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 E111 —  Against All Odds 530 is Alive!

One of the most important reasons 530 was created is to provide a place where we can do more than just listen and watch. We can have a voice. We can share our perceptions, and learn from others about what  is shaping their thinking — their reality.

“5”  Steve Zahn, 51: “An idea will catch on just as fire does — with enough fodder to keep it going through the early stages and plenty of oxygen to fuel the flames. Avoid giving too much close attention, as it has a smothering effect.” Scorpio

Hi and welcome to Thursday’s Episode 111 in Season 2 of  “My Pandemic Year Natural Experiment” on this 10th 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 E110Keys for Reinventing a FUD-Soaked Enterprise; S2 E109Rebuilding Trust Doesn’t Happen Overnight; S2 E108Why Our Reinvention Efforts Failed (and Yours Will Too); S2 E107Leaving Us Adrift in a Sea of Change

Related from Season One, the Normal Year

S1 E111Is There Half-life of Wisdom?; S1 E110Love, Longing, Belonging, Connection and Loss; 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?

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.  

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. We profiled Part One and Two in the most recent episodes.

Reinvention without Decline

Image Credit: Stephen G. Howard  Copyright 2020

Reinvention

27. Knowledge Management — Brand Company  

A Strategy and Brand Consultancy. 

Part Three

Our Think!City creative team created actual seed packets in the color scheme associated with tropical foliage — new green shoots emerging from the soil.  But it you inspected each closely what you thought were normal roots were “soft” wires with metamorphic  message that, “Below the surface lies cross connections that pay off.”

Then our team created a 530 glossy magazine brochure explaining in pictures and captions what this campaign was all about. Meanwhile our technology team urgently put up the 530.com platform to accommodate the anticipated comments, innovative cross-talk and forums.

In a nutshell my ongoing role was moderating the 530 Forums, writing edgy, fun, creative responses to create a buzz and get more people to leave a message and return — while stealthily adding features which make the site a destination which internal PRERS can’t match

Their members span across our 530 species. And I anxiously waited for a few of them to provide content.  Without it I couldn’t facilitate sharing necessary for new knowledge creation and innovation.  I can’t say I felt confident about our launch.

Website Copy:

It’s ALIVE After a Rocky Soft (-wired) Launch!

You’ve seen the video.  You’ve read the magazine.  Now, it’s time to join the conversation — Link to Main Page

MAIN PAGE – OUR530.COM

Main Message Headline:

Welcome to Our530

One of the most important reasons 530 was created is to provide a place where we can do more than just listen and watch. We can have a voice. We can share our perceptions, and learn from others about what  is shaping their thinking — their reality. And maybe, if we keep at it, we can create that better reality that we know is possible. The conversation has only just begun. Keep it up. Develop your voice. Someone is listening.

Early Adopters:

THE VOICES OF 530

SIMPLIFYING PRUDIFICUS COMPLEXIA

Prudificus Bugs, Beans

Well, I opened my packet of Prudificus Complexia and instead of beans, I found a whole bunch of what looked like dried bugs. Were there supposed to be real beans in there? I’m not the only one, either. A few of our other associates found the same thing.”

Innovation Moderator:

Now the real story can be told. “All of you realize why we call this site 530. We discovered over 530 species — flora and fauna representing almost 90 families and 330 genera –living interdependently on the Rock.   What a great ecosystem — an alliance of living things, just like in PRERS. We’re all living breathing”organisms” thriving within the company.  Great, except for one thing. 

There used to be 531 Species. We can’t tell if it was due to global warming or the introduction of a non-native species — or something else entirely.  We honestly don’t know how it happened or if “the bugs,” as you call them, can be returned to life. We can only hope so. 

Well, Gary, now it’s all in your hands. (Maybe you should wash them) It’s up to you and your fellow associates. Good luck. P.S. You might contact” Robert and John to enlist their expertise!

Website Copy:

Let’s just suppose that after that long and tiring day, you think, “Hey, what do I have to lose?”  So you log on and the first thing that catches your eye, naturally, is BREATHE DEEP.  You think, “Okay, I can do that!”  

Your eye travels down the list of Stress Reduction tips, and you suddenly realize you’re way ahead of the game.  The second tip: Cut back on caffeine (try this: drink one, then spill one).  Here, you thought no one saw that little morning incident you had at Starbucks.  “Wow, this is easier than I thought.”

Now, if only you could share your story with someone else.  

Wait, you can. Dangling at the end of one of the four soft-wires, you notice OUR CONVERSATIONS.  When you roll your mouse over it –- technically called moving your cheese –- you notice your own personal invitation, “Join in …share your ideas in our forum.” Link to Voices of 530

Early Adopters:

THE VOICES OF 530

“If you see something on 530 that you think is really cool, send somebody to see it, too. Share the wealth! If you see something cool out there in the “real world,” bring it to 530. Don’t be greedy; share it. It’s our site. We can make it great by taking it and making it personal”. Dave F

I’d Organize a Skunk Works, a Think Tank “It may be crazy and far fetched, but …” (Link to INNOVATION)

This Just in From the Field  “I’m looking forward to everyone getting ‘online’ and participating in some dynamic discussions …”  (Link to NEWS AND VIEWS FROM THE FIELD)

Any Benefits from an Integrated PRERS? “I would like to get the audiences thoughts on the following …”  (Link to BENEFITS OF AN INTEGRATED PRERS)

To Toot or to Recognize, that is the Question “I agree, it is definitely hard to “toot your own horn” which is why … (Link To RECOGNITION)

Simplifying Prudificus Complexia   “Well, I opened my packet and instead of beans, I found a whole bunch of…” (Link to SIMPLIFYING PRUDIFICUS COMPLEXIA)

Website Copy:

Okay, this is where it gets hard.  You have to choose.  

Should I hold forth in “How Will We Use 530?”, in “Lunatic Fringe, or in “ Talk Back Forum”?  

Need more data to help you decide?  Want to go to the most popular?  Check out the number of Posts.  

You might choose to Talk Back, then.  Or, if you want to jump in on the freshest dialogue, then you might want to weigh in with the rest of the lunatics.  

Or, if  you simply want to contribute to the collective knowledge and creativity of our company, share a story (that Starbucks episode, for instance) or ask a question in “How Will We Use 530”?

