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Posts Tagged ‘business’

The Rise of the Remote Workforce

remote-workforce-360x260We live in an emerging globalized mobile world of dispersed cloud workers. More than ever we see individuals and organizations trading in their traditional offices to work from home, coffee houses and just about anywhere in the world in which they can connect to the Internet. Leading the 21st century dispersed workforce brings its own challenges and requires new attitudes, approaches, and technologies. It requires leadership that is willing to step out of the comfort of the corner office and explore rich new possibilities of workforce engagement. It requires a higher degree of understanding communication, culture, collaboration, and empowerment.

“We live in a time of unprecedented globalism. Businesses, people, and economies are tied together in ways we could not have imagined 40 years ago. Organizations must now compete within a global landscape where clients and even the workforce are culturally diverse and geographically dispersed. Organizations are networked and interlaced around the globe through the Internet and mobile technologies. Crossing and operating within cultural boundaries must­­­ become a skill of the leaders and followers of the future. Organizations of the future must become culturally literate if they are to successfully compete under these emerging paradigms.” – Philip A Foster, The Open Organization, 2014

As we witness the emergence of a globalized mobile world of dispersed cloud workers, more than ever we see individuals and organizations trading in the traditional offices for the coffee house office or what I like to call the Coffice. A cloud based workforce is nothing more than a distributed or remote employee who is not bound by geography, time zone, or national boundaries. These employees are connected to colleagues via technology and therefore are able to work more flexibly via the internet.

Leader flexibility is the key to creating an atmosphere where each employee can become more excited about where they work and more importantly what they are working on. As the world becomes more globalized, the need for a flexible cloud optimized workforce is more evident. With a remote workforce comes the need to re-imagine and retool leadership for the remote worker. What is certain is that the way we approach and engage leaders and followers is quickly changing. There are challenges ahead as we assimilate into the new realities of a distributed cloud based workforce. Leading the charge for change is and will continue to be our Millennials. By the year 2025, it is estimated that nearly 75% of all work will be held by this generation. What is certain – change will happen whether we embrace it or not. As the 21st century organization continues to seek greater flexibility, organizational leadership must also evolve to the pressures and realities of a globalized economy.

While traditional leadership relies on formality, power, and proximity to followers; the Organization of the 21st century is emerging as a nontraditional structure in which authority is not vested in positions and human capital is dispersed geographically. Organizations will begin to abandon traditional leadership pedagogue for leaderless, self-led, and an empowered autonomous workforce. As hierarchies begin to collapse, leaders must learn to adapt to new realities and what it means to lead a more culturally diverse dispersed workforce from a distance.

As our reality shifts, leaders must learn how to communicate more effectively; engage human capital differently; embrace cultural nuances with diplomatic precision; and empower employees. The shift toward a dispersed workforce requires confidence and an abandonment of old models of employee engagement. The new way of working is not for everyone.  These changes will require discernment in the on-boarding process. Because Communication is so different in the dispersed setting, employees must leave ego behind and walk with assurance that they questions are important enough to ask.

Things are shifting – organizations are changing. Engagement of employees will change. We can either prepare for the inevitable or bury our heads in the depths of a 19th century hierarchical structure. In the end, you can change or you can become irrelevant. The choice is up to you.

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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 Consulting, serving clients from around the world. He holds a Doctorate in Strategic Leadership with emphasis in Strategic Foresight and a Master of Art in Organizational Leadership, both from Regent University, Virginia.

