Business Success: Internet Radio!

Please join me…

I’m Making the Leap to Internet Radio!

Do you find the current economic climate exciting? Stressful? Both? Well, here’s the good news… or bad news, depending on your comfort level with uncertainty – it’s going to intensify and, dare I say, get more exciting… and perhaps more stressful. Yes, our fast-paced, high-tech, global economy is going to go faster, get more technological, and connect to more parts of our amazing planet.

So what can we do about it? Personally, I become more comfortable with change and uncertainty if I can identify an underlying pattern or model. And I’ve been building predictive models for marketing, risk, and CRM for over 20 years. So I love when I can figure this stuff out… And I’m going to share what I’ve learned on my new radio show, Quantum Business Insights – Emerging Perspectives on People, Process, and Profits. Here’s an overview:

In today’s fast-paced, high-tech, global economy, the business landscape is constantly changing. The confluence of big data, emerging technologies, and global connectivity places unprecedented pressure on companies to become more innovative and agile. To maintain a competitive edge, companies must constantly adapt while continuing to identify and exploit new opportunities.

Interestingly, new models are emerging from science and nature that offer a unique perspective – one that sees our global economy as a highly interconnected, continually evolving complex adaptive system. These models unveil powerful insights for optimizing our business strategies and operations.

Each week on Quantum Business Insights, we’ll explore these concepts with thought leaders from around the globe. We’ll look for ways to leverage their insights to ignite innovation, inspire our workforce, and create positive outcomes for our companies and the planet.

Quantum_Business_Insights_-_VoiceAmerica™

Beginning at noon ET on Friday, September 13th (who needs luck?), I’m launching my new radio show “Quantum Business Insights – Emerging Perspectives on People, Process, and Profits” on Voice America.http://www.voiceamerica.com/show/2240/quantum-business-insight.

Now you’re probably wondering how models from science and nature connect with business. Have you ever heard of quantum physics? Or evolutionary biology? Turns out these areas of knowledge go a long way in explaining what is going on in our volatile, global economy. If at this point you’re tempted to stop reading, consider this: at least 35% of our economy is based on quantum physics. Fiber optics, lasers, and microchips are all based on quantum theory. And with the recent emergence of quantum computing, this percentage may grow significantly.

Here’s the good news! You don’t have to go back to school and study quantum physics or evolutionary biology. A simple understanding, gleaned from Wikipedia or a plethora other sources, will give you the basics. There are a few simple principles that apply to everyday business, in my humble opinion. And they all point to letting go of control.

Are you still with me? I realize this can be a huge challenge for many of you. But believe me, it’s worth trying. Here’s why – to really thrive in our volatile, global economy, we must let go of any domination models and nurture our most important asset – our human capital.
Over my many years of research, I’ve met some amazing people. So I have an exciting line-up of guests, including:

Riane Eisler, JD – President of the Center for Partnership Studies and internationally known for her ground-breaking contributions as a systems scientist, attorney working for the human rights of women and children, and author of The Chalice and the Blade: Our History, Our Future (Harper & Row, 1988), now in 25 foreign editions, and The Real Wealth of Nations: Creating a Caring Economics (Berrett-Koehler, 2008), hailed by Archbishop Desmond Tutu as “a template for the better world we have been so urgently seeking” by Gloria Steinem as “revolutionary,” and by Jane Goodall as “a call for action.”

Dr. Eisler lectures worldwide, with venues including the United Nations General Assembly, the U.S. Department of State, Congressional briefings, and events hosted by heads of State. She is a member of the Club of Rome, a Councilor of the World Future Council and the International Museum of Women, a member of the General Evolution Research Group, a fellow of the Academy of Art and Science and the World Business Academy, a Commissioner of the World Commission on Global Consciousness and Spirituality. For more information, visit www.rianeeisler.com

Mitch Ditkoff – co-founder and President of Idea Champions, a highly acclaimed management consulting and training company. Mitch specializes in helping forward thinking organizations go beyond business as usual, originate breakthrough products and services, and establish dynamic, sustainable cultures of innovation.

At the heart of his work lies the fundamental belief that a company’s most important capital asset is the collective brain power, creativity and commitment of its work force and that this asset can be significantly leveraged when people are provided with the appropriate setting, systems, tools and techniques to think (and act) out of the box.

In 2010 and 2011, he was voted as the #1 innovation blogger in the world and is now a regular contributor to the Huffington Post. His widely read blog, The Heart of Innovation, is a daily destination for a global audience of movers and shakers. Additionally, Mitch is the author of the award-winning book, Awake at the Wheel: Getting Your Great Idea Rolling (in an uphill world) and the innovation-sparking card deck and online app, Free the Genie.

Mitch has worked with a wide variety of Fortune 500 and mid-sized companies who have realized the need to do something different in order to succeed in today’s rapidly changing marketplace. These clients include: GE, Merck, AT&T, Allianz, Lucent Technologies, NBC Universal, Goodyear, A&E Television Networks, General Mills, MTV Networks, PricewaterhouseCoopers, and a host of others. For more information, visit www.ideachampions.com

Rodney Napier, PhD – President of The Napier Group and a professor of Organizational Dynamics at Temple University. For over 40 years, Rod has facilitated and taught small group, team, and system behavior. His early work as a professor at Temple University placed him in the formative years of the group dynamics movement where he was both a learner and a contributor to this rapidly-expanding area of human behavior.