Still undecided?  That’s O.K.  Come with me on a quick tour.  Let’s wander around, “listen in” and then leave our own footprints in the soft-wired threads.

Let’s start with: Link To Forum

Innovation Moderator:

 “In the short time our530.com has been up, 44 messages have been posted. Many of us do not visit the Internet every day or even weekly. Remembering to log on, read and respond to these messages is my concern.”

Early Adopters:

This is a neat site! Just trying it out and thought I would send you a note  Bob

I think this is a great opportunity to share some very diverse and innovative ideas with the larger community of PRERS. I think that for a long time innovative thinking has been stifled by fear of negative impact on those who make waves.” John

Some would rather have a handful of certainty than a wagon load of beautiful possibilities.” Diddette

Communication that is open and available 24 X 7 is an important asset for any company and a benefit to all …. I do however have a concern for information overload. Today we all have multiple sources of information that we check, each with it’s own login and password. To the developers credit there is no login and password.  Mike

Which brings me to the HSA system-which i didn’t know existed until this Site opened. Why don’t we build Our Own?  Deddette

Unfortunately when you pressure cook associates too long the optimism … 

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. 

This site seems to be about innovation and quick movement, but the lumbering Enterprise seems to be in survival mode, flailing away in a losing battle to survive in a world which is passing it by. Going public is not the answer. The answer lies somewhere in a new direction, not yet discovered by those in charge. We are waiting for systems to be built to streamline functions that will be obsolete by the time the system is designed. This may sound negative, but maybe it will generate some more positive and creative responses from more level heads.

No offense Host but why must every discussion on business improvement devolve into the corporate palaver of improved customer service? I must be living on another planet.

A case in point of lack of respect for the affiliates is the roll-out of the alliance between us, a bank and our technology partner.  I wonder if anyone in the commercial franchise group was even aware of it before it happened?

Innovation Moderator:

“That’s exactly the reason 530 is here. 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 windowshop at 530. Leave your footprints.”

Or how about:

Early Adopters:

Having done a 2 year expat assignment in Singapore I so appreciated the concept of immersion training in Mexico. I think it is so incredibly important for our associates to have a sense of what our clients’ employees are asked to experience. Years ago, it was not uncommon for the largest percentage of our relocation associate population to not only never have moved, but also not to even own a home, yet deal with domestic relocation problems/issues. Now, we must consider how we relate to folks who are asked to take their families on international “adventures”…what a positive and exciting concept!Link to Forum Topics

Managers have an obligation to their direct reports and should be held accountable for leading their teams positively into the future. Sometimes all it takes is an ear to listen to associate concerns, a commitment to work with an associate to turn a situation around. It’s not easy leading a team in today’s fast pace environment but that’s the responsibility one takes on when accepting a management position.

Innovation Moderator:

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! 

Evidence

“5”  Steve Zahn, 51: “An idea will catch on just as fire does — with enough fodder to keep it going through the early stages and plenty of oxygen to fuel the flames. Avoid giving too much close attention, as it has a smothering effect.” Scorpio

Wow.  I had to learn this the hard way while pushing and pulling participation in the early stages of 530’s launch until the lit match ignited and we saw early benefits shared among the innovation teams.

Random ones that make me want change my sign.

“3”  Steve Smith, 30: “When you have several prospects, you won’t feel too much worry over any particular one. Putting too much emphasis on one relationship or project will only stifle it. Diversify.” Gemini

Wow.  I can’t claim this TauBit of Wisdom for today, deep in the pandemic, but it’s a lesson I had to learn time after time as a consultant.

“3”  Steve Howey, 42:Your success will depend on accountability. You’ll go farther with a good teacher, leader or coach than you will on your own. Look for someone who will invigorate you to new heights.” Cancer

Again, not so much for today, but I believe out team at Think!City took turns playing the role of leader and coach as the situation warranted.  I learned so much and to say I was invigorated is and understatement.

“4”  Steve Carrell, 57; Steve Martin, 74; Steve Wozniak, 69: You ignite passion without meaning to do so. When you express your interests and show that you’re willing to go deep, others want to get as excited about life as you are.” Leo

Not so much today, but more so in the role I took on as an innovation facilitator.  

“3”  Steve Kerr, 54:The City of Seattle was named after a great chief who suggested people, “Take only memories; leave only footprints.” This way of living seems nearly impossible in the modern world, but you’ll do your best with it today.” Libra

If only tourists breaking free would live by this wisdom!!

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

S4 E40 — Don’t Bet Against Montezuma or the Yavapai-Apache Nation

Still not remembering that Mesa Verde National Park is in Colorado, not Arizona, I noted the Montezuma Castle was constructed on the face of the cliff here in the Verde Valley created by the Verde River.  

CENTER FOR KNOWLEDGE CREATION AND INNOVATION

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

Knowledge ATMs 

A peak behind the scenes of self-publishing, crowdfunding, and working for yourself

Table of Contents

Hi and welcome to Saturday’s 40th Episode in Season 4 of  Our Disruptively Resilient Year” on this 14th day of May in the spring of 2022.

What’s Going On

Literally Bottled and Set Adrift from KnowWhere Atoll

    • @KnowLabs suite of 36 digital magazines, according to my analytics, grew from 12880 this week to 12943 organically grown followers.
    • Orange County Beach Towns 204 viewers stopped by the week before.

Foresight

Quality-of-Life

Context

Jay’s smashes avocados and whips them up into his secret recipe for an awesome breakfast of avocado toast. About 45 minutes later Jay switches to Elle’s Lexus SUV and I ride shotgun while the chicks gab in the back. 

But this time they want the air conditioner to work.

Image Credit: Apple Maps

Pulling out of their shared driveway and winding downhill we escape into the Verde Valley southeast of Prescott.

Maybe an hour later, Jay pulls into the Cliff Castle Casino grounds operated by the Yavapai-Apache Nation Indian tribe on our right. 

Image Credit: Stephen G. Howard Copyright 2022

We then we immediately turn left,  winding down towards the national monument. 

Almost simultaneously all four of us realize that we left park passes at home or in the other SUV without backseat air conditioning. 

At the bottom of the hill Jay commandeers a parking slot up close to the main entrance immediately after a Camry exits. 

Some people have all the luck. 

Welcome to Montezuma’s Castle. 

