S2 E114 —Top 10 Ways to Rebuild Trust and Reinvent Complex Enterprises

You need the first three in place to break through natural resistance brought about by fear, uncertainty and doubt.  Involve employees in decision-making processes and empower them to contribute ideas and take ownership of projects.

“5”  Steve Zahn, 51: “Destruction, which is terrible, is very different from demolition, which is necessary. You must tear down the old to make room for the new. You’re ready to let go so you can build.” Scorpio

Hi and welcome to Sunday’s Episode 114 in Season 2 of  “My Pandemic Year Natural Experiment” on this 13th day of September in the fall of 2020.  

“The Tau of Steves: What You Don’t Know Could Fill a Book”

Table of Contents

Season One and Two are a two-year examination of how bits of wisdom changed during the “normal” pre-pandemic and then in this unfolding pandemic year.

Previously in Season Two, the Pandemic Year

S2 E1139 Pitfalls to Avoid; S2 E112Betting on the Progress of 5 Innovation Teams; S2 E111 Against All Odds 530 is Alive!

Related from Season One, the Normal Year

S1 E114Setbacks, Frustration, Epic Fails but How Was Your Day?; S1 E113Is This an Omen?; S1 E112 —  When Was the Last Time You Wrangled Your Past?; S1 E111Is There Half-life of Wisdom?

Context

This is a continuation of a “Volume Two Manuscript — WorkFit” a work-in-progress.

In previous episodes we described Start Up, Emerging Growth, Rapid Growth, Sustained Growth, Maturity, Decline and now Reinvention stages.

Reinvention

We’ve begun summarizing what we learned from our Reinvention mini-case operating from within a technology company,  Part One,  Part Two and Part Three and from a different industry with similar needs, but from a consulting assignment. We profiled Part One , Two , Three  and Four in the recent episodes. In our previous episode described cautionary tales about how easy it is to fail if you don’t avoid major pitfalls.  Now let’s list what works.

Organizations can reinvent themselves through various strategies, including:

    1. Embrace Innovation: You can’t reach reinvention goals without innovation, right? Encourage a culture of innovation within the organization, where employees are encouraged to explore new ideas and experiment with novel approaches. Unless you are already a Paradoxy-Moron organization built for innovation, you’ll be met with doubt from your talent culture. (Technology company Part One  and a Real Estate and Relocation company Four)
    2. Invest in Technology: Embrace new technologies that can streamline processes, enhance productivity, and create new opportunities for growth. You can’t innovate and reinvent if you don’t make it easy to create and share new knowledge at a must faster pace. (Behind the scenes consultancy Part One)
    3. Cultivate a Learning Culture: Without a learning culture, you fall backwards into what stalled your growth to begin with.  Encourage continuous learning and development among employees to keep up with industry advancements and acquire new skills. (Technology company Part One and Behind the scenes consultancy Part One , Two , Three  and Four)
    4. Empower Employees: You need the first three in place to break through natural resistance brought about by fear, uncertainty and doubt.  Involve employees in decision-making processes and empower them to contribute ideas and take ownership of projects. (Behind the scenes consultancy Part One , Two , Three  and Four)
    5. Adapt to Market Changes:  Stay agile and be responsive to market trends and changes in customer preferences. Continuously assess the market landscape and adapt strategies accordingly. Like physical fitness or weight loss when you succeed it is tempting to stop and enjoy your results.  Reinvention isn’t a one time thing.
    6. Reevaluate Business Model: Assess the current business model critically and be open to making necessary changes to align with the evolving market demands. Once you empower your talent culture, you can’t ignore their efforts and proposals.  Top management normally resists sharing the responsibility for directing their enterprise.(Behind the scenes consultancy Part Four)
    7. Focus on Customer Needs: Understand the evolving needs of customers and tailor products or services to meet those needs effectively. Who better than coming directly from those who engage with those customers? (Behind the scenes consultancy Part Four)
    8. Strategic Leadership: Strong leadership is essential in driving the transformation process and inspiring a shared vision among employees. (Behind the scenes consultancy Part One , Two , Three  and Four)
    9. Collaborate and Network: Build partnerships and collaborations with other organizations or startups to leverage collective strengths and expand market reach.
    10. Manage Risks: Recognize the potential risks associated with transformation and have a robust risk management plan in place. 

Remember, reinventing an organization is a complex process, and it requires a comprehensive understanding of the organization’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. It involves both strategic planning and a willingness to adapt to change throughout the journey.

Evidence

“5”  Steve Zahn, 51: “Destruction, which is terrible, is very different from demolition, which is necessary. You must tear down the old to make room for the new. You’re ready to let go so you can build.” Scorpio

If there ever was a mantra that came natural to Paradoxy-Moron organizations and reinvention teams, it has to be this one.

Random ones that make me want change my sign.

“3”  Steve Carrell, 57; Steve Martin, 74; Steve Wozniak, 69: “Procrastination is fear in disguise. Affirm to yourself that whatever you don’t know about the situation can be learned along the way. It won’t be that bad. You might even like it. Take a little bite.” Leo

A dual curse — being an introvert and hesitating for fear of failure.  But, given this pandemic adds boredom into the recipe, why not embrace this work-in-progress?

“4”  Steve Greene, 34; Steve Guttenberg, 61:To co-create will be a thrill whether you think it’s going well or not. There will be lessons along the way. Creative collaborations are as particular a partnership as any love match.” Virgo

Maybe not so much for today, but over the course of my “reinvention career” specifically with crazy creative Dave for five years when we had what he described as a “license to steal” and later with him and the creative team at Think!City.

“3”  Steve Kerr, 54:Your mind doesn’t like an open loop. Something incomplete will haunt you. You’ll go back and back to it until you’ve either discovered the answer or made up a theory to hold you over until you do.” Libra

Oh great, but don’t tell anyone.  I may have mislabeled a talent profile as a card-carrying Systematic-Profile, or at least the correlated Myers-Briggs temperament which begs to re-categorize it as a Paradoxy-Moron thriving contributor.  Oops.

“3”  Steve Aoki, 41: If you feel you must succeed, it means that, somewhere in the thought stream running through your head, there’s some false information. Either stop demanding success or change your definition of it.” Sagittarius

What the hell?  If I’m a self-styled introverted procrastinator existing in the outer realm of the pandemic, how does my thought stream compel me to take action about what I just confessed?

“3”  Steve Nash, 45:Sometimes, ideas just come to you, but don’t depend on it today. The best projects, solutions, theories, recipes and more will begin with a brainstorm. Don’t skip this step.”Aquarius

Now, what?  Brainstorm.  Brainstorm.  Got it.  But, just one question.  Doesn’t this just stretch out the open loop dilemma?

Steve Jobs, (1955 – 2011): You don’t know what to do next, and that means you’re in an exciting position, alert with the energy that only fresh trouble can provide. Search for answers in the obvious places.” Pisces

WTF.  Forget brainstorming now? Just go with answers from obvious places?  

What’s Going On

Literally Bottled and Set Adrift from KnowWhere Atoll 

    • @KnowLabs followers of one or more of my 35 digital magazines organically grew from 5060 to 5125.

Foresight

Quality-of-Life

Long-Form

    • Saw the movie, didn’t realize that one of my favorite authors, Michael Connelly — his detective Hieronymus (Harry) Bosch book series and Amazon Prime series — also wrote, “The Lincoln Lawyer” which I just finished. Gotta tell you I can’t not see his lead character (Mickey Haller, Bosch’s half brother) as anyone else but Matthew McConaughey. 

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Inspired by: Holiday Mathis – Creators Syndicate

CENTER FOR KNOWLEDGE CREATION AND INNOVATION

The Knowledge Path | Know Laboratories | Knowledge Banking | Knowledge ATMs | Western Skies and Island Currents | Best West Road Trip

S2 E113 — 9 Pitfalls to Avoid

Lessons drawn from our seven mini-cases demonstrate when organizations are reinventing themselves there are at least 9 pitfalls they should avoid to ensure a successful transformation.

“4”  Steve McQueen (1930 – 1980): “Recognize when you’re being obsessive, which is, at least in today’s case, another word for self-interested. Then open it up by focusing outside of yourself.” Aries  

Hi and welcome to Saturday’s Episode 113 in Season 2 of  “My Pandemic Year Natural Experiment” on this 12th day of September in the fall of 2020.  

“The Tau of Steves: What You Don’t Know Could Fill a Book”

Table of Contents

Season One and Two are a two-year examination of how bits of wisdom changed during the “normal” pre-pandemic and then in this unfolding pandemic year.

Previously in Season Two, the Pandemic Year

S2 E112Betting on the Progress of 5 Innovation Teams;S2 E111 Against All Odds 530 is Alive!; S2 E110Keys for Reinventing a FUD-Soaked Enterprise

Related from Season One, the Normal Year

S1 E113Is This an Omen?; S1 E112 —  When Was the Last Time You Wrangled Your Past?; S1 E111Is There Half-life of Wisdom?; S1 E110Love, Longing, Belonging, Connection and Loss

Context

This is a continuation of a “Volume Two Manuscript — WorkFit” a work-in-progress. In previous episodes we described Start Up, Emerging Growth, Rapid Growth, Sustained Growth, Maturity, Decline and now Reinvention stages.   

Reinvention without Decline

Image Credit: Stephen G. Howard  Copyright 2020

Reinvention

Now let’s summarize what we learned from our Reinvention mini-cases operating from within a technology company,  Part One,  Part Two and Part Three and from a different industry with similar needs, but from a consulting assignment. We profiled Part One , Two , Three  and Four in our most recent episodes.

9 Pitfalls to Avoid

Across our seven mini-cases, when organizations are reinventing themselves there are several pitfalls they should avoid to ensure a successful transformation:

    1. Lack of Clear Vision: Of course this might be the most difficult of all.  Who really knows what lies ahead at the end of a successful transformation? (Part One Technology company, Part One PRERS, Two PRERS) Avoid embarking on a transformation journey without a well-defined and communicated vision. A clear direction is crucial to align efforts and goals. 
    2. Resistance to Change: Without a clear vision and a reason to believe how can you avoid resistance to change from within the organization. (Part One  Flipping curmudgeons,  Part One PRERS marketing campaign Two PRERS and Four PRERS participating with 5 Innovation Teams)  Encourage open communication and address concerns to gain buy-in from employees at all levels. 
    3. Overlooking Employee Engagement: Neglecting the involvement and engagement of employees can hinder the success of the reinvention process. (Part One in and outside partnerships, reason for my department; Two what is PRERS’ core foundational story Four PRERS participating with 5 Innovation Teams) Employees are key stakeholders and should be active participants.
    4. Rapid and Unplanned Changes: Abrupt and poorly planned changes can disrupt operations and demotivate employees. (Part Two Technology company fear of merger and Part One PRERS closing sales offices, well intentioned notices like pink slips) Gradual and well-structured changes are generally more effective. 
    5. Copying Competitors Blindly: While learning from competitors can be beneficial, blindly copying their strategies may not be suitable for your organization’s unique needs and goals. (Part Two during merger, who wins vs. what will win and Four PRERS participating with 5 Innovation Teams, strategy conversations instead of copying competitors)
    6. Short-Term Focus:  This may be the most difficult obstacle for mature companies to acknowledge and overcome. Avoid concentrating solely on short-term gains.  (Part Two technology company sailing to Catalina boondoggle) Successful reinventions often require a balance between short-term wins and long-term sustainability.
    7. Neglecting Data and Analytics: Data-driven decision-making is crucial in the reinvention process. (Reinvention team member selection and Part Two technology company employee survey, but delay in feeding back) Neglecting data and analytics can lead to uninformed choices. 
    8. Ignoring Company Culture: A successful transformation should consider and align with the existing company culture. (Three technology company’s factory of the future Two PRERS, Three PRERS 580) Disregarding cultural aspects can lead to internal conflicts.
    9. Underestimating Resources: Be realistic about the resources, time, and effort required for the reinvention. (Three technology company) Underestimating these factors can lead to project failures, especially if the company has been conditioned to produce short-term results.

By being mindful of these potential pitfalls and actively working to address them, organizations can increase their chances of successful reinvention and achieve their desired outcomes.

Evidence

“2”  Steve Zahn, 51: “Self-awareness is where it’s at. Everyone has it to varying degrees, but the ones who have it more keenly are usually better off. So, if you pick on yourself a little, count it as an asset.” Scorpio

Random ones that make me want change my sign.

“4”  Steve McQueen (1930 – 1980): “Recognize when you’re being obsessive, which is, at least in today’s case, another word for self-interested. Then open it up by focusing outside of yourself.” Aries  

Telling this story now during this pandemic qualifies, doesn’t it?

“3”  Steve Carrell, 57; Steve Martin, 74; Steve Wozniak, 69: “The bottom line is that you shouldn’t have to shell out much money to follow your dreams. In fact, you can be paid to chase them. At this time, internships are better than classes, which will cost you.  Leo

Swap out “internship” for “consulting” and “freelancing” and it fits better for me. 

“2”  Steve Greene, 34; Steve Guttenberg, 61:Rainbow chasing can be a lovely pastime. But don’t chase the ones that promise effortless, fast results for the low, low price of BLANK (insert high, high price).” Virgo

Probably good advice in general, but not for today.

“2”  Steve Kerr, 54:If you want a job done right, give it to someone who is already working. Working people are following physical laws like the law of inertia: What moves keeps moving unless acted upon by force.” Libra

Hard one to keep in mind while quarantined.

What’s Going On

Literally Bottled and Set Adrift from KnowWhere Atoll 

    • @KnowLabs followers of one or more of my 35 digital magazines organically grew from 4990 to 5060.

Foresight

Quality-of-Life

Long-Form

    • Saw the movie, didn’t realize that one of my favorite authors, Michael Connelly — his detective Hieronymus (Harry) Bosch book series and Amazon Prime series — also wrote, “The Lincoln Lawyer” which I just finished. Gotta tell you I can’t not see his lead character (Mickey Haller, Bosch’s half brother) as anyone else but Matthew McConaughey. 

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Inspired by: Holiday Mathis – Creators Syndicate

CENTER FOR KNOWLEDGE CREATION AND INNOVATION

The Knowledge Path | Know Laboratories | Knowledge Banking | Knowledge ATMs | Western Skies and Island Currents | Best West Road Trip

S2 E112 — Betting on the Progress of 5 Innovation Teams

But, more importantly to showcase the progress of 5 Innovation Teams paving the way to their reinvented future.  I intended to create a constructive “fish bowl” quality.  The reinvention experiment was in the center.  Those on the conversational sidelines could contribute ideas and insights teams would find valuable.

