this usually requires is that the individual go through a transformation. Most people today in all cultures see themselves as the ones to receive the services (entitlement) and as individuals whose rights need to be protected. The recent story of the health care worker returning from an ebola infested region of Africa and being asked to remain in quarantine is an example of this phenomena. The worker refused as it was her ‘individual right’ not to be quarantined. Even if it was only a precautionary request she did not hold herself accountable from a ‘service perspective’ to abide by the governmental request. So while she is a health care worker, who professes to work in the service of others, she put her ‘individual rights’ above all others because she ‘knows better’. For this worker to be a servant leader would require a transformation of her foundational value of service to others. Once physicians held out the idea of ‘first do no harm’. This is a servant leader concept. Under the mind set of our health care worker it would read, ‘first do not harm as long as it does not affect my individual rights to do whatever I want to do based on my own judgement of the situation’. In other words I know better and I will always put my own self interests in front of all others. This is a selfish rather than a selfless point of view and lacks all features of any leadership qualities. To transform this point of view would be to move the world.…

Leadership and Transformation

A recent Economist Article suggested that business leaders would benefit from studying great writers. A quote from  a Google executive in the article suggests that those who have unique points of view become the thought leaders.

” The thought leaders in our industry are not the ones who plod dully, step by step, up the career ladder but are the ones who took chances and developed unique perspectives.”

This suggests that they are transformational in their thinking. They are counter intuitive and look for win/win opportunities to add value. These are the leaders and it is a leadership perspective that wins the market in the end.…

Performance Transformation and Management

Most businesses that I have talked to over the past 30+ years of consulting have a great expectation that their management team will work on transforming their business and move it to the next level of performance. Is this a reasonable expectation? I would say not. In most cases the management team can help to develop incremental change of the current processes/ levels of performance but most do not venture into the transformational change realm. The primary reason for this is risk and most managers are risk averse. They work  constantly to make sure that the risks involved in the day to day operations are avoided. This risk averse point of view does not lend itself to easy change in order for them to allow new transformational ideas to arise. The ironic thing is that the largest risk to a business is to become too stagnant in terms of change. This can lead to commoditization. This usually leads to reduced pricing, profits and compromised business integrity. What can often result is a struggling or failed enterprise. The way to overcome this is to provide outside stimulation to the process. This usually comes from a board of advisors or other third party sources. The leader can also intentionally stimulate it through strategic transformational discussions. Either way without transformational change the long term viability and health of the enterprise is at risk.…

Transforming the Veteran’s Administration

One of the governmental agencies that has had the most attention in recent past is the VA. It’s ability to respond to the demands placed on it have come up short as reported on many occasions in the press. The extent of this situation is not one that I am familiar with but it does seem that the organization is not able to meet the expectations of its stakeholders on a regular basis. I pulled up a copy of its Strategic Plan on the internet and began to read to gain an understanding of the organization’s point of view. It begins with a mission based on Lincoln’s promise “to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow and orphan”. As with a lot of Lincoln’s pronouncements it is certainly biblical in nature. This led me to believe that Lincoln did not intend for the VA to be a ‘responsive’ organization as much as a pro active one. This point of view from the top would create a transformational change in the future of the organization and it’s effectiveness. How it became a reactive/ responsive organization I do not know.…

Personal Transformation and Job Hunting

Job Hunting is a process. If someone looking for a job was to view it as a process they would see that there are inputs and the obvious output(the ideal job). In between they have to figure out how they will add value to the process inputs to create the output. Will they follow the traditional process steps(headhunter, internet sites, networking etc.) or will they improve the process by adding new steps of more value? This latter area is where transformation can occur in this process. First they could identify the industry they wanted to enter. Next they could research and identify specific organizational targets. Then, and this is the key, they could decide what they could do to increase growth, productivity or both. It matters not if there is a job available if they can convince the prospective organization that they can affect one or the other of these two key value drivers. They then make a proposal for employment instead of going on a job interview. It is a totally different and transformed way of improving the odds that they will end up with a position of value that fills their desire for meaning and purpose in their lives. This is the advice I give today to individuals seeking direction on how to approach a job market that is unpredictable.…

Extraordinary Growth Through Transformation

Most businesses that I consult with today are interested in a fast paced growth process. They want to grow fast but their approach is too traditional. Growing fast is not hard but absorbing the growth profitably is difficult. This requires a reframing of what seems as the most logical way to approach fast growth. When the issue is reframed it becomes apparent that growth by itself is meaningless. It is the ASSIMILATION PROCESS that brings meaning to it and this means that internal operations must be agile and productive. The ability to add capacity without losing profit and value is the key to fast growth.…

Performance Based Compensation Transformed

For the past 30 years I have worked with clients who wanted to create a way to ‘pay for performance’. Basic wages, or salaries are paid for achieving expected results using resources present. Extraordinary performance is using current resources to create new levels of performance. It is this level of performance, that most business owners want their employees to achieve. In order to raise the level of performance to the extraordinary level the business owner needs to reframe the context within which the employees operate. The employees need to change the way they think and work. The reframed opportunity is to change the employees minds about their job. They have to decide that optimizing the resources at hand is a part of their job. Until this happens any formal  ‘pay for performance’ model or formula will probably fail.…

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