Dr. Napier is co-founder of the Athyn Group, which focuses on leadership development and introduced the first prototype for 360- degree feedback, now central to most programs of leadership development. Attempting to translate theory into practice in relation to leader/facilitator effectiveness has been a primary concern. To that end he has authored or co-authored a dozen books including the seminal text in the field of group dynamics, Groups: Theory and Experience – now in its seventh edition. His most recent book, The Courage to Act provides insight into the creation of high performing teams where the development of candor, trust, and risk-taking are central to spawning both individual and team courage.

His consulting and education work have involved organization development and change programs for dozens of nationally recognized corporations including Bechtel, CBS, Merck, and Exxon; and international organizations such as the Office of the President of Nicaragua, and the United Nations. For more information, visithttp://thenapiergroup.com/

Brian Robertson – Partner at HolacracyOne, is a seasoned entrepreneur and organization builder, and a recovering CEO – a job from which he now helps free others with Holacracy. Generally regarded as the primary developer of the system, Brian’s work allows leaders to release the reins of personal power and persuasion into a trustworthy and explicit governance process. Brian also serves as the drafter and steward of the Holacracy Constitution, which captures the system’s unique “rules of the game” in concrete form. Beyond joyfully crafting legal documents, Brian’s creative expression takes many forms – he co-founded HolacracyOne to support Holacracy’s growth, and he fills and loves a broad variety of the company’s roles.

He’s particularly grateful to hold no fancy titles and wield no special powers, so he can show up as just another partner doing his part to support something he cares about. HolacracyOne, founded in early 2007, matured the Holacracy prototype into a comprehensive operating system and novel authority structure, and packaged it for implementation by other organizations. Holacracy is now an international movement with a broad community of practitioners and consultants catalyzing its adoption across the globe. For more information, visitwww.holacracy.org

More Details
The show will air at 12:00 noon Eastern Time every Friday beginning 9/13/13. It will repeat 12 hours later and be available for download on my host page (link available next week). So please watch for upcoming show topic and guest announcements.

If you are interested in becoming a sponsor or feel like you would be a good fit for an interview, please contact me – Olivia@oliviagroup.com.

Business Success: Social Intelligence

If there is any great secret of success in life, it lies in the ability to put yourself in the other person’s place and to see things from his point of view—as well as your own. 

—Henry Ford

The human brain offers fascinating insights into how leaders can leverage the new science. Based on the latest research in social neuroscience, a person who feels empathy for someone else is able to become attuned to the other’s mood. The result is resonance. The two brains become attuned as if they are part of the same system. This idea has powerful implications for leaders, as it follows that truly “great leaders are those whose behavior powerfully leverages the system of brain interconnectedness.”

Social influence on leadersNatural leaders are those who easily connect with others. Individuals can improve their leadership abilities by finding “authentic contexts in which to learn the kinds of social behavior that reinforces the brain’s social circuitry. Leading effectively is, in other words, less about mastering situations—or even mastering social skill sets—than about developing a genuine interest in and talent for fostering positive feelings in the people whose cooperation and support you need.”

Tuning In

The process of tuning in occurs through the activation of mirror neurons, which are widely distributed throughout the brain. They operate as a “neural Wi-Fi” that facilitates our navigation of the social world by picking up the emotions of others and sharing their experience.
This point has powerful implications for leadership style. It suggests that leaders can succeed while being very demanding, as long as they foster a positive mood. In fact, certain mirror neurons are designed to detect smiles and laughter and often prompt smiles and laughter in return. Leaders who elicit smiles and laughter stimulate bonding among their team members. Research shows that “top-performing leaders elicited laughter from their subordinates three times as often, on average, as did mid-performing leaders.”

Intuition

Great leaders often say they make decisions from the gut. While some discount this concept, neuroscience steps in again to suggest that intuition is, in fact, in the brain. Intuition is produced by neurons called spindle cells. These cells are characterized by their large size (four times that of other brain cells). Their spindly shape, with an extra-long branch that allows them to attach to many cells at the same time, enables spindle cells to transmit thoughts and feeling to other cells more quickly. “This ultrarapid connection of emotions, beliefs, and judgments creates what behavioral scientists call our social guidance system.” This ability to take a thin slice of information and make a split-second decision has proven to be very accurate as shown in follow-up metrics. The ability to intuit while tuned in to others’ moods offers very accurate radar.

Other neurons that play a role in our social intelligence are called oscillators. The oscillator neurons coordinate movements between people who are attuned to each others’ feelings. It explains the phenomena experienced in dancing or a drumming circle. And it plays heavily in nonverbal communication, as this connection enables one to guided to look in a certain direction or adjust position by the actions of another.

Dan Goleman, author of Social Intelligence: The New Science of Human Relationships, and Richard Boyaztis, author of Becoming a Resonant Leader, share their behavioral assessment tool, the Emotional and Social Competency Inventory. “It is a 360-degree evaluation instrument by which bosses, peers, direct reports, clients, and sometimes even family members assess a leader according to seven social intelligence qualities.”

Empathy
• Do you understand what motivates other people, even those from different backgrounds?
• Are you sensitive to others’ needs?
Attunement
• Do you listen attentively and think about how others feel?
• Are you attuned to others’ moods?
Organizational Awareness
• Do you appreciate the culture and values of the group or organization?
• Do you understand social networks and know their unspoken norms?
Influence
• Do you persuade others by engaging them in discussion and appealing to their self-interests?
• Do you get support from key people?
Developing Others
• Do you coach and mentor others with compassion and personally invest time and energy in mentoring?
• Do you provide feedback that people find helpful for their professional development?
Inspiration
• Do you articulate a compelling vision, build group price, and foster a positive emotional tone?
• Are you lead by bringing out the best in people?
Teamwork
• Do you solicit input from everyone on the team?
• Are you support all team members and encourage cooperation?