Image Credit: Stephen G. Howard Copyright 2022

But still following COVID space protocols there’s a limit to how many can occupy the combination souvenir store, history displays and the ticket counter. 

So, Jay does the talking about our forgetfulness as he has in other situations when he used to ask for professional courtesy as a fireman to talk his way out of speeding tickets or to explain why he’s driving without a California Driver’s License.

Getting up there in age with a bum knee getting bummer from climbing ladders, he no longer can get away with appeals for firemen favors, but he does have away about him, and we all pass without pay.

We pick up a folding brochure and a white map with black lines showing “Highways & Public Campgrounds” with a squared in “Points of Interest” legend showing the US Forest and Arizona State Parks camp grounds if that was our mission.

But it wasn’t.

Image Credit: Stephen G. Howard Copyright 2022

Emma the Baroness and I both gazed over it quickly enough to see a dark thick black line labeled I-17 meandering from the upper left boarder (with an arrow to Flagstaff) down to the near middle page terminating under the corner of the legend square (with an arrow to Phoenix).

Near the mid range meandering above the legend “Points of Interest”  we saw a thinner, but dark line all squiggly yet paved road (89A) with an arrow pointing west towards Prescott.

Image Credit: Stephen G. Howard Copyright 2022

Since this wasn’t inside South Coast Plaza and we weren’t standing next to the directory map, it took a few moments longer to zero in to “You Are Here” in this case Montezuma Castle National Monument.

“ WTF?” I muttered to myself.  I didn’t know what I expected as we strolled down a cement sidewalk through a clump of trees until they parted revealing the side of a cliff wall.

These are the Mesa Verde 5-story cliff dwellings, only not here in Arizona and not called by the right name.

Don’t take my  word for it, try Wikipedia:

When European-Americans first observed the ruins in the 1860s, by then long-abandoned, they named them for the famous Aztec emperor Montezuma in the mistaken belief that he had been connected to their construction. 

Having no connections to the Aztecs, the Montezuma Castle was given that name due to the fact that the public had this image of the Aztecs creating any archaeological site.

In fact, the dwelling was abandoned more than 40 years before Montezuma was born, and was not a “castle” in the traditional sense, but instead functioned more like a “prehistoric high rise apartment complex”.

Still not knowing where we were exactly, I asked our local European-American couple —Jay and Elle —who hosted us and drove us here, if they had been to Mesa Verde National Park which lies south of Durango on 1-160, where they used to live and we visited twice, once before they moved in when we explored the Balcony House and the Cliff Palace?

Elle flicked a fly that buzzed around her face and said she and Jay had talked about it, but didn’t.

Still not remembering that Mesa Verde National Park is in Colorado, not Arizona, I noted the Montezuma Castle were constructed on the face of the cliff here in the Verde Valley created by the Verde River.  

Image Credit: Stephen G. Howard Copyright 2022

“Mesa Verde” and “Verde Valley”  and “Verde River” have to be connected, right?  I mean look up at the five stories main structure with about 20 rooms built over the course of three centuries.

Oops, I now recall it was the Anasazi people — ancestral Pueblo-ans — that lived for roughly 700 years in Mesa Verde, having migrated from the Four Corners region.

Here in Camp Verde, Arizona, built by the Sinagua people:

A pre-Columbian culture closely related to the Hohokam and other indigenous peoples of the southwestern United States, between approximately AD 1100 and 1425.

Like it was way back then, the Verde River is one of Arizona’s last free-flowing river systems. But, now like the I-17, the water flows to over 2 million people in the greater Phoenix area. 

Mesa Verde, now that was like the Trump Towers compared to Montezuma’s Castle.  

The first time we visited Durango, Colorado we left the Grand Canyon and came to a fork in the road.

Image Credit: Google Maps

East takes us past Mesa Verde National Park, on 160 towards Durango.

Bummer. 

We’re twenty minutes away from the first set of Mesa Verde ruins and the ranger told us they close in an hour. We lost an hour during the time change — something we hadn’t counted on. And, that put us into the park entrance later than we wanted. 

Image Credit: Mesa Verde National Park

That means that the Balcony House and the Cliff Palace tours would be closed. 

Where did we mess up? We plotted our route taking us near Mexican Hat to the 666 and towards Cortez,

I didn’t even consider a time change for Mesa Verde and Durango. 

Image Credit: Stephen G. Howard Copyright 2022

This has been one trip with a lot of driving. All I had thought about is next stop the Mesa Verde and then 45 minute drive to Durango, our outpost for three nights and two days before pressing on to Denver. 

But this time, here now at Montezuma’s Castle in Arizona Jay is doing all the driving.

Turning Montezuma’s Castles brochure over sitting in Jay’s passenger seat I noticed Sedona in the upper right hand corner.  First we’d spend a day in Jerome, and then bid goodbye to our Prescott friends and end our vacation in Red Rock country.

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

Table of Contents

“5”  Steve Zahn, 51: “New communities and circles intrigue you. You can’t tell from the storefront what this is all about; you have to go in and feel the vibes. You’ll know within the first dozen interactions.” Scorpio

We concluded the three-year examination of how bits of wisdom changed — during the “normal” pre-pandemic year compared to the pandemic year, and more recently to the paradoxically normal year. 

Season Four continues now within domestic and global chaos.

Previously in Season Four, The Disruptively Resilient Year

S4 E39Closing in on Uncle Billy’s Lynx Creek Mining Claim ; S4 E38Billy and Buckey Blow My Brain in Whiskey Row’s Palace; S4 E37Racing a Little Wobbly on Whiskey Row

Related from Season Three, the Paradoxically Normal Year

S3 E40How Stealing Your Sign Led Me to a Nobel Prize; S3 E39Ready for Your Big Leap Forward?; S3 E38Sliding on a Super Slippery Slope to 2nd or 3rd Cousins; S3 E37Tell Me More Lies I Can Believe In

Related from Season Two, the Pandemic Year

S2 E40The Profound Impact of the Pandemic on Nouns; S2 E39The Best Tau for the Pandemic Year, Don’t You Agree?; S2 E38What Should You Do If You Stumble Across Loaded Information?; S2 E37How Deep is the Chasm? What Do We Do?