“5”  Steve Carrell, 57; Steve Martin, 74; Steve Wozniak, 69: “You can afford to be honest and direct. Some cannot do this without the requisite amount of charm. Some have too much baggage to do it without causing harm with the impact. Not you. You’re light today. Just say what you mean.” Leo

Hi and welcome to Friday’s Episode 112 in Season 2 of  “My Pandemic Year Natural Experiment” on this 11th day of September in the fall of 2020.  

“The Tau of Steves: What You Don’t Know Could Fill a Book”

Table of Contents

Season One and Two are a two-year examination of how bits of wisdom changed during the “normal” pre-pandemic and then in this unfolding pandemic year.

Previously in Season Two, the Pandemic Year

S2 E111 Against All Odds 530 is Alive!; S2 E110Keys for Reinventing a FUD-Soaked Enterprise; S2 E109Rebuilding Trust Doesn’t Happen Overnight

Related from Season One, the Normal Year

S1 E112 —  When Was the Last Time You Wrangled Your Past?; S1 E111Is There Half-life of Wisdom?; S1 E110Love, Longing, Belonging, Connection and Loss; S1 E109Do All Introverts Take the Long Acetylcholine Pathway?

Context

This is a continuation of a “Volume Two Manuscript — WorkFit” a work-in-progress.

In previous episodes we described Start Up, Emerging Growth, Rapid Growth, Sustained Growth, Maturity, Decline and now Reinvention stages.

Reinvention without Decline

Image Credit: Stephen G. Howard  Copyright 2020

We described mini-cases about major declines.  Now turn from our 4-part Reinvention mini-case operating from within a technology company,  Part One,  Part Two and Part Three to a different industry with similar needs, but from a consulting assignment. We profiled Part One , Two  and Three in the most recent episodes.

Reinvention

27. Knowledge Management — Brand Company  

A Strategy and Brand Consultancy. 

Part Four

Orchestrating delayed components in our internal campaign led to some nail biting moments.  530’s launch appealed to early adopters. We couldn’t stop with them.  Our goal included building upon their conversations by enticing more employees to hop on board. 

But, more importantly to showcase the progress of 5 Innovation Teams paving the way to their reinvented future.  I intended to create a constructive “fish bowl” quality.  The reinvention experiment was in the center. 

Those on the conversational sidelines could contribute ideas and insights teams would find valuable. 

Website Copy:

So as you can tell, you don’t have to be a lunatic to dip into the 530 conversation pool. We are these living organisms within this company. We all have stories of discovery and insight that can inspire others. These stories need to be told.  Jump in and tell us yours! 

Early Adopters:

What a Golden Opportunity for a Gal !!

“(After poking my finger around in the seed packet and then smelling them and shaking them and then comparing my seeds to others’ seeds) I put the packet of Seeds on my Computer desk at Home, next to a book called the Tao of Pooh, and another book — Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling, an old brownie movie camera and some candles.  and one night, i crossed out complexia and wrote Simplifica. what DID everyone else do?” (Link to Talk Back Forum)

Innovation Moderator:

THE VOICES OF 530

INNOVATION:  Lead the Revolution

“… For the first time in history our heritage is no longer our destiny.  Our dreams are no longer fantasies, but possibilities.  There isn’t a human being who has ever lived who wouldn’t want to be alive right now, at this moment so pregnant with promise.  Among all your forebears, among the countless generations who had no hope of progress, among all those whose spirits were betrayed by progress, you are the one who now stands on the threshold of a new age — the age of revolution.  You are blessed beyond belief.  Don’t falter.  Don’t hesitate. You were given this opportunity for a reason.  Find it.  Lead the revolution.”  — Gary Hamel in “Leading the Revolution”

Past Question: If you were given unlimited resources to create a company that would put PRERS out of business in two years, what would you do?

Early Adopters:

I’d Organize a Skunk Works, a Think Tank “If I were going to create a business to put us out of business, I would do the following. I would give customers what they want–and more. I would do it quickly. I would get rid of voice mail. I would ensure our business model guarantees that someone or some technology will be available–with an answer to virtually any question–24 hours a day, every day, and in multiple languages. I would build a system that allows customers to get information in a variety of ways–not just the traditional ways as we know them. I would ensure that every aspect of a move–whether a corporate sponsored move or a “retail” move, was designed to make the whole event easy and simple. I would ensure we had a customer contact system that not only gives us what we want when we need it, but contained information our customers need as well. I would create exit barriers so significant that it would be painful for a company to leave. I would create such value add that customers were compelled to tell their friends and family about our services that are second to none. We would create a web of alliances that addressed every need a family might have during a move, and that actually predicts what they might need. I would start by asking what customers expect, and then back into and build a new service model. 

May be crazy and far fetched, but it can be done. 

Innovation Moderator:

Current Question: What’s IMPOSSIBLE to do in our rapidly evolving industry — something so unthinkably revolutionary — that if it could be done (by someone – why not you?) the impact would FUNDAMENTALLY change the business rules?

Call it a strategic inflection point, a disruptive business model — whatever you want — what’s the innovation that will reset every competitive advantage back to zero?  (Link to “LUNATIC FRINGE)

Early Adopters:

“I’m looking forward to everyone getting ‘online’ and participating in some dynamic discussions …

“Yes, we certainly have a lot to be thankful for living in this day and age. And thanks to 530, we’ll always be connected just like all the families living on the ‘Rock'”

Website Copy:

THE VOICES OF 530

NEWS AND VIEWS  FROM THE FIELD

Early Adopters:

Stay Connected, Exchange Ideas

For those of us in the field, this site will provide us a communication tool for idea exchanging, especially with those groups with whom we do not have much interaction. Hopefully, by reading how others meet client challenges, it will spur ideas and solutions for others.

Learn, Share, Grow, Have Fun Together

I believe it was Dale Carnegie that said “There’s nothing more effective and rewarding than showing a genuine interest in other people”. With that said, it’s refreshing to know: 

        1. We work with people that may be sensitive to our wants and needs, 
        2. Someone was creative enough to put this forum together, 
        3. That we can learn, share, grow and have fun together. I’m looking forward to everyone getting ‘on-line’ and participating in some dynamic discussions. This will be especially appreciated by those of us in the “field”…Thanks everyone”

Innovation Moderator:

Sticky Problems, Stories, and Window Shopping

It’s an enabler for conversations in cyberspace, where the conversation might be impossible if time or space-bounded. Here’s my challenge to you — share one of your stories. Or ask for help on one of your sticky problems. 

Don’t just window shop at 530. Leave your footprints.” (Link to TALK BACK)

Website Copy:

Added Topics

THE VOICES OF 530

LUNACY

    • New Rules for the New Economy
    • First to Market
    • Setting the Trend Ourselves
    • Two Scenarios:  Predicting the Moves of Competitors
    • 3rd Scenario:  Industry Evolving into a Very Different Space
    • Fertilize Your Thinking

Innovation Moderator:

New Rules for the New Economy

Kevin Kelly writing in New Rules for the New Economy states, “The new economy has three distinguishing characteristics: It is global. It favors intangible things–ideas, information, and relationships. And it is intensely interlinked. These three attributes produce a new type of marketplace and society, one that is rooted in ubiquitous electronic networks.” 

Early Adopters:

First to Market

In so far as alliances go, we are late to the party. The best ones have been and will most likely continue to be acquired by Cendant. The new players aren’t willing to hurdle the formidable barriers to our access. You needn’t strain your brain trying to find a way to put us out of business. Let us die a natural death. Instead apply all that creative energy to the forced evolution of the next business model.

          • What are customers willing to pay for? 
          • Can we provide this product/service given what we know about the industry(s)? How much will they pay? 
          • Or, should we be prepared to seek compensation from a secondary source, i.e., free product/service to the customer. 
          • Can enough value be added to develop a product/service? 
          • What is our delivery platform? 
          • What are our costs of bringing this product/service to market? 
          • Which space will we occupy? 
          • Can we see a vertical market opportunity? How do we balance the equation of human capital vs. technological intelligence? 
          • Can we be the FIRST to market?

Early Adopters:

Setting the Trend Ourselves

Should we not be the ones to set the trend instead of trying to predict what trend someone else is going to be setting?? 

Was this not the purpose of the move to Phoenix?? 

To stay one step ahead!! 

The one thing that I do believe people often ask is “why fix what is not broken”. 

I believe in making what is not broken even better.

Early Adopters:

Two Scenarios:  Predicting the Moves of Competitors

“Our present conservative business model is too linked to the past to be differentiated and sustainable in the near future. The bricks in the tower come tumbling down every day. Let’s not be one of those who get konked on the head whilst we ponder why the old tower keeps coming apart.”

Early Adopters:

“Internal and external customers PAY FOR or USE products/services that: …allow them go home a few minutes/hours earlier each night. …make them look like heros to their management.  …flawlessly achieve what was promised after the sales hype. …have a direct bearing on their careers, profitability and peace of mind. If demand is high, supply is low and quality is assured — profits follow. The most valuable commodity I know of is Information. Wouldn’t you agree?”

Early Adopters:

“I respect the perspective with which you challenge my strategy. You are right. Somebody must “set the trend”. However, I suspect that trends result from both initiatives. The creative and bold process as well as the observation, analysis and action. Think about a game of chess. Our major competitor’s advantages to be derived from really thinking like your competitor thinks when your competitor is unable to do the same. 

 Do you suspect that our competitors regret not having predicted our initiatives in Phoenix? 

If so can you predict what they are likely to do about it?

Early Adopters:

“I know our major competitor has recently sold some small, non-core businesses in order to raise cash, and just announced an almost billion dollar purchase of the remaining shares in Number 2, but without the currency of stock to throw around, I think their ability to engage …

Early Adopters:

THE VOICES OF 530

Any Benefits from an Integrated PRERS? 

I would like to use 530 to get the audience’s thoughts on the following…. 

In your mind, what does it mean to be the only integrated real estate and relocation company in the industry? 

What are the benefits? 

Here’s a few ideas to get you started…  Please keep adding to the list… 

Because we’re integrated… 

* we’re stronger 

* we’re collaborative 

* we have a greater control over the transaction when working with PREA affiliates 

* transferees can expect consistent, high-quality services throughout the PREA network 

* relo can work with affiliates to win new business 

* relocation clients generate qualified leads for our affiliates

Your thoughts and feedback are truly appreciated. (Link to TALKBACK FORUM)

Website Copy:

THE VOICES OF 530

The Greenhouse Lab Getting Ideas off the White Board to Put them to the Test “The speed at which a company gets the wheel of innovation turning determines… (Link to GREENHOUSE)

Innovation Moderator:

The speed at which a company gets the wheel of innovation turning determines the amount of new wealth it creates.  Lunatics imagine new possibilities.  They design business concepts around those ideas.  Then, they launch small-scale experiments to test viability.  What works and what doesn’t.  With an experiment or two under their belts, they assess what they’ve learned.  Then it’s a decision to scale up and roll out, or to run through another experiment cycle.

Innovation Teams:

“Nobody enjoys the middle parts of any project,” says Tom, Relationship Management Team Member. “Most people like the beginnings because they’re excited about the vision for the new future.  And most people love the endings because that’s when they see the project’s end results come to life.”

Innovation Moderator:

Innovation seems straight forward when sketched out on a white board.  But putting it into practice –- that’s the rub.

Innovation Teams:

Speaking for all five innovation teams, Paton continues, “It’s always hardest during the middle of any project when the hard work needs to get done, when momentum starts to slag, when uncertainties or unknowns begin to be felt and where some of the toughest hurdles are typically encountered.”

Innovation Moderator:

But, despite working together over great geographic distances, while balancing the additional project work with their existing PRERS jobs, and experiencing turnover within the Team due to career changes and re-structuring, the Relationship Management Team’s key recommendations are now in gear for the next phase of on-going research.  

Innovation Moderator:

Relationship Management

Fred, Sr. AE for Oxy & Steve T, VP of the account, took innovation to heart when they invented a new business model to recapture a competitive advantage. 

Innovation Teams:

Craig, Relationship Management Team Leader says, “In our fiercely competitive market the perception about us was our DS business product was inferior.”  While still in the early pilot stage, the new model requires collaboration with several offices – Houston, Dallas, and 2 in LA/ Orange County — and  a variety of PREA experts to more effectively compete in the Destination Services marketplace.  They’ll be testing its viability before rolling it out universally.

Innovation Moderator:

Alliance Management

… Original team member,  heads up the RewardsPlus alliance project – one of three significant new alliance initiatives, requiring close collaboration and shared leadership among functional units and teams across migration paths, according Scott, the Alliance Management Team Leader. 

Innovation Teams:

During initial meetings with RewardsPlus, a company involved in providing an integrated benefits platform for the worksite market, it became clear that there is an opportunity to generate more leads for our affiliate network, and to add leverage to our efforts to build an alliance management competency.  

Evidence

“3”  Steve Zahn, 51: “The thing about peace is that it can’t be peace all the time or it wouldn’t be peace. Peace, like all things, needs a contrast. Is this any comfort — knowing that times of disharmony help you spot peace when it comes?” Scorpio

Can I apply this TauBit of Wisdom to then, but not now?  No?  OK.  So, it’s a “3” for today and a “5” for then.  Only peace wasn’t the contrast at PRERS.  A better term would be status quo trending towards high anxiety.  But, early adopters slowly built out 530 with their contributions.  

Random ones that make me want change my sign.

“4”  Steve McQueen (1930 – 1980): “You may feel sympathetic to someone’s plight but try not to indulge the emotion of pity. When you see strength in people, you help them to see the strong parts of themselves.”   Aries

One or more early adopters felt they had a forum to air their grievances.  Without naming names, I used back channels to coach their leaders through a public and private give and take.  If nothing occurred in public, all the time we spent building trust together would be wasted.

“4”  Steve Smith, 30: “Small gestures often mean more than anyone realizes at the time. There are exchanges that occurred over a decade ago that you still think about today. Your mind is a beautiful mystery.” Gemini

How can’t this be true.  And, isn’t this draft of “Volume Two Manuscript — WorkFit” proof?

“5”  Steve Carrell, 57; Steve Martin, 74; Steve Wozniak, 69: “You can afford to be honest and direct. Some cannot do this without the requisite amount of charm. Some have too much baggage to do it without causing harm with the impact. Not you. You’re light today. Just say what you mean.” Leo

As the designated innovation moderator, if I wasn’t both direct and nurturing in my roll, how could any of the 530 community take a risk during our reinvention commitments?

