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Archive for November, 2011

Fractional Leadership – Strategy for leading the 21st century organization

As the world begins to climb out of what some are now calling the Great Recession, organizations are beginning to learn how to deal with unemployment, underemployment, and a growing self-employment sector. Organizations have learned along the way to do more with less and many have found that there are benefits to a leaner operation. In many cases, organizations have seen sizable drops in revenue that have forced them to downsize and in some cases resort to outsourcing and contract labor in an effort to stay lean, flexible and competitive.

In 1990 Charles Handy, in his Book the Age of Unreason, predicted that less than half of the work force in the world would be in what he called proper full-time employment by the turn of the century. As we fast forward to October 2011, Gallup Research reported 40% of the industrialized world was in full-time positions. Handy’s prediction coupled with a tumultuous world economy gives insight that organizations were moving toward leaner operations long before the economic troubles of the early 21st century began. As the landscape of employment has changed, organizations are considering methodologies and structures that account for the decreasing numbers of full-time employees and an increasing numbers of part-time, temporary and consultant/contract labor in the workforce. Add to this an economy that has caused a paradigm shift that will have a lasting and profound effect on how organizations hire and operate.

While revenues for many have been off from 30-70%, organizations must still find solutions to hire both hourly and executive leadership. Many organizations are resorting to outsourcing, including their leadership, as the most equitable solution. All businesses require experienced decisions makers, but no longer can they afford higher salaries and the benefits many executive leaders so commonly command.

Executives are beginning to take note of these trends and are taking on multiple organizations spanning multiple industries through fractional leadership. Fractional leadership is simply the ability for an organization to utilize the executives experience in blocks of time on a consulting basis rather than hiring the individual full-time and incurring the overhead associated with executive leadership. Such outsourcing of talent helps organizations fill the gaps required to overcome their austere payroll and benefit budgets while meeting a crucial need for leaders. Utilization of fractional leadership methodologies help save companies hundreds of thousands of dollars while only paying for specific segments of time for results-oriented projects with measurable results.

A fractional executive can offer the organizations the ability to see commonalities between their clients and offer real time feedback and solutions on what the company is experiencing compared to the other organizations the fractional executive may serve. This insight brings clarity and helps organizations better determine whether the issues are internal or external to the company. A fractional executive is many times more insulated from the power struggles and politics of organizational life and due to time constraints will offer clarity of focus and real-time solutions and methodologies that may otherwise have taken months of struggle to discover.

If you would like to explore fractional leadership solutions for your organizations, please contact Maximum Change, Inc. (615) 216-5667 or http://www.maximumchange.com

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Philip A Foster, MA is Founder/CEO of Maximum Change Inc. Elevating leaders and their organizations to the next level since 2005. Master Certified Coach, Philip A Foster, MA and his associates facilitate effective positive change by helping organizations, leaders and individuals in high demand — design and implement strategies that maximize focus and deliver results. Specializing in Organization and Strategic Leadership.

Email | LinkedIn | Facebook | Twitter | Web | Blog | Skype: philip.a.foster | 615-216-5667

Categories: Leadership, Maximum Change

Doing the Right Thing – Better Customer Service for Raving Fans

It’s happened to you I know! Like many people you have experienced horrible customer service. It appears that long gone are the days of believing the customer is always right. Here we are in the early 21st century in the year 2010 and in the midst of what is now being coined as the “Great Recession”. Businesses can no longer take their customers for granted or even take Advantage of their customers. There is an excellent book out Called “Raving Fan” and I think this book illustrates well the art of creating a Raving Fan. But this is my blog and not the authors of that great book, so allow me to offer a few examples from my life of Customer Service nightmares.