Twitter: @maximumchange, E-mail: 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

Sometimes you Clean Toilets – The life of an Entrepreneur

Recently I was the guest for an online forum in which we were discussing what it takes to be an Entrepreneur. I actually launched my discussion with the idea that I don’t know it all. I do believe that at some point we have to acknowledge that we don’t have all the answers. This is why I believe in using coaches, mentors and consultants where needed. I believe there is great wisdom in recognizing when you need help. Beyond this nugget of wisdom there is one more thought I offered. When you decide to start a business you step up to the idea that you will do anything to make your dreams come true. I posed the question – Would YOU do anything to make your dreams come true? Business is fickle. I say this with a strong voice of experience. When you own a business you will have to work long, hard hours to make that dream come true. Sometimes you will wonder what in the world you got yourself into.More importantly, you will make sacrifices. Sometimes when business is going as well as you had hoped you might need to look for other means of making income while your working on growing your business. Sometimes you clean toilets. There has been a time in the more recent past when I’ve had to do that very thing. Business has been anemic since 2007. With the lack of opportunities presenting themselves, I took to the task of working with a friends janitorial company. I was, very much cleaning toilets at night in a factory. I could be proud and hide this information, but I am not. I had to make money and my friend needed help. Cleaning toilets at night in a factory was actually a blessing in disguise. I had a lot of time to think and process what my next move would be. It was a time of very hard work and sleepless nights – but I believe it was an honorable thing to do. You see, many times as entrepreneurs we want to hide our failures and setbacks. I believe this actually does a lot of harm to the family of Entrepreneurs. In fact, most really successful people have failed, stood up, wiped themselves off and tried again. Honestly, I’ve had success – I’ve spoken to crowded rooms of important people, I’ve published two books and I’ve traveled a bit… but I’ve also failed. The one constant – I don’t give up. I recently told a colleague I am too stupid to give up! He laughed… The truth is – I don’t know how to give up. It’s not part of who I am. I hope this little rambling note will somehow inspire you to keep going. Yes, you might need to clean a toilet, sweep a street, flip a burger or deliver a pizza… but in the end what you are doing is working on your dreams – Don’t give up. Keep going – even when you’re cleaning a toilet.

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Dr. Philip A. Foster is considered a Thought Leader in Business Operations, Organization and Strategic PIC3Leadership. 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.

4 Steps to Organizational Success | STEP 3: Process Improvement

4_Steps_to_Org_SuccessNo one knows your business better than you, right? This is a trick question because, while you and your team know your business, if your methodology is flawed then the way you do business is broken. This is why the organizational analysis in STEP 1 becomes so important. Case in point: I recently spoke to an organization that requested I conduct a survey of their customers to reveal a predetermined outcome. While it is always a good idea to get feedback from customers in STEP 1, it is only part of the equation. It is liken to changing the oil in your car in hopes it will fix the broken radiator. If you don’t look at the whole picture and address the actual problems that exist, your organization will flounder and perhaps fail. STEP 2 becomes a painful outcome of a failing organization because change is not easy on any day. Add to this a heightened level of dysfunction and you’re in for a treat. STEP 2 is about changing beliefs and broken actions. As I’ve written previously, change takes time and the process of change cannot be rushed. Once your organization has moved through the first two steps of the Organizational Success Model, you are now ready for STEP 3: Process Improvement. As a result of the analysis and alignment process, the organization’s best practices and deficits are now clearly exposed. We are then able to begin considering the “How” of what organizations do and develop scalable processes and best practices to generate positive outcomes. The key to this step rests in the idea of scalable. Scalable is when a process can grow and contract with the organizations life cycle. Unfortunately many organizations are still using systems and processes that are out of date and have not kept up with the organizations growth, changes in laws or even technology. Process Improvement requires someone with an unbiased view of the organization to observe and report those areas that appear to be in deficit. Process Improvement also requires speaking with the individuals in the company who actually do the work and asking them questions like, “what would you do to improve this process” or “what would you change in this process to create efficiencies?” Unfortunately what I’ve discovered is that many leaders believe they know better than their followers on how things are done. The key to success in STEP 3 is locked in the engagement of the followers. When you include them in the change process, they are more apt and able to assimilate the changes required to achieve success. Effective leadership is really in the empowerment of your followers to do their job. It means getting out of their way and letting them do what they do best. If you believe your organization would benefit from an honest assessment of your operations, we are ready to help! Our team has over 60 years of leadership, management and organizational development experience. If you believe your organization could benefit from our 4-step process, please contact us today for a FREE consult.