What’s Going On

Literally Bottled and Set Adrift from KnowWhere Atoll 

    • @KnowLabs followers of one or more of my 35 digital magazines organically grew from 4990 to 5060.

Foresight

Quality-of-Life

Long-Form

    • Saw the movie, didn’t realize that one of my favorite authors, Michael Connelly — his detective Hieronymus (Harry) Bosch book series and Amazon Prime series — also wrote, “The Lincoln Lawyer” which I just finished. Gotta tell you I can’t not see his lead character (Mickey Haller, Bosch’s half brother) as anyone else but Matthew McConaughey. 

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Inspired by: Holiday Mathis – Creators Syndicate

CENTER FOR KNOWLEDGE CREATION AND INNOVATION

The Knowledge Path | Know Laboratories | Knowledge Banking | Knowledge ATMs | Western Skies and Island Currents | Best West Road Trip

S2 E109 — Rebuilding Trust Doesn’t Happen Overnight

Tomorrow they drop a bomb on the organization — the closing of 6 regional offices and the recombination of the key personnel into one location in Phoenix (over a two year period). They spent a lot of energy on crafting the announcement, but none on what they would do as follow-on actions to manage the shock.

“5”  Steve Carrell, 57; Steve Martin, 74; Steve Wozniak, 69: Sometimes, it’s as though you can read minds and tell the future. But right now, it’s better just to ask people what they are thinking and to respect the future as a question mark.” Leo

Hi and welcome to Saturday’s Episode 109 in Season 2 of  “My Pandemic Year Natural Experiment” on this 5th day of September in the fall of 2020.  

“The Tau of Steves: What You Don’t Know Could Fill a Book”

Table of Contents

Season One and Two are a two-year examination of how bits of wisdom changed during the “normal” pre-pandemic and then in this unfolding pandemic year.

Previously in Season Two, the Pandemic Year

S2 E108Why Our Reinvention Efforts Failed (and Yours Will Too); S2 E107Leaving Us Adrift in a Sea of Change;  S2 E106How We Brainwashed Curmudgeons

Related from Season One, the Normal Year

S1 E109Do All Introverts Take the Long Acetylcholine Pathway?; S1 E108After So Many Defeats is it Time to Catch a New Trajectory?; S1 E107How Do You Rate Your Sense of Curiosity?; S1 E106 — Attempts to Upset 9 of My Life Stages Apple Cart

Context

This is a continuation of “Volume Two Manuscript — WorkFit” a work-in-progress.

In previous episodes we described Start Up, Emerging Growth, Rapid Growth, Sustained Growth, Maturity, Decline and now Reinvention stages.  

Reinvention without Decline

Image Credit: Stephen G. Howard  Copyright 2020

We described a mini-case of a major decline,  Part One, Part Two and Part Three. And, before that we profiled two mini case studies about what it was like working behind the scenes at a mature company in a financial, in a consumer industry and two more in another century-old university system — Part One and Two. 

Now turn from our 3-part Reinvention mini-case operating from within a technology company,  Part One,  Part Two and Part Three to a different industry with similar needs, but from a consulting assignment.

Reinvention

27. Knowledge Management — Brand Company  

A Strategy and Brand Consultancy. 

Part One

At Think!City a boutique consulting firm we crashed our models together — learning and development, knowledge creation, media production, internet communities, strategy, advertising and marketing. 

We worked together in a highly creative environment within a corrugated metal building designed by a local architecture firm in Laguna Beach, on a curve in Laguna Canyon Road. 

I fell headlong into sharing new knowledge that springs out of new innovations.

We pioneered a way of capturing the essence of a brand on digital video, searched through audio tracks for the touch points and reused portions of the interviews for orienting new coders hired at accelerated rates. 

From our studio we continued internal and external branding with clients ranging from startups to Fortune 100.

This is about our work with a Fortune 100 Mature Real Estate and Relocation Services, similar to the financial case already described.

After conducting knowledge labs for two disruptively innovative fast companies, the opportunity presented itself to apply what we learned to a mature, bureaucratic company responding to the internet threat.

Their greatest challenge was to convince survivors and potential survivors to stick around as the East Coast headquarters called the restructuring shots.  Their situational challenges mirrored those of the Engineering and Construction company in decline — history of miscommunications, changes in top management, merger of two different operating units, a move to Phoenix and the closing of regional offices. 

I received an update from Gasper about our potential engagement. 

Steve,  I was unable to connect with Bob in New York (about our Start Up consulting project there). He was shuttling around two candidates who were being interviewed: a potential VP of Product Marketing and the new VP of Marketing. I will connect with him tomorrow.  Meanwhile, I have a meeting with Steve of Prudential at noon tomorrow to further explore the relationship — get enough information to propose something. 

He has gaps in his organizational development plans. He is running an “agenda for change” and wonders why it is scaring the shit out of everyone. Tomorrow they drop a bomb on the organization — the closing of 6 regional offices and the recombination of the key personnel into one location in Phoenix (over at two year period)

They spent a lot of energy on crafting the announcement, but none on what they would do as follow-on actions to manage the shock. 

Gasper

From the outside it was obvious that in the real world, in their industry, no one was framing their actions by asking:

How would a great company handle this major transition, so in before, during, and after the move it is easy to attract, retain, and develop key talent?  

    • Requires talent transition team of key influencers from day one with this charter, and an open invitation for employees at large to contact, question rigorously, and contribute ideas.  
    • Self-selection out and in.  
    • Manage unintended consequences.

PRERS divisions never really formed a common identity – their cultures so different.  One culture lost their beloved leader as a result of the restructuring.  

The surviving CEO attempted to reengineer a solution, but it never took.  He had a vision of what a wired future would look like and attempted to lay the foundation for closing the gap between their current dysfunctional culture and the desired state by launching an agenda for change. 

However, without any real leadership, 5 teams set out to identify core competencies and to make recommendations about how to close the gaps.  

    • All five teams eventually reported their findings, but nothing substantial happened as a result.  
    • Except, the top 2 executives left the company.  
    • The chairman and vice chairman inherited the baggage. 

Fear Uncertainty and Doubt

It began with what was supposed to be a 2 year advance announcement to give everyone affected plenty of time to consider their options — move, retire or stay and look for another job in Orange County.

That was the intended message. 

    • But we found out “the suits” got a hold of it (lawyers) on the East Coast, and rewrote the bulk of the announcement to protect the corporation from any liability. 
    • What was communicated was loaded with buzzwords and phrases like consolidation, without any details.  So the only real message received triggered negative implications. And watercolor estimates about when will the other shoe drop?  
    • After several of their false starts, we proposed a campaign of communications releases in a variety of formats to help reshape the culture, to support the transition to a new desired state, and to support thinking and acting more innovatively. 

We Started Immediately 

Crazy creative Dave with his digital video gear and I drove to San Diego to meet with volunteers from the other division who were attending their regional meeting — which included, by the way, an afternoon check in session in which employees could talk about any and all issues they’re challenged with by working remotely.

Since one half of the organization had already successfully navigated the transformation from working out of an office to working out of a home office, cut off from former social ties, we interviewed a dozen “experts” who had been there and done that.  

And they were eager to advise those about to confront what they had to years earlier:

    • One woman remembered how she felt others working in the office would assume she was loafing at home.  So she put in longer and longer hours in her home office at her computer, until she burned herself out.  No one felt she was slacking off.
    • One analyst told us that he wanted to make the FedEx guy his new best friend.  Everyday he’d deliver packages and pick up packages for work, but declined a cup of coffee and a danish each time.
    • One vice president told us on camera how he was in shock when word came out that he wouldn’t have a luxurious office with all the other senior executives.  “I mean here I pushed and pushed and climbed up each rung of the ladder, and then what?  They want me to work at my new townhome’s kitchen table?”
    • Others told us how they had to mimic their office routines.  In the morning after coffee and a light breakfast, for example, some would walk, or jog, or work out at the gym before returning home.  Then they’d shower, change clothes, and commute from their second floor to their first floor office and close the door.
    • Mothers told us they established the same routine basically, but still had to monitor what was going on with their kids in another room, even when grandma helped babysit.
    • Some said they carried the office routine to extremes by locking their office door in the evening.  As a reminder to them, that work was over and even if the computer pinged or the office phone rang they weren’t falling for it.  That took extreme effort to avoid the temptation to return.  But, they learned how to manage customers and bosses about their hours.

Those digital video interviews spawned two newsletters full of tips and tricks, video tapes for review in meetings of those eventually moving to Phoenix, and set in motion a series of on-camera appearances by the chairman and vice-chairman which helped them formulate their new leadership messages.  

We (they) had a long way to go, building trust doesn’t happen overnight. 

Evidence

Random ones that make me want change my sign.

“3”  Steve Winwood, 71; Stevie Wonder, 69; Stephen Colbert, 56: “Today, you’ll learn how badly you want something. Either you won’t get it and you’ll use that loss as a gauge, or you will get it, and your subsequent satisfaction will teach all.”  Taurus

One can only hope, right?

“5” Steve Howey, 42:Bad moods are caused not by what happens, but by two culprits: negative thoughts and distorted thoughts. Everything that occurs is an opportunity to practice your interpretive skills.”Cancer

Not necessarily for today, but Part One, boiled down to countering how poorly the East Coast description of what was about to occur over the next 24 months triggered.

“5”  Steve Carrell, 57; Steve Martin, 74; Steve Wozniak, 69: Sometimes, it’s as though you can read minds and tell the future. But right now, it’s better just to ask people what they are thinking and to respect the future as a question mark.” Leo

Not necessarily for today, but when Crazy creative Dave and videoed the San Diego survivors of forced remote work we learned more tips and tricks and advice than what we could have created to share with the other division.  Plus, real people, sincere people shared secrets that worked for them.

“3”  Steve Greene, 34; Steve Guttenberg, 61:As you relate to family, help friends, get after work projects and do more, you’ll notice that everything you take on is a little easier than it was only a month ago. You’re just better.” Virgo

As far as the Pandemic goes, sure we’ve figured out our routines so we don’t catch the virus.  As far as this passion project goes, yeah, but, Duh!

“3”  Steve Kerr, 54:Though you feel emotionally bound to the people and projects you care about, it will benefit you to ask this thought exercise: What if your only real duty is to your own sense of adventure?” Libra

Probably sound advice, but today I’ve got more than enough things to think about!

“5”  Steve Aoki, 41: There’s a new goal to strive for, but you’ll accomplish it with the same approach that’s worked for you in the past. You’ll start with a sketch — an outline of a general vision — and then fill in the blanks.” Sagittarius

So, I have this pandemic to thank?  It’s given me time to sketch out and fill in this work-in-progress at least.

“4”  Steve Nash, 45:There are many situations that are helped by black-or-white thinking, for instance, when you have to assess quickly, act decisively, commit deeply. But for most things, allow for as full a range of color as you can.”  Aquarius

Am I wrong or as a nation don’t we have this inverted?  The black and white thinking which should be objective, is really what passes for red and blue polarized extremes.

“4”  Steve Jobs, (1955 – 2011): You might not like the information that comes your way initially, but it will be good to know, as it will deepen your understanding of the scene you’re in, thus giving you more power in it.” Pisces

Information is one thing, misinformation — not mistaken, but politically motivated is another entirely.  Why do we as a country have to politicize everything?  Dealing with this pandemic is more than enough, right?

What’s Going On

Literally Bottled and Set Adrift from KnowWhere Atoll 

    • @knowlabs followers of one or more of my 35 digital magazines organically grew from 4906 to 4990.

Foresight

Quality-of-Life

Long-Form

    • Saw the movie, didn’t realize that one of my favorite authors, Michael Connelly — his detective Hieronymus (Harry) Bosch book series and Amazon Prime series — also wrote, “The Lincoln Lawyer” which I just finished. Gotta tell you I can’t not see his lead character (Mickey Haller, Bosch’s half brother) as anyone else but Matthew McConaughey. 

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Inspired by: Holiday Mathis – Creators Syndicate

CENTER FOR KNOWLEDGE CREATION AND INNOVATION

The Knowledge Path | Know Laboratories | Knowledge Banking | Knowledge ATMs | Western Skies and Island Currents | Best West Road Trip

S2 E106 — How We Brainwashed Curmudgeons

We called them curmudgeons.  They couldn’t see how that could work.  They had no experience in their 20 years, except what they were used to doing.  We had to brainwash them.  And we came to find out they were the most valuable champions for the new way we could find.

“5”  Steve Smith, 30: “When change is in the air, you sense it before anyone else. You notice that something feels different before you know exactly what it is. On high alert, you’ll figure it out soon enough.” Gemini

Hi and welcome to Sunday’s Episode 106 in Season 2 of  “My Pandemic Year Natural Experiment” on this 30th day of August in the summer of 2020.  

“The Tau of Steves: What You Don’t Know Could Fill a Book”

Table of Contents

Season One and Two are a two-year examination of how bits of wisdom changed during the “normal” pre-pandemic and then in this unfolding pandemic year.

Previously in Season Two, the Pandemic Year

S2 E105When Cosmic Leads to Decline, Pair Extremes Intentionally; S2 E104Worst Monday Ever. Very, Very Grim …; S2 E103 Confronting Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt, Resistance and Unrelenting Stress

Related from Season One, the Normal Year

S1 E106 — Attempts to Upset 9 of My Life Stages Apple Cart; S1 E105Will Fortune Smile on Us Later in the Evening?; S1 E104How Yesterday’s Success Triggers Tomorrow’s Failure; S1 E103Innies and Outies and Other Potential Catastrophes

Context

This is a continuation of “Volume Two Manuscript — WorkFit” a work-in-progress.

In previous episodes we described Start Up, Emerging Growth, Rapid Growth, Sustained Growth, Maturity, Decline and now Reinvention stages.

Consequences for Not Mastering Growth Crises

Image Credit: Stephen G. Howard  Copyright 2020

We described a mini-case of a major decline,  Part One, Part Two and Part Three. And, before that we profiled two mini case studies about what it was like working behind the scenes at a mature company in a financial, in a consumer industry and two more in another century-old university system — Part One and Two. Now we turn to a behind the scenes Reinvention mini-case. 

Reinvention Without Decline

Image Credit: Stephen G. Howard  Copyright 2020

Reinvention Part One

23.  Organizational Development – Technology

Needs Assessment

My Plan A dreamed I’d be working for a high-tech company with very bright engineers that worked on bringing products to market in record time.  

