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Archive for July, 2013

From Massive Losses to 36% in Profit in Only 49-days

business-people-working-togetherHow do you explain what you do when your title is Business Consultant? Business consulting is a wide-open vague description of so many things one can offer to an organization. It is easy to describe key areas of focus, but the reality is that a business consultant is more than just their specialty area. A good consultant will be able to see the organization three dimensionally and then offer a wider view than the members are able to see on their own. When I engage with a new client my first order of business is to get a deeper understanding of the organizations and leadership process. Understanding how the organization operates is the key to understanding how the process of organizational change will be achieved. Is there alignment between what the stated goal and the followers? Do the followers see the operation of the organization the same way the leaders do? All are key questions to understanding the culture of the organization. A cultural assessment allows for certain organizational attributes to better manifest themselves before you. In other words, if you know what you’re looking for you can find it much quicker. Case in point, a client was losing a large amount of money each month. They knew there were problems but didn’t really know where to look or how to fix it. Through the process of interviews, assessments, and observation it became clear where the bottleneck was. After much coaching and consulting, the final resolve was that a certain member of the team was no longer needed and was dismissed. While we attempted to save the individual the reality was that within 49 days, expenses dropped by 18% and income went up 36%. It was a dramatic shift within the organization and showed that the assessment was spot on.  Not only did the client see a shift in expenses and revenues, but also an increase in efficiency in their process.  Sometimes organizational change requires a shift in approach and sometimes it requires a shift in staff.  Change of this nature has to have the embrace of the leadership and should be explained properly to the staff. Interesting how one change is the difference between profits or large losses.

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PIC3Philip A Foster is considered a Thought Leader in Business Operations, Organization and Strategic Leadership. He is a prolific writer, published author and lectures internationally. His most recent e-book “Organization 3.0 – The Evolution of Leadership and Organizational Theories Toward an Open System for the 21st Century” is available exclusively on Amazon.  Philip is certified in both Leadership and coaching and serves as Adjunct professor at Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, TN. He is the Founder and CEO of Maximum Change Leadership and Business Consulting, serving clients from around the world. He is a Doctor of Strategic Leadership candidate with emphasis in Strategic Foresight and holds a Master of Art in Organizational Leadership, both from Regent University, Virginia. He can be reached at philip@maximumchange.com

Maximum Change Consulting

Maximum Change Consulting

Categories: Maximum Change

When Not Knowing Can Hurt Your Organization

busConsultantIt is one thing to know that you don’t know and entirely different when you don’t know that you don’t know.  When I first engage with a new client I assess the organizations strategic team and their internal culture among followers. These assessments allow me to examine the alignment between the c-suite executives and lower level managers as well as the way followers perceive how things are in a company matched against their preference in the future. These assessments allow me to build a values framework to better interpret a variety of organizational phenomena such as core values, assumptions, interpretations and so forth. These assessments allow me the first insight into what is happening underneath the flashy exterior of the organizations first impressions. In fact, these assessments have exposed indicators of problems. Case in point, a client engaged us to conduct a corporate culture assessment. The assumption was that all of the followers within the organization were happy and that the assessments would prove that they were on the right track. In fact, the assessment exposed a glaring problem within a division of the organization. There appeared a respondent that was unhappy and seemed to indicate that the management was not interested in the follower’s well-being. This came as an utter surprise to the stakeholders. In fact, it bothered them so much that they asked me to please expose who the respondent was because they wanted to fix the problem. As it turned out, the individual in question was considered the company’s best employee and was up for a promotion. The assessment process showed that sometimes we don’t know that we don’t know. In other words, the organization didn’t realize that they had a perceived problem with this individual. The individual felt overlooked and left out of the process and rightly so. The leaders didn’t realize that their star employee was in fact disillusioned. This permitted leadership within the organization to re-evaluate how they communicate internally and they were able to turn this problem around.

We, as leaders, must understand that focusing on what is in front of us is only half the process of leading. We must be aware of the hidden things within our organizations. There are many assumptions people make about what is happening around them. Sometimes we think we know, but in fact we don’t know what we don’t know.

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PIC3Philip A Foster is considered a Thought Leader in Business Operations, Organization and Strategic Leadership. He is a prolific writer, published author and lectures internationally. His most recent e-book “Organization 3.0 – The Evolution of Leadership and Organizational Theories Toward an Open System for the 21st Century” is available exclusively on Amazon.  Philip is certified in both Leadership and coaching and serves as Adjunct professor at Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, TN. He is the Founder and CEO of Maximum Change Leadership and Business Consulting, serving clients from around the world. He is a Doctor of Strategic Leadership candidate with emphasis in Strategic Foresight and holds a Master of Art in Organizational Leadership, both from Regent University, Virginia. He can be reached at philip@maximumchange.com.

How Delivering Bad News Can Be A Good Thing.

ImageNo one likes bad news. Hence the reason it is called BAD. However, life is not perfect and sometimes things go wrong. The next question is what do we do with information perceived as “bad news” to our clients? In his article, “10 Ways That Small Businesses Can Enchant Their Customers,” Guy Kawasaki says “Deliver bad news early.” Delivering bad news early helps to minimize its effects and allows the client to make more informed decisions. More information will minimize the impact that the lack of information and perceived deception might have caused. I often tell clients that one of the greatest causes of trust failure, anger and disappointment comes from withholding information from another party.

