Business Success: Empowerment

Are you support all team members and encourage cooperation?

Paradox of Empowerment
True power is the ability to relinquish control.
—Olivia Parr Rud

One of the most challenging aspects of leading in the new model is giving up the need for control. And yet with the complexity of business today, it is impossible to micromanage from the top. Years ago, the chief executive officer (CEO) could do the job of practically every person on the company. Today, it is a totally different story.

As discussed in Chapter 4 of my book, John Chambers, CEO of Cisco, did not always entrust decision making to others. He started out as a command-and-control type. “If I said, “Turn right,” all 65,000 employees turned right.” But he soon realized that the company couldn’t grow as rapidly as was necessary under that model. So he and his top leadership team invented a new way to run the business.

business empowerment

Not only is it less effective to operate with a top-down leadership style, but it diminishes so much of the energy, wisdom, and vitality of the organization. In the article “The Paradox of Empowerment,” Wayne Baker states that “empowerment means letting go while taking control.” Often this requires leaders to transform the work environment by actively changing “the way people work, relate, think, and feel.” However, they must also allow time for the new empowerment to “take root, grow, and thrive.”

“Like any paradox, the paradox of empowerment is full of traps. It ensnares CEOs who cannot accept or live in the contradiction of taking control and letting go. Such CEOs become abdicators or meddlers. Those who thrive in the paradox become coaches who learn how to cultivate true empowerment.”

Abdicators are good at letting go. But they fail to offer guidance or make the fundamental changes necessary to cultivate emergent leadership such setting goals and establishing empowering processes. Meddlers never really give up control. They say they want self-managed teams, but they often stay too involved and tend to micromanage. This results in team members delegating upward and abdicating responsibility. “Coaches [,however,] know the difference between intervention and interference.”

If the CEO of yesterday’s command-and-control corporation was the military chieftain, then the CEO of tomorrow’s corporation is the philosopher-king. As a philosopher, the CEO develops the comprehensive theory of the corporation as a society. This theory includes an ideology or system of beliefs about human nature, superordinate goals, and shared values, and it encompasses a vision of a better society—a model of the company tomorrow. As a king, the CEO acts decisively to put theory into practice. This demands not just business but social re-engineering—all the deep interventions necessary to transform the corporation.

Empowering CEOs are experts at tapping into the natural desire of people to work in fulfilling and productive jobs. They know that people are motivated by many things besides money, such as “belonging, mastery, self-esteem, achievement, respect.” Meddlers, who generally distrust human nature, feel their employees must be coerced into doing their jobs.

Empowering CEOs create an environment of collaboration and self-direction. They create effective social mechanisms, such as high-level networks that unite and build community.

Business Success: The Conscious Leader

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

—Confucius

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: The Learning Organization Part II

Mon, Jun 10, 2013 @ 10:52 AM

In the last post, we discussed the first two of the five disciplines.  If you missed it you can find it here.

Mental Models

Senge defines mental models “as deeply ingrained assumptions, generalizations, or even pictures or images that influence how we understand the world and how we take action.” A majority of these models are unconscious and have existed since childhood. Yet they pervade every thought, word, and action.

The first step in dealing with mental models is to look within oneself. Then the organization must create a safe place for members participate in compassionate scrutiny and influence through the process of “inquiry and advocacy.”

Building Shared Vision

sacred_imagesOne thing that all successful organizations have in common is a shared vision. Made up of shared goals and values, a shared vision has the capacity to bring “people

together around a common identity and sense of destiny,” according to Senge. It unleashes creative energy and fuels innovation by rallying diverse members in a shared vision that galvanizes the organization. It “involves the skills of unearthing shared ‘pictures of the future’ that foster genuine commitment and enrollment rather than compliance.”

Team Learning

The success of organizations to learn is based on the ability of the teams to learn. The team must connect and share through dialogue while suspending assumptions and learning to trust each other. Blocks such as fear, apathy, and defensiveness can undermine learning. Therefore, safe and open communication is essential.

Team learning has the power to enhance capabilities for innovation and creativity. But to maximize the benefits, the learning must be shared. Many teams of brilliant individuals have produced mediocre results due to lack of interaction and integration.

Practicing team learning is not about copying a model. Many new management innovations emerge as “best practices.” But most organizations adopt and implement the ideas in a piecemeal fashion. Toyota is a great example of a company that uses a systems approach. Many companies copy Toyota’s kanban system. But they fail to see how all the parts work together in a way that is unique for Toyota.

The Fifth Discipline

Senge points out that “It is vital that the five disciplines develop as an ensemble.” This is truly a time when the total is greater than the sum of its parts.

Based on that truth, “systems thinking is the fifth discipline.” Without a systemic approach, the coherence necessary to be adaptable is lost. “For example, vision without systems thinking ends up painting lovely pictures of the future with no deep understanding of the forces that must be mastered to move from here to there.”