When I was recruited to my first large technology company I followed my own advice and negotiated for a preplanned Maui Vacation first, in a timeshare which sat just on some sort of magical weather curtain.  On one side it rained and rained.  On the other it stayed tropically bright and sunny. “Here I am sitting in the living room of our Maui condominium on vacation, after my first 60-days of coming on board,” I wrote.  

Part of my orientation was to gather hard and soft information to cast a long range vision for “Training and Development” for the position I was hired into from Fluor. 

I saw my role as anticipating how the HR function would change to accommodate our plans, and pitch a communications plan for a branding campaign as an attracting highly sought after engineering and software talent. 

Partnership

Ray acting as 102 Thought Leader needed an 113 Idea Packager.

He introduced me to my HR boss, Dick, told me how Ed, the General Manager and his management team had been working on a strategy that would take the division to the forefront —a model for what the large corporation could become. 

But, I couldn’t cut Ray out of his gig and in return Ray would grease the wheels for the “internal team” to “operationalize and execute”.  Basically, he had the ear of my boss’s boss and could provide “cover” when needed.

So between the lines, my boss represented the old school, a 116 Institutional Traditionalist and a conspiracy was afoot.

Ed represented manufacturing which accounted for 90% of the physical building.  The other 20% was split between engineering and product assurance.  Software engineering worked out of another two-story office in another location about 4 or 5 miles away.

Going in I wanted to focus on strategic issues …

    • How this organization can be fluid and proactive enough to anticipate computer industry changes,
    • the shifting business cycles, and specific changes in broad areas of the US and international economies,
    • to shifting demographics of both customers and employees,
    • social and technological forces (that the Orange County division should respond to driving the state of art) and in a sense become the tail that wags the East Coast dog.

What I wanted to do was to have our division management examine those issues with my facilitation so we’d have a guide for development efforts that Ray and Ed’s team already endorsed.  

Staffing Came Next.  

The year prior to my arrival “training” functioned with a half-time person who would be transitioning to a full-time role with my help.

    • So my immediate goals included maintaining and upgrading the current training offerings for consistency while assessing what else needed to be developed to address unmet “internal operational” issues.  
    • In concert with that I wanted to develop other internal talent for delivering generic classroom and “lower” management level classes. 
    • And then have a successor fill in while Sue, the full time HR representative, develops her own instructional design capabilities.  

Anyway it was a start.  And I was on vacation.  

List of Hard and Soft Needs

I’d fill in more details after returning to the main land.  But, I kept in mind the randomly generated list of hard and soft needs I already collected:

    1. Corporate (in Detroit, Michigan) has no idea how training breaks down today.  SPG-OC (the formal name for our division) doesn’t have a training system in operation.
    2. All the divisions are isolated—not only in the human resources and training functions.
    3. Very little corporate training direction exists aside from printing a catalog of classes and coordinating them.
    4. SDG hasn’t had a professional trainer full time-only model.  The other divisions (Pasadena, BMG, Orange County and Ranch Bernardo) have or will soon have new human resources development folks in position.
    5. The regional meeting showed most of the other divisions are grappling with how to handle career development needs.
    6. Our division doesn’t operate as a high-tech company internally.
    7. PA&S (software developers) specifically believe they need more technology training. Also the group in the City of Industry hasn’t received any in over a year, even though they are customer facing and therefore a priority.
    8. Managers in SDG feel uncomfortable with only a career facilitation class — too much time away from work — no systemic place for them to rely on.
    9. Other divisions in the area (Santa Ana, City of Industry especially, and maybe Lake Forest) feel slighted or not part of “Mission” — in division memos.
    10. 10. Ed and John — manufacturing GM and Software and Engineering VP — have two distinctly different leadership styles.  Ed is ore people supportive.  John is task and time/ results oriented.
    11. SMG (manufacturing) is budget squeezed.  SDG (software and engineering)  has to use up all of their past year’s budget or they won’t get more allocated in the next year.
    12. Not  much hiring is expected as occurred last year — not as much “expansion”.  Many feel a tightening is about to happen.
    13. Software has a technical training coordinator, but engineering hasn’t recognized a need for hardware training.
    14. B-20 operating system doesn’t run PC software, which means off the shelf applications can’t be used for managing human resource, training and development operations. issues and strategy for 1st 90 days and beyond

Those were heady days as we checked off priorities.  

Knew It When He Saw It

Working for a 101 PMBI Breakpoint Inventor was right up my alley.  Ed, the General Manager had a vision for advanced manufacturing in the future.  He subscribed to the “lets-use-our-own-technology” to see what it makes us become.  

So our role was to help Ed communicate in more tangible ways what his vision was so people could begin to participate. This was my first lesson learned from Dave, my communications co-conspirator.  

Ed knew what he wanted if he saw it, but he couldn’t describe it.  The demands on him in the work setting gave the part of his brain no time to bubble up his vision for the division.

Into Nature to Discover the Factory of the Future

So, Dave and I drove him into Trabuco Canyon with the “old California” vibe. 

We drove a few more miles from the winding roads leading to Saddleback Mountain to let nature work its miracle.

    • With a video camera on his shoulder, Dave directed Ed to sit down on a boulder next to a meandering creek and gaze out onto the valley below where our division sat off in the distance.  
    • While he picked up some pebbles to toss into the creek at first I prompted him off camera with open ended questions.
    • I told him not to worry about any kind of logic or succinct description, but just to start painting a picture of what he saw. 
    • After a couple hours, Dave softly said cut.  We had enough to take back to the division’s studio to edit hours into minutes.

He wanted to chunk out unneeded steps in the process, break down manufacturing lines into small groups and cross train everyone.  And he wanted to “pull expertise” from engineers who supported the operations to “up skill” the teams.

This wasn’t a startup and it wasn’t met with open arms by the engineers or the factory supervisors or even the manufacturing teams.

Our Loss is Our Gain

Really at the core the biggest obstacle was how the “rank and file” who were used to being told what, when, and how to “do it” couldn’t grasp his unproven vision of doing things in a new way. 

All they knew was they were losing proven processes for scary new ones.

Instead of keeping the line moving faster and faster, even working overtime and on the weekends, Ed borrowed Japanese techniques by introducing just-in-time focused product lines.

We got called in because the old line manufacturing supervisors resisted as hard as they could.  They never allowed the line to shut down even if a newer solution worked, or if a part wasn’t available.  No Peter. No Paul.

We called them curmudgeons. 

    • They couldn’t see how that could work. 
    • They had no experience in their 20 years, except what they were used to doing. 
    • We had to brainwash them. 

And we came to find out they were the most valuable champions for the new way we could find.

Sorta like AA evangelists.

Dave came up with the idea of blocking off the factory floor section, like the construction tarps you can’t see over on a street undergoing a new building construction.  You could hear stuff going on, you couldn’t see it though.

Dave figured out how to get everyone’s attention.  

We Set Up Contests 

We set up Minimum Viable Product demonstrations on the factory floor and challenged the old timers to compete.  When they couldn’t, they knew it was time to trust where he wanted to take us to the future.

One manufacturing line from the old school way competed with the new way. Seeing is believing.  Or experiencing is believing.  And once they converted, we made them Product Line Managers.

A New Home 4 Miles Away

Our marketing people always wanted a mole in manufacturing. As far as I know they never were successful, but as word got out about our “Factory of the Future” advanced manufacturing facility in Rancho Santa Margarita, Ed and his team insisted on a reservations system.

As a good corporate citizen, Ed knew for every potential enterprise-sized customer who accompanied their sales executive, 90% ordered almost immediately. 

    • We couldn’t keep up the pace, if hordes of sales people popped in with a customer’s representative at the beginning of a sales cycle.
    • We, Dave and our communications team, helped in the design of a walk way balcony on the second level with kiosks at different stations which told the story of what each was about.
    • But, you had to reserve a time, which became more scarce as demand picked up.

Up next:  A wild card merger thrown into the mix.

Evidence

“4”  Steve Zahn, 51:Even though you are not, strictly speaking, a newcomer to a situation, going in with a beginner’s mind will increase your luck exponentially. Innocent and unbiased reception allows you to see and absorb more.” Scorpio

Boy, is this ever true when you have just landed a new position which feels like a new beginning and a clean slate.  Only you are actually entering a fully functioning culture with its own norms and rituals.  The sooner you realize it the better off you will be.

Random ones that make me want change my sign.

“4” Steve Winwood, 71; Stevie Wonder, 69; Stephen Colbert, 56: “The novice is proud of and wants full recognition for talents and skills. The wise would rather go unlauded, realizing the strategic advantage in being underestimated.” Taurus 

Oh how zen this TauBit is.  I used to be a novice, but agree there’s a strategic advantage to being underestimated.

“5”  Steve Smith, 30: “When change is in the air, you sense it before anyone else. You notice that something feels different before you know exactly what it is. On high alert, you’ll figure it out soon enough.” Gemini

Once you live though a major restructuring while a corporation experiences a series decline, you adopt a healthy paranoia which signals here we go again and here’s what needs to be done.  

“3”  Steve Howey, 42:There is a beautiful new influence coming into your world, one that seems like it would need to be organized for and around, but that is not the case. It doesn’t need to be arranged, only allowed.” Cancer

At this time in the morning, I can’t for the life of me figure out when that will occur, but I can say maybe this is off by one day, because last night was wonderful.

“5”  Steve Carrell, 57; Steve Martin, 74; Steve Wozniak, 69: Learning takes place in several modalities. You move your body to learn. You talk your subject out, listen on it, write about it. Trying to learn using only one modality is like trying to walk on only one leg.” Leo

Wow, I’ll say.  This pandemic year and the adjustments required strain learning modalities almost on a daily basis.

“5”  Steve Greene, 34; Steve Guttenberg, 61:What were the underlying issues that started your journey to change? It may be hard to remember this, but try because it’s worth noting the differences and similarities between then and now.” Virgo

It was a change from a declining organization to what looked like a high technology company from the outside, establishing solutions to a list of problem areas, and then from out of nowhere the call of the unknown was triggered by a surprise merger.

“5”  Steve Aoki, 41: “Rituals are, essentially, habits with a heightened sense of meaning. You have a fantasy about incorporating certain rituals into your life. Start small, by attaching a small action to an already established habit.” Sagittarius

For today, yes.  But more so for what we called peeling away the layers of an onion.  During the merger right after the regulatory quiet period, we were stuck with two onions with very few rituals in common.  Our goal, though was to find where the two cultures began, identify their separate foundational stories and then build a common one for translating elements into a new enterprise.

“5”  Steve Nash, 45:You’re looking out for others. You’ll focus on risk. You’ll dig with excellent questions. What are the unknown unknowns? Which solutions fare better than the alternatives?” Aquarius 

Maybe not for today, but definitely during the task force initiatives for defining and communicating how the merger would play out.

“4”  Steve Jobs, (1955 – 2011): You know your values, and you think often about what you really want. But these things change. The shifts are palpable today. Reassess. You will surprise yourself.” Pisces

Is there ever a bad time not to reassess yourself?  Especially during a merger?

What’s Going On

Literally Bottled and Set Adrift from KnowWhere Atoll 

    • @knowlabs followers of one or more of my 35 digital magazines organically grew from 4906 to 4990.

Foresight

Quality-of-Life

Long-Form

    • Saw the movie, didn’t realize that one of my favorite authors, Michael Connelly — his detective Hieronymus (Harry) Bosch book series and Amazon Prime series — also wrote, “The Lincoln Lawyer” which I just finished. Gotta tell you I can’t not see his lead character (Mickey Haller, Bosch’s half brother) as anyone else but Matthew McConaughey. 

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Inspired by: Holiday Mathis – Creators Syndicate

CENTER FOR KNOWLEDGE CREATION AND INNOVATION

The Knowledge Path | Know Laboratories | Knowledge Banking | Knowledge ATMs | Western Skies and Island Currents | Best West Road Trip

S2 E104 — Worst Monday Ever. Very, Very Grim …

Given our steep decline, “rounding out” also meant leading during restructuring, and hopefully addressing serious morale issues while injecting more entrepreneurial thinking.

“5”  Steve Kerr, 54:Don’t wait for praise. They seldom say what you want or need to hear. They only see the public result of what you’re doing, but you’re also on a private journey that requires internal reinforcement you’ll have to provide yourself.” Libra

Hi and welcome to Thursday’s Episode 104 in Season 2 of  “My Pandemic Year Natural Experiment” on this 28th day of August in the summer of 2020.  

“The Tau of Steves: What You Don’t Know Could Fill a Book”

Table of Contents

Season One and Two are a two-year examination of how bits of wisdom changed during the “normal” pre-pandemic and then in this unfolding pandemic year.

Previously in Season Two, the Pandemic Year

S2 E103 Confronting Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt, Resistance and Unrelenting Stress ; S2 E102Caught by Surprise in a Major Gut-Wrenching Decline; S2 E101The Story of Strange Bedfellows Saving the Day;

Related from Season One, the Normal Year

S1 E104How Yesterday’s Success Triggers Tomorrow’s Failure; S1 E103Innies and Outies and Other Potential Catastrophes; S1 E102Why Is It Always Hidden in the Fine Print?; S1 E101From Saint to Soul Mate and Trusted Friend

Context

This is a continuation of “Volume Two Manuscript — WorkFit” a work-in-progress.

In previous episodes we described Start Up, Emerging Growth, Rapid Growth, Sustained Growth, Maturity and Decline stages.  But, each with the emphasis on how a specific stage provides another better fit opportunity for one or more of 16 Talent Profiles, yours included.

We described two mini case studies of what it was like working behind the scenes at a mature companies in a financial, in a consumer industries and in another century-old university system — Part One and Two. 

22. Internal Consultant MD&T 

Part Three

We now shift to a fourth example of a century-old mature organization, a multinational engineering and construction company, but this time caught by surprise which led to a major decline in Part One. Thrown into chaos for several years we turn to “experiments”to avoid cannibalizing survivors in Part Two.

Southern California Division to Corporate Tower

Paul, my boss, who fast-tracked to the corporate tower approached me to join him on  the 10th floor where Fluor Engineers, Inc were headquartered in a world-wide research, staff, technology and human systems consulting role. 

Basically, reshuffled divisions would send high potential managers into the developmental pipeline. One of my jobs was to select a university executive program customized to strengths and weaknesses of each — what we called “rounding out.”