Recently, I’ve been involved in the purchase of a new home. Because we are moving further into the country we decided to take advantage of a particular loan product for more rural development. The problem is that these products are slow to close because they involve the ever-so-slow Federal Government. We knew going into this process that it would be a longer than usual closing. Circumstances required us to close by a certain date and our loan officer assured us we would close by that date if not earlier. Through a series of misfires in the revelation of certain key information, we began to get frustrated and angered over the lack of information flow. The closing date promised came and went and what was to be a 24 day process ended up taking nearly 50-days to complete. This culminated in our contacting the bank and telling them we were abandoning the process and planned to do something else. Needless to say, our anger over the matter caught their attention and culminated in a meeting with the Vice President. Here is what went wrong… from the very beginning; lack of information began to erode our confidence in the organization and individuals we were working with. This is human nature – we need to know we can trust someone. When we withhold important information from our clients it destroys the trust factor altogether. I agree with Guy Kawasaki in that we would have rather had the bad news at the beginning rather than to be surprised and angered in the middle of the process. Because we are human and humans are infallible, we have to accept the fact that we will disappoint and fall short of our promises. The key to success is not in the failure but in owning the failure and providing as much information as possible and as soon as possible so that all parties involved can make a better decision. This may require coaching your employees on how to respond to a failure and how to help the client through that process. Silence and blame games will only upset and frustrate and already exacerbated situation. Finally, after threatening to walk away, the bank took our concerns serious enough to sit with us and listen to where we felt the failure in the process came in. Even though our meeting didn’t change the fact that our closing took longer than promised, we are now able to make more informed decisions. Equipping your clients is a good thing… even if it means that they jump ship and abandon the project. The key here is not necessarily a completed project in-so-much as a client who knows you have their best interest in mind and that they TRUST you and your organization. You may lose out on a short-term financial gain but you will keep a client much longer. Trust is more valuable than Gold because trust produces referrals and referrals build businesses… not anger.

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PIC3Philip A Foster is considered a Thought Leader in Business Operations, Organization and Strategic Leadership. He is a prolific writer, published author and lectures internationally. His most recent e-book “Organization 3.0 – The Evolution of Leadership and Organizational Theories Toward an Open System for the 21st Century” is available exclusively on Amazon.  Philip is certified in both Leadership and coaching and serves as Adjunct professor at Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, TN. He is the Founder and CEO of Maximum Change Leadership and Business Consulting, serving clients from around the world. He is a Doctor of Strategic Leadership candidate with emphasis in Strategic Foresight and holds a Master of Art in Organizational Leadership, both from Regent University, Virginia. He can be reached at philip@maximumchange.com.

Organization 3.0 – Embracing Theory in the 21st Century

As a business consultant and professor I am often asked why study theories and systems that are no longer used in modern society.PIC1

  I look to Aristotle who once said, “If you would understand anything, observe its beginning and its development.” Simply put, if we look at history we can best understand the present and anticipate the future. Fact remains, the world is complex and theories are our attempt to take a complex world and simplify is through a set of written observations.

We make sense of our world as we view it through our own filters and lenses. These filters and lenses distort our view and we begin to develop interpretations of what is happening to us. Perhaps this, in part, explains why there are literally thousands of leadership and organizational theories to date. Without an understanding of the world around us it would be impossible for a leader to make sense of the needs of the follower or the followers make sense of the leader. The epistemology of leadership theory is simply a process of understanding the limits and validity of a specific action within the context of a system. We look to the study of leadership theories as a process of learning the nature of responses from individuals and organizations with regard to specific actions.

Timeline of Leadership and Organizational Theory

PIC2The view of leadership and organizations has evolved. Using the timeline above, we find three distinct eras of time in which we can observe the evolution of leadership and organizational theory. The first era, Organization 1.0 focused predominantly on the Great Man theory and the emergence of Fredrick Taylor’s Scientific Management approach to production. The Scientific Management approach naturally moved us into Organization 2.0, in which we find the emergence of the Classic Theories of leadership and organizations. Finally, with increased complexity, globalism and emerging demographic trends we moved swiftly into the newest era of Organization 3.0 in which leadership and organizations are flattening and decision making is driven by members of the organization through self-leadership methodologies. Within the structure of Organization 3.0, the traditional top-down hierarchy is replaced with structures such as matrix, star, and open systems.

It is through the constructs of a theory we begin to better analyze a set of facts and thereby create changes from said process. Therefore, the need to understand so many leadership theories is a result of the process of analysis and learning. In the end, the purpose of leadership theory is simply to find understanding of human nature as it relates to the system knows as an organization.

As Millennials move toward leadership roles, it becomes important that they have a strong grasp of where we have come from and a sense of where we are going. Our ability to mentally stand in the future and imagine it will make us all much more competitive in the here and now. More importantly, leaders of all ages must come to grips with a reality that we can no longer afford to run a 21st century world class organization with 19th and 20th century ideas. The more we understand where we came from and have a sense of where we want to go, we can stand in the present and direct ourselves toward an idea future destination. In time, other theories will replace Organization 3.0 and perhaps it will be the millennial generation that does just that.

Question: As you view the world through your lenses and filters – what do you believe the organizations of the future might look like?

PIC3Philip A Foster is considered a Thought Leader in Business Operations, Organization and Strategic Leadership. He is a prolific writer, published author and lectures internationally. His most recent e-book “Organization 3.0 – The Evolution of Leadership and Organizational Theories Toward an Open System for the 21st Century” is available exclusively on Amazon.  Philip is certified in both Leadership and coaching and serves as Adjunct professor at Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, TN. He is the Founder and CEO of Maximum Change Leadership and Business Consulting, serving clients from around the world. He is a Doctor of Strategic Leadership candidate with emphasis in Strategic Foresight and holds a Master of Art in Organizational Leadership, both from Regent University, Virginia. He can be reached at philip@maximumchange.com.