What characteristics do you think are most important in a leader?

Business Success: Evolution at the Edge

Evolution at the Edge

It is important to acknowledge that the discomfort created by chaos is necessary for change to occur. It is equally important to safeguard against getting lost or frozen in the midst of the chaos. Leaders need to balance on the edge of chaos, dipping in and being comfortable there in order to move themselves and the organization to higher levels of evolution. This delicate balance includes inviting members of the organization to feel the need for change while not feeling overwhelmed by it. According to Coveney and Highfield in Frontiers of Complexity, “ Complex systems that can evolve will always be near the edge of chaos, poised for that creative step into emergent novelty that is the essence of the evolutionary process.”
The edge of chaos is the best place to observe the patterns of order available, patterns that then may be applied to the current situation. Getting stuck in one particular state of order is not effective because, sooner or later, that state will become obsolete. It is crucial for leaders to remain open to new experiences that the environment contains and show a willingness to adapt and change based on the information received from the environment.

Emotional Distance

The ability to move gracefully in and out of change and the resulting chaos requires an ability to observe what is happening. Doing so involves being able to psychologically step back and assess what is occurring on multiple levels with detachment. If participants become emotionally involved, it becomes difficult for them to be objective.

Emotional distance allows participants to observe with an open mind, thereby enhancing the likelihood that they will hear other points of view and see what is occurring in a group. This is the reason why it is often suggested that facilitators not participate in the content of a discussion. They are then more able to see what is going on and make helpful interventions, dipping in when necessary to keep the group on course or help members deal with something they are avoiding.fractals

What to Observe at the Edge

It is helpful to observe specific aspects of the group while maintaining emotional distance by asking:

• Are the goals clear?
• Are people listening to one another and communicating well?
• Are individuals involved and included?
• How are people feeling (what are their nonverbal expressions, what they are doing, how are they interacting)?

All of this information will help to identify clues regarding the health of the group, its relationships, and its interactions in the organization. If ineffective interactions are apparent, an intervention will help move the group to greater effectiveness. For example, if people are not listening, the facilitator can ask others to repeat what was just said. If goals are not clear, the facilitator can ask the group to clarify them. If the group is moving off task, the facilitator can ask if this is what the group should be doing. If someone looks angry or confused, the facilitator can ask him or her how they are doing. Another way of observing group effectiveness is to look for patterns in the organization, which is discussed in the next section.

Fractals

Discovered by Benoit Mandelbrot in the 1970s, fractals provide a guide for examining complexity and patterns. They are characterized by patterns that replicate to create the whole. In a fractal, each part is autonomous. However, the pattern of each part is embedded in every part of the whole. Some common examples of fractals are the lungs, circulatory systems, leaves, and feathers. Fractals contain a certain order that allows them to be decoded with a few rules. Complexity is the result of a given structure being repeated many times.

Fractals can be seen within the social life of an organization. Each member is autonomous while it is part of the greater whole. The organization is healthiest when members’ patterns are replicated throughout the whole through effective communication.

Leaders are fractals of others in the organization. Their behavior is often mirrored throughout the organization. If the leader is collaborative, communicates openly, and attempts to learn from past mistakes, this behavior will carry through to the members.

Norms as Fractals

Norms for behaving are patterns that can be observed in the organization. Much like a fractal, an organization is seen as connected if certain norms exist throughout it. Norms are the implicit or explicit rules that guide and determine what behaviors are acceptable within a group. Although often not explicit, these are the rules by which people work on a daily basis. They determine how a group handles conflict and stress, makes decisions, listens, generates ideas, and allows certain language to prevail. In any group, norms may be effective or ineffective.
An example of an organizational norm is the way a group deals with conflict.

For example, some organizations suppress tension by pretending it is not there. Nonverbal cues, such as frowns, crossed arms, and downward glances, are ignored while the group goes on to the next agenda item. This norm keeps the group from examining what is occurring, from sharing thoughts, feelings, and disagreements. These unresolved feelings and disagreements then go underground and sabotage the group later because they have not been resolved. Avoiding conflict cuts off important sources of information that could possibly improve the team, the product, and the way things are done.

Healthy norms are patterns in the organization that can:

• Encourage continuous open feedback, both negative and positive
• Encourage people to share thoughts and feelings
• Encourage individuals and groups to deal with conflict
• Allow learning from mistakes, without blame or judgment
• Create a flow of information throughout the organization
• Encourage participation and involvement in decisions

Each of these norms facilitates the emergence of a truly adaptable organization. All of these norms must be aligned with and support the desired values to ensure that those values permeate the organization. These values are in harmony with the principles that support living systems. As they become institutionalized, healthy norms will come to characterize the organization.

Business Success: Tips from the Field

All my successes have been built on my failures.—Benjamin Disraeli, British statesman and literary figure

Cherry Woodburn, a business innovation consultant, attributes her passion for innovation to her first manager who encouraged her to try new ideas without fear of recrimination. “If an idea didn’t work,” Woodburn states. “We would analyze the process and learn from the experience.” Here she shares advice on creating a culture of innovation.
INNOVATION IN ACTION

Most companies fail to encourage innovation. Large companies in particular tend to be risk adverse and have a mind-set geared toward exploiting ways to control their processes through standardization. Process improvement is beneficial. But a company’s emphasis on reducing variation in its present systems can result in a lack of innovation over the long term. It is a paradox. While companies are increasing the quality of their product, they may be decreasing their ability to innovate.