Consequences of Not Mastering Growth Crises

Image Credit: Stephen G. Howard  Copyright 2020

Given our steep decline, “rounding out” also meant leading during restructuring, and hopefully addressing serious morale issues while injecting more entrepreneurial thinking.

180-Degree Shift in Key Success Factors by Growth Stage

Growth Stage Key Success Factor Leading to a Crisis New Success Key
Start Up Loosen Leadership Tighten
Emerging Tighten Functional Loosen
Rapid Loosen Autonomy Tighten
Sustained Tighten Repetition Loosen
Maturity Loosen Control Tighten
Decline Tighten Red Tape Loosen

Image Credit: Stephen G. Howard  Copyright 2020

He outlined my consultative role as applying what was learned about the people factors in our study of the implementation of technology pilot, to a new, farther reaching implementation of “3-D” design CAD package in London, Houston, SCD and at Fluor Daniel

Some of the speculation was that in order to compete, Fluor Management has decided to favor “capital-heavy,” instead of “manpower-heavy”. That year alone there was a $14 million budget earmarked for a pilot implementation.

What’s Life Like at the Corporate Headquarters as an Internal Consultant?  

I had “made it to the top”, that is I jumped from a corner cubicle on the concourse in the basement of the Southern California Division to the top of the corporate tower.

My office on the top floor has light tan carpeting, a dark brown mahogany door with matching desk, bookshelves and a round wooden waste basket.  It turned out to be short-lived, but not for the reasons I feared — taking a corporate job which seemed highly risky when every Friday new pink slips delivered doom.

To get to the 10th floor you need a special plastic badge to gain access to the mirrored elevator.  Without it you have to disembark on the 9th floor.  Two imposing dark brown mahogany doors seal off the elevator lobby from the 9th floor reception area on one side and a hallway of light tan carpet and closed wood doors. 

A camera aids the receptionist screening your arrival.  Usually the door clicks automatically and opens to a expansive “living room” style waiting rooms complete with couches, easy chairs, end tables, antiques and oil paintings, Asian screens and expensive pottery pieces.

On the 10th floor you just couldn’t beat the view from two offices down from the President FEI, the Vice President of Human Resources and the son of the previous CEO.  

I gratefully used their secretaries for correspondence and reports on the following projects:  

    • A survey of ergonomic research for Fluor Australia
    • A matrix of advanced management programs for executives for the Houston division, Fluor Nedetherlands, Telecommunications and the Southern California Divisions
    • A HRD role on the implementation of design graphics technology slated for FEI worldwide, launching is SCD, Daniel in Greenville, South Carolina and London
    • A summary of quarterly people development board meetings held in Houston, Ocean Services, Fluor Canada, Northern California Division, Fluor Power in Chicago, Advanced Technology Division in Irvine, Fluor Nederlands, London, Australia, Germany, South Africa and Fluor Arabia.

And, for example, I phoned Harvard, Stanford and the University of Pittsburg to confirm with the admissions staffs enrollment of 6 top key executive-potential managers into their 6-9 week programs.

Initially my assignment had been to work with IT software experts to automate FEI high-potential candidates.

By now the company had become a mature culture which had attracted three out of four talent profiles associated with Systematic-Professional Organizations.

Four Talent Profiles Attracted to Systematic-Professional Organizations

Image Credit: Stephen G. Howard  Copyright 2020

To efficiently manage complex systems 114 Brand-as-Experts and 116 Institutional Traditionalists make terrific additions.

Peak Growth Leveling Off in the Maturity Stage

Image Credit: Stephen G. Howard  Copyright 2020

They all favored the higher degrees of independence that came with engineering, project management, and staff assignments. 

Image Credit: Stephen G. Howard  Copyright 2020

Many viewed themselves as highly skilled professionals, which they were, because it took advanced, specialized degrees to qualify for their professions.

They also took jobs at Fluor, because they worked at their own, slower, more methodical pace.  In “normal” times that was a strength. 

In abnormal times their strengths turned into resistance.  They weren’t the ones, they felt,  who caused the restructuring, so any threat to their status quo wasn’t their fault and meant their delay in “coming onboard” made it too late to change quickly.   They become victim to their own Red-Tape Crisis.

Falling From Maturity into Decline

Image Credit: Stephen G. Howard  Copyright 2020

The last place you’d normally find talent profiles from the “red” Paradoxy-Moron Organizational Type would be in a Maturity Growth stage.  They “peel off” when an organization at the Start Up stage “crosses the chasm” into the first of three growth stages, Emerging Growth.  

Four Talent Profiles Attracted to Paradoxy-Moron Organizations

Image Credit: Stephen G. Howard  Copyright 2020

They don’t appear again, until in this Decline stage and once more in the next stage, Reinvention.

In short, reversing the risk adverse, red tape-poisoned culture requires outside intervention with a newer perspective while the company restructures, downsizes and outsources costly internal operations.

The outside partnership blends combinations of high degrees of independence with medium degrees of disruptive innovation, speed, embedded knowledge, improvement and mastery.

Image Credit: Stephen G. Howard  Copyright 2020

The 113 Idea Packagers work well in settings that require outside-the-system perspective when information filtering contributes to decline. They provide the conceptual framework by which manuals, organizational procedures, and even work assignments are translated and put into action. 

They also tend to be impatient with the bureaucracy, rigid hierarchies, and politics prevalent in many professions, preferring to work informally with others as equals. But, 113 Idea Packagers use cleverness and independent thinking to problem-solve and reinvent, and in an easygoing, unassuming manner prod organizational change and improvement towards restructuring, downsizing, outsourcing and other relevant solutions to the red tape crisis.

Why a partnership with talent from a Paradoxy-Moron culture?

While 102 Thought Leaders share a high degree of independence with 113 Idea Packagers they’re attracted to medium degrees of speed and disruptive innovation.  If the slow moving, status quo-loving cruise ship falls into desperate straights the captain needs new strategic steering and a new sense of urgency to keep from running aground. 

Lessons Learned

I learned on the job — how to improve quality, introduce new technology, teach and facilitate sales teams (I know, right) and at corporate headquarters send high potential managers in the developmental pipeline to university executive programs for rounding out.  

I learned large-scale organizations resist change like an immune system does. That helped me developed and refined my skill and talent to package new ideas — newer ways of doing things better — than what was the tried and true, especially during a decline when hundreds of employees receive their pink slips on Fridays.  

In bad times you need to offer employees outplacement on their way out and continuous improvement so survivors can feel productive and hopeful. 

In good times you need to build a climate for innovation and solicit ideas for growth. We just wanted to identify when our employers and clients should pivot between the two. 

Grim for Survivors

You play if this, then that scenarios.  If lots of companies relocate in or out of a geographical area then what does that mean to employees already working there?  Will there be enough talented people in the labor pool, or do they have to be trained to master jobs created?

So one of the other dark humor jokes we used to amuse ourselves was, “Will the last ones left turn off the lights and lock up?”  And, then one Monday morning a department’s survivors returned to find their boss had hung himself in the middle of the cubicles from the ceiling.

That took the wind out of everyone’s sails. Worst Monday ever. Very, very grim.

Inplacement

It took a while, but Tom and I always wanted to apply some of the techniques to managing your career and our success with outplacement had made “inplacement” for career development an easier sell. I learned some valuable lessons at Fluor over the 5 or 6 years I worked there as a management trainer and internal consultant.

Rightsizing

We named it “Rightsizing”. Usually we didn’t make the call. And we could be blindsided. So we just assumed the worst and  anticipated a major shift to give us enough lead time to minimize needless resistance or sabotage.

Anytime you try to maneuver a mature organization away from what had worked so well for so long the entrenched management resists the opposite set of key success factors like your immune system repels diseases.

It takes skill and talent to package new ideas — newer ways of doing things better — than the tried and true, especially during a decline when hundreds of employees receive their pink slips on alternative Fridays like clock work.

Taking My Own Advice – Plans A, B, and Maybe C

When your work for big companies throughout your career you need projects that make you valuable in booming markets and down markets.  Otherwise, we used to joke companies would begin to cannibalize their “human resources just when they needed them to step up.”

I could see the writing on the wall. “Plan B” was to assist Paul in positioning Human Resources in a different, more “developmental role” at Fluor Engineers, Inc. while my networking efforts led to a new job offer, which I took according to my “Plan A”.

Summary

Where can you find the best fit?

Consider the type of Organization defined by the intersections of dimensions that define their talent cultures and business models

16 Talent Profiles by Organization Type

Image Credit: Stephen G. Howard  Copyright 2020

And if you feel you run out of options, next consider the demands of the next stage of your organization’s stage of growth.

Finding Better Fits for 12 of 16 Talent Profiles by Stage

Talent Profile Growth Stage Organization Type
101 Breakpoint Inventors Start Up Paradoxy-Morons
103 Commercial Innovators Start Up Paradoxy-Morons
105 Marketing Athletes Start Up Emerging-Entrepreneurs
107 Resilient Product Teams Emerging Growth Emerging-Entrepreneurs
108 Core Business Group Emerging Growth Emerging-Entrepreneurs
111 Agile Tiger Teams Rapid Growth Sustaining-Associates
112 Loyal Survivalists Rapid Growth Sustaining-Associates
110 Analytical Specialists Sustained Growth Sustaining-Associates
114 Brand-as-Experts Maturity Systematic-Professionals
116 Institutional Traditionalists Maturity Systematic-Professionals
113 Idea Packagers Decline Systematic-Professionals
102 Thought Leaders Decline Paradoxy-Morons

Image Credit: Stephen G. Howard  Copyright 2020

So far we’ve covered each stage beginning with Start-Up to Decline.  But we have one more to include, Reinvention.  So stay tuned.

Evidence

“3”  Steve Zahn, 51:It is only natural to want to be under someone’s skin the way they are under yours. Does it comfort you to know that perfect balance and mutuality is not the norm in love? Someone always gives more.” Scorpio

No, it doesn’t comfort me, and probably even less so for the love of my life, the beautiful and talented Emma the Baroness! 

Random ones that make me want change my sign.

“3”  Steve Howey, 42:There’s a type of pain that lets up at the exact same time that the job is finished — sweet relief. This won’t deter you from taking the same task on. The more times you do, the easier it gets.” Cancer

If we repurpose this TauBit of Wisdom to a physical realm and exercising it holds more meaning and relevance.  Oh, and learning a new habit to overcome procrastination.  But not as much for today.

“4”  Steve Carrell, 57; Steve Martin, 74; Steve Wozniak, 69: Right and wrong are obvious. Most of life falls into narrower categories. Address the gray areas with different barometers: kind/unkind, effective/ineffective, energizing/draining, etc.” Leo

Hmm.  This may be a reach.  I’ve zigzagged between passion projects.  This one is more work related, but by misreading narrower for narrator, I might turn this into a saying with more relevance for my memoir.

“3” Steve Greene, 34; Steve Guttenberg, 61:You’ll ponder the underlying meanings and connected personal truths. A little goes a long way with this so don’t wallow in the depths. Soon your brain craves either action, comfort or rest.” Virgo

Sure, anybody’s brain craves action, comfort or rest.  How relevant is that for me today?

“5”  Steve Kerr, 54:Don’t wait for praise. They seldom say what you want or need to hear. They only see the public result of what you’re doing, but you’re also on a private journey that requires internal reinforcement you’ll have to provide yourself.” Libra

So does this TauBit of Wisdom apply to my simultaneous experience with my crowdfunding platform, Patreon, and this blog? 

“4”  Steve Aoki, 41: “No one gets to be all one thing today. Introverts will have to do extraverted things and vice versa. Agreeable people will have to have the guts to disagree. Disagreeable people must learn to acquiesce.” Sagittarius

And, all of this happens out of public view in our home or behind a mask!

What’s Going On

Literally Bottled and Set Adrift from KnowWhere Atoll 

    • @knowlabs followers of one or more of my 35 digital magazines organically grew from 4733 to 4807.

Foresight

Quality-of-Life

Long-Form

    • Saw the movie, didn’t realize that one of my favorite authors, Michael Connelly — his detective Hieronymus (Harry) Bosch book series and Amazon Prime series — also wrote, “The Lincoln Lawyer” which I just finished. Gotta tell you I can’t not see his lead character (Mickey Haller, Bosch’s half brother) as anyone else but Matthew McConaughey. 

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Inspired by: Holiday Mathis – Creators Syndicate

CENTER FOR KNOWLEDGE CREATION AND INNOVATION

The Knowledge Path | Know Laboratories | Knowledge Banking | Knowledge ATMs | Western Skies and Island Currents | Best West Road Trip

S2 E100 — Live, Love, Work, Play, Invest and Leave a Legacy

Not all my Executive MBA students hailed from large, mature healthcare organizations.  If they did, they weren’t confident that they could crack the glass ceiling, nor did many physicians really want to.  

“5”  Steve Zahn, 51:You’re an excellent student of life because of your genuine curiosity. You are interested in more than just memorizing what you need to know for life’s various tests. Your longing for deep knowledge will be sated.” Scorpio

Hi and welcome to Friday’s Episode 100 in Season 2 of  “My Pandemic Year Natural Experiment” on this 21st day of August in the summer of 2020.  

“The Tau of Steves: What You Don’t Know Could Fill a Book”

Table of Contents

Season One and Two are a two-year examination of how bits of wisdom changed during the “normal” pre-pandemic and then in this unfolding pandemic year.

Previously in Season Two, the Pandemic Year

S2 E99Why Pay Over $100,000 When You Don’t Have To? ; S2 E98 Why Your Company Simply Won’t Make It Out of Puberty ; S2 E97Frame Blindness and Decision Traps

Related from Season One, the Normal Year

S1 E100Running out of Determination and Grit by the 100th Day ; S1 E99What’s in a Name? Baby Boy Names?; S1 E98Why Can’t I Leave 26 Orphans for a Well Deserved Vacation? ; S1 E97 My Top 19 Reasons for Failing

Context

This is a continuation of “Volume Two Manuscript — WorkFit” a work-in-progress.

In previous episodes we described Start Up, Emerging Growth, Rapid Growth, Sustained Growth and Maturity stages.  But, each with the emphasis on how a specific stage provides another better fit opportunity for one or more of 16 Talent Profiles.

We described two mini case studies of what it was like working behind the scenes at a mature companies in a financial, in a consumer industries and in another century-old university system.

33. Advisor — Executive and Healthcare MBA Program 

Part Two

The business school recognized it had to compete more aggressively for students and slowly shifted emphasis to digital leadership.  The heart of their marketing told prospective Executive MBA students they’d be able to think creatively and strategically about business challenges of the future.