Related from Season One, the Normal Year

S1 E40Nothing to See Here, Keep Moving On; S1 E39What’s Up with Facebook?; S1 E38Day 38 of My 1-Year Experiment; S1 E37Day 37 of My 1-Year Experiment

Evidence

“5”  Steve Zahn, 51: “New communities and circles intrigue you. You can’t tell from the storefront what this is all about; you have to go in and feel the vibes. You’ll know within the first dozen interactions.” Scorpio

Let’s see now.  We’ve visited Durango, Colorado twice.  The last time when Jay and Elle lived there.  Of course we spent almost two weeks with Jay and Elle on our anniversary vacation in Italy, when they had moved back from Colorado to Mission Viejo, but struggled to keep the documents flowing for closing escrow in time for their current home, here in Prescott.  

So yes, new communities do intrigue me, especially the history. I love to imagine what things were like in the past.  And of course, I wrote the series, The Knowledge Path: Live, Love, Work, Play, Invest and Leave a Legacy which I’m now describing as Volume One all about the “where” — and two of the books drill down into the “how” of finding the best quality of life communities for you in California and in Colorado.

Random ones that make me want change my sign.

Today’s Holiday Birthday: 

You’ve faced a lot of challenges that conditioned your grit. Now you’ll put that knowledge to the test on a wondrous challenge. You will create yourself. Through actions, wishes, exercises, work and reflection you’ll become someone navigating a life you once only dreamed about. Your support system and your family tree will expand.

“4”  Steve Kerr, 54: “As the sign of balance and fairness, you are keenly aware of how the quest for justice often leads to injustice. And yet, you still try to make things right, a mission that will absorb some of your hours today.” Libra

Well, if you scroll down near the bottom, you’ll see how I’m stuck on “accountability” and the shrinking “justice role” so prevalent today.  What my dear friend Jay calls conservatism and the Baroness and I call selfish, shady, corrupt and definitely not good business as one of her sorority sisters described the former president.

“3”  Steve Aoki, 41; Steven Spielberg, 74: “You’re exciting because you entertain risky ideas, not because you always do them — that would make you foolhardy! What you’re cooking up in that playful mind of yours is making you very attractive to someone.” Sagittarius

I’m chalking this up to wish fulfillment.  If you’re like Jay you don’t favor anything that threatens a status quo — taking something away.  Or entertaining ideas like AI or quantum physics or any of the trends and forces influencing the direction and opportunities available to those of us who pull our heads out of the sand.  There, I said it.

“4” Steve Nash, 45: “This role you took on no longer feels like a good fit. Now what? Well, this script you’re going by is not the Ten Commandments. It wasn’t written on stone tablets. You can change it without a chisel.” Aquarius

What we’re talking about here is what I cover in “Volume Two Manuscript”.  How in your work life, if you now realized the misfit and are pursuing a better fit, I’ve got you covered. Of, course this also applies to how a one-year natural experiment turned into the 4th season and dragged me into the middle of it kicking and screaming.  Wink.

“4”  Steve Jobs, (1955 – 2011): “It will be challenging to lead others to your purposes today. The key is to be consistent and repetitive. People will learn and dance to your rhythm, but first you have to start banging that drum.”Pisces

Bang. Bang. Bang.

Long-Form

    • “Here, Right Matters: An American Story” by Alexander Vindman. “We’d long been confused by the president’s policy of accommodation and appeasement of Russia, the United States’ most pressing major adversary. Russia’s president Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine, seizing the Crimean Peninsula, attacking its industrial heartland, the Donbass, from the capital, Kyiv. By 2019, little had changed, Russian military and security forces and their proxy separatists continued to occupy the Donbass. The biggest change was to Ukraine’s importance as a bulwark against Russian aggression weeks earlier, the White House had abruptly put a hold on nearly four hundred million dollars.” 
    • David Enrich begins his book with a suicide in “Deutsche Bank Dark Towers: Deutsche Bank, Donald Trump, and an Epic Trail of Destruction” and then meticulously details the bank’s Russian money laundering operations. Deutsche’s Russian business surged after revenues had fallen 50% due to the 2008 financial crisis. Putin’s Russia, poured in to Deutsche from deals it did with VTB Bank, linked to the Kremlin’s intelligence apparatus. Deutsche positioned itself as a crucial cog in “The Laundromat” by doing what couldn’t be done — processing cross-border transactions for banks that were too small  and didn’t have offices outside their home countries.
    • “Unthinkable: Trauma, Truth, and the Trials of American Democracy” by Jamie Raskin recalls one tragedy no parent should endure — the suicide of his son — and then a second tragedy at almost the same time — the insurrection on January 6th 2021, that terrified he and his congressional peers who were tasked by the Constitution to routinely oversee the orderly transfer of power from one former president to the duly elected new President. 
    • “A Warning” by Anonymous (Miles Taylor) written prior to the January 6th Insurrection as an insider’s account documenting how frequently the former President’s behavior and rage without any “guard rails” showed just how far he would go to win the next election at any cost while spinning lies and misinformation on top of each other.  
    • “Peril” by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa provides anecdotes, stories and inside reporting documenting the controversial last days of Donald Trump’s presidency, as well as the presidential transition and early presidency of Joe Biden. 
    • “Devil’s Bargain: Steve Bannon, Donald Trump, and the Nationalist Uprising,” by Joshua Green tracks the money behind the scenes leading up to the 2016 presidential election and the growing influence of Steve Bannon’s network of extreme nationalists.

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Inspired by Holiday Mathis – Creators Syndicate

 

S2 E110 — Keys for Reinventing a FUD-Soaked Enterprise

To find out which ideas have made it off the whiteboard, been placed into practice, and are being tested to see what works and what doesn’t.  So teams, what have you been working on, what have you discovered, and how can we help?

“5”  Steve Nash, 45:Your mighty purpose today is to make people smile. Indeed, there may be none mightier, or more challenging, considering the moods of some of the people you’ll come across.”  Aquarius

Hi and welcome to Sunday’s Episode 110 in Season 2 of  “My Pandemic Year Natural Experiment” on this 6th 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 E109Rebuilding Trust Doesn’t Happen Overnight; S2 E108Why Our Reinvention Efforts Failed (and Yours Will Too); S2 E107Leaving Us Adrift in a Sea of Change

Related from Season One, the Normal Year

S1 E110Love, Longing, Belonging, Connection and Loss; 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?