Businesses need to cultivate innovation in order to compete in today’s fast-paced, innovation-driven economy. Since innovation is now recognized as necessary to keep a business viable and competitive, why doesn’t a culture of innovation spring up organically? Why does it need to be fostered? What keeps employees from naturally bubbling with creativity?

Obviously there are many variables, one of which is a cultural belief that there is one right answer. The natural outcome of this simplistic thinking is a reduction in the dialogue, thereby blocking the exploration of various alternate viewpoints and ideas. Meetings are held to find “the one right answer.” No one really listens to anyone else. Everyone is too busy preparing an opposing response. Underlying assumptions go unquestioned and unexamined. And too often, the person who speaks up or disagrees with the majority opinion is labeled as “not a team player.” Add in today’s hectic pace and a general disdain for meetings, and it is understandable that people look for closure rather than exposure to new ideas.light

However, innovation and expansive thinking emerge from nurturing different points of view. Doing so requires the pioneering spirit of exploring new territory. Innovation by its very nature requires experimentation and failure. Thomas Edison is the classic example. After more than 1,000 attempts to invent the first long-lasting electric light bulb, he was successful inventing bulbs that stayed lit for only a few minutes. One of his colleagues asked, “Mr. Edison, don’t you feel you are a failure?” Without reservation, he answered, “Not at all. Now I definitely know more than a thousand ways not to make a light bulb.”

Sadly, the culture in many organizations dictates that mistakes are bad and should be avoided at all costs. Employees are criticized or even ridiculed for mistakes. This stems from early learning in institutions where mistakes meant a lower grade and even possible consequences at home. Often this attitude continues into the workplace, where the aversion to mistakes is continued. Consider how these stultifying lessons continue to pile on: Sue gets reprimanded in front of peers for making errors and feels humiliated. Consequence: In the future, she will be prone to hide her mistakes and not deviate from business as usual. In the same company, Tom is written up for insubordination because he experimented with a new way of doing things, thereby not adhering to long-held company practices. As a result of these and similar incidents, people play it safe. Yet the greatest innovations can come from workers’ own initiatives, not just from an initiative pushed down from the top.

The need for innovation is nothing new, but the recognition that it needs to be a core competency—permeating all departments and all levels of the organization—is relatively recent. Much as leaders once believed that quality was primarily the responsibility of the quality department, so has innovation been primarily confined within the borders of research and development. Frans Johansson, author of the successful book The Medici Effect: Breakthrough Insights at the Intersection of Ideas, Concepts & Cultures , advocates that companies also be willing to take their efforts at innovation beyond the borders of their business to include other industries and disciplines. He called this cross-fertilization of ideas the Medici effect, after the fifteenth-century banking family that broke down traditional barriers separating disciplines and cultures to ignite the Renaissance.

A culture of innovation needs to be nurtured until it is deeply rooted into the psyche of every employee. However, this cannot be done successfully with announcements, slogans, or playing on people’s fear of competition. Ironically, innovative thinking also is needed to maintain traditional practices that still add value and to cultivate a daily crop of new ideas. The culture is about recognizing individual mind-sets and accepting perceived borders and limitations in order to question them. These mind-sets typically come from each employee’s individual experiences and culture. They are empowered by past experiences that have become hardwired into the brain. Couple that with the fact that brains are structured to simplify and categorize massive amounts of daily stimuli, and it is no wonder people get caught in a duality of right and wrong. The pattern becomes “Success is good; failure is bad.” When new information is compatible with what is known, it is accepted as the truth; when it does not mesh with preconceived ideas or past experiences, it receives little consideration. As a result, opportunities to innovate and change the status quo are missed. Research shows that the act of recognizing and surfacing unconscious beliefs offers the highest leverage for change.

Understanding and acknowledging the current situation in comparison to the desired state is the first step in any change initiative. It is impossible to change something that is not acknowledged or understood, which makes it difficult to grow into a future culture steeped in innovative thinking.

Begin with asking tough questions of everyone in the organization. Dig up deeply embedded beliefs and assumptions that are, more than likely, not in sync with the stated company vision and values. Here are some questions for starters.

• What are your own and your organization’s assumptions and beliefs related to innovation, particularly innovation that deals with new practices and methods? New product ideas tend to fare better, but, again are they encouraged and tested? Begin a dialogue with employees at all levels and in all departments to learn how steeped the company is in “Business as usual” and “That won’t work here.”

• Has an emphasis on process improvement, standardization, and reducing variation created a myopic focus on improving what you are already doing to the virtual exclusion of creativity and innovation? Think of the demise of the fully integrated steel mills versus today’s mini-mills; think of Kodak improving in film and print while virtually ignoring digital photography for years.

• What are your own and your organization’s assumptions and beliefs about risk taking, mistakes, and lack of immediate positive outcomes? Ask yourself if you stick with a new idea long enough to see results. Tally the number of initiatives that started over the past 5 to 10 years. Then honestly evaluate the number remaining—in other words, those that maintained their initial momentum. Study the gap between the organization’s actual behavior and the values it espouses about vision, growth, and innovation.

• Do you encourage experimentation, testing hypotheses, or do new ideas get quashed in meetings or die a slow death as they are analyzed, dissected, and debated?
Think of the ensuing dialogue as preparatory work for growing the innovative capabilities that have been lying fallow due to traditional business practices. When transforming a garden, it is not enough to plant verbal seeds. If the ground has been depleted of creative nutrients due to years of leaching the soil with criticism, tight control, and fear, announcing a new gardening program will not be successful.