Separately the University launched “The Cove” to fill the Orange County start up vacuum.  More of the Executive Students I advised, even in Healthcare, felt its magnetic pull particularly to commercialize ideas flowing from medical device, biotechnology and other research laboratories. I felt it too and developed relationships with its leaders. 

Here’s what we were up against.  Most residents in Orange County with college bound young adults, if their ambitions were to turn your ideas into a business you didn’t want to attend a campus in the UC System In fact, your best fit would be the Cal State System. You don’t want research and theories,  but you need tools, tips and practical guidance.

The business school’s pitch went something like this:  We have a long tradition of training professionals to succeed at the executive level.  Are you prepared to lead transformation and embrace opportunities for innovation in your industry?

Four Talent Profiles Attracted to Systematic-Professional Organizations

Image Credit: Stephen G. Howard  Copyright 2020

Clearly pitched at Systematic-Professionals like ourselves, the value proposition promised … you will build a general management foundation complemented by opportunities to further explore the healthcare space, enabling you to apply your understanding of business to the changing healthcare industry.

Our program maximizes your return on investment by: 

    • Delivering relevant knowledge and skills, 
    • Valuable connections with peers in other industries and
    • Prestigious credentials to accelerate your career and organization.

That’s where our group came in.

My project was so different than what my colleagues were providing that  I could independently create a unique suite of services customized for executives. Their “customers” were  students who just graduated with little or no work experience. 

For  the first five years as a Systematic-Professional 113 Idea Packager I flourished reporting directly to the Executive Director working autonomously while establishing services from the ground up as an intrapreneur: 

    • Launched the Executive to Executive mentoring program by recruiting and maintaining  a core of 45 to 50 VP and C-Suite Executives
    • Matched 35 to 45 executive students with mentors each quarter based on type of organization and stage of growth.  
    • Included 5 to 7 industry contacts. 
    • Hosted quarterly mentoring breakfast meetings. 
    • Held panel discussion with alumni and industry leaders for students.
    • Recruited entrepreneurs and alumni for frank Q&A exchanges with students considering a startup.

Not all Executive MBA students hailed from large, mature healthcare organizations.  If they did, they weren’t confident that they would crack the glass ceiling, nor did many physicians really want to. 

They wanted to figure out why certain decisions had been made for business reasons that had impacted them.  Or, they had well researched ideas they wanted to advance, but needed a better understanding of how top executives prioritized their decisions.  Still others felt certain their start up ideas could be winners.

In a way the Healthcare Executive MBA students wanted the same payoffs as did the majority number of students in the Executive MBA program.  

As I met with each one individually before matching them with the best mentor I could find we pinpointed where they found themselves in their current situation.

We’d determine how they rated themselves in terms of high degrees of:

    • Independence or Affiliation
    • Speed or Mastery
    • Disruptive Innovation or Sustained Improvement
    • Emerging Knowledge or Embedded Knowledge

Four Organization Types

Image Credit: Stephen G. Howard  Copyright 2020

Using myself for example I preferred higher degrees of Embedded Knowledge, Independence and Mastery.  So on face value the blue box (Systematic-Professionals) would be a better fit for me.

But, not all Executive and Healthcare EMBA students were currently in the “color box” they preferred.  One decision they could make was to switch for a better fit — say, “Blue” (Systematic-Professionals) to “Green” (Emerging-Entrepreneurs).  The right mentor-match could prove to be helpful.

Next we’d explore curriculum choices:

Work For Themselves

    • Start a Business
    • Buy a Business or Franchise
    • Launch a Consulting Practice

Work for an Organization

    • Create an Intrapreneurial Position
    • Advance in Your Career
    • Change Your Career
    • Master a Career Disruption

For Executive EMBA students who worked at the same employer for several years which seemed to be plateaued compared to their competitors we would discuss reasons starting with their assessment of which growth stage they’ve stalled in.

Recognizing we haven’t profiled what works and doesn’t work in decline and reinvention stages yet my advice was to ask questions about how to address the crisis most likely constraining their employer and their career in each of the classes and from other students.

Consequences of Not Mastering Growth Crises

Image Credit: Stephen G. Howard  Copyright 2020

Of course another source would be matched to a mentor who had met those challenges successfully.

180 – Degree Shift in Success by Stages

Growth Stage Key Success Factor Leading to a Crisis New Success Key
Start Up Loosen Leadership Tighten
Emerging Tighten Functional Loosen
Rapid Loosen Autonomy Tighten
Sustained Tighten Repetition Loosen
Maturity Loosen Control Tighten

Image Credit: Stephen G. Howard  Copyright 2020

Unless those students were career junkies like me who worked in each of those growth stages or consulted with clients confronted with artificial barriers to their organization’s growth, most only needed to focus on the edge of one box and determine what was necessary to jump into the next box for a few years.  

Managing 180 Degree Shifts Required for Each Stage

Image Credit: Stephen G. Howard  Copyright 2020

Those students encountering the most difficulty when it came to changing their careers had spent  decades in a Systematic-Professional Organization Type or a long-term company in the Maturity phase.

Returning to Organization Types, we’ve already covered 10 of 16 Talent Profiles.  If you think about a company’s culture, it is made up of more of a mix of talent profiles (4) and as people come and go each organization tends to recruit  the same type.

16 Talent Profiles by Organization Type

Image Credit: Stephen G. Howard  Copyright 2020

Let’s say you value high degrees of Embedded Knowledge, Independence and Mastery aka the talent culture you’d find at a university in the “Blue Box.” 

As one of my Executive MBA students, say a researcher on campus in biotechnology, you most likely would not flourish in the opposite “Green Box” known as Emerging-Entrepreneurs.  

Of course you could make it work, but it may feel too fluid with its focus on higher degrees of speed, emerging knowledge and affiliation.

Speaking of affiliation, the four talent profiles defining a “Tan Box” Sustaining-Associate Organization  favoring higher degrees of mastery and sustained improvement in addition to affiliation would struggle fitting into the “Red Box” of Paradoxy-Morons. 

So if you want to find a better fit, stay away from opposite color boxes.  If you’ve had it with your “box color” as in a career change, try probing an adjacent box to a medium degree of career satisfaction.

If you can’t handle the high speed, disruptive innovation “Red Box” culture, you might like the working in “Blue Box” Systematic-Professionals or the “GreenBox” Emerging-Entrepreneurs.

Two Systematic-Professionals Attracted to Maturity Growth Stage

Image Credit: Stephen G. Howard  Copyright 2020

Summary

But, wait there’s more.  As in more options.

As you grow from start up to maturity as an organization my Executive MBA students the talent profiles can “break out” and add value to a specific state.  Two “red” profiles, 101 Breakpoint Investors and 103 Commercial Innovators are joined by “green” 105 Marketing Athletes.

If that Start Up jumps successfully into the first of two growth stages — Emerging Growth — two additional “green” profiles,  107 Resilient Product Teams and 108 Core Business Group, fuel further growth.

But as Emerging flips int Rapid Growth the first two of three Sustaining-Associate “tan” profiles, 111 Agile Tiger Teams and 112 Loyal Survivalists keep the wheels on the bus at higher speeds.  As Rapid Growth shifts into Sustained Growth the third “tan” profile joins the other two, 110 Analytical Specialists.

And, as we’ve already illustrated in these three mini case studies, as the company peaks and maintains their growth at the Maturity level, two “blue” profiles are required to keep the airplane routes synchronized, on schedule and systematically maintained — 114 Brand-as-Experts and 116 Institutional Traditionalists.

Where to Find the Best Fit

Talent Profile Growth Stage Organization Type
101 Breakpoint Inventors Start Up Paradoxy-Morons
103 Commercial Innovators Start Up Paradoxy-Morons
105 Marketing Athletes Start Up Emerging-Entrepreneurs
107 Resilient Product Teams Emerging Growth Emerging-Entrepreneurs
108 Core Business Group Emerging Growth Emerging-Entrepreneurs
111 Agile Tiger Teams Rapid Growth Sustaining-Associates
112 Loyal Survivalists Rapid Growth Sustaining-Associates
110 Analytical Specialists Sustained Growth Sustaining-Associates
114 Brand-as-Experts Maturity Systematic-Professionals
116 Institutional Traditionalists Maturity Systematic-Professionals

Image Credit: Stephen G. Howard  Copyright 2020

Next up:  we leave organizations at the Maturity Growth and describe two talent profiles who specialize and helping “pilots” pull up from their premature Decline.

Evidence

“5”  Steve Zahn, 51:You’re an excellent student of life because of your genuine curiosity. You are interested in more than just memorizing what you need to know for life’s various tests. Your longing for deep knowledge will be sated.” Scorpio

Maybe this is why I’ve been drawn to figuring things out, what makes things work when it comes to accumulating knowledge and passing it on.  How to live, love, work, play, invest and leave a legacy.

Random ones that make me want change my sign.

“5” Steve McQueen (1930 – 1980): “Thinking counts as effort, but nothing comes into being through thought alone. Air must be moved, words spoken, written or sung, action and work of any kind completed. The more air that’s moved, the more real a thing becomes.  Aries

So that’s what this is all about?  Describing the air bending actions necessary to maneuver in Mature organizations? 

“4” Steve Howey, 42:It’s one of those days when you’ll do what’s good for you even though you don’t feel like it. It’s the sort of discipline that makes future decisions easier for you. Soon these things will require no discipline at all.” Cancer

Promises, promises. Let’s hope so…

“4” Steve Carrell, 57; Steve Martin, 74; Steve Wozniak, 69: Giving love the same way as usual is nice enough. But people get desensitized to typical experiences. When you give more and differently, it’s like stretching the elastic of your heart to a greater capacity for love and joy.” Leo

Now that’s what I’m talking about for this Friday night near the end of summer!

“3” Steve Greene, 34; Steve Guttenberg, 61:You can be sweet, but too much sweetness is no fun. Sometimes, your playfulness can come out in swipes. Knowing how far to go with mischief is the essence of intimacy.” Virgo

During this pandemic don’t I get a pass or does it only serve to heighten the tension?

“3”. Steve Aoki, 41: “A whole new level of adulthood kicks in with the realization that others measure the world and themselves differently from the way you do. Accepting this nonstandard system is its own badge of maturity.” Sagittarius

Ok, riddle me this. Of what do you speak, this maturity badge?  Unique talent magnetized to this organizational growth stage, eh?

“4” Steve Harvey, 62:You know an excellent suggestion when you hear it. You’ll follow up and soon be onto an interesting project, one that seems to create its own momentum.”  Capricorn

Yeah, well that’s exactly what intrigued me over the years and is now unfolding with a life of its own. Or during this pandemic I can complete that jigsaw puzzle sitting on our dining room table. 

What’s Going On

Literally Bottled and Set Adrift from KnowWhere Atoll 

    • @knowlabs followers of one or more of my 35 digital magazines organically grew from 4733 to 4807.

Foresight

Quality-of-Life

Long-Form

    • Saw the movie, didn’t realize that one of my favorite authors, Michael Connelly — his detective Hieronymus (Harry) Bosch book series and Amazon Prime series — also wrote, “The Lincoln Lawyer” which I just finished. Gotta tell you I can’t not see his lead character (Mickey Haller, Bosch’s half brother) as anyone else but Matthew McConaughey. 

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Inspired by: Holiday Mathis – Creators Syndicate

CENTER FOR KNOWLEDGE CREATION AND INNOVATION

The Knowledge Path | Know Laboratories | Knowledge Banking | Knowledge ATMs | Western Skies and Island Currents | Best West Road Trip

S2 E99 — Why Pay Over $100,000 When You Don’t Have To?

It was planned as a magnet for attracting the talent base to support growing financial, real estate and technology companies setting up shop on the former Irvine Ranch envisioned in the Irvine Company’s master plan.

 

“5”  Steve Howey, 42:You thought a thing ran its course. You thought you were done and wouldn’t return to it, but this business is, apparently, unfinished. Otherwise, it wouldn’t keep calling you back.” Cancer

Hi and welcome to Thursday’s Episode 99 in Season 2 of  “My Pandemic Year Natural Experiment” on this 20th day of August in the summer of 2020.  

“The Tau of Steves: What You Don’t Know Could Fill a Book”

Table of Contents

Season One and Two are a two-year examination of how bits of wisdom changed during the “normal” pre-pandemic and then in this unfolding pandemic year.

Previously in Season Two, the Pandemic Year

S2 E98 Why Your Company Simply Won’t Make It Out of Puberty; S2 E97Frame Blindness and Decision Traps; S2 E96Two Kindred Spirits Drawn to Mature Complications

Related from Season One, the Normal Year

S1 E99What’s in a Name? Baby Boy Names?; S1 E98Why Can’t I Leave 26 Orphans for a Well Deserved Vacation? ; S1 E97 My Top 19 Reasons for Failing; S1 E96Old Rabbits Die Hard

Context

This is a continuation of “Volume Two Manuscript — WorkFit” a work-in-progress.

In previous episodes we described Start Up, Emerging Growth, Rapid Growth, Sustained Growth and Maturity stages.  But, each with the emphasis on how a specific stage provides another better fit opportunity for one or more of 16 Talent Profiles.

 We described two mini case studies of what it was like working behind the scenes at a mature companies in a financial and in a consumer industries.

33. Advisor — Executive and Healthcare MBA Program 

Part One.

The University of California opened its doors in 1869 with just 10 faculty members and 40 students. Today, the UC system has more than 280,000 students and 227,000 faculty and staff, with 2.0 million alumni living and working around the world.

One of 10 campuses in the UC System

UC’s academic health centers provide broad access to top-ranked specialized care, support clinical teaching programs and develop new therapies. For news about UC breakthroughs and health initiatives.

Nine years before I moved to Orange County, UCI became the youngest campus in the system.  It was planned as a magnet for attracting the talent base to support growing financial, real estate and technology companies setting up shop on the former Irvine Ranch envisioned in the Irvine Company’s master plan..

When I worked at Fairview State Hospital, one of the psychologists, a 115 Professional Practitioner,  hailed from the School of Social Ecology.  Co-workers felt he had been skating from his responsibilities at the hospital while he built up his private practice and taught at the university. 

No-one I knew understood what Social Ecology meant. In a way, as a half-time intern working in the morning in the residence hall and then in the afternoon at the Behavior Modification Institute in Newport Center, I might have been half-skating.