I had hired a well respected and well known sign company in my state to create a lobby sign for the company I worked for. The sign company advertises on certain aspects of customer service and quality which were appealing to my search for a company – that and they were the ONLY company willing to take on a custom lobby sign project. It took the company nearly 2 months to finally come out and measure the area for the sign and then it took another 3 months for them to build a small custom sign. The sales manager kept giving excuse after excuse and we could never get a clear story out of him. FINALLY, they delivered the sign — it was not what we had asked for and was over the amount we agreed to pay. Needless to say, I wrote a rather terse letter to the owner of the sign company with the details of what had happened and included a copy of the book Raving Fan. Less than a week later I received a personal phone call from the Owner of this rather prestigious sign company. He personally thanked me for my honesty and the book. He told me what he was going to do to correct the experience I had with him, including revisions to the bill and even told me that he was going to buy a case of the books Raving Fan and make ALL of his managers read it both current and future. You see, this guy understood the value of doing the right thing and certainly the value of a happy customer.

Now for a not-so-happy ending… I had been with a certain phone company from about 1990 through about 2007. So, at least 17 years I had some kind of service with this company. I was very happy, for the most part, with the service I had been receiving and had no desire to leave them. In 2007 I had accumulated 2 cell phones from this company and only needed one. Remember, I had been with them 17 years. When I called the company.. their party line was that I would be charged $175 to shut off the second phone because it was still under contract. Never mind that I had been with them almost 20 years and I was willing to sign up for another 2 years of service with the phone I was going to keep on. You see, it was more important for this company to collect $175 than to keep me for another 20 years! Something is wrong with this picture. So, they lost me as a customer for life and every chance I get I tell my friends how horrible this company is and that they are better off going with the competitor.

You see – it is about doing the right thing. Companies cannot hide behind the statement of “its not our policy” or “I can’t help you at all.” If you’re a business owner at any level – please hear me. A healthy company has Happy Customers. Now I realize you can’t give the house away. But my experience is this… the examples I’ve given ended up costing the company more if nothing was done. If you’re going to have a customer service department – those individuals who answer the phones should be trained and given authority to REALLY help a customer. Again, the world of business has changed forever because of the Recession we are in. We can never do business the same way again. People are more careful with the money they spend – they expect a bang for their buck and if your company wont give it to them, they will find someone who will meet their needs.

Many people say without product there are no customers. I say, if there are no happy customers, there is no need for a product or service. It’s time we change how we look at our customers. We can no longer afford to assume that anyone HAS to do business with us. We need to move from being the companies of “NO” and “CAN’T”, to a business oh “How can we serve you?” We must learn to DO THE RIGHT things when it comes to our customers or we too will be in the unemployment lines.

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Philip A Foster, MA is a professional leadership coach with Maximum Change Inc. Elevating leaders and their organizations to the next level since 2005. Master Certified Coach, Philip A Foster, MA and his associates facilitate effective positive change by helping organizations, leaders and individuals in high demand — design and implement strategies that maximize focus and deliver results. Specializing in Organization and Strategic Leadership.

Email | LinkedIn | Facebook | Twitter | Web | Blog | Skype: philip.a.foster | 615-216-5667

Categories: Leadership, Maximum Change

Is Business for People or for Profit?

The only way I know how to begin answer the question is business for people or profit is through an analogy. The human body is the structure which holds our soul. Without the body, the soul has no physical ability to produce an outcome in the physical world (that we know of).

Webster’s (2000) defines profit as “yielding advantageous returns or results.” In plane terms, profit is the product of effort given by people (the soul) within the structure (body) of business. It would seem reasonable to argue that business, people and profits are interconnected and without people there is no intrinsic value for a business to produce profits. Therefore, understanding what intrinsically motivates the workforce is a challenge for business (Foster, 2011). Stanford (2009) supports this notion by arguing that organizations involve people and their emotional reactions to change (p 103). Therefore, I argue that business is the mechanism people use to produce profits and outcomes that satisfy an intrinsic drive or motivation from within. Some business models focus on the value of helping people and some business models are focused on making a profit. To summarize – business is for people for profit that satisfy some intrinsic need to produce an outcome.

References:

Profit (2001). Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary (2nd Ed.). New York, NY: Random House, Inc.

Foster, Philip A. (2011). Retrieved from his posting: Blackboard Dialogues for Doctorate in Strategic Leadership, Regent University, Virginia Beach, VA.

Stanford, Naomi (2009). Guide to Organisation Design. London: Profile Books, Ltd.