By taking time to listen carefully and allow fears to emerge, the organization can begin to prepare the soil. Fertilizing with acceptance and courage allows an innovative culture to emerge. As leaders cultivate the vision, innovation will flourish and generate new ideas for years to come.

Business Success: Innovation in the Marketplace

Engineers say that, a new idea is “invented” when it is proven to work in the laboratory. The idea becomes an “innovation” only when it can be replicated reliably on a meaningful scale at practical costs.

— Peter M. Senge, The Fifth Discipline

Economics of Innovation


To remain competitive, companies must innovate. Without innovation, products and services become more and more alike. In other words, they eventually become commodities. Then businesses have to compete on price, which eventually destroys profit margins. When the market stabilizes at the lower price, investors move to other markets. By contrast, innovation allows companies to differentiate. This enables premium pricing, which eventually leads to higher value. When the market stabilizes well above cost, it becomes easier to attract investors.
“The fundamental principle that drives this argument is that when innovation creates differentiation, it creates attractive economic returns.” [ However, there are other possible outcomes for all types of innovation efforts. The ultimate goal is to calculate “return on innovation.”

There are four other types of innovation

• Differentiation. Innovation designed to capture market share, attract investors, and gain economic advantage

• Neutralization. Innovation to keep up with higher-performing competitors

• Productivity. Innovation to lower costs, thus freeing resources for other forms of innovation

• Waste. Innovation that falls short of achieving any goals

Differentiation is the type of innovation that holds the most potential for economic gains. However, it is often stifled by adversity to risk. A company that is focused on risk reduction stays close to norms and tends to leverage the experience of the market leaders. This is dangerous for companies that hope to take a “value proposition to such an extreme that competitors either cannot or will not follow.”

Companies who seek to be innovative must encourage collaboration. “Breakaway differentiation requires a highly coordinated effort across the entire enterprise.” The idea may come from a small group. But “at the end of the day, every function in the corporation has to realign its priorities in order to amplify the innovation to breakaway status. Anything less is simply too easy for competitors to neutralize.”innovation

Successful innovation requires strong leadership. In most companies, innovation is highly decentralized with multiple projects going on at the same time. This is the best strategy for the incubation stage. But when it comes to selecting the best prospect for further investment, strong leadership is required. “If management does not take a position on innovation strategy, the company’s innovation will continue to bubble up, but they will not be aligned. If all are brought to market- and that is the default option in this scenario—none will achieve breakaway status.”

Taking Ideas to Market

When an organization decides to pursue innovation as a strategy, there are several aspects to consider. First, how viable is the product or service? Second, is the product or service feasible? And third, once it is developed, what is the best way to take the new product or service to market.

Rob Goldberg, an innovation consultant, specializes in helping companies take their ideas to market. He offers the following assessments when considering an innovation project.
Evaluation of Viability

Goldberg uses eight dimensions to determine the viability of products and services.
1. Size of opportunity. What is the size of the market?
2. Growth of market. Is the market growing or shrinking?
3. Strength of customer relationship. Can existing customer relationships be leveraged?
4. Value creating. How do we create a competitive advantage?
5. Degree of government involvement. To what extent is the market regulated?
6. Degree of competitive density. What is the structure of the market, and who are the leaders?
7. Value delivery. What barriers to entry exist?
8. Window of opportunity duration. How much time do we have to launch successfully?

Evaluation of Feasibility

When considering entering the market, there are several questions to assist in assessing feasibility.
• Perception.How much pain is associated with what the company does today? Is there a need for the product or service?

• Competitive density. Are there any 800-pound gorillas lurking?

• Brand image. Can your company deliver a credible solution in this space?

• Innovation. Does the technology exist to develop the solution?

• Experimentation. Does the solution rely on proven technology?

• Business model. Is the company willing to pay for it?

• Return on investment. Does the product or service support corporate hurdles to bring the innovation to market?

• Cost of entry. How do we enter the market?

Taking the Innovation to Market

Once the innovation is ready, Goldberg uses a four-stage process to take an idea to market.

1. Requirements analysis defines the WHAT. The goal is to document all function/feature, performance, and user-interfacing requirements of the solution that meets the customer’s needs.
2. Design analysis describes the HOW. Design essentially transforms the requirement into a blueprint that outlines data structures, architecture, procedural detail, and interface characterization that can be created to deliver the desired customer experience.
3. Feasibility analysis determines the HOW MUCH. The aim of a feasibility study is to see whether it is possible to develop the solution at a reasonable cost.
4. Optimization analysis determines WHAT IT IS WORTH. The goal of optimization is to establish the optimum feature set based on economic value and customer preferences.
Depending on the industry and type of product or service, there may be other considerations. But these basic concepts offer some guidelines for accelerating the innovation process within an organization.

Business Success: Activities by Brain Function

Considering the complexity of today’s volatile global economy, the role of the right brain is increasingly vital. With computers becoming more and more adept at handling the linear processes, the competitive advantage for humans is in the ability to access the power of the right hemisphere. And the skills needed to participate in an adaptive organization are also dominantly right-brained. In fact, research suggests that our right hemisphere is the only area that deals effectively with change.

Brain

In general, the two halves of the brain work together to orchestrate every human activity. However, neuroscientists suggest that the two hemispheres approach every situation slightly differently. Understanding and enhancing the use of one side or the other can enhance creative endeavors.