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. We profiled Part One in the last episode.

Reinvention

27. Knowledge Management — Brand Company  

A Strategy and Brand Consultancy. 

Part Two

Crazy creative Dave and I had mini-case experience at Unisys — how do you build a common culture around a new direction when all employees experience is fear, uncertainty and doubt.  With this major project, sprinkle in a failed “Agenda for Change”.

We described the challenge as an internal branding, marketing and advertising campaign.  Somehow PRERS top management had to rebuild trust and flip the low morale of the now into a new vision of something employees could see, touch or feel.

We had to translate our marketing-speak into something top management could understand and support.  During our presentations Gasper’s major coup came when he described company paradigms as — the most fundamental and all-encompassing expression all employees feel, but can’t necessarily describe.  It’s a classic “We’ll know it when we see it.”  

Gasper somehow convinced our client that a company’s strategic intent (an integrated PRERS) “Vision or mission statements, and core values constitute its paradigm or world view.”  And to build back trust, internal brand development follows three acts.

The first act begins “… as the back story leading to a catalyst point which catapults the character into act two, which is the migration path to the new state.”  

We first described “our Migration Paths to the Future” by highlighting Innovation Teams (Alliance Management, Relationship Management, Operational Excellence, eBusiness, and People Leadership), and how they have been thinking-out-of-the-box about our core competencies and imagining totally new ways of doing business.  

As Gasper told top management, “Here action (and reaction) builds character, brand is strategy in action, and what you will be doing is building belief.”  He told them that their “Unique Organizing Principle” is what we will describe and help them craft an internal interactive communications “brand” or “identity” 

The idea is to discover the core values of the organization (transformation of customer) and to create 4 C’s: “context, content, connections and conversations around deep principles of shared learning, yet still keep it tied to strategic initiatives.”

My role with crazy creative Dave was to catch early successes, circulate stories about first steps into the future, and make them exciting and fun.

It took weeks to earn the necessary approvals.  Then the hard work began. 

What the hell is their organizing principle — their new core foundational story?  How can our marketing and advertising gurus translate it into something completely different, but on a subliminal level feel true and inviting.  Inviting enough for employees to suspend their critical, widespread FUD-dominated thinking and consider their new story?

We struggled and struggled in late night brainstorming sessions to come up with an answer. Until John Googled some company history and their logo — the Rock of Gibraltar. 

What from a distance looks like a huge, barren rock we discovered, is the home of 530 unique species of fauna and flora.  

That’s it.  We can work with that.  530!  

Images flowed.  Sketches on our white board connected to other sketches.  “530 equals overlooked employees — unique PRERS species of talented people.”  Innovation teams need to be nurtured. 

They need to be given a safe place to grow without reprisal.  People not on the teams could contribute to them if:

1) they knew the teams existed,

2) what their missions were, and

3) how to contact and contribute.

“New ideas = seeds! Maybe there’s a horticulture theme for innovation teams.”  

Timing is everything. 

We required three things to be in place for the launch.  The first was a distribution of white with green package of seeds to every employee.  That was followed by a glossy 530 journal telling more of the new core foundational story.  But, PRERS delayed its distribution.  

During the delay our 530 website, initially banned by their IT department, launched on our servers.  Waiting and waiting for formerly FUD soaked employees to arrive. 

Our strategic intention was about to be activated:

    • IdeaVirus approach: in fits and starts they cross-fertilize and nurture radical new ideas in “small learning experiments”. 
    • To propagate micro-communities around their discoveries, spawn new opportunities, and to infect us with a renewed sense of passion.  
    • And it is “for the rest of us.” To question. To volunteer.  To add to the understanding.    
    • “To find out which ideas have made it off the whiteboard, been placed into practice, and are being tested to see what works and what doesn’t.”  
    • “So teams, what have you been working on, what have you discovered, and how can we help?”

Evidence

“3”  Steve Zahn, 51:Sometimes you treat everyone the same, and other times it feels right to be more flexible, taking your lead from the needs of those around you. You’ll be somewhere in the middle today, consistent but ready to adjust.” Scorpio

I hear you.  I used to take people at face value, except for all of the degree of decisiveness that has permeated almost everything.  Why must everything be so politicalized?

Random ones that make me want change my sign.

“4”  Steve Winwood, 71; Stevie Wonder, 69; Stephen Colbert, 56: “Here you are, unready and in a position to choose. You don’t even have enough data to make an educated guess, although, in a strange way, you’re at an advantage with this, forced to rely only on your gut.”  Taurus

Intuition and instincts.  For some people choices made on them alone only bring more poor choices.  For others educated guesses work.  For everyone, we’re hardly ever ready for a lot of what life throws at us, like this pandemic for instance.

“3”  Steve Smith, 30: “The early days of every relationship and endeavor lay the groundwork for what happens later, which is why it’s so important to reveal some basic truths and establish key expectations on day one.” Gemini

Maybe if I combine yours with coach Kerr’s it will add up to more relevancy. But, aren’t these conflicting TauBits of Wisdom?

“4”  Steve Carrell, 57; Steve Martin, 74; Steve Wozniak, 69: All it takes is a few inquiries, and suddenly, you’re off in a fascinating direction. Go on and get involved, as new influences will spark favorable changes in your day to day.” Leo

So this one seems less suited for me today, and more suited when I was working on the Conclusions chapter in the Tau of Steves Report chronicling my Natural Experiment.

“5”  Steve Greene, 34; Steve Guttenberg, 61:When you give attention, you are giving your life force, which will be spent no matter what, though some ways are more of an investment, and others are just waste.” Virgo

Life force. I like it.  Now the key seems to me as an introvert how to differentiate between energy and directing towards an investment.  Hmm …

“3”  Steve Kerr, 54:In the beginning of a relationship, you’re mainly trying things. You might not see it that way, because the process of getting to know someone is so intuitive. Just know that if it’s not working, you can pivot and try something else.” Libra

I’m not in the beginning of a relationship, pandemic or no, so feel free to steal this one if your intuition says to.