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Philip A Foster, MA is a professional leadership coach with Maximum Change Inc. Elevating leaders and their organizations to the next level since 2005. Master Certified Coach, Philip A Foster, MA and his associates facilitate effective positive change by helping organizations, leaders and individuals in high demand — design and implement strategies that maximize focus and deliver results. Specializing in Organization and Strategic Leadership.

Email | LinkedIn | Facebook | Twitter | Web | Blog | Skype: philip.a.foster | 615-216-5667

Categories: Leadership, Maximum Change

Western Arrogance and the Multinational Organizations

I find it interesting that western civilization is seen as arrogant, dominating, and imperialistic (Rodges, 2011) when many countries embrace many of our cultural attributes. From my own experience, as an American I have been guilty in the past of assuming that some Europeans are very much the same way. Perhaps this perception is born out of those areas of culture that cause friction within our own view of the world? They do not measure up to what James Sire (1997, p 87) calls cultural relativism which does not rely only on is but on what its adherents think ought to be the case. The cultural difference between east and west is determined by the psychic distance or cultural distance between the home or existing geography and the new geography (Galbraith, 2000, p 49). Galbraith (2000) argues that the cultural difference is “greater for countries with different language, religions, political systems, economic systems, legal systems, levels of development, and education” (p 49). Simply put, it is easier for companies to operate within countries that have the smallest “cultural distance and the lowest learning curve; as companies accumulate experience, they expand by stages into more unfamiliar and distant countries” (Galbraith, 2000, p 49). Sire (1997) prompts us to consider our own worldview or presuppositions which we hold about the basic makeup of the world around us (p 16). Considering worldview helps us to understand the challenges multinational companies have in their integration of activities that take place in different countries (Galbraith, 2000, p 3). The American culture has been interpreted as being dictating, controlling, superior and egotistical (Rodges, 2011) because we likely have not taken the time to understand the cultural distances we must deal with. Because cultures do in fact assimilate western attributes it is arguable that there is not as much cultural distance as one might think.

References:

Rodges, Phyllis (2011). Retrieved from her posting: Blackboard Dialogues for Doctorate in Strategic Leadership, Regent University, Virginia Beach, VA.

Sire, James (1997). The Universe Next Door. Madison, WI: InterVarsity Press.

Galbraith, Jay R. (2000). Designing the Global Corporation. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass

 

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Philip A Foster, MA is a professional leadership coach with Maximum Change Inc. Elevating leaders and their organizations to the next level since 2005. Master Certified Coach, Philip A Foster, MA and his associates facilitate effective positive change by helping organizations, leaders and individuals in high demand — design and implement strategies that maximize focus and deliver results. Specializing in Organization and Strategic Leadership.

Email | LinkedIn | Facebook | Twitter | Web | Blog | Skype: philip.a.foster | 615-216-5667

Categories: Leadership, Maximum Change

A simple structure in a complex world is stupid

In pondering whether Western thinking on organizational design is easily transferable to other countries and cultures I have to ask myself a core question: What influence does my own culture have on organizational design?  Sire (1997) prompts me to consider my own worldview or presuppositions which I hold about the basic makeup of the world around me (p 16). Considering worldview helps us to understand the challenges multinational companies have in their integration of activities that take place in different countries (Galbraith, 2000, p 3). Worldview brings complexity to the organization through cultural relativism which presupposes the preservation of a culture in its current state of thinking of how things ought to be (Sire, 1997, p 87). Organizations must therefore live in the context of structural indeterminacy which states that no single structure is the answer when dealing with complex business models that must respond to cross-border business opportunities, demands for local citizenship, and cross-border/cross-business purchasing or technology efficiencies (Galbraith, 2000, p 2-3). Galbraith (2000) argues that the star model best represented a structure for the coordination across subsidiaries ( p 9). The star model helps in the development of a ‘normative integration” in which widely dispersed subsidiaries are held together through shared norms (Galbraith, 2000, p 9). A star model is focused on an open system with a defined organizational matrix which supports interaction between the organizational strategy, structure, people, rewards and the process (Stanford, 2009, p 49, p 22). Opening up a complex organization permits the sharing of ideas, knowledge, resources and skills across many boundaries including organizational, cultural, geographical, and generational (Foster, 2011). While Western thinking has influenced organizational design in other countries and cultures, I would argue that countries and culture have pressed back through cultural relativism which has helped shape global business structures.

