Archive for the ‘Problem Solving’ Category

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.…

Accelerated Growth – Focus on the Pie instead of the Slice

I get involved in many different new business opportunities with my clients. Most of the time they want to know how to ‘divvy up’ the pie among the stakeholders. In order to help them optimize their opportunity I try to help reframe the problem from the ‘slice’ to the ‘pie’. Taking full advantage of any new business opportunity requires one to focus on ‘PIE’ building vs. ‘Slice’ taking. Both are important but a focus on the PIE first will lead to maximized returns. This requires one to move away from a transactional to a value building perspective. This is what Transformational Thinking is all about.…

Counter Intuitive Thought and Transformative Thinking

Transformative Thinking is governed by ones ability to constantly reframe a situation and circumstances. Reframing needs a method and that method is counter intuitive thought. Counter intuitive thought allows one to create new possibilities and opportunities as it stands old beliefs on their head. It turns things around and looks at them from new or discarded points of view. It is this ‘openness’ to heretical concepts that brings the power to the process. Old closed off ideas and corridors of inquiry are reopened and new possibilities burst forth. Learn to think counter intuitively and your power to create will explode!…

Transformative Thinking

Over the years most clients have wanted to know how to ‘move to the next level’ in performance. The key is to think in a transformative way and not through incremental improvements. The doorway to this approach is through a ‘reframing process’ whereby a part, or the whole, of an enterprise is re-thought and a new design emerges. The new design is more elegant and subsequently more productive. It is closer to the needs of the customer for the job or jobs to be done.  The reframing process takes on a new point of view and creates a new frame of reference. In essence it is a new vantage point where the enterprise is viewed in a way yielding to new possibilities. It is this way of thinking that moves an organization from one performance level to the next.…

Transformation and Employee Performance

Most of the organizations that we work with agree that employees are their most important asset (not resource) and need to be treated accordingly. In a recent book by Simon Head, entitled Mindless, a picture is painted of several well known organizations where employees are treated quite the opposite. They are treated as expendable resources and not as assets to be developed. He paints a picture of these two well known organizations as examples of sweat shop mentality applied with the control factor of computer assisted networks, processes and surveillance. It is a grim picture as history repeats itself in an automated way. These are not transformed but rather dehumanized organizations. They certainly do not embrace our goal of win/ win for transformed companies. They are not good and do not add redeeming value as they do not respect the human being as better than whatever physical labor one might extract from them. In this way they demean themselves while blaming their actions on ‘human nature’. As uniformed tyrants they don’t understand that a win/win scenario is to their benefit and to that of the overall economy. Ironically both organizations are in the retail business while at the same time penalizing their own consumers. It reminds me of a talk I gave several years ago. I was speaking on the subject of ‘gainsharing’ to an Industrial Park Association. I had just described how a ‘gainsharing plan worked when a hand flew up from the back of the room. The gentleman stood up and said that while he understood how gainsharing worked he did not have to consider it. He would simply instill ‘fear’ in his employees and they would do whatever he wanted. His cronies laughed. Not a very bright fellow but neither are those who take the same attitude on a grander scale as depicted in Mr. Head’s book.

Transforming an organization takes courage and energy. It takes a Leader. Fear is simply the strategy of the weak and lame. The Bullies.…

Transform, Sell Out or Fail

One of the biggest organizational issues today is deciding the future of your organization. To a large degree the future is set and one only has to determine the pathway to be taken. There are three basic pathways. One is to transform your organization and its strategic and operating models. The second is to sell out to someone who will transform it for you. The third is to fail. As consultants we prefer to work with those that want to transform. This means that they understand that they may need to do so 4, 5 or more times in their lifetime in order to prosper. Remember that transformation requires reinventing your business model and not just incrementally improving the old one. It is a commitment to creatively take the organization to the next level. The companies that we work with are committed to this path. An alternative path is to sell out and let someone else take it to the next level. This is best done when the current business model has reached its maximum return level and not when it is on a downward spiral. We have helped some clients in the past who did not have the resources to transform to select this option and merge with an organization that could benefit both. This creates a win/ win scenario. The third option and the one taken by most organizations is to hold on and do too little to change and move forward. These organizations are doomed from the start. So it comes down to leadership and decision making. The leader, or leaders, must understand these pathways and select the first or second pathway whichever best fits their goals and capabilities. The third pathway is to be avoided at all costs because it destroys value.…

Good and Bad Things – Transforming the Economy

As with everything under heaven there are good and bad things when we speak of their impact on the economy. it is easy to determine if they are good or bad based on their impact on all stakeholders. Good things benefit all stakeholders and bad things do not. Good things are win/win and bad things are win/ lose. The problem with most economies is that they are set up to do more bad things than good. Things that create the zero sum game results( winners and losers) are not conducive to progress and a strong and functional economy. While the zero sum game works for sports it does not fit the needs of an economy. Lets look at two strategies that exemplify both sides of this coin.

Private Equity is a win/ lose strategy. The investors (one of the stakeholders), and possibly a few top executives, are the only possible winners. It is a strategy of forced short term results that usually end up stripping resources from and to other stakeholders so that the investors will always win. This is therefore a zero sum game with specific structures in place to insure that the investors win. They win at the expense of all other stakeholders so this is not a strategy that is ‘fit’ for a vibrant economy. It is almost too predictable which means that many will inevitably lose. It is a fear based form of economic suicide.

Gainsharing is a win/ win strategy. Gainsharing was developed during the depression as a method for providing some hope of wage increases based on productivity increases. As productivity increases the gains are shared by both the owners of the resources(the investors) and labor. It is a win/ win as both stakeholders and the general economy benefit as progress is made. It is therefore a true partnership where the parties share equally in the creation of the gain and the results of the performance increase. It creates trust and strength instead of fear.

To transform the economy we need to seek strategies that pass the win/ win criteria. It is as simple as that. If strategies pass this test then they can add value. If not they will strip value and trust out of the equation leading to lack of motivation and hope. We can use this simple criteria to transform our economy to reach the next level of the American Dream.


Strategic Planning Transformational Criteria

Strategic Plans should be created with five elements in mind.

1. Resource Optimization – does the plan address the optimization of the resources by management?

2. Change – Does the plan address the three types of change (incremental, reform and transformational)?

3. Focus – Does the plan focus the resources on a few things that can be leveraged?

4. Vision – Is the plan focused on attaining a vision(future orientation) vs. repeating the past?

5. Progress – Does the plan provide quarterly action plans as steps toward progress?

If these five elements are not present then the plan is crippled from the beginning. You can use this criteria to measure the effectiveness of your plan and discover any weak areas that need to be strengthened. Future blogs will use this criteria to assess the effectiveness of the strategic plans of several governmental organizations whose plans are posted on the web. This will give you some examples of how you can use this structure of elements for your benefit.  Transform your plans and you will transform the performance of your organization!



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.…

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