Later I befriended the University’s Veterans Advisor seeking his assistance as I transitioned from one career into another. I ended up helping him as he came to the end of his employment while a student in the School of Social Ecology.

Four Talent Profiles Attracted to Systematic-Professional Organizations

Image Credit: Stephen G. Howard  Copyright 2020

The campus and its library and its influence economically as Orange County’s second-largest employer (contributing $7 billion annually to the local economy and $8 billion statewide) made it a hub for researching potential careers and jobs.

In fact, I interviewed professors, 114 Brand-as-Experts and 116 Institutional Traditionalists,  who’s research matched my interests.  It what became the business school years later, I interviewed the dean who specialized in Organizational and Management Development to assess my chances at transitioning into that career.  

The more important side benefit came in the form of a list of business graduates identified by their Orange Count employers to conduct further interviews.

One in particular led to an offer a few months later to join an internal consulting, management development and training team in a mature, large engineering and construction company located in a cluster of mirror-glass buildings and a corporate tower.

Two Systematic-Professionals Attracted to Maturity Growth Stage

Image Credit: Stephen G. Howard  Copyright 2020

Too academic, we echoed the conclusion of the client from the century-old consumer goods who hired my former boss and me.  But we leveled it at an interdisciplinary team of professors we engaged to survey the implication of brand new technology at the engineering and construction company. 

More on that engagement later.

The main point being academic achievement and research — what my graduate advisor described as foundational instead of practical — is what the local university offers its more than 37,000 students and offers 222 degree programs. 

So, it came as a surprise when a former co-worker recommended me to consult on a long-term retainer to help Executive MBA students in the Business School find work during the first five years.  I, a 113 Idea Packager,  viewed it as career triage, because it began in the 2008-2009 academic year, when recent graduates felt betrayed by the admissions sales pitch which told them how much better off they would be financially.  

I focused on what worked, how to apply what each Gen-X and Millennial student with roughly 10 years of experience learned in their course work, how to support each other while on campus during the 2-year program and to interview alumni who could introduce them into opportunities before announced on any online site. 

What started as a 2-year engagement expanded into a decade which I view as a field test or a laboratory for the content in these second volume books.

I proposed a curriculum to the Director for him to review and meet with me.  “Why would anyone choose to come back to school for an executive MBA (and spend over $100,000 over two years) when you’ve got all they’d ever need in this curriculum?

What he referred to was how I divided the curriculum into two tracks, the perspective of a mid-career executive business student:  

Working for Yourself

    • Starting a Business Series: How to start a business from scratch despite what your family, friends and other fools tell you — increase the probability of survival within the first few years
    • Buying a Business or Franchise Series: How to buy a business or franchise that fits your career and business aspirations — manage and expand the growth of a proven business or franchise model with a successful formula in a specific location.
    • Consulting Practice Series: How to establish a mobile coaching or consulting practice — translate your technical expertise into a location independent business that complements your quality-of-life pursuits.

Working for an Organization

    • Intrapreneurial Series:  How to introduce sustainable growth through strategic innovation and get away with it — create your own internal entrepreneurial  position when normal channels to advancement or promotion are blocked.
    • Career Advancement Series:  How to get the most return on your Executive MBA investment in today’s economy — timing your job search campaign to successfully coincide with graduation or the shortest time after.
    • Career Change Series:  How to avoid the delays, pitfalls and mistakes most people make — timing your job search campaign to successfully coincide with graduation or the shortest time after.
    • Career Disruption Series: How to find a job without jeopardizing your educational or financial resources — how to maintain a sense of control and confidence during your transition by placing priority on activities with the highest probability of success.

Continued in Part Two.

Evidence

Random ones that make me want change my sign.

“4”  Steve McQueen (1930 – 1980): “Smart people won’t have time to prove they are smart today because they will be too busy chasing their curiosity around. You can relate. Your interests will lead you to like minds.”  Aries 

Is this why I’m reaching out to mentors I formerly recruited into the Executive MBA program to get their take on how this pandemic is effecting them?

“4”  Steve Winwood, 71; Stevie Wonder, 69; Stephen Colbert, 56: “The novice is proud of and wants full recognition for talents and skills. The wise would rather go unlauded, realizing the strategic advantage in being underestimated.”  Taurus

Whoa, there partner.  This is so Sun Tzu of you.  Profound!

“5” Steve Smith, 30: “Human memory is flawed. Even the best memories are unreliable and susceptible to corrosion over time. Record things as you go. This is the most dependable way, and you’ll be glad you did.” Gemini

Somewhere back in time an “aha!” broke through my consciousness and whispered to me that it would be really cool if I did just that, so it would be cool if I could look back from on periods in my life from sometime in the future. I did and it does. 

“5”  Steve Howey, 42:You thought a thing ran its course. You thought you were done and wouldn’t return to it, but this business is, apparently, unfinished. Otherwise, it wouldn’t keep calling you back.” Cancer

Dammit, you’re right.  Is that the sign that I’m obsessed?

“3”  Steve Greene, 34; Steve Guttenberg, 61:Modern society’s overemphasis on identity is as common as it is problematic. It’s useful to know what you want and what you like, but that shouldn’t be confused with who you are.” Virgo

Profound, yes.  Relevant for me today?  Not off the scales, although in my first career I leaned on Robert Ornstein’s take on our consciousness as it evolved over time leaving us with more than one identity that slips in and slips out of our mind.

“4”  Steve Kerr, 54:It’s hard to notice any particular thing in a cluttered environment. But whatever you drop into a blank space will get all the attention. This is why you clear your mind before concentrating on what you love.” Libra

Sure, I do practice this mantra, but also believe in the power of messy —  by Tim Harford, the author, “Messy: The Power of Disorder to Transform our Lives” who writes Brian Eno’s makes his messy work for him, because he’s got several creative projects in the works at various stages.  If or when one doesn’t pan out, he simply switches to one of his others to bring it to fruition.

“5”  Steve Aoki, 41: “You care deeply about an idea and will work to bring it into the real world. Because you cannot give this same treatment to every idea, you’ll also be letting go of ideas you don’t think are very actionable.” Sagittarius

As my dear old dad would say, “Amen, brother!”  I get the letting go of ideas that aren’t very actionable, but this passion project, “Volume Two Manuscript —WorkFit” as an obsession pulls me forward after all these years.

What’s Going On

Literally Bottled and Set Adrift from KnowWhere Atoll 

    • @knowlabs followers of one or more of my 35 digital magazines organically grew from 4733 to 4807.

Foresight

Quality-of-Life 

Long-Form

    • Saw the movie, didn’t realize that one of my favorite authors, Michael Connelly — his detective Hieronymus (Harry) Bosch book series and Amazon Prime series — also wrote, “The Lincoln Lawyer” which I just finished. Gotta tell you I can’t not see his lead character (Mickey Haller, Bosch’s half brother) as anyone else but Matthew McConaughey. 

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Inspired by: Holiday Mathis – Creators Syndicate

CENTER FOR KNOWLEDGE CREATION AND INNOVATION

The Knowledge Path | Know Laboratories | Knowledge Banking | Knowledge ATMs | Western Skies and Island Currents | Best West Road Trip

S2 E97 — Frame Blindness and Decision Traps

These are the experts who love their profession instead of a specific organization like Sustaining-Associates do. They’re attracted to the challenges that come with large, complicated systems found in most organizations at the Mature stage of growth. 

“5”  Steve McQueen (1930 – 1980): “Stay away from the ‘I did it, and so can you’ type of messaging today because it’s overly simplistic and does not account for the myriad of ways that people are so different from one another.”  Aries

Hi and welcome to Saturday’s Episode 97 in Season 2 of  “My Pandemic Year Natural Experiment” on this 15th day of August in the summer of 2020.  

“The Tau of Steves: What You Don’t Know Could Fill a Book”

Table of Contents

Season One and Two are a two-year examination of how bits of wisdom changed during the “normal” pre-pandemic and then in this unfolding pandemic year.

Previously in Season Two, the Pandemic Year

S2 E96Two Kindred Spirits Drawn to Mature Complications; S2 E95The Founder’s Curse Unleashed by the Edifice Complex; S2 E94Sustained Growth: Slicing Turnover and Grooming Experts

Related from Season One, the Normal Year

S1 E97 My Top 19 Reasons for Failing; S1 E96Old Rabbits Die Hard; S1 E95No Back to Work Days or Hump Days Allowed; S1 E94Wasn’t There a Movie about the Tau of Steve?

Context

This is a continuation of “Volume Two Manuscript — WorkFit” a work-in-progress.

In previous episodes we described Start Up, Emerging Growth, Rapid Growth, Sustained Growth and Maturity stages.  But, each with the emphasis on how a specific stage provides another better fit opportunity for one or more of 16 Talent Profiles.

9. Consultant Life and Mutual Fund Company

It was founded in the late 1800s by a former governor in the state capitol of California. Roughly a century later the executives decided to move to Newport Beach overlooking the Pacific Ocean so families could enjoy a higher standard of living.

It was the kind of mature organization that employed maintenance workers just to polish its brick entry way.  It was the kind of mature organization that hired and groomed knowledge workers before the term was coined. 

116 Institutional Traditionalists

They included 116 Institutional Traditionalists, Systematic-Professionals delivering products and services in heavily regulated markets the company served, such as annuities, and mutual funds, a variety of investment products and services to individuals, businesses, and pension plans.

Four Talent Profiles Attracted to Systematic-Professional Organizations

Image Credit: Stephen G. Howard  Copyright 2020

Why?  Because 116 Institutional Traditionalists are adept at managing fact-based complex systems with traditional analytical methods and tools. They’re dedicated to maintaining the institution’s smooth running. 

They defend the status quo by believing in preserving the rules and procedures.  They are practical, realistic and matter-of-fact.  In short 116 Institutional Traditionalists make good administrators because of their talent for organization.

Like other large hospitals, banking and financial institutions it was probable that a supervisor or a manager or even an executive hadn’t encountered a major transition from one growth stage to another over their careers.

Two Systematic-Professionals Attracted to Maturity Growth Stage

Image Credit: Stephen G. Howard  Copyright 2020

The buzzword my client described when he engaged me was this project was a major cultural change.  

But, it would unfold over many years, so urgency wasn’t felt, as much as it was anticipated.  

I had worked in several large, mature companies and had come face-to-face with immune systems that rejected any type of change.  

Maintaining the status quo across product lines and departments and divisions had become a way of life. 

My client told me our challenge was — how can you inject innovation into a century’s old mature company? 

It was a complex, complicated maneuver requiring tons of new knowledge and new idea packaging.  

It reflected the company’s structural change from a mutual ownership to a mutual holding company business model. 

114 Brand-as-Experts  

They become known for their impartial analysis and an affinity for agreed upon standards.  They excel in fact-based work situations in which you advance through continuing education, peer reviews and achieving licenses.  

The co-founder served as a model.  He  grew from being an investment analyst into a fund manager and co-founded their global fixed income investment business with  hundreds of billions managed in a Total Return Fund.

He was known as “the nation’s most prominent bond investor”. As a 114 Brand-as-Expert  he advised the Treasury during financial crises and was described as a fund manager who made people filthy-wealthy.  

In a way, he became the epitome of what my client had in mind for educating supervisors, managers and executives.

The goal as to bottle his ability to identify market inefficiencies and exploit them by adjusting the company’s strategies.  He embraced new technologies and exotic derivative products while harassing the power of the internet.

There was a requirement for a special blend of talents and skills across high-yield businesses building better traders and analysts and salespeople.

Rrom a management and executive development strategy it was to cultivate the ability to distill complex ideas into something simple enough to take action.

My client wanted build a hybrid curriculum drawing upon university experts with internal consultants to offer the early stages of a corporate education division.

“Advanced Curriculum for Officers” focused more on  managing divisions and new units in anticipation of favoring newer industry niches and technologies, but leading in a strong tradition based on an industry resistant to change.  

My first role was to manage external experts, define the curriculum based on executive assessments and development plans, and to provide referrals to seminars and recommended development activities.

Plans were based upon individual assessments. They defined gaps to be closed to qualify for the next advancement step, and admission into the high potential development talent pool.

The curriculum was the first for officers and included new courses I researched and designed, updated management courses they had (Management by Objectives was obsolete) and a curriculum I had developed and Fluor and Unisys.  

The plan included an “intrapreneurially shared services approach” I had described as a business model I’d experienced and managed before. 

During and after “de-mutalization” breakups, my client’s corporate group would have to sell and customize courses for the new business groups while competing with outside vendors and universities.

Top priorities for my client were how to bring about change, how to prevent frame blindness and avoid decision bias from a long list of decision-making traps plus scenario building tools.

I was all too happy to oblige!  

Evidence

“3”  Steve Zahn, 51:You’ve known things to be more work than anticipated, but today’s thing is ridiculous. Devote yourself when it’s adding up to something that will matter. This isn’t. Get out of it.” Scorpio

Wait, what?  

Random ones that make me want change my sign.

“5”  Steve McQueen (1930 – 1980): “Stay away from the ‘I did it, and so can you’ type of messaging today because it’s overly simplistic and does not account for the myriad of ways that people are so different from one another.”  Aries

So, this is really hard to do.  Except what I intend to accomplish is not so much copy me, but to choose which talent cultures work for you as a best fit.  Ask yourself how many degrees from high to medium do you need: independence, affiliation, speed, mastery, disruptive innovation, improvement, new knowledge creation or embodied knowledge.

“3”  Steve Winwood, 71; Stevie Wonder, 69; Stephen Colbert, 56: “The reality of a situation is much better than you’re thinking it is. You just have to ask different questions of it. A person coming from a different place in life will help you frame things another way.” Taurus 

How in the world is this unending pandemic much better than I think?

“3”  Steve Smith, 30: “Any mistakes in the work will actually be mistakes of planning. The more time you spend thinking ahead and setting yourself up for a win, the better your day will go.” Gemini

Unless, of course, I fall victim to the curse plaguing almost every introvert I know — OBE, overtaken by events!

“3”  Steve Howey, 42:Your natural responses cannot be correct or incorrect. They just are. The behavior you choose after you feel a certain way can be very much wrong or right. You’ll choose carefully tonight.” Cancer

I guess we’ll have to wait for 8 hours or more to find out.

“5”  Steve Greene, 34; Steve Guttenberg, 61:It turns out that the period of time when you felt like you were meandering was actually a long and deliberate planning stage for what’s going on with you today.” Virgo

Busted.  How long?  Almost a year of surviving until I could break the code of jargon my new career spoke in.  And then that career transition was repeated and repeated in several industries, types of companies, and at various growth stages.