Unfortunately there is no one-size-fits-all approach to organizational design. We can look to Naomi Stanford (2009, p 1) who argues that Organization design is not only one of the most important elements to shaping and aligning the components of an organization toward achieving its mission, it is also rarely ever talked about amongst executives. One could argue that by the lack of communication on the matter, there is rarely an open attempt to strategically address the issue.

The influence of Western culture cannot be overlooked because it does have an impact on others, including other countries (Kelly, 2011). Culture is nothing more than the way things are done around the organization (Stanford, 2009, p 304). Perhaps the biggest influence on organizational design and culture is related to the leadership within an organization. Organizational culture starts with the hiring process (Galbraith, 2000, p 178). After 20 years of business experience and hiring individuals, I can tell you that my personal culture and experiences played a significant role in who I hired. Galbraith (2000, p 178) reminds us that new hires are trained in the organizations philosophy which is one part socialization into the culture and one part skill development. From my personal experience, I hired people who thought and acted in much the same manner I do. For those individuals who join the organization but don’t adhere to the culture, they quickly become frustrated and will likely leave the organization (Galbraith, 2000, p 178). Like it or not, the cultural lens by which leaders look through also has an effect on the organization as a whole.

References

Sire, James W. (1997).  The Universe Next Door.3rd Edition. Madison, WI: InterVarsity Press

Galbraith, Jay R. (2000). Designing the Global Corporation. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass

Stanford, Naomi (2009). Guide to Organisation Design. London: Profile Books, Ltd.

Foster, Philip A. (2011). “Open Source as a Leadership and Organizational Model.” Presented at the Regent University School of Global Leadership & Entrepreneurship Leading Transformational Innovation Roundtable, May 14 – 15, 2011.

Kelly, Jacob (2011). Retrieved from his posting: Blackboard Dialogues for Doctorate in Strategic Leadership, Regent University, Virginia Beach, VA.

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Philip A Foster, MA is a professional leadership coach with Maximum Change Inc. Elevating leaders and their organizations to the next level since 2005. Master Certified Coach, Philip A Foster, MA and his associates facilitate effective positive change by helping organizations, leaders and individuals in high demand — design and implement strategies that maximize focus and deliver results. Specializing in Organization and Strategic Leadership.

Email | LinkedIn | Facebook | Twitter | Web | Blog | Skype: philip.a.foster | 615-216-5667

Categories: Leadership, Maximum Change

Desk Audit

Every year from late November through the first of January, very little gets done in most offices around the country.  Holiday parties, eggnog, holiday music, chatter about time off are all the norm. Rather than get frustrated about the lack of productivity, I decided to use this time to audit my desk and my office. The word audit is a fancy work for clean the office and getting it ready for a new year. Somewhere around the first week of December I will put some holiday music on and go to town. I start by taking everything, and I mean Everything off my desk. The desk gets a really good dusting and cleaning. Only essential items go back on the desk and they are cleaned before they go back on. I dust out that keyboard that has collected crumbs from every desk snack or meal I’ve consumed for the past year. I dust off and clean the smudges off the computer monitor. Don’t forget to clean and sanitize the phone handset and/or headset.

From the desk top, I then move to the desk drawers. I file away in storage boxes anything that needs to be archived and I set up new folders where needed. I go through the pens and pencils at throw away anything that is broken or no longer working. I will organize books on the shelf and dust anything else in my office. There are two reasons why I do this. For one, it is just good to clean your office on occasion (why not once a year). Second, I believe that it is mentally charging to have a clean slate to begin a new year. I learned a long time ago that coming back from a holiday vacation to an office that is dusty, dirty and in kayos is extremely demotivating. If you’re in a cubicle, you can do much of the same things. The idea is to clean and organize your workspace. Just one more way to bring balance back into your work life.

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Philip A Foster, MA is a professional leadership coach with Maximum Change Inc. Elevating leaders and their organizations to the next level since 2005. Master Certified Coach, Philip A Foster, MA and his associates facilitate effective positive change by helping organizations, leaders and individuals in high demand — design and implement strategies that maximize focus and deliver results. Specializing in Organization and Strategic Leadership.