The differences in the hemispheres can be characterized in four major ways:

1. The left hemisphere controls the right side of the body; the right hemisphere controls the left side of the body. This fact is well known. But it is interesting to note that the written word goes from left to right, a movement controlled by the left hemisphere. Therefore, reading and writing are controlled by the linear, logical, sequential part of the brain. Until recently, this was the source of almost all knowledge. Only since the twentieth century has information been conveyed in pictures, encouraging right hemisphere or even whole-brain synthesis.

2. The left hemisphere is sequential; the right hemisphere is simultaneous. As described, reading is sequential. The left hemisphere also manages other sequential processes, such as talking and interpreting speech. By contrast, the right hemisphere has the ability to interpret information simultaneously. This enables people to make sense of very complex situations. To illustrate, consider a comparison to computer software. SAS software can perform statistical calculations faster than humans can. But the most powerful software cannot recognize a human face as fast as the average person. “Think of the sequential/simultaneous difference like this: the right hemisphere is the picture; the left hemisphere is the thousand words.” As the flow of complex information accelerates, frequent and proficient use of the right hemisphere becomes increasingly important.

3. The left hemisphere specializes in text; the right hemisphere specializes in context. In most people, both left- and right-handed, the left hemisphere is the source of language. However, the ability to comprehend language is a bit more nuanced and requires both hemispheres. Chapter 3 described the mechanics of both verbal and nonverbal communication. Within the brain, the left hemisphere interprets the words. The right hemisphere processes all of the nonverbal parts of the communication, such as tone, pace, facial expressions, and body language. In addition, the right hemisphere’s ability to consider context gives it responsibility for filling in blanks, translating nuance, and interpreting metaphor.

4. The left hemisphere analyzes the details; the right hemisphere synthesizes the big picture. Basically, the left brain analyzes information in a linear fashion. The right brain synthesizes information to create a whole. The left brain can find problems, identify parts, and grasp details. The right brain focuses on interactions and relationships. And “only the right brain can see the big picture.”

Ned Herrmann, a well-known brain researcher, created a list of common business functions and mapped them to the quadrant of the brain that primarily handles each one.

Left Cerebral Cortex
• Gather facts.
• Analyze issues.
• Solve problems logically.
• Argue rationally.
• Measure precisely.
• Understand technical elements.
• Consider financial aspects.

Right Cerebral Cortex
• Read signs of coming change.
• See the “big picture.”
• Recognize new possibilities.
• Tolerate ambiguity.
• Integrate ideas and concepts.
• Bend or challenge established policies.
• Synthesize unlike elements into a new whole.
• Problem solve in intuitive ways.

Left Limbic System
• Find overlooked flaws.
• Approach problems practically.
• Stand firm on issues.
• Maintain a standard of consistency.
• Provide stable leadership and supervision.
• Read fine print in documents and/or contracts.
• Organize and keep track of essential data.
• Develop detailed plans and procedures.
• Implement projects in a timely manner.
• Articulate plans in an orderly way.
• Keep financial records straight.

Right Limbic System
• Recognize interpersonal difficulties.
• Anticipate how others will feel.
• Intuitively understand how others feel.
• Pick up nonverbal cues of interpersonal stress.
• Relate to others in empathetic ways.
• Engender enthusiasm.
• Persuade.
• Teach.
• Conciliate.
• Understand emotional elements.
• Consider values.

Come back next week for an article about fostering creativing.  We welcome your comments and feedback and love it when you share our blog with your co-workers and friends.

Business Success: Collaboration in Action: A Case Study

Competition has been the driving force behind the U.S. freight rail industry and related public policy since the first railroad began operations in 1830. This is a curious phenomenon for a contiguous “network” of railroads within a transportation “system.” With competition in the marketplace and competition for government attention as the prevailing influences, the system continues to underutilize rail technology, even though railroads move freight on one-third the amount of fuel and consequent air pollution as trucks moving on the highway. Next Michael Sussman, founder of OnTrackAmerica, describes how collaboration is helping to rebuild and strengthen the national railway system.railroad_crossing

Power of Collaboration in the Railroad Industry
By Michael Sussman
Railroads are energy, capital, and space efficient. Yet their market share of an otherwise growing transportation demand has continually declined since the early twentieth century. What is it about this competition-based system that suppresses the use of efficient modes of transportation?

Competition, as a commercial and regulatory principle, often rewards better-operated companies. But it is usually ineffective at preventing companies that enjoy more financial and political clout from dominating the marketplace. How often in recent years has that domination had a detrimental impact on our greater communal interests? The country needs a rail system that advances in concert with our national needs; instead, it has developed according to its corporate needs.

In 1995 it became apparent that many smaller freight railroads across America were under-supported by policy makers and lending institutions. This threatened the long-term economic vitality and overall quality of life in America.

The railroad industry was cost-cutting by consolidating srvice to higher-volume components of the rail system. This path, while leading to greater profitability for the industry, contributed to a far less efficient transportation system than was called for by post–World War II demographic and business trends. The years since have been characterized by dramatic population growth, steadily increasing freight traffic, ongoing growth of rural and urban communities, and the proliferation of small businesses, distribution centers, and time-sensitive shipping needs. The trucking industry, in spite of its inherent fuel disadvantage, has filled this service gap ably. But with the increase in fuel prices and its uncertain future availability, the question becomes “Now what?”

To satisfy the imperative for collaboration between government and private sector, a broad network of relationships with government representatives at the federal and state levels was established. The success in bridging the public-private sector communications divide led to the founding of OnTrackAmerica, a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating new methods and forums for the multistakeholder development of better policies and more effective private initiatives.