“4”  Steve Aoki, 41: There’s an art to self-discipline. Knowing how far to push yourself is key. If you drive yourself too hard or place too many restrictions on yourself, you’ll rebel. To rebel against yourself is far worse than rebelling against others.” Sagittarius

I agree.  The art of self-discipline organizes moments in which I let the “flow” of writing happen.  But, I also mindful of when the flow begins to trickle and that’s when I force myself to stop and take up another task. 

“4”  Steve Harvey, 62:Just as a story without conflict is barely a story, a day without an obstacle would hardly be worth remembering. At least today’s problem will have you laughing a little.”  Capricorn

This ongoing pandemic obstacle doesn’t leave much room for laughter.  But laughing does ease the feeling of dread.

“5”  Steve Nash, 45:Your mighty purpose today is to make people smile. Indeed, there may be none mightier, or more challenging, considering the moods of some of the people you’ll come across.”  Aquarius

This 530 branding effort hinges on offering a quirky mood-shifting trial for knowledge sharing to work.  Humor couldn’t hurt.

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 E108 — Why Our Reinvention Efforts Failed (and Yours Will Too)

What took five years to build fell apart in six months, because we neglected the most important lesson — building a capacity inside your company to continually repeat your reinvention, revitalization and renewal processes.

“5”  Steve Harvey, 62:When you are sensitive to what drains you and what gives you energy, decisions become easy. You’ll do only what fills you up or what is so important that it’s worth being drained over.” Capricorn

Hi and welcome to Friday’s Episode 108 in Season 2 of  “My Pandemic Year Natural Experiment” on this 4th 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 E107Leaving Us Adrift in a Sea of Change;  S2 E106How We Brainwashed Curmudgeons; S2 E105When Cosmic Leads to Decline, Pair Extremes Intentionally

Related from Season One, the Normal Year

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; S1 E105Will Fortune Smile on Us Later in the Evening?;

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 we add to both Part One and Part Two with the third Reinvention installment, a behind-the-scenes at nurturing Intrapreneurial Projects.

Reinvention Part Three

23.  Organizational Development – Technology

Raul joined my team, having transferred from our Texas plant for an IT opportunity which was for the night shift — not what he was told before he moved his family. 

I put together a 5-year plan that called for all of us to become internal consultants instead of performing stand-up training only. Our Organization Development (OD) team became 14, with a budget that went from $60K to $600K thanks to Raul’s efforts.

Cross-Training for Factory of the Future

To satisfy Ed’s Factory of the Future vision, focused product lines required technology (BAMCS) and soft skills training.  We didn’t have the face-to-face facilities available, so ironically I met with the survivors from the declining engineering and construction firm I previously worked for and negotiated leases for our curriculum, but directed by Raul.

Raul successfully applied to the State of California for re-training funds earmarked to prevention layoffs and up-skilling disruptions required for the Factory of the Future transformation.  

We were successful in expanding the initial BAMCS contract to Engineering and Software, for a total of $1.4 million.  So that the World Class cultural change included more than manufacturing: 

    • My team and external brain trust members addressed the accelerating change in high tech environment during merger, restructuring and revitalization. 
    • How to manage careers in a rapidly changing environment, when jobs that exist today hadn’t been even thought of by the formal system two years earlier. 
    • When project  development teams  had to deliver new products in ever increasingly shorter time frames and be able to anticipate the probability of a surprise breakthrough technology development from a competitor and how to respond to it almost routinely.  

From CareerSmarts to Intrapreneurial Start Ups

And what to do with project team members which would hit the wall and disband.

We launched a CareerSmarts program  for individual knowledge workers. It changed the paradigm of getting ahead in the corporate world, through loyalty, seniority, and job security in fixed career paths — to creating your own job by proposing an intrapreneurially opportunity. 

    • By figuring out what the corporation’s customers would value in the future (over the next 3 to 5 years), 
    • Asking how I would have to prepare to match my expertise and passions to their changing expectations, 
    • Identifying what new or improved product or service this would translate into, and
    • Who I would have to persuade in the organization to begin to address it.

Reinventing, Reevaluating Core Competencies and Technology 

The Strategic Safari program focused on the need created for disbanding project teams and emerging leaders to reinvent themselves in a new intrapreneurial direction.  We helped them work through:

    • How to reevaluate their core competencies and technology packages, 
    • How to gauge new product directions, 
    • How to win support and resources for their new initiatives and 
    • Where to get advice,  gain access and needed missing talents in our emerging informal network.  
    • How are you qualified to serve the customer segment that you  have identified?

Disbanding Projects, Core Competencies, New Technologies

My OD core design group included specialists in video, software, educational television, advertising, and telecommunications. The “Transition Tank” prototype had a front end creative adventure, but ultimately was conducted back in work.  Transfer of training was a major design concern. It took twice as long to prototype it, but we did and it was powerful.  

Taking a risk before the prototype was ready, I was asked to address our corporation’s user group.  I described how we were working towards “Taking the Risk out of Implementing New Technologies”.  

Then, after my team earned “Company of the Year” award, I addressed the National Conference for Training and Development, but with a twist.  I mimicked how we used sailboats, the ocean, video, music and other tools successfully to create a breakthrough environment in the presentation itself.

All Good Things Come to an End

But, when, Ed, our senior executive sponsor couldn’t resist the temptations headhunters persistently dangled in front of him, it was over abruptly.  

What took five years to institutionalize fell apart in six months, because we neglected the most important lesson — building a capacity inside your company to continually repeat your reinvention, revitalization and renewal processes. 

It was like we snapped back to a more traditional Mature organization. Single-loop learning occurs as organizations compare their performance to a set of pre-established standards and try to make appropriate adjustments.

Double-loop learning, on the other hand, requires periodic reassessments of the established standards themselves to ensure that they remain relevant. 

Lessons we wished we had learned

The central processes of an organization includes learning, making decisions, and managing relationships with the environment. Each of these is influenced by the leadership, cultural, and structural factors.

Buffering Against Uncertainty:  Momentum, Intertia, Inflexibility

Organizations have a tendency to buffer themselves from their markets in order to operate in as smooth and trouble-free a way as possible. 

They look for customers who value price or quality and steer clear of those who want state-of-the-art equipment. 

We advocated for taking the opposite tack under our executive sponsor. But, our division fell victim having to cope with external uncertainty and inertia in the division.

Second, and more importantly, buffering reduces the occasions for organizational learning and adaptation. So organizations become closed systems that roll forward but rarely change course.