Organizations that embrace systems thinking must also practice “the disciplines of building shared vision, mental models, team learning, and personal mastery to realize its potential.”

Each of these disciplines plays a role in powering the system. Shared vision builds a group commitment to the future. Mental models provide the openness necessary to unveil the limitations present in the organization. Team learning improves the members’ skills to create and take action on an organizational level. And personal mastery encourages the self-reflection, healing, and personal growth necessary to fully participate in an adaptable organization.

Finally, learning organizations offer amazing potential for creating their future. Based on the new science, a learning organization is creating its future by shifting how individuals perceive themselves and their world.

Business Success: Creativity

Nov 06, 2012 @ 09:37 AM

A flash of inspiration can burst out anywhere. For Archimedes, it came in the bathtub and for Isaac Newton beneath an apple tree. But for Alastair Pilkington, it came one misty October evening while he was washing the dinner dishes. Staring at the soap and grease floating in the dishwater, he suddenly conceived of float glass—a way of making glass more cheaply by floating it in an oven on a bath of molten tin.
—1964 Newsweek magazine article Op cit., Herrmann, 139

 

brain

Many people in knowledge-based organizations, especially those working in analytical or technical positions, believe that right-brain, creative processes are irrelevant to their line of work. They tend to favor more left-brain, linear, hierarchical thinking processes. However, evidence shows that the best way to solve complex analytical problems is to access the whole brain.

The Human Brain

The structure and processing of the human brain play an important role in creative thinking and problem solving. Basically, the brain is a highly adaptable complex system with no chief executive. It thrives on billions of connections, feedback loops, and interactions. When presented with stimulation, the only region of the brain that activates is the one needed. Meanwhile, other areas sit idle. Research suggests that people relate differently to situations based on the way their brains are wired.

Left-Brain/Right-Brain Theory of Organization

To understand the mechanics of the creative process, it is useful to have a deeper understanding of the structure of the brain. Most people are familiar with the fact that the brain has a left and a right hemisphere. Within the two hemispheres are the neocortex and limbic system. Also important are the connectors that connect these four areas and send signals to one another. Within these four areas, there are two patterns of brain functioning, situational functioning and iterative functioning. These are the components of the left-brain/right-brain theory of organization.

Neocortex

Roughly 80 percent of the brain is in the neocortex. It is anatomically divided into two halves, called cerebral hemispheres. The neocortex manages “processes concerning vision, hearing, body, sensations, intentional motor control, reasoning, cerebra thinking and decision making, purposeful behavior, language and non-verbal ideation.”

Limbic System

The two halves of the limbic system are nestled into each of the two cerebral hemispheres and make up most of the rest of the thinking cortex. The limbic system has one of the richest blood supplies in the body; it “regulates eating, drinking, sleeping, waking, body temperature, chemical balances such as blood sugar, heart rate, blood pressure, punishment, hunger, thirst, aggression, and rage.”
The limbic system is responsible for producing emotions. It is connected to both the brain stem and the cerebral hemispheres through vast and highly developed connections. Therefore, it is in a position to mediate brain activity between the brain stem and the cerebral hemispheres. In other words, it has the power to overwhelm logical thinking with emotional energy.

Connections within the Brain

The connections within the brain fall into two categories, those within each hemisphere and those between the hemispheres and the two halves of the limbic system. The most famous of these, the corpus callosum, connects the two cerebral hemispheres. It is believed to have between 200 and 300 million fibers. Research suggests that, on average, female brains have an advantage over male brains in size, speed, and maturity rate – the rate at which the brain matures. This may explain some of the differences in male and female aptitudes and behaviors.

Situational versus Iterative Functioning

To improve efficiency, the brain determines which part to activate based on the particular situation. For example, if people are listening, their language center will activate while their calculation center sits idle.

Iterative functioning, in contrast, “is a back-and-forth movement of signals among the brain’s specialized centers that take place to advance work on a task.” Depending on the complexity of the task, it can be a single iteration or multiple iterations between or within hemispheres.

Amygdalae

Another area of the brain plays a big role in the ability to survive amid complexity as it relates to fear. The amygdalae sit at the base of the brain and serve as processors for emotions, especially fear. One of the oldest parts of the brain, their characteristics can be the most deep-seated and hard to explain. When dealing with transformation and moving in new directions, people’s level of fear plays a prominent role in their ability and willingness to move forward.

Cerebellum

The latest research on the cerebellum suggests that it is a powerful mechanism with more nerve cells than the rest of the brain combined. It quickly processes information from all other parts of the brain, such as motor areas, cognitive areas, language areas, and areas involving emotional functions. Its computer-like circuitry allows it to send information back out to various parts of the brain. Its connections to the cerebral cortex resemble segregated bundles, which allow it to communicate complex information. Current theories under investigation suggest that the cerebellum is involved not only in skilled motor performance but in skilled mental performance as well as “various sensory functions including sensory acquisition, discrimination, tracking and prediction.” Experimental evidence shows that it may also be responsible for automating repetitive processes, thereby freeing the brain for other mental activities.

