Book Review: Under New Management

Under New Management Book CoverI have been saying for some time now that the way we do business is broken. I guess I should say that our models for achieving success are no longer sustainable. In fact, we have outgrown our one-size-fits-all approach to business process, leadership, and structure.  Something has to give…. and it has.

In his new book, Under New Management, Author David Burkus peels back our stale expectations of leading and managing and opens our eyes to new and innovative approaches to business. To the classically trained leader, his concepts can be downright provocative and will challenge the very core of their beliefs. Some mind bending examples include outlawing email, paying people to quit, ditching performance appraisals, firing the managers, and writing org charts in pencil. The managerial curmudgeon might scoff at these ideas as fantasy and think they will never work.

Burkus anticipates these arguments and takes the additional steps needed to move the reader from ethereal to relative by offering examples of organizations who are successfully embracing these very ideas. While many of these new concepts may be born out of the technology industry, Burkus offers examples outside of the tech field. Real case studies from Volkswagen, Wegmans Food Markets, Shake Shack, Starbucks and Whole Foods.

Gone are the days of “this is not how we do things around here” and I couldn’t be happier. The 21st Century will require new ways of thinking and new approaches. These approaches may very well go beyond the ideas of outlawing email and losing the standard vacation policies. We don’t have to agree with everything in the book – but I think Burkus invites us into something deeper. He invites us to free ourselves to pave the way and come up with new and creative ideas that feed the human spirit and engage human happiness and productivity in the process. Under New Management should be one of the keys that release us from the old ways of thinking and finally give us permission to break the rules.

I strongly recommend that every leader read this book and then imagine the possibilities when we begin to “redesign the factory” and develop meaningful change in our own companies. Under New Management is Available now on Amazon http://tiny.cc/fvz29x. You can reach David through his website at http://davidburkus.com/.

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Dr. Philip A. Foster is considered a Thought Leader in Business Operations, Organization and Strategic Leadership. He is a prolific writer, International Lecturer and Best Selling Author of “The Open Organization” – now available through Ashgate Publishing. Philip is certified in both Leadership and coaching. 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 with emphasis in Strategic Foresight and holds a Master of Art in Organizational Leadership, both from Regent University, Virginia. Twitter: @maximumchange, E-mail: philip@maximumchange.com.

Celebrate Departures

Take It Personel-ly

Celebrate Departures 

The world of social has provided so many incredible opportunities for me. One of which was connecting with David Burkus. I loved his book TheMyths of Creativity and I am beyond excited to be part of the launch team this week, for his new book Under New Management. Even though I have an HR background, I absolutely loved everything in the book, Under New Management. I am one of those HR people that doesn’t believe that HR needs more policies and procedures. Quite the contrary…businesses and HR needs fewer of them. Business has changed and the command and control style of leadership is not needed in most work environments. We have moved into the knowledge economy and the world of work needs to adapt to maximize what everyone brings to the table.

As David so eloquently puts it;

“Great leaders don’t innovate the product, they innovate the factory.”

“Great leaders don’t innovate the product, they innovate the factory.”

That is the truth!…

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Categories: Maximum Change

The Future of Working: Dystopia or Utopia?

Cbw_bXzWAAIt_ap                  Image Source: (McCormick 2016).

Recently I read an article from The Verge by Rich McCormick (2016) regarding Mark Zuckerberg’s presentation at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. The focus of this article was a picture of Mark Zuckerberg walking past attendees who are wearing Samsung’s Gear Virtual Reality headsets. Rich states that the image,

“…looks like concept art for a new dystopian sci-fi film. A billionaire superman with a rictus grin, striding straight past human drones, tethered to machines and blinded to reality by blinking plastic masks.”

Normally I would chuckle and move on, however this picture represents deeper insights about the future of our workforce and leadership. In fact, last year my colleague Dr. Jeff Suderman and I published a similar scenario in our paper “Envisioning Leadership in 2050: Four Future Scenarios.” In our article we presented four scenarios which depict how we might engage human capital by the year 2050. Two of these scenarios explored the possible dehumanizing effects or impact of technology in the future workplace.

One scenario focused on something we called Bio-Circuitry Leadership. It was represented by an image found in the movie Edge of Tomorrow in which soldiers were partnered with armored body suits. We imagined a scenario in which there would be “minimal separation between humankind and machinery/technology and very often, humans must adapt to the needs of technology instead of technology being adapted to meet our needs” (Suderman & Foster, 2015).  In this scenario, organizations and their leaders become “a complex blend of the best of both worlds: machines and humanity. The era of bio-circuitry leadership means that organizations have leveraged people and technology into a seamless system. It is difficult to distinguish between who people are and what they do because of how effectively human capacity is enhanced and blended with technology” (Suderman & Foster, 2015).

