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Posts Tagged ‘Organization’

The Open Organization – 2nd Edition

OpenOrgCover2ndEditionIn 2014 I published what is thought to be the seminal work on the subject of Open Organizations. My goal was to present a text that provided a template for developing an Open Organization.

Nearly a year after my book was published, Jim Whitehurst CEO or Red Hat published his book The Open Organization. Igniting Passion and Performance. What I love about Jim’s book aside from the cool title is that he approached the subject from his perspective as a leader leading an Open Organization. Jim’s book put skin on the idea of Open. I would argue that Jim humanized the concepts. It is one thing to write about an organization from a case study perspective and an entirely new experience when the writer is living it out in real time.

Since the publication of my book, I have continued researching and writing on the subject of Open. I am proud to say that I am now an active member of the OpenSource.com group as an Ambassadors and Open Evangelist. Because the idea of an Open Organization is still evolving I felt it time to produce a 2nd edition of my book and address some of the changes. While most of the text remains the same and changes were mostly mechanical in nature, there are four major changes in this edition. They are:

  1. The book is now in softback and the price is much more reasonable than the original text. $30.00 on Amazon.
  2. More detail was added to Chapter 4 under the heading of Meritocracy. I begin to address some of the early challenges researchers have noted in Meritocratic organizations.
  3. More detail was added under the heading of Holacracy in Chapter 4. Where in the early text I recognized Holacracy as a form of Open, I have since stepped back from that idea and no longer consider it to be a pure Open system.
  4. In this text I begin to more deeply address the concepts of a distributed workforce. The implication of a growing distributed workforce is central to the expansion of the 21st century workforce.

You might be wondering what comes next. I will continue to publish articles, blogs, and videos on the evolution of Open Organizations. I am also writing my next book which will focus in on some key elements of the 21st century organization.

To get a copy of The Open Organization 2nd Edition – visit Amazon HERE.

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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 on Amazon. 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 from Regent University, Virginia. You can contact him at http://www.maximumchange.com

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.

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.

3 Reasons Your Org Chart is Worthless

AA008821I know it’s your sacred cow. You spent hundreds of hours perfecting your org chart. It is a visual flexing of your organizational design prowess. It explains in detail the channels of decision making and communication in your organization. I am here to tell you that your org chart is worthless. It isn’t worth the paper it is printed on. While some may wax eloquent of the virtues of your creation – I say it’s a waste of time. Most all org charts are nothing more than idols we pay homage. Org charts represent a 19th century ideal of command-control with focus mainly on the leader(s) at the pinnacle of the chart. Even in a matrix org chart there is a top and bottom. No matter how flashy. No matter how descriptive your chart is – it is worthless.

First – org charts represent a structure that bottle-necks decision making and limits agility. If you want to see where the problems are in your organization, you need not look any further than your org chart (if you can find it). If you were to take an earnest survey of your organization you might find that your structure slows down decisions making and impacts the overall agility of your organization. The truth of the matter is that the 21st century organization will seek greater flexibility as its access to full time human capital diminishes. Your organization can’t be any better IF your organizational structure is cumbersome. Your org chart is a safety blanket that gives you absolutely no real coverage. Ask yourself this… how long does it take for a decision to be made. Does your front line have to ask their manager for approval for everything? Are you hiring based on an outdated slot on your org chart or are you hiring the best and empowering them to do their jobs?

Second – This is not how systems work in the natural world. Organizations are flattening and embracing self-leadership and a more open approach to the process of business. Organizations must find organic approaches to dealing with change and innovation. One such emerging concept is that of a decentralized organization, otherwise defined as the Open Organization. The end result is not to abolish organizational structures but to create a more flexible flow of ideas and processes that meets the needs of each individual within the organization as they pursue the goals of the organization and its stakeholders. Because of the complexity of business today, it is difficult to visually chart an Open Organization or organic forming structure.