This collaborative approach has proven to be been highly effective in creating financing breakthroughs for smaller freight railroads. Project and industry funding options typically are offered by individual entities competing against other funding sources. This alternative approach leads to benefit for all involved by facilitating cooperation among multiple banks and government agencies. In practice, it has resulted in significantly higher capitalization levels with better terms than if those funding sources were made to compete for the entire project.

Even the clients’ existing bankers, who previously had declined further lending, are included in this collaborative approach. Rather than being pitted against other banks, the current bank is urged to offer what it can and what it prefers, as its part of an overall strategy for helping the client grow.

In the case of the Iowa Northern Railway, a corn-hauling railroad that was suddenly in the heart of the alternative energy belt, additional capital was required that outstripped the lending limits of its local bank. A collaborative approach provided bankers at Iowa’s Lincoln Savings Bank with the understanding and assurance they needed to expand the railroad’s credit from $150,000 to over $1.5 million. This facility became the anchor for $30 million in additional funds secured from a Federal Railroad Administration loan program, a Chicago regional bank, several equipment lenders, and even the railroads’ customers and suppliers.

The basic orientation of competition is toward individual gain. Yet so much of what occurs in business involves multiple parties, with all parties benefiting if success is shared. Shared benefit and the resulting gain are the foundation of collaboration. What if our “for individual gain” concept of competition was reoriented to a competition (or striving) to make the greatest contribution to the community? That model of competition would naturally lead to a refocus of business plans and activities toward “collaboration for the common good.”

While competition is a useful tool in certain elements of regulating private interests in the marketplace, it can be a dangerously wasteful force in public policy discourse and formulation.

Competition, unfortunately, is now the overarching principle of interaction, not just between political parties but also among agencies, legislative offices, committees, think tanks, universities, and other entities that influence and produce public policies. The marketplace of ideas should continue to accommodate competing ideas. But the process for thinking and teasing out competing ideas requires our best collaboration.

Our world and our economies are undergoing changes at a rate that demands we upgrade public-sector management processes. OnTrackAmerica has taken on the challenge of bringing forward a new method for large-scale industrial policy, planning, and implementation. By lowering antagonism and increasing trust among businesspeople, academic and industry experts, the community, and policy developers, the potential emerges for unveiling the best solutions and resulting public policy. Just as cooperative multimodal relations among transportation providers are now clearly needed to advance the efficiency of the overall system, collaboration among public policy creators is the necessary ingredient for improving our national transportation policy.

Design improvements for intelligence and efficiency at the level of governance do not have to wait for the crucible of crisis. No law or regulation mandates that business must depend only on competitive, vested-interest lobbying of government legislators and policy makers. All well-intentioned citizens are entitled to advance leadership and cooperation in government and commerce. Contrary to what is expressed in popular culture, many people in Washington and beyond are anxious to participate in productive collaborative engagement. A new model of leadership that convenes and facilitates that collaboration is the missing ingredient.

Business Success: Steps to Collaborative Technology Adoption

The telephone might be considered the first collaborative technology, followed by fax and e-mail. However, in the last few years, the advances in newer forms of collaborative technology are transforming business efficiency and accessibility worldwide. The use of collaborative software enhances the ability of an organization to adapt quickly in a volatile economy.

Step 1: Assess the environment. This step involves analyzing the infrastructure and collaborative technologies as well as the existing collaborative behaviors. Additional analysis on the potential affect of the application of technologies is recommended. Managers and key stakeholders need to understand the value proposition that improved collaboration will bring as well as how to phase in the technology. A global assessment in conjunction with IT is important to understand the complete ramifications and develop “a corporate-wide strategy for the successful deployment of collaboration technologies going forward.” technology-mobile phone

Step 2: Identify collaborative business processes. Some business processes are more conducive to collaboration. The next step is to identify business processes that will benefit from “collaborative leverage.” These processes typically include sales and marketing, customer service and support, research and development, training, decision support, and crisis management.

Step 3: Build a collaborative vision. Creating a shared vision and extolling the benefits of collaboration is the next step. It can be done through workshops and trainings. Using case studies and examples built around critical business processes is most effective.

Step 4: Build a business case for collaboration. This step involves estimating the costs, benefits, and risks involved in implementing the vision. It must specify the business problems being addressed, the value of the collaboration platform, and who will fund the initiative. Total cost of ownership should be used to determine the net benefit of the project, including direct and indirect costs. The benefits that factor in include but are not limited to shorter cycle times, increased productivity, revenues, profitability and market share, fewer errors, better-quality products and services.

Step 5: Identify a sponsor. Identification of an executive sponsor who believes in the project and will allocate funds to see it through to its final stages is an essential step in the success of any project. The sponsor should be someone who is likely to benefit from collaboration and will be a champion for the project within the organization.

Step 6: Develop a collaboration strategy. A strategy for implementation should be developed that supports the overall goals of the project. This strategy involves determining which technologies already exist and if they should be replaced or integrated into the larger network. Process maps are useful in determining which business processes can be improved. A gap analysis is recommended to find areas where:
• The infrastructure may need to be upgraded.
• Security policies may need to be revised.
• Training and education will improve adoption rates.
• Processes may need to be streamlined.
The strategy should include initial projects where collaboration delivers quick wins. Strong project management and communication around progress are essential to successful implementation.

Step 7: Select collaboration technology. The next step is a careful vendor analysis that addresses the appropriateness of the offerings as well as the vendor’s financial viability, track record, training, and support. A return on investment analysis that details the actual costs and benefits is strongly recommended.