Knowledge Work:  Continuous Learning,  Local Innovation

Reinvention requires a good deal of formal education and the ability to acquire and to apply theoretical and analytical knowledge. To succeed at it:

    • Require a different approach to work and
    • A different mind-set 
    • With a habit of continuous learning and 
    • A belief that Innovation is everywhere; the problem is learning from it  

 Few companies know how to learn from local innovation which goes on at every level of a company when “employees confront problems, deal with unforeseen contingencies, or work their way around breakdowns in normal procedures.”  

Few companies know how to capitalize on local innovation to improve their overall effectiveness.  The benefit of capturing local innovation by studying the innovation at the front lines and developing technologies is to turn being a large company into an advantage rather than a bureaucratic traffic jam.

Evidence

“4”  Steve Zahn, 51:People use problems as ways to connect with others. Even so, be mindful of what you want to get involved in, as things will not be as simple to solve as they first appear.” Scorpio

It took five years, but I wouldn’t have changed anything except for the loss of our executive sponsor.

Random ones that make me want change my sign.

“3”  Steve Howey, 42:You’re afraid to commit, and that’s because you don’t know when the commitment is over. Put a button on it. When you give it a timeframe, especially a short one, fear is allayed and talent rises up.” Cancer

Not knowing when the commitment is over seems more relevant to this pandemic more than anything else.

“4”  Steve Aoki, 41: There’s a ticker tape running through your head. Sometimes, you stop reading it. Possibly, thoughts get so repetitive you tune them out. More likely, they run too fast and better cognition requires slowing down.” Sagittarius

Speed kills, right! The same goes for our internal dialogues.  

“5”  Steve Harvey, 62:When you are sensitive to what drains you and what gives you energy, decisions become easy. You’ll do only what fills you up or what is so important that it’s worth being drained over.” Capricorn

Boy, is this ever not going to be the case?  Or, is this the lot of an introvert?

“5” Steve Nash, 45:You want the best for yourself and your loved ones. Bigger is not always better though. Today, it will be the smaller investments that have the best ratio of value to effort.” Aquarius 

At this reinvention part of my career, the risk was very high.  And, no matter what I had to sock my 401K contributions away for some future time.  And, now I’m glad I did.

“4”  Steve Jobs, (1955 – 2011): Suffering is usually linked to a distortion of thought. Eliminate the distortion and what’s left will be a manageable problem that is far less painful with which to cope.” Pisces

At he end of the day … is when my thought are most distorted.  So, much so that I need to turn off all my devices and exit my office.

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 E107 — Leaving Us Adrift in a Sea of Change

When things get tough — during a merger — you should do what, go sailing?  You might ask, “Why sailing and why Catalina Island?  Was that like some sort of outdoor adventure boondoggle?  How did you get away with it?”

“5”  Steve Zahn, 51:Consider making a vision board. The surface verisimilitude of an image makes you feel as though you are within touching distance of your desire. Your brain gets used to this, bridges a gap, shortens the leap to reality.” Scorpio

Hi and welcome to Thursday’s Episode 107 in Season 2 of  “My Pandemic Year Natural Experiment” on this 3rd 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 E106How We Brainwashed Curmudgeons; S2 E105When Cosmic Leads to Decline, Pair Extremes Intentionally; S2 E104Worst Monday Ever. Very, Very Grim …

Related from Season One, the Normal Year

S1 E107How Do You Rate Your Sense of Curiosity?; 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

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 we turn add to Part One with the wildcard Part Two behind-the-scenes Reinvention mini-case.

Reinvention Part Two

23.  Organizational Development – Technology

For a mainframe computer it took almost 24 months to offer the new line when I first joined.  We knocked it down to 18 months, but with enterprise customers their long buying cycles meant our sales people worked and worked and worked to get them to sign on the dotted line.

But then out of the blue word came down that we had entered a quiet period during a merger of two equal sized computer players with some overlapping markets and technologies.

And, it was further delayed due to alleged bribery for government contracts at the other company and the ensuing uncertainty about who would be doing what and what our new identity would be.

Almost immediately all our division employees panicked on the news.  And almost immediately the management team disappeared behind closed doors. 

The vacuum triggered worst case scenarios. And lot’s of questions:

    • How would the merger impact sales? 
    • Will we be handicapped right out of the start gate?
    • What would happen if our hardware, software and manufacturing projects were eliminated?
    • Wasn’t the merger about doubling the size of our marketshare?
    • What would happen to our own, local reinvention efforts?
    • If word leaked out from manufacturing that the next mainframe was as small as your desktop PC, somebody in the customer’s approval process could halt the sale.

In the face of fear and uncertainty and doubt no-one had answers.

Meanwhile, I represented our division interests on the new corporate task force that launched a corporate-wide employee survey and recommended ways of addressing the fear, uncertainty and doubt. 

We tackled the rebranding and communications campaign.

Two formal technology rivals, each with their own operating systems, serving different customers and industries grew from two very different roots. 

From those roots grew two very different cultures which reinforced themselves, until months after the merger.  

Our corporate task force acknowledged those differences, but we began digging until we found the two core foundational stories and creatively began communicating fewer differences and more similarities in an effort to build a new shared value set. 

The company was renamed and branded as the Power of Two (squared).   But, even Steve Jobs couldn’t resist the choice when he quipped, “Little did they know at the time that ‘2’ would be their stock price.”

We all fell victim to FUD — fear, uncertainty and doubt.  When two companies come together to form one you have winners and losers.  At first, since we acquired them, we all figured we’d be the victors.  But, that wasn’t how it turned out entirely.

Locally in our division, we collectively decided to only focus on what we could control.

Shaping a Cultural Climate for Innovation

For another initiative, our Climate for Innovation — the theme my team got three local leaders of manufacturing, software engineering and firmware engineering to sponsor in the California division.

Here’s what the engineering and software teams faced. 

    • They needed to dramatically shorten the time from idea into customer hands.
    • At the same time — they didn’t know when — a competitor would introduce a dramatic improvement which forced the product team to match or beat it.
    • They had to account for technology wild cards. 
    • They themselves didn’t know if they would survive the internal cost cutting elimination process or if their merging counterparts would lose.

We weren’t engineers or software developers.

So, How Could We Contribute?