Third – we don’t use them. The sad reality is this. Few organizations spend countless hours to actually USE their org chart. That’s right, we design them and then we stick them in a notebook somewhere and will rarely engage them again. I would argue that by the time the proverbial ink dries, your market silo has shifted and your org chart is now out of date. In our globalized economy, your org chart has the shelf life of milk at room temperature.

Here is a simple test. If you feel that you will lose control of your employees and your organization, then you’re running your organization based on command-and-control. This is a strong hierarchical approach where your organization is very much a top-down approach to leading where the bottom of the org chart is focused on completing the commands of the upper tier of the organization. The problem with this approach is that the bottom tier should be focused on the client and their needs rather than the objectives of the leadership. Like it or not, organizations are forced to become more competitive. If you don’t hire the best, empower them, and then get out of their way so that they can do their job – your organization is in trouble.

While I believe that org charts will be with us for some time. I believe that there will be a day when the only org charts we encounter will be in highly regulated industry, government institutions, and the military.  I challenge you… don’t waste one more moment on an org chart. Spend that time exploring how you can create agility and openness in your organization. It’s a new era… it’s the 21st century. It is time we starting acting like a 21st century organization.

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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.

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.

Why We Change | Understanding and Leading the Driving Forces of Change within a System

It is early Monday morning at Any+Company, Inc. and you make your way to your office with a great burden weighing heavily on your mind. The company has struggled since the market crash of 2008 and it is becoming painfully clear that business as usual is no longer. You know change must come to the organization if it is going to survive. The lingering question on your mind is how do we make those changes? The culture of the organization worked prior to the crash, but now with tough competition and tight margins, you are faced with doing more with less human capital than ever. As you ponder the need to structure your organization for the realities of the 21st century, you remember a conversation you had with a colleague on social change. If anyone can give insight into your conundrum, it has to be him. With a few keystrokes, you send him an email asking for insight into how a leader can effect positive lasting change within their organization. Little did you know at that moment you were about to embark on a journey through the complex world of social change theory.

Later that morning the phone rings and it is your colleague. He begins to explain that change and more specifically social change is complex and requires tools and models to make better sense of the world around us. Whether change is required within an organization, a community or the world at large we must consider the working theories as explanation of the dynamics and characteristics of our changing world. Unfortunately we find that it is not as simple as one tool or idea but many different theories that begin to construct the understanding of change. As a leader you may be struggling with questions like: what motivates human action; how do things change; or what will be the most significant change over the next 10 to 20 years? To create change, we must consider all the driving forces present within a given system.

But what are those driving forces, you ask? This is where it gets complicated. Driving forces can be viewed through the lenses of any of the ten sociological theories: progress, development, technology, culture, cycle, conflict, market, power, evolution, or emergence.

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Diagram 1: Bishop and Hines (2012) Social Change.

To assist you with understanding the process of change theories, your colleague sends you a diagram from a text he has been reading on Social Change by Bishop and Hines. He explains that:

  1. Progress theory assumes that today is better than yesterday and the future will be better than today. So you might ask how progress theory will play into the changes within your organization. How is today better than yesterday and how will the future be better than today?
  2. Development theory assumes society will grow increasingly complex and moving in a consistent direction over time. You might begin to ask how society has increased in its complexity since the crash of 2008 or in which direction does society appear to be moving and what you should do about it as a leader or organization.
  3. Technology theory assumes there is a primary driver and that technological development proceeds on its own and is indefinitely capable of supporting individuals at a higher standard of living. You may begin to ask how technology is driving the changes being created in your industry. Can that technology sustain a higher standard of living?
  4. Culture theory assumes that a society is based on its culture more than on its material environment or its technologies and that ideas are the key component that gives the culture the ability to drive change. What influence does the culture have on the organization and what challenges will the organization face as it seeks to make necessary changes? What is the makeup of worldviews within our system? Our worldview is a set of ideas we hold related to the basic makeup of our environment.
  5. Cycle theory assumes there is no specific directional change and that change can be experienced in terms of peaks and valleys; that change eventually reverses over a long period of time. You may begin to ask yourself if your organization or even your industry experiences cycles of business. You might need to identify time frames for those cycles and then begin to examine what forces are at place and when will the cycle move from a peak to a valley and back again.
  6. Conflict theory assumes there are different groups in conflict with each other, working to achieve their own goals and implement their own agendas. Conflict binds people of a given group more closely together and conflict amongst groups motivates individuals to work harder for their own goals and increases the rate of certain social changes. You may want to know which groups within your organization are in conflict with other groups in the organization. What is motivating the groups to work harder and are those groups in conflict with the overall goals of the organization?
  7. Market theory assumes there are no limits to our wants and that conflict and competition will be the motivators for our actions. Market theory believes that the production of goods and services are the most important mission of its society and economy and that investment is the mechanism for progress. You may ask what influence the market and competition plays on the changes the organization is experiencing.
  8. Power theory assumes that people are free to influence the future as they wish and that they make conscious choices to influence the future so that they can achieve certain goals for themselves and for or despite others. This theory believes that some people are more able to get what they want than others. You may wish to consider how the individuals in your organization are able to influence the future of the organization and to what extent the individuals will be able to make choices about that future that will render certain goals for themselves.
  9. Evolution theory assumes that there are three elements required for it to work: 1) differences among the individuals in the evolving entity; 2) a higher probability that some of the individuals will produce based on the fitness of the environment and; 3) there is an ability to pass traits from one generation to the next. You may wish to examine the differences within the individuals, the fitness of the organization and the probability that the individuals will produce based on the environment as well as how well the individuals are able to pass the successful traits on to others in the organization or system.
  10. And finally,The Emergence theory assumes social change rises from the bottom rather than the top-down. It assumes that the system consists of multiplicity of agents, each operating to achieve goals in an environment of other agents. This is much simpler form of conflict theory. No one knows yet how these patterns manifest themselves. You might consider the idea of an Emergence theory as encompassing all of the theories. You might begin to ask question such as, what changes in the system currently are seen as rising from the bottom up.

By now your head is spinning and you realize more than ever that change really is a complex matter. You begin to wonder why you can’t just pick on over another. Your colleague cautions you. To consider only one theory, void of any others, will render your view of change and your organization with bias. Once we begin to understand the root causes of change and we consider the basic assumptions, we are able to understand the dynamics of change itself. Your colleague warns you to avoid the trap many researchers fall into over change. They will choose only one theory and its assumptions without thinking about or considering that each theory results in a differing image of the future. As the future is altered by choosing one theory over another so will your choices be altered any scenarios you may wish to consider.

As you prepare to leave your office that evening you begin to realize that change is contingent on both internal and external forces. You think back over the ten theories your colleague provided you. You have your work cut out for you, but now that you have the basic structure of theories, you begin to evaluate the organization along these theoretical lines to create a picture of not only where your organization is but where it could be headed. You hear your friend’s final remarks as you close and lock the door. “Your ability to consider as many alternative scenarios and approaches as possible will depend on your ability to apply as many of these theories as possible and that will help you affect change in your organization.” As you get into your car and start the engine you begin to think through the ten theories and how each of them applies to your organization and the individuals within. Much work is needed but at least you have direction. The heavy mental weight you felt that morning begins sliding away and you begin to see the most logical path to developing answers to how you will compete in the 21st century. You know that your ability to compete is locked in your ability to anticipate and plan for the change necessary.

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Philip A Foster, MA is Founder/CEO of Maximum Change Inc. Maximum Change, Inc. is a Leadership and Business Consulting firm located in Middle Tennessee offering business & leadership consulting, speaking and training. Philip Foster is a Thought Leader in Business Operations, Organization, Strategic Leadership, Planning and Strategic Foresight. Facilitating change through the design and implementation of strategies, strategic foresight and strategic planning

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