Email | LinkedIn | Facebook | Twitter | Web | Blog | Skype: philip.a.foster | 615-216-5667

Categories: Leadership, Maximum Change

The Role of Organizational Design in 21st Century Organizations.

The world appears to sit on proverbial tilt as a new world economy forms right before our eyes. Unemployment, underemployment, self-employment, and organizations doing more with less all seemingly come as a surprise to many. Yet, in 1990 Charles Handy in his Book the Age of Unreason predicted that less than half of the work force in the world would be in what he called proper full-time employment by the turn of the century. Fast forward to 2011 and a recent Gallup poll noted that 40% of the industrialized world was in a full time position. As the landscape of employment changes, organizations must consider structures that account for decreasing numbers of full-time employees and increasing numbers of part-time, temporary and consultant/contract labor. This alone will have a lasting and profound effect on how organizations operate.

 

The world is much more complicated than it was in the 19th and 20th century. Organizational design requires new approaches and innovative ways of thinking. The world is pressed on all sides by a diminishing full-time workforce, differing cultural, generational, political, and religious views and the organization of the 21st century must be more agile than its 19th and 20th century ancestors. The role of organizational design is imperative to how the organization deals with challenges it now faces.

 

The 21st century organizational design will require an ability to share ideas, knowledge, resources and skills across organizational, generational and cultural boundaries within and outside of the organizational system for the purpose of achieving desired goals. Now, for the very first time in history, we face the prospect of five differing generations operating within the workforce at one time; adding intergenerational stress and habitual problems between differing age groups. The world has become a vastly smaller place through the advent of the internet and organizations now, more than ever, are made of individuals from differing cultures and geographical locales. Understanding the effects culture such as standards of living, religion, patriotism and leadership will all have a large impact on organizations and their ability to achieve success. Organizational decision-making styles are influenced by generational and cultural attributes of the individuals from with the organizational system.

 

The organization structure of the future must also consider how it intrinsically motivates its followers. Organizations have considered motivational theories such as Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and Alderfers ERG. Unfortunately these models create a potential deficit as they are focused only on the needs of individuals and not that of the entire organization. An organizational structure that focuses on the needs of the organization to the exclusion of the individual would undermine the organizational needs through a lack of buy-in and acceptance by the followers. The best possible scenario for a successful organizational design would champion both the intrinsic motivational needs of the individual followers while meeting the expressed needs of the organization. Thus, creating an open flexible environment that meets the needs of both is a challenge but not impossible. A more organic organizational approach would certainly satisfy both. For example, a vine has structure but is flexible and can make changes as challenges arise. Such flexibility affords the vine the ability to navigate around obstacles, yet maintain the structure required to move nutrients throughout the entire system of vine. The challenge is to translate the vine analogy into an organizational mechanism that permits an organic structure to reach specified goals. Company’s such as Proctor and Gamble, KRAFT Foods, Linux, Philips, the BBC, Nokia and Apple already utilize some a form of matrix or flexible/open organizational system in an effort to more efficiently produce products and services.

 

The role of organizational design in the 21st century is to find its voice in an organic, flexible system that is culturally and generationally adept, intrinsically motivates, and is flexible and open. Organizations of the future will continue to adapt and develop a spirit of learning and growth. The true role of organizational design in the 21st century is to develop adaptability, flexibility and profitability in the most efficient and effective manger available, given the resources available to it. The organization of the 21st century will focus on creativity, innovations as it develops and modifies to meet the constant changing needs of the world in which it serves. The organization of the future must acquire the acumen of flexibility to survive.

 

Philip A Foster, MA is a professional leadership coach with Maximum Change Inc. Taking Leaders and their organizations to the next level since 2005. He works with leaders to facilitate the development of  life purpose, life balance and achievement of greater success; encouraging leaders to take active and consistent steps toward reaching goals and objectives. Specializing in Organization and Strategic Leadership.

Email | LinkedIn | Facebook | Twitter | Web | Blog | Skype: philip.a.foster | (615) 216-5667

Categories: Leadership, Maximum Change