The second scenario presented a contrasting view and was titled Automaton Leadership. “By definition, an automaton is a moving mechanical device made in imitation of a human being. As a result of the relentless progression of technology, human capital will be shaped into a group of robot-like devices to accomplish the betterment of our world” (Suderman & Foster, 2015). As this scenario unfolds we find a world in which the “economic collapses of the early twenty-first century coupled with a decreasing full-time workforce led to a wide acceptance of technologies in everyday life” (Suderman & Foster, 2015). Under this scenario we imagined a world in which individuals of working age “…apply for and are fitted with docking harnesses which permit them to connect directly into the work grid. The Internet of everything now includes humans themselves. Individuals strap themselves into a work pod and the docking harness connects their entire body into the Internet” (Suderman & Foster, 2015). In this world the lines between “reality and virtual are merged as individuals spend most of their waking time connecting to the network” (Suderman & Foster, 2015).

Dr. Suderman and I recognize that our storylines are no more than best guesses about how our future will unfold.  However, the usefulness of scenarios about the future is not how accurate the stories turn out to be, but rather, how they help us shape the possibilities of the future. Twenty years ago few of us knew or even thought about the impact a smart phone would have on our lives. Today, we find mobile technologies impacting everyday decisions such as grocery shopping, taxi services and hotel accommodations. The seemingly innocuous introduction of ubiquitous technology has shaped a new economy right before our very eyes.

The idea of a future workforce strapped into some kind of technology may not be as farfetched as we would like it to be. In fact, most of us are already invisibly tethered to our smart devices. Laugh if you will, but the picture of Mark Zuckerberg and the audience of drones could very well be a glimpse into what is to come.

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IMG_0100-001Dr. Philip A. Foster is considered a Thought Leader in Business Operations, Organization and Strategic Leadership. He is a prolific writer, International Lecturer and Best Selling Author of “The Open Organization” – now available through Ashgate Publishing.  Philip is certified in both Leadership and coaching. 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 with emphasis in Strategic Foresight and holds a Master of Art in Organizational Leadership, both from Regent University, Virginia. Twitter: @maximumchange, E-mail: philip@maximumchange.com.

Dr. Jeff Suderman is a futurist, professor and consultant who works in the field of organizational development. He works with clients to improve culture, leadership, teamwork, organizational alignment, strategy and organizational future-readiness. He resides in Palm Desert, California. Twitter: @jlsuderman, E-mail: jeff@jeffsuderman.com.

 

References:

McCormick, Rich (2016). This image of Mark Zuckerberg says so much about our future. The Verge. Retrieved on February 21, 2016 from http://www.theverge.com/2016/2/22/11087890/mark-zuckerberg-mwc-picture-future-samsung

Suderman, J.L., &Foster, P.A. (2015). “Envisioning Leadership in 2050: Four Future Scenarios. A Case for relevant 2050 leadership – preparing for change.” Building Leadership Bridges. Sage Publishing.

 

Dealing with New Organizational Models

962dab_84da176577754dacb1b687d5fd2d2458Many that follow my work know that I am deeply focused on the 21st century organization. Specifically, what it means to lead, follow and otherwise operate a business in this new century. I have often made the bold statement that we are witnessing the greatest shift in managerial protocols and organizational leadership since Frederick Taylor adopted the Scientific Management approach in the 1890s.  For many the shift is nearing seismic conditions. In fact, the models we use to define an organization or even an employee is shifting faster than we can comprehend. With this challenge comes the problem of how government regulators approach the emerging concepts. How government regulators define and recognize organizational models and practices have profound effect on everyone involved. Allow me to offer a case study to expound on how such problems in defining the new organization has devastating effects on business owners and their human capital. I have a dear friend and colleague who is working on gaining legal status with a goal of Citizenship in the United States. All he is asking for is to extend his L1A visa which is an intra company executive transfer visa. It was denied for a reason that says “we don’t see that you are doing executive tasks.” While I do not pretend to have all the details, I do have a grasp on the fundamental problems in his case. He owns a micro-corporation. A micro-corporation is one that has a small number of employees and engages in building alliances with other consultants and professionals in their respective field. He, in essence, has a distributed workforce of professionals available to meet the needs of his clients. An interesting fact is that his organization has been growing substantially.  His company grew from over $125,000 in 2013 to nearly $700,000 last year. He has actually hired full time employees who work directly on the payroll of his company. My friend’s business model is the epitome of an emergent 21st century organization. I should also note that he has paid income tax on both his company and his personal income.  His company is very much a legal entity within the context of the state in which his company resides. Here is where the rub comes. The United States Government does not recognize his micro-organization as a true company. They are having a hard time grasping that he is actually a business owner and thusly have denied him Legal Status here in the United States. Not only has he been a tax payer and upstanding citizen, his family is here with him and his children attend American schools. The government has said No to him. In my opinion – they have said no because they don’t understand the new economy. They don’t understand the realities of a globalized, distributed workforce model. I give you this case study as an example of the immense mountain we must climb to help regulators change their view of what a business is much less what an employee is. A recent poll shows that by the year 2025 over 50% of the working population in the United States will be freelancers – consultants. If these trends play themselves out, we are anticipating this number to increase to over 60% by the year 2040. It is unacceptable for regulators to define today’s business under an outdated, out-of-touch context. The time is now for society to catch up with today’s reality of our workforce. We can no longer afford to define organizations using 19th and 20th century ideals. Unfortunately getting the government to change their opinion is a slow process.