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Dr. Philip A. Foster is considered a Thought Leader in Business Operations, Organization and Strategic PIC3Leadership. 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.

4 Steps to Organizational Success | STEP 2: Alignment

4_Steps_to_Org_SuccessWhen was the last time you checked the alignment of your organization? For many, the answer is likely never! In fact, most probably don’t even know what true organizational alignment consists of. According to Webster’s alignment is an arrangement of groups or forces in relation to one another. In other words, is your organization in alignment with the Mission, Vision and long-range goals of the organization? Most would quickly say yes. But to be honest you really don’t know unless you check the alignment on a regular basis. Most organizations I’ve worked with assume that because the organization is making a profit and nothing has proverbially blown up that their alignment is just fine. As example, we worked with an organization that appeared to be doing great with their alignment. They were profitable and growing. But there was a problem festering under the surface of this wonderful organization. When we conducted the analysis and compared it against the organizations stated values, mission and vision we discovered a problem. There was at least one employee that was very unhappy. The stakeholders in the organization were surprised to find that there was a problem at all. The location was their most profitable and the person that was not happy was their best employee. The organization was out of alignment and it was beginning to spread throughout that location like a virus. Unattended, this could have been the undoing on this particular location. Analysis is the first step in identifying alignment issues. But how do we align the organization? This requires the delicate process of change management. Change management involves proper and effective communication, leadership coaching, and follower training among other things. In some cases, alignment requires a clear definition of what the organization is here for. Alignment takes time and patience. The process can’t be rushed and steps can’t be overlooked. Success comes from a proper alignment and is not always a do-it-yourself project. I know better than to try and do a front-end alignment on my car. I take it to a mechanic who has the tools and expertise to assist me. The same goes for organizational alignment. Don’t go it alone. Most organizations do not have the time or expertise to align their organization. If you’re in that place, we can help.  Our team has over 60 years of leadership, management and organizational development experience. If you believe your organization could benefit from our 4-step process, please contact us today for a FREE consult.

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PIC3Dr. 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 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 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

4 Steps to Organizational Success | STEP 1: Analysis

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At the end of each year while many are setting New Year’s Resolutions I spend time thinking about much deeper issues. This past holiday break I began to think about organizations and the subject of change. My experience has been that many organizations want to change, but they just don’t know how. Some begin the process only to discover that they are ill equipped for the journey. At Maximum Change we understand this problem and have developed a 4-step process for change. The first step is all about the analysis of the organization’s current state. We can’t change if we don’t know what it is we are changing to or from. Change for the sake of change is most always a waste of time. Most organizations take little time considering their culture, personalities, leadership, and structure and how they relate to the organizations vision, mission, or even the goals before them. Understanding the organization holistically means that we are better equipped to effect the changes needed. We utilize the process of interview, observation, assessment, training and coaching to develop a clear picture of the organizations current state. Our process considers the organization’s culture, leadership structure and individual personality profiles. This process illuminates the organization to its fullest, so that when we consider the desired changes we are better equipped to make those changes in the current organizational environment. Many organizations spend hours a year developing their yearly, three and five year plans only to abandon them to the shelves of their offices. Strategic planning is only the beginning of the process not the end. What we need to understand is that strategic planning is nothing more than forecasting based only on what we know. We call this lag-thinking. Lag-thinking is the process of making decisions based on what has already happened. Budgets and financial forecasts are typically based on this process of lag-thinking. Lag-thinking renders a plan useless within only a short period of time and must be updated constantly. Strategic plans based only on lag-thinking information are ill-equipped for the year ahead. If you believe your organization could benefit from our 4-step process, please contact us today for a FREE consult.

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PIC3Dr. 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 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 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

4 Steps to Success in 2014

4 Steps to Organizational Success in 2014 | http://www.maximumchange.com

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