Step 8: Pilot project. A pilot project is a good next step to get the project off and running. The application that is selected should be one that will have a substantial impact and positive results. This success can be used to sell the concept throughout the organization.

Step 9: Enterprise rollout. This step leverages the success and learning from the pilot project. The steps for enterprise rollout are to:
• Prioritize the business units.
• Identify necessary resources.
• Define the education and training process.
• Define the support process.
• Define the metrics.
It is easy to underestimate the complexity of this process. It is important to facilitate communication so that issues and delays will surface quickly.

Step 10: Measure and report. To achieve the greatest value from the entire process, it is critical to continually monitor, measure, and report of the adoption and usage of collaborative technologies for each business case. Publicity about successes as well as compensation for adoption and usage should be considered as ways to ensure success.

As collaboration technology improves, the pressure to adopt will only increase. Organizations that embrace collaboration are going to raise the competitive bar. The use of technology is essential to survival in a dynamic organization.

I would love to hear your comments on collaboration technology.  Please share this with your friends and co-workers.

Seven Realities that Jeopardize Business Survival: Part II

In Information Revolution, Jim Davis, Gloria J. Miller, and Allan Russell discuss the

message-in-a-bottle “Seven Realities that Jeopardize Business Survival.” Each reality illuminates the need for new business models as well as styles of leadership. Here is Part II.

Business Reality 4: The Only Constant Is Permanent Volatility

This is a common theme but bears repeating: The company that is most agile and adaptable will gain and maintain a competitive advantage. Instead of just relying on past results to predict the future, companies need to tap into current trends through social networking, Web analysis, and employee feedback.

Business Reality 5: Globalization Helps and Hurts

Globalization presents many advantages, especially to small companies seeking a worldwide presence. Any company that is connected to the Web can strategically partner, outsource, or insource with relative ease. The downside is increased complexity when dealing with international languages, standards, and cultures. Strong communication skills are essential for navigating this terrain.

Business Reality 6: The Penalties of Not Knowing Are Harsher than Ever

In the new era of billion-dollar corporate scandals, personal accountability at the highest levels is not only prudent, it is now legally mandated. The Sarbanes-Oxley Act was designed to systematize ethical behavior. In addition to the need for strong, honest leadership, information systems to handle this complex business data are essential.

Business Reality 7: Information Is Not a By-Product of Business; It Is the Lifeblood of Business

The seventh business reality is a direct result of the first six. Due to shrinking business cycles, level playing fields, changing rules, volatility, globalization, and the cost of ignorance, information has become the lifeblood of many businesses. Today, accurate, accessible, actionable information is necessary to compete in the global economy. There are strong pressures to achieve more results while spending less time and money. Companies need up-to-the-minute information about their customers, suppliers, competitors, and markets.

These realities also point to the need for new business models as well as for visionary leadership. With the complexity of business today, decisioning throughout the entire organization has to operate like a well-oiled machine. The sections to come expand on optimal organizational structures as well as the core competencies, or success factors, necessary to operate at this level.

Come back for more business intelligence and change management focused blogs by The OLIVIAGroup! Feel free to comment with questions, insights, or additions to this post. To receive alerts when the next blog is published, click on the RSS feed to subscribe.
Visit www.OLIVIAGroup.com to learn more about Business Intelligence and hiring Olivia Parr Rud for your next conference!

Seven Realities that Jeopardize Business Survival: Part I

In Information Revolution, Jim Davis, Gloria J. Miller, and Allan Russell discuss the “Seven Realities that Jeopardize Business Survival.”[i] Each reality illuminates the need for new business models as well as styles of leadership. business_survival_life_ring

Business Reality 1: Business Cycles Are Shrinking

In today’s Web-enabled economy, speed within all parts of the business model is the great differentiator. To accommodate changing markets and consumer preferences, product development and testing that used to take years has been shrunk to months or even weeks. Today, the first to market often enjoys the competitive edge.

This shortened cycle challenges managers to make decisions with less time for consideration or analysis. As a result, they must depend on a combination of accurate, actionable information and intuition. And their decision must be in alignment with the overall strategy of the company.

Business Reality 2: You Can Only Squeeze So Much Juice Out of an Orange

The goal of improving operational efficiency drove a majority of the investment in the last decade. Initially the returns were high and provided a competitive advantage. However, now that enterprise resource planning (ERP) software is available, the field has been leveled. The next step is greater innovation and agility.

Business Reality 3: The Rules Have Changed; There Is No More “Business as Usual”

The days of following a typical path to business success are over. The same factors apply: profitability, customer satisfaction, stakeholder value, and competition. However, the path to success is very different and is fraught with new challenges:

  • Mergers and acquisitions have hindered agility and cohesiveness.
  • Productivity advancements have increased expectations from both customers and management.
  • Advancements in IT have overwhelmed the abilities of some companies to manage and leverage the knowledge.
  • The technologies that were introduced as the key to success often failed because the human issues were overlooked.

Stay Tuned for Part II and come back for more business intelligence and change management focused blogs by The OLIVIAGroup! Feel free to comment with questions, insights, or additions to this post. To receive alerts when the next blog is published, click on the RSS feed at the right of the page to subscribe.

Visit www.OLIVIAGroup.com to learn more about Business Intelligence and hiring Olivia Parr Rud for your next conference!

 


[i]             Jim Davis, Gloria J. Miller, Allan Russell, Information Revolution (Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2006), xv.