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.

13 Behaviors of Business Success

It takes twenty years to build your reputation and five minutes to ruin it.
—Warren Buffett, Chairman & CEO, Berkshire Hathaway

As Covey describes it, the 13 behaviors reflect both character and competence. This is valuable to understand because “the quickest way to decrease trust is to violate a behavior of character, while the quickest way to increase trust is to demonstrate a behavior of competence.”

Behavior #1: Talk Straight
What we say is true and forthcoming—not just technically correct. —Dell Inc.’s Code of Conduct  Straight talk is really about honesty. The ability and integrity to speak the truth with great clarity is essential for success today. Too much is happening too fast to be delayed by confusion or deception. Strong leadership is necessary to create a culture of trust. Straight talk from top management is essential for success.

Behavior #2: Demonstrate Respect

I try to treat people as human beings….If they know you care, it brings out the best in them.
—Sir Richard Branson, founder and chairman, The Virgin Group
Demonstrating respect builds trust on all levels. Expansion into global markets brings exposure to new customs and manners that need to be understood and integrated. This creates the space for unparalleled innovation and collaboration.

Behavior #3: Create Transparency

Creating transparency involves telling the truth in a way that can be verified. This means not hiding mistakes and information. Leaders who come from a place of authenticity and transparency are rewarded with loyalty and trust.

Behavior #4: Right Wrongs

To be an effective leader, one must practice humility. Mistakes are expected in a dynamic, innovative company. And no one is immune from them. To admit mistakes and make restitution, when necessary, is a sign of great integrity.

Behavior #5: Show Loyalty

To retain those who are present, be loyal to those who are absent.—Steven M. R. Covey
To demonstrate and encourage loyalty, it is important to acknowledge the contributions of others and offer praise freely. Leaders who speak about people as though they were present and show respect for their privacy gain the trust of those who are present.

Behavior #6: Deliver Results

We judge ourselves by what we feel capable of doing, while others judge us by what we have already done. —Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
As a full participant in any organization, it is crucial to establish a track record of delivering results. However, it is also important to know what to deliver. This involves understanding how results will be implemented and making sure the results have value to the organization.
In a dynamic organization, individuals enjoy a lot more autonomy. Proactive behavior invigorates the system and moves the organization forward. It is good to underpromise and overdeliver.

Behavior #7: Get Better

The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.—Alvin Toffler, American writer and futurist
A practice of continual learning is essential for the growth of both the organization and the individual. Improving skills and knowledge in your current area of expertise as well as learning through collaboration with other areas leads to exponential growth. Developing formal and informal feedback systems also supports learning.

Behavior #8: Confront Reality

Leaders need to be more candid with those they purport to lead. Sharing good news is easy. When it comes to the more troublesome negative news, be candid and take responsibility. Don’t withhold unpleasant possibilities and don’t pass off bad news to subordinates to deliver. Level with employees about problems in a timely fashion.—Jon Huntsman, chairman, Huntsman Chemical
When times are tough, confronting reality requires obligated courage. True leaders share the truth at all times and address the difficult issues directly.

Behavior #9: Clarify Expectations

When communicating within an organization, clarity of word and deed is very powerful. Effective communication and feedback are essential for ensuring that everyone understands what is expected. It is dangerous to assume otherwise.

Behavior #10: Practice AccountabilityBusiness success

Personal accountability fuels trust and mobilizes an organization for growth. Leaders must set the standard by holding themselves accountable. Then they are in integrity and can hold others accountable. Avoid blaming others when things go wrong.

Behavior #11: Listen First
I have found that the two best qualities a CEO can have are the ability to listen and to assume the best motives in others.—Jack M. Greenberg, chairman and CEO, McDonald’s
As discussed Chapter 3, truly listening is an art that takes intention and effort. But the value of this practice is significant. To understand someone, it is necessary to listen with your eyes, ears, and heart. Seek to learn what is important to others. This is the first step toward accessing the plethora of untapped wisdom in organizations.

Behavior #12: Keep Commitments
Stand up for what’s right, in small matters and large ones, and always do what you promise.
—Reuben Mark, chairman and CEO, Colgate-Palmolive
Covey calls this the “Big Kahuna” of all behaviors. It is a fundamental building block of trust and is essential for effective collaboration.
Behavior #13: Extend Trust
Trust men and they will be true to you; treat them greatly and they will show themselves great.—Ralph Waldo Emerson
Great leaders demonstrate a propensity to trust. When members of an organization extend trust to others, it fosters a collaborative environment. Learn from those who break the bond of trust.

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.

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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.

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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.

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

Business Success: Morphing Current Businesses

Business Success: Morphing Current Businesses

Many traditional businesses are adapting their business models based on customer behavior. Amazon.com, 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 services.new-business-model

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 Amazon.com, 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