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Dr. Philip A. Foster is considered a Thought Leader in Business Operations, Organization and Strategic Leadership. He is a prolific writer, International Lecturer and Best Selling Author of “The Open Organization” – now available through Ashgate Publishing.  Philip is certified in both Leadership and coaching. 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 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.

Leading through Disruption

interruptionWe often hear that change is constant. The truth – disruption is constant. In fact, life is filled with constant disruptions. In the news recently, we see images of the earthquake in Nepal with over 5000 reported deaths. Even hikers on Mount Everest were disrupted by the quake. On a more benign front, I recently traveled to Canada for a conference. On my return flight I had a layover in New York. My flight was scheduled to depart the gate at 4:05 pm. We didn’t pull back from the gate until near 5 pm. My life was disrupted by an hour.

Delays during travel are not unusual. The problem – I didn’t plan for a disruption. My life – much like yours – is filled with disruptions. Some disruptions are life altering – like in Nepal – and others are general annoyances.  How we prepare for the possibility of disruption makes all the difference.

Most of my work these days is in helping organizations think about the future. While no one can know the future with certainty – we can begin to consider a preferred future as well as emerging realities within our world. I believe that a great leader is constantly asking “What If”. What if a new technology emerges? What if the market crashes? What if there is not enough human capital to fill the available jobs? Asking these questions help us to develop the thought space of disruptions as well as the mental model to deal with those disruptions.

Consider this as an example.  In 1989 it was predicted that by the year 2000 less than half of the working population would be in full time employment. In 2011, a Gallup poll indicated that the number was less than 45%. If we continue this trend out to the year 2040 we are looking at less than 30% in full time employment. As this scenario continues to work itself out, I wonder whether organizations are ready for a disruption like this. Is your organization optimized for a contract labor force? Will you be able to compete with little or no full time employees?

Scenarios like these are not meant to scare but to create a thought space of solutions. It is much like a disaster recovery plan for the organizations strategy. While it is great to have an idea of our preferred future, we must also consider those things that might get in the way. Sometimes these disruptions create a better future while other scenarios create more difficult options. Thinking through these possibilities ahead of a disruption is always better than trying to put out a fire while it is happening.

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Dr. Philip A. Foster is considered a Thought Leader in Business Operations, Organization and Strategic Leadership. He is a prolific writer, International lecturer and Best Selling Author of “The Open Organization” – now available through Ashgate Publishing.  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 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

2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 3,500 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 58 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Categories: Maximum Change

Does your organization have cultural flu?

I was talking with a friend recently and he lamented that his employees email him over everything. Without hesitation, I told him that someone in his organization must have taught them to do that. Either knowingly or unknowingly someone has modeled this behavior. It was not necessarily done with malice. He went on to say that a former supervisor had caused some issues internally and it was at that moment it occurred to me that his culture had the flu. Cultural flu is passed to unsuspecting individuals through behaviors and actions. You see, culture is very much the central nervous system of an organization. Organizational culture, like any culture, holds our beliefs, values and behavioral norms. While they may not have intended on creating an organizational bottleneck, the presence of certain actions may have modeled behaviors that eventually infected other members within the organization. Organizational culture is very interesting to study because it is so pervasive. The problem we encounter is that when one is immersed long enough in a given culture, we begin to grow accustom to the norms and may even participate in those norms knowingly or otherwise. Once a cultural norm has been established, it is difficult to change it. We can use a fancy phrase called cultural relativism to describe what happens when you take on a cultures belief system. Simply put, we will defend what we hold to be true; even when what we hold to be true is not healthy or helpful. I would caution that culture should not be a scapegoat for every problem an organization encounters. Sometimes our problems begin with bad leadership, ineffective training, or poorly designed processes. Regardless, each could play to the bigger problem of how the culture of an organization is changed over time. While change is never easy, beginning to identify and address these cultural issues is important to your organizations long-term success. As an organizational doctor, I would prescribe a regime of assessments to help determine whether your organization has a cultural flu. Once identified, we can begin to develop an approach that is specific needs of the organization. The pathway to a healthy organization runs through the organizations culture.

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Dr. Philip 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 book “The Open Organization” is now available through Ashgate Publishing.  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 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 or (615) 216-5667.