“3”  Steve Kerr, 54:When you are in an observant, receptive and artistic mood, ‘always,’ ‘never’ and other extremes of language fall away. You revel in life’s many colors and shades beyond black and white.” Libra

As much as I want to own this one, I only picked it for the first part of the first sentence up until the second comma.  What was I thinking?

“4”  Steve Harvey, 62:There was a time when you stretched yourself to fit a role. And then, slowly, steadily, you grew to fit the title. You’re about to repeat this process with a new challenge.” Capricorn 

Was there ever!  I totally talked myself into my first job in a new career in a mature company about to fall into a decline.  I learned so much in it and didn’t know it at the time but it fueled this original research I taught at UCI’s Executive MBA program.  So, bring on the new challenge!  And, now I’m struggling to describe in this “Volume Two Manuscript — WorkFit” work-in-progress

What’s Going On

Literally Bottled and Set Adrift from KnowWhere Atoll 

    • @knowlabs followers of one or more of my 35 digital magazines organically grew from 4636 to 4733.

Foresight

Quality-of-Life 

Long-Form

    • Saw the movie, didn’t realize that one of my favorite authors, Michael Connelly — his detective Hieronymus (Harry) Bosch book series and Amazon Prime series — also wrote, “The Lincoln Lawyer” which I just finished. Gotta tell you I can’t not see his lead character (Mickey Haller, Bosch’s half brother) as anyone else but Matthew McConaughey. 

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Inspired by: Holiday Mathis – Creators Syndicate

CENTER FOR KNOWLEDGE CREATION AND INNOVATION

The Knowledge Path | Know Laboratories | Knowledge Banking | Knowledge ATMs | Western Skies and Island Currents | Best West Road Trip

S2 E94 — Sustained Growth: Slicing Turnover and Grooming Experts

We cut the time in half, identified the regional gurus who made sense out of clunky technology, turned them into trainers and mentors, and switched face-to-face time from classroom to practice session.

“5”  Steve Greene, 34; Steve Guttenberg, 61; Stephen King,72:Study past successes and failures for the keys to victory. To skip the research phase of a project is to waste time, as there is no use in repeating what didn’t work before.” Virgo

Hi and welcome to Sunday’s Episode 94 in Season 2 of  “My Pandemic Year Natural Experiment” on this 9th day of August in the summer of 2020.  

“The Tau of Steves: What You Don’t Know Could Fill a Book”

Table of Contents

Season One and Two are a two-year examination of how bits of wisdom changed during the “normal” pre-pandemic and then in this unfolding pandemic year.

Previously in Season Two, the Pandemic Year

S2 E93Who It Takes to Keep Growth at It’s Peak; S2 E92Herding Cats Towards a Tornado; S2 E91How to Master Rapid Growth Without Gifting Your Competitors

Related from Season One, the Normal Year

S1 E94Wasn’t There a Movie about the Tau of Steve?; S1 E93Why is it easier to Hate than to Love the other Half?; S1 E92Shh … Secrets Husbands Keep to Ourselves; S1 E91If that, then this … ? The daily double?

Context

This is a continuation of “Volume Two Manuscript — WorkFit” a work-in-progress.

In previous episodes we described Start Up, Emerging Growth, Rapid Growth and Sustained Growth stages.  But, each with the emphasis on how a specific stage provides another better fit opportunity for one or more of 16 Talent Profiles.

110 Analytical Specialists in the Sustained Growth Stage

Image Credit: Stephen G. Howard  Copyright 2020

Let’s explore what it’s like behind the scenes working in a Sustained Growth company.  We’ll break it down into two parts. 

Part One describes the trials and tribulations working in an electronic distribution company.  Our next episode focuses on the growing pains and challenges of a disk-drive technology company in Part Two. Both in their own unique ways recruited Analytical Specialists to join their talent cultures.

Third Growth Stage for 110 Analytical Specialists

Image Credit: Stephen G. Howard  Copyright 2020

Part One

12. Director Electronics Distribution Company 

Professionalize to Stabilize 

They were described as a Wild West sales organization in their early days — as in anything goes as long as you get the sale.  

They grew from a local to a regional player during their emerging and rapid growth stages across the Western United States with ambitions to grow nationally and then internationally.

International Aspirations

They ran into complications with the technology required to translate currencies for product ordering.  Instead the acquirer from Europe already had systems in place. 

I seriously misjudged the “technology” component, because I discovered after the first 90-days it was less about innovating and more about sales.

Maturing Business Model 

Sure they valued affiliation and speed, but they really weren’t creating new knowledge in the sense I craved.  

Their business model placed them in the middle of technology manufacturers which needed to extend their sales volume and technology companies which sourced components from manufacturers that would work,  could be trusted, and then could be bought in volume to match expected market explosions.

As a middle player, they needed to “lock up” exclusive franchise agreements with the best known manufacturers while at the same time add to their capabilities with ties to second tier manufacturers which specialized in emerging new technologies.

Keeping a Pulse on Emerging Markets

It took resourceful 105 EEMA Marketing Athletes in technical sales capacities to meet with their customer technology companies (often Paradoxy-Morons) and offer technology support, feasibility assessments and establish sales distribution channels. 

They provided the missing marketing infrastructure working directly with their (potential) customer’s  103 PMCI Commercial Innovators with limited resources.

It was their job to intimately understand new disruptive innovations of their customers and propose how to take them to market in a way that leapfrogs established industry leaders.  Or, they establish new markets.

Pinch Points

The pinch points showed up between inside and outside sales efforts. In isolated sales offices throughout the region inside sales people fielded calls from customers, from their own technical sales people and from clients wanting to know prices, terms, discounts, availability for parts and components.  

The answers remained buried in manufacturers manuals.  And, of course SKUs didn’t match and the technology conversion hadn’t made things better and easier.  In fact inside sales people turned over at an alarming pace.

Consequences of Not Mastering Growth Crises

Image Credit: Stephen G. Howard  Copyright 2020

From High Turnover to Time to Mastery

My initial success happened when my team streamlined what had been a two week training conference for all new hires.

Wyle planned to grow in a cutthroat industry.  

When you’re on the hook to orient new internal sales and external sales people, you need to reference how great the opportunity is now and will be or else you experience high turnover rates.  

Which is what they already had.  If you fly in new hires from the field offices, pay for their hotel and food, while they endure the blah blah blah of their new company’s history over the course of two weeks, the costs keep climbing when those new hires figure enough out to say adios.  

But, that wasn’t the half of it.

We cut the time in half, identified the regional gurus who made sense out of clunky technology, turned them into trainers and mentors, and switched face-to-face time from classroom to practice session.

Experts in the Field, But Not at Each Office

We cut down the two week orientation process in half, we put a lot of nice-to-know stuff online, and focused on practice — sales calls, how to use the computer system, where to find tips and tricks, and we identified the best people in the field offices who knew how to get things done.  They taught and they became ongoing mentors.  

It was so successful that we created a problem when people, who had been hired a year ago, said they didn’t know the stuff the rookies had just learned.  And the mentors loved the recognition.

Professionalizing Human Resources with Specialists

The Vice President of Human Resources, my boss,  and I held several meetings once I signed on. He introduced the other HR people in compensation, recruiting and general administration.  He told me about where the regional offices were located.  How the distribution company operated.  

Kind of the typical onboarding stuff you’d expect.  

But not the one key bit of information — the strategy going forward.  I always determine how much leeway I have when I’m brought in to start up another training and organizational development department.

Neither the CEO nor the Chief Operating Officer told him.  They said he didn’t need to know.  Which meant, the whole Human Resources function he headed up was only transactional.

Closely Held Plans

Wyle planned to not only expand from the western region to become a national player, they figured if they represent the Motorolas and the Intels and all the tech manufacturers who need to grow their sale efforts, why not represent them in Europe?  

But two things operating in the background accounted for their top secret strategy.

The first turned out to be sad.  Our CEO suffered from a moderate form of multiple sclerosis and his symptoms started to show.  

The second resulted in attempts to acquire a European distribution company who also exclusively represented the Motorolas and Intels and all the tech manufacturers on their continent.

Instead we were acquired by Rabb Karcher — the European distributor. It boiled down to technology.  Rabb Karcher solved the language problems and the currency problems and operated at a much higher, what I would call organizational intelligence level.  

They mastered all the challenges Wyle hadn’t as they tried to grow nationally.  Rabb Karcher already had and they operated cross-borders.  So they were able to describe a more compelling case to the manufactures that both companies represented.

After the CEO Stepped Down

Karcher did have a much smaller distribution company with limited “manufacturing franchises” in the US.  It was located in San Diego.

The president moved into our Irvine headquarters.  To tell you the truth I thought he was better than the old regime — younger, and he had survived Raab Karcher’s management pressures in the US.  

Oh, and the inside sales and outside sales representatives loved the fact that he came up through the sales organization.

Sales Suffered from Delayed Marketing Communications

Wyle’s marketing function didn’t inform sales of their discounted offerings.  If they did, it was an afterthought.  

Let’s say one of your current or potential customers — an engineering company — operated at an accelerated pace and needed parts like yesterday.

Their purchasing rep gives you a call.  And, they tell you the specifications they need.  Normally, you’d compare potential manufacturers you represent to give them the best deal, then you give them the quote. 

And they tell you that couldn’t be accurate, because they heard you were running a special price that you didn’t know about.

Corporate Communications 

Even before the acquisition in the rapid growth period people in the field felt under trained and out of the loop.

The COO did the “Joe Show” on video and sent it to the regional offices. I brought in crazy creative Dave, from my Unisys days, who had been consulting in corporate communications.  

We expanded the content to include people we asked the offices to identify for the next edition and we highlighted some of the mentors.  So both things reinforced each other.

Recruiting Overlooked Sales Engineers

The joke told internally was “How do you tell who’s an engineer at a party?  They’re the ones looking at their shoes.  How do you tell who’s the sales engineer? They’re looking at your shoes.”

Let me set the scene — we, mostly they, interviewed successful sales engineers and discovered they weren’t the best and brightest of their classes in engineering schools.

So they were overlooked when all the other recruiters came on campus.  

Actually the campaign focused on socially-adept engineering students.  If they were in a fraternity or sorority, that was good.  If they happened to be the rush chair person that was better.  We simply invited them for pizza and beer when the recruiting team hit campus.  The team passed out a comic-graphic filled story about Wyle and why they could shine as a sales engineer.

We learned  they just had to know enough technical jargon to nod and turn the closing back to the sales people.

The graphic comic didn’t sit well with Wyle’s top dogs, and by then I could see the merger writing on the wall.  In fact, I always wished I recorded the announcement from the CEO circulated over group voicemail.

He announced the Rabb Karcher acquisition and his plans to step down, but also insisted it was all in Wyle’s best interests and nobody would be laid off.

Yeah, right.

Next up, Part Two when I describe how the heavy resistance to transitioning to continuous improvement with its emphasis on statistics was a lot tougher sale than I imagined.

Summary        

Growth Stage Key Success Factor Leading to a Crisis New Success Key
Start Up Loosen  Leadership Tighten
Emerging Tighten Functional Loosen
Rapid Loosen  Autonomy Tighten
Sustained Tighten Repetition Loosen

Image Credit: Stephen G. Howard  Copyright 2020

Evidence

“4”  Steve Zahn, 51:When you are doing it your way, unselfconsciously and unapologetically yourself, you have no competition. No one can be you better than you can be you. Scorpio

I’m pretty sure this is the definition of being in the flow — peak performing as an athlete or musician or in any creative endeavor.

Random ones that make me want change my sign. 

“4”  Steve Howey, 42:You’ll find yourself mentally weaving an alternate version of things. Not all fantasy is escape. Sometimes it’s a creative way of understanding reality.” Cancer

My mind houses a flaw which causes me to search for the pun in what I read and a humorous alternative of what just came out in conversation.

“3”  Steve Carrell, 57; Steve Martin, 74; Steve Wozniak, 69: The guitarist can’t play with silk gloves on. Friction is what vibrates those strings. Don’t be afraid to dig into life with your nails. This day is waiting for you to give it a rhythm and sound.” Leo

Sure.  Friction and vibration.  Rhythm and sound, hmm … let me incubate for awhile on this TauBit of Wisdom.

“5”  Steve Greene, 34; Steve Guttenberg, 61; Stephen King,72:Study past successes and failures for the keys to victory. To skip the research phase of a project is to waste time, as there is no use in repeating what didn’t work before.” Virgo

Here’s my twist — do the 180 degree opposite as you pass through organizational growth transitions. 

“4”  Steve Kerr, 54:You were not born with a serene air of confidence, rather the aura is well-earned through the extensive planning and preparation you do long before the moment of truth is upon you.” Libra

Thanks for noticing.  Every time I scheduled a workshop to teach Executive MBA students, I finalized my materials days ahead of time, and practiced and practiced and practiced at least 5 times.  What I noticed was how easy it became to add nuance and humor throughout my delivery.

“3”  Steve Harvey, 62:People become associated with that of which they speak. You are drawn to intriguing facts, stories of warmth and kindness and descriptions of beauty. No wonder people feel elevated around you.”  Capricorn

Sure, that’s me alright. But during this pandemic can I really stake this claim for today?

“4”  Steve Jobs, (1955 – 2011): You’ll absorb some enthusiasm as you find yourself with bright, curious and passionate people. What you may not realize is how much you are rubbing off on them, too, in a very positive way.” Pisces

Maybe not today, but I’m reminded of positions and consulting assignments during which I had to pinch myself, because how wonderful it was to “play” with others.

What’s Going On

Literally Bottled and Set Adrift from KnowWhere Atoll 

    • @knowlabs followers of one or more of my 35 digital magazines organically grew from 4636 to 4733.

Foresight

Quality-of-Life

Long-Form

    • Saw the movie, didn’t realize that one of my favorite authors, Michael Connelly — his detective Hieronymus (Harry) Bosch book series and Amazon Prime series — also wrote, “The Lincoln Lawyer” which I just finished. Gotta tell you I can’t not see his lead character (Mickey Haller, Bosch’s half brother) as anyone else but Matthew McConaughey. 

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Inspired by: Holiday Mathis – Creators Syndicate

CENTER FOR KNOWLEDGE CREATION AND INNOVATION

The Knowledge Path | Know Laboratories | Knowledge Banking | Knowledge ATMs | Western Skies and Island Currents | Best West Road Trip