They were on the hook to finish products on their roadmaps, but to figure out ways to shrink development time before their competitors did. 

So, we scheduled a series of communications programs that interviewed each leader and gave them an opportunity to describe what was important to their group and how each of the other groups fit together.  

It wasn’t technology or talent as much as it was product team formation, storming, norming and performing that sped progress on the relentless time to market. 

My communications co-conspirator described it as a “license to steal,” but in a good way.  As long as we helped move the needle towards a “Climate for Innovation” we practiced tail-wagging as an example for the newly emerging company.

We reinforced a fast-paced, innovative culture that attracted the best of the best. Our motto was simply, “It’s better to seek forgiveness than to ask permission.”

When things get tough — during a merger — you should do what, go sailing?

You might ask, “Why sailing and why Catalina Island?  Was that like some outdoor adventure boondoggle?  How did you get away with it?”

By sailing to Catalina, holing up in a local hotel and hashing product roadmaps teams were literally able to think out of the box away from the mainland and return to their work with a fresh perspective.

Convene the Brain Trust

Crazy creative Dave pitched a high risk, high value proposition based on a sailing experience.

Robin, one of our local engineering managers and eventually our co-conspirators had taken Dave out to Catalina for fun.  He volunteered as a leader of Sea Scouts based in Dana Harbor, so he had the access to the sailboats and Dave is crazy creative.  

And, crazy creative Dave introduced me to Jim whom he met at a Corporate Communications boondoggle out in the desert of Arizona at a Wickenburg dude ranch. What Dave immediately liked about Jim was his combination strategic thinking and team building tools.

One of Jim’s real estate client brought him to Southern California for executive coaching.  Crazy creative Dave conspired with Robin — the boat, Jim the tools, and me looking for FUD-busting stories to tell.  

We set out on a get-to-know-each-other sea cruise in the Pacific Ocean at dusk from Dana Point named for Richard Henry Dana who wrote, “Two Years Before the Mast” about his adventures on the Pilgrim up and down the coast.  

Fur trappers would throw down their hides from the cliff overhead to the tall ships anchored in the harbor as part of trade conducted in Mission San Juan Capistrano — founded, I believe, in 1775.

Change-Worthy Resilience

Funny how that history kind of provided a little something in our conversations and being on a sailboat, you’re tightly constrained physically so everybody participates. 

And there’s something wonderful about the ocean. The up-and-down motion. The side-to-side motion. The vagaries of the wind and the tacking back and forth. To make any kind of progress, you have to focus on the matter at hand, and balance in three dimensions. 

The sea works its own magic on conversation. It didn’t take long before we found a common passion — the challenge of building change-worthy organizations and individuals.

And, suddenly the wind stopped. The ocean calmed around us momentarily — the surface turned smooth as glass. Simultaneously, we reached some sort of synchronicity state. 

That moment when every thing happens in slow motion. We finished each other’s sentences. Ideas burst out of us like popcorn. We collectively saw a future — at least a trajectory based on the technology we were building, and a way to achieve what we all wanted individually, but in a way that would benefit all of us working together.

So, how did that play out? It sounds so, what … corporate hippy bullshit.

That’s why I couldn’t ask for permission from my 116 Institutional Traditionalist boss. 

Our task was to create an accelerated team building and innovation process — the sailing to Catalina — facilitate brainstorming sessions, and capture their output — decisions, plans, action items, further investigations.

Did it Work

Still sounds like a typical corporate boondoggle, right?

If you’ve been to a workshop or a class, what happens?  

In about 20 minutes after it’s over — by the time you leave the parking lot — you forget 50% of it.  When you come back to work, all the emails and requests that piled up while you were away command your time and attention.  

You lose another 30%.  

By the end of the first week, the Catalina experience is just a fond memory.

Did They Forget Best Laid Plans

No, we recorded all of their work in video and photos.  During the first week “back at the ranch” we delivered daily reminders of commitments they made by documenting them doing so in pictures.  Intermittently, we’d send another reminder and request for a status update.

It was like they could fall back into their highly engaged experience — in a kind of a re-immersion. 

It worked, really well.  Dave and I treated each safari as a proof of concept and built on what we learned running prior ones.  

We experimented with a variety of outdoor venues, if you will, and learned how to program sessions with music and turn the whole adventure into — well, we called them “Strategic Safaris” to accelerate team development, conduct product planning sessions and drive new initiatives immediately.

Next up: Part Three when intrapreneurially sourced innovations take shape.

Evidence

“5”  Steve Zahn, 51:Consider making a vision board. The surface verisimilitude of an image makes you feel as though you are within touching distance of your desire. Your brain gets used to this, bridges a gap, shortens the leap to reality.” Scorpio

Thanks for the fond memories.  On the island with the engineering teams we’d have them draw out what they felt were their team futures.  They broke down steps to achieve what they had drawn together and we filmed them committing to what they achieved on Catalina together.

Random ones that make me want change my sign.

“ 4”  Steve McQueen (1930 – 1980): “There have been times when it was hard for you to imagine being free, self-reliant and in control of your own financial and emotional destiny. Today’s developments are a dream come true.”  Aries

Can I get an “Amen!”  My decade-long advisory role in the university system helped turn that line of anxiety off forever.

“4”  Steve Winwood, 71; Stevie Wonder, 69; Stephen Colbert, 56: “Not all feelings are messages from the depths. Some are just momentary choices based on comfort zones. A feeling can also be a distraction from another, less-appealing, more uncertain feeling.”  Taurus

Got me.  I tend to favor my muse by asking Leo da V what I should concentrate on, expecting a deep exploration.  But, often curiosity masks distractions.

“4”  Steve Greene, 34; Steve Guttenberg, 61:You’re likely to pour over every detail. The perfectionism that has you moving incredibly slowly now will also be the reason that you’re so excellent at the task.” Virgo

Yes and no.  Too much detail numbs my brain.  Not enough detail fails to satisfy my Systematic-Professional leanings.  Is it a stalemate?

“5”  Steve Kerr, 54:You are very aware of what you don’t know and only get more aware of it as you go. This is proof that you are amassing a great body of learning indeed, as every new idea opens up 10 more questions.” Libra

Just 10 more questions?  It’s as true for me today as it was finding resilience in uncertain times during our 360 degree model for adventure learning.

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