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.


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.

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

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

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, visit

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,

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 –

Business Success: The Conscious Leader

To become a leader, you must first become a human being.


leadership speaker
A conscious leader is best described by defining what it is not. According to leadership consultant Lance Secretan, consciousness is the opposite of rationalism.
The rational mind believes that:

• Success is always measured in material terms.
• Self-worth is measured in comparison to others.
• Feelings are private and should not be expressed in the workplace.
• The singe bottom line is the main arbiter of success.
• Anything that cannot be scientifically proven is not real or valuable.
• We are each separate and must compete.
• The world is dangerous and we must always protect ourselves.
• Violence and aggression are necessary for survival and safety.
• Notions like love, eco-interdependence, spirit or soul, absolute truth, and the divine are the province of philosophers, idealists, and the naïve—not business people.

The rational mind is firmly entrenched in the Newtonian model of science, which is insufficient when it comes to thriving in a volatile economy.

As Secretan puts it:

The rational mind describes compassion and caring for people as touchy-feely soft stuff. The conscious mind sees compassion and caring for people as the juice—even the purpose and necessity of life. The rational mind reasons that an imbalance between work and life is the means that is justified by the ends.

One the other hand, the conscious mind understands that everything in the universe, including work and life, must be balanced, that there is a season for everything. The conscious mind therefore balances thinking and feeling, profit and people, wisdom and learning, ego and spirit, now and the future, rich and poor, the sacred and the secular. The fully conscious leader is an evolved being.

Organizations that strive to be highly adaptable in the turbulent times ahead will be those with conscious leaders at every level.

Business Success: Adaptability

We must remain open to change by building flexibility into our organizational structures and interactions. The more rigid we become, the less access we have to the reality of the system, and thus, the less able we are to shift as the environment demands. 

—Julie Roberts Ph.D., Principal of ChangeWorks

For the last several decades, organizations have dealt with economic shifts using change management. Based on the new science, there are two major flaws with this approach. First, the word change implies an event with an ending. Second, it implies that change can be managed. In a world of economic volatility, this approach is no longer viable. The continuous climate of uncertainty and volatility demands another view, one that supports adaptability and resilience.

The Shifting Paradigm

Risk management’s inability to adapt to the changing business landscape played a large role in the global financial meltdown.
—Daniel Tu, PricewaterhouseCoopers
An adaptable organization is one that self-organizes. Most organizations appear to have order. But order is not the same as organization. Organization involves differentiation and specialization.

changeTo understand the basic reasons for the resistance to evolve, it is instructive to trace the roots of our traditional business models. The organizational model that serves as the foundation for most companies has its origins in Newtonian physics, which states that all “individual or system behavior is knowable, predictable, and controllable.” It operates like a machine “with each part acting on the other part with precise linear laws of cause and effect.”

This structure brings with it many aspects of mechanistic thinking, some of which are useful. But in a highly volatile economy, most aspects of this model are inefficient. For example, most companies have rigid organizational structures with centralized command and control. Their business intelligence systems are linear and unidirectional. They utilize rigorous analysis and measurement to limit variation and drive efficiency, and, in the event of an unpredicted outcome, they search for root causes.

They tend to be highly mechanized companies with highly specialized workers who receive extensive instructions. This model is useful in stable environments, such as operating rooms or highly specialized factories, where systems are closed, change is slow, and variability is low.

Over the next few weeks we will examine adaptability,comparing the traditional methods with a shift in paradigm.

Leadership Techniques: Using Storytelling

Story telling…is one of the world’s most powerful tools for achieving astonishing results. For the leader, storytelling is action oriented—a force for turning dreams into goals and then into results.

— PETER GUBER of Mandalay Enter Group

Storytelling has always been a powerful method for teaching and inspiring. In many cultures, it is the primary method of sharing and retaining knowledge through the generations. It is also an effective way to communicate to various stakeholders at every level of the organization.

A gifted salesperson gains acceptance by telling a story that sets a product or service up as the hero. A manager rallies direct reports to make short-term sacrifices as they work towards a long-term goal. A talented chief executive translates the company mission statement into an emotional narrative that attracts investors and partners while inspiring employees. When a problem arises, it is also a powerful technique for creating calm and inspiring hope.

Four Truths of Storytellingstorytelling

Unlike fantasy storytelling, the practice in business is built on truth and authenticity. To be effective, the storyteller must be seen as someone with integrity. According to Peter Guber of Mandalay Entertainment Group, there are four kinds of truth found in effective storytelling.

Truth to the Teller

As mentioned earlier, authenticity is critical to the success of the story. The storyteller “must be congruent with his story—his tongue, feet, and wallet must move in the same direction. The consummate modern shaman knows his own deepest values and reveals them in his story with honesty and candor.”

The power of storytelling comes from its ability to tap our emotions. Whether you are aware of it or not, most opinions are formed, decisions are made, and reactions are triggered at this level. So the secret is to get to the heart of the listener. To do this successfully, the storyteller must speak from the heart.

Truth to the Audience

Storytelling may evoke a sense of leisure. However, when using this technique in business, the storyteller must consider that time may be the scarcest resource. So a commitment to efficacy and value is the essence of this truth.

The goal of the process is to induce an altered emotional state. This requires that the storyteller build suspense and stimulate curiosity. The storyteller can take a few steps to assist the process:

• Practice on a group of colleagues who still need convincing. Study the nonverbal responses to detect the emotional power of the story.
• Identify the audience’s emotional needs and deliver with accuracy and integrity. Manage expectations throughout the story, and conclude with an unexpected twist or insight that leaves the audience convinced and delighted.
• Involve the audience in the storytelling experience. Guide the listeners to see themselves as the heroes of the story. Elicit suggestions or strategies as you guide them to your conclusion.

Truth to the Moment

Never tell a story the same way twice. Given the dynamic nature of business, as described in Chapter 1, as well as the audience, an effective story is one that sounds different each time. In addition, the more the storyteller involves the audience, the more unique the process becomes.

There is an inherent paradox here. A great storyteller is both well practiced and flexible enough to improvise. A skilled storyteller can vary the story without “losing the thread of the focus.”

Truth to the Mission

A great storyteller conveys that the mission of the story is greater than the self. To evoke a real desire for change, the storyteller has to weave a tale that advocates for the good of all. This brings passion and emotion to the group to take action.

Even in today’s cynical, self-centered age, people are desperate to believe in something bigger than themselves. The storyteller plays a vital role by providing them with a mission they can believe in and devote themselves to. As a modern shaman, the visionary business leader taps into the human learning to be part of a worthy cause. A leader who wants to use the power of storytelling must remember this and begin with a cause that deserves devotion.

The Heart of Storytelling

Technology has provided many new venues for storytelling. Beyond the physical gathering of people, stories are shared through print, radio, television, and movies.
State-of-the-art technology is a great tool for capturing and transmitting words, images, and ideas, but the power of storytelling resides most fundamentally in “state-of-the-heart” technology.

At the end of the day, words and ideas presented in a way that engages listeners’ emotions are what carry stories. It is this oral tradition that lies at the center of our ability to motivate, sell, inspire, engage, and lead.

Business Success Skills: High Quality Relationships

High-quality relationships are the lifeblood of an organization that seeks to leverage complexity and emergent knowledge. Once a set of solid communication practices are in place, relationships begin to form. To use these relationships effectively, however, the dissemination of crucial information, such as the goals of the business and the knowledge needed to attain those goals, is essential. As relationships form through effective communication practices, a culture of mutual respect will emerge.business_relationship

Shared Goals

Traditionally, goals are shared within functional teams. The overall goals of the organization, however, are less well known. In an organization with a highly interdependent framework, each member of the organization must focus on the overall goal. Since the framework is designed to allow structure and process to emerge, the shared goal of the organization is the unifying force that empowers that emergence.

Shared Knowledge

Sharing knowledge goes hand in hand with shared goals for any organization using a highly interdependent framework. Knowledge shared between teams from different functional backgrounds creates connections that foster cross-functional support while reducing competition and conflict.

Mutual Respect

Highly interdependent organizations thrive on mutual respect. Effective communication practices as well as shared knowledge and goals go a long way to create a culture of mutual respect. Within a respectful dialogue, differences in opinions unleash energy and creativity. Problems are minimized when the involved parties feel respected. This behavior is best learned by watching those in positions of power.

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.
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Business Skills: The Art of Listening

Listening may or may not be an “act of love” or way to “tap into people’s 

listeningdreams,” but it sure as hell is (1) an uncommon act of courtesy and recognition of worth from which (2) you will invariably learn amazing stuff…and (3) it will build-maintain relationships beyond your wildest dreams.

—Tom Peters, best-selling author

To be a strong leader, you must be able to influence others. In highly complex organizations, everyone plays the role of leader from time to time. And communication is an essential mechanism for the exchange of knowledge and intentions. Mastering the art of listening is essential to the success of all participants in an interdependent organization.[i]

Those who are good listeners greatly increase their influence on others. Although listening is passive in nature, when someone feels heard, he or she feels inspired and validated. Sadly, many leaders fail to listen because they are biased, impatient, bored, or rigid in their views. This prevents the critical exchange of knowledge, insights, and intentions.

Listening skills are rarely taught. Communication training in business schools typically focuses on argument and persuasion. These skills fit the old management model with its top-down, authoritative approach.  Managers had little reason to listen. They communicated down the chain of command, and the workers followed orders.

As stated earlier, as organizations embrace new business models, listening is becoming an integral part of the communication process. Two-way interaction helps to clarify and prevent confusion, aid comprehension, and improve connection.

Listening goes beyond just hearing. Hearing usually triggers a reflexive response without any thought or reflection. Listening is deliberate and requires interpretation. A good exercise in listening is to ask recipients to reflect back what they heard.

Bad listeners:

  • Interrupt. They are impatient and may like to dominate the conversation.
  • Are inattentive. They are easily distracted, perhaps even multitasking.
  • Exhibit mind-drift. They are easily bored, perhaps even self-centered.
  • Are biased. They have strong marginal views (out of the mainstream), and cannot expand their thinking.
  • Have closed minds. They have already drawn a conclusion or stay with their own beliefs.

Good listeners:

  • Are quiet. They talk less than the speaker.
  • Are patient. They never interrupt the speaker.
  • Are unbiased. They avoid prejudgment.
  • Are curious. They ask clarifying and open-ended questions.
  • Pay attention. They sit attentively, take notes, concentrate.
  • Employ nonverbals. They smile, maintain an open posture and eye contact.
  • Reflect back. They verify and reinforce what was heard through summary comments.

Skillful listeners are natural leaders in the new business landscape with their ability to influence, engage, and inspire.

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[i]             William F. Kumuyi, “Sir, Listen Up!” 2008,;col1.

Business Success: High Quality Communications

High-quality communication comes in many forms, all of which play an important leadership

Frequent Communication

Effective communication is necessary to exchange information in highly interdependent organizations. Frequent communications are important for building familiarity and trust, which leads to increased sensitivity and responsiveness.

Timely Communication

Organizations that thrive on turning information into knowledge understand that timing is everything. As speed to respond has grown in importance, delays can lead to waste and increased costs. Timely communication facilitates the smooth transition of information in highly interdependent organizations.

Accurate Communication

In an information-driven economy, accurate communication is essential. However, as an integral part of relational coordination, accuracy often suffers when organizations become more complex and greater speed is encouraged. Business Intelligence systems provide a solid framework to ensure accuracy.

Problem-Solving Communication

Highly interdependent organizational processes can run flawlessly until a problem arises. However, when members of these complex organizations face problems and are not skilled in dealing with them, conflict often arises, leading to blame and loss of communication. Organizations that focus on developing communication skills will benefit from the increased contacts and depth of connection.

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Business Success: Morphing Current Businesses

Business Success: Morphing Current Businesses

Many traditional businesses are adapting their business models based on customer behavior., the online bookseller, has grown into an Internet giant while many brick-and-mortar bookstores have closed. The publishing world has seen a change as authors enter the market independently using print-on-demand

Many small businesses are now gaining access to world markets. And larger, more established retail businesses, especially those with a traditional catalog presence, are creating sophisticated shopping experiences for their customers on the Web.[i]

Why are, Lexus, and Disney partnering with lesser-known online companies to sell products? According to Wiredmagazine’s Ian Mount, the large companies are moving toward the manufacturing-as-a-service model to stay competitive. It has become necessary to compete with the small entrepreneurs who are producing and distributing products on demand. The production of products has become a commodity.  Because of the low cost of entry, anyone with a good idea can compete in this market.

New businesses that leverage this model are popping up everywhere, and many have global reach. Jeffrey Wegesin, a furniture designer, advertises his designs on the Web. Upon receiving an order, he contracts with an on-demand manufacturing service in New Zealand to create and ship each piece. He has no inventory or other up-front costs. His business is pure profit.

Designers of clothing, jewelry, robots, you name it! The model is inherently charming because of its efficiency and simplicity. Individual musicians and authors can market their goods without any up-front investment. With little more than a product idea and a good design, anyone can become an instapreneur.[ii]

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[i]             Bradley and Nolan, Capturing Value in the Network Era, 7-8

[ii]             Ian Mount, “Upside of the Downturn: 5. The Rise of the Instapreneur: Manufacture and Sell Anything in Minutes,” Wired (April 2008), 129

Discovering New Businesses Opportunities

Several years ago, Lester Thurow made this observation and posed several timely questions: “The old foundations of success are gone. For all of human history the source of success has been controlling natural resources — land, gold, oil. Suddenly the answer is “knowledge.” The king of the knowledge economy, Bill Gates owns no land, no gold or oil, no industrial process. How does one use knowledge to build wealth? How do societies have to be reorganized to generate a wealth-enhancing knowledge environment? How do they incubate the entrepreneurs necessary to bring about change and create wealth? What skills are needed? The knowledge-based economy is asking new questions, giving new answers, and developing new rules for success.”[i]business_opportunities

This statement highlights several important characteristics of the information economy. The assets themselves are often intangible. This inherent instability makes the market even more volatile. Early movers such as America Online were able to gain a strong foothold by giving away their software and charging a monthly fee for their service. But within a few years, market pressures forced them to change their model. Luckily, they have been able to adapt and maintain their value. Other companies, such as Bloomberg, Dow-Jones, Reuters, and, provide real-time, aggregated data for the financial services industry. News is delivered from every major news source through the Internet. And blogs have becomes sources of news as well as forums for questioning the veracity of information.

Many back-office and outsourcing businesses have grown out of virtual connectivity. Services such as bookkeeping and answering the phone that were historically performed within the same building are now done in other cities or continents. Today, some are surprised to learn that most taxes are prepared and X rays are read in India.

Given this relentless pressure to adapt our business models, companies are embracing innovative technologies and developing new strategies for capturing value.

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[i]             Lester Thurow